Smart Multipurpose Solar Dehydration Device for Value Addition to Specialty Crops
Award last edited on: 3/29/2021

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Klein E Ileleji

Company Information

JUA Technologies International LLC

1281 Win Hentschel Boulevard Suite 1300
West Lafayette, IN 47906
   (765) 204-5533
Location: Single
Congr. District: 04
County: Tippecanoe

Phase I

Contract Number: 2019-00812
Start Date: 7/31/2019    Completed: 7/31/2020
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Phase I USDA-SBIR project is to develop efficient crop dehydrators (dryers) powered by solar energy for the preservation of vital nutrients and shelf-life in dried foods. Drying is one of the oldest and cost- effective ways of preserving nutrients and increasing shelf-life in foods. It is one of the major energy intensive processes where huge operating costs are incurred in operating food dehydrators which are typically powered by gas electricity or fuel oil. The high operating cost limits the ability of small and mid-sized growers and processors in the producing dehydrated foods. Small growers and processor are vital to the growing local foods and urban agriculture industry which is currently a $1 billion industry in the United States. Dehydration of foods such as fruits and vegetables herbs and spices medicinal plants etc. still occur using primitive open sun-drying methods on mats or trays that degrade nutrients and reduce food quality. While there are a lot of solar dryer designs available in the literature and online none of them have been commercialized and being utilized in large numbers. The overall goal of this project is to prototype and test proof-of-concept of (1) a novel high-efficiency thermal collector design (2) an integrated desiccant drying desiccant regeneration and heat recovery system and (3) a drying chamber control algorithm via a micro controller to optimize dehydration of crops/foods and conserve battery power use in a smart solar dehydrator device. The proposed solar dehydrator design approach targets increasing collector efficiency and heat transfer in the drying chamber by 2 to 4folds over a multipurpose solar dehydrator developed by the PI (Ileleji) at Purdue University for smallholder farmers and processors in developing countries. Two full- scale prototypes of the solar dehydrator would be fabricated and tested in diverse geographical locations in the United States (Indiana-Midwest and California-West Coast)to evaluate its performance (equipment and dried product quality) and validate the modeling efforts that provide feedback that would guide design improvements.JUA Technologies International (JTI) proposed high-efficiency smart multipurpose solar dehydrator fits into USDA-NIFA SBIR Small and Midsized Program priorities in the development of new agricultural enterprises and use of renewable energy by: (1)improving methods of processing specialty crops to improve quality nutritional value and provide a healthy food choice; and (2) enabling small and mid-sized growers add value to their crops and thus increase their farm income. In Phase II the technology would be commercialized and transferred to small and medium growers through partnership with US land-grant Extension outreach services and USDA-ARS labs. Benefits will also accrue to rural communities urban agriculture/food service industries and households as sustainable zero-carbon renewable energy technologies become available in agriculture.

Phase II

Contract Number: 2022-04554
Start Date: 9/13/2022    Completed: 9/14/2024
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
SummarySmart Multipurpose Solar Dehydration Device for Value Addition to Specialty CropsProject SummaryThe broader impact/commercial potential of this Phase II USDA-SBIR project is todevelop efficient crop dehydrators (dryers) powered by solar energy for the preservationof vital nutrients and shelf-life in dried foods. Drying is one of the oldest and cost-