The broader impact/commercial potential of this Phase II 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 U.S.in 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 Phase II project is to build upon the progress made in Phase I and the successful proof-of-concept toward product design improvements and design for manufacture of the multipurpose solar dryer Dehymeleonâ¢ (beta prototyping).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 manufacturing energy efficient technology for the dehydration of foods and use of renewable energy by: (1) improving methods of processing specialty crops to improve quality nutritional value and provide a healthy food choice; (2) enabling small and mid-size growers add value to their crops and thus increase their farm income; (3) providing small and mid-sized growers with an affordable technology which is powered by renewable energy conserves energy and thus reducing operating cost; and (4) providing an energy efficient technology that promotes renewable energy use on-farm and supporting environmental sustainability. Keywords:
solar dryers (dehydrators) specialty crops renewable energy small/mid- sized farms.