The techniques for the preservation of foods,
along with the manufacture of stone and bone tools, must rank amongst
the very earliest of humankind's technological achievements.
The Production of Warm Air - Simple Drying Shed.
In the early days of large scale herbal cultivation, such sheds were commonplace. The introduced innovations were the provision of heated air and drying racks which replaced the bunching and hanging of the herbs undercover. For the first time the commercial herb grower had a modicum of control over his main production process. The gains were considerable. The grower could plan harvesting and dehydration schedules and operate on a 24 hour basis at peak harvesting times. Temperature control was rudimentary and relied upon the opening and closing of convection vents and doors, and the damping controls on the combustion stoves. Ergonomically they left much to be desired and the crop dried in an uneven manner. This necessitated much turning and moving of the harvested material. Today the technology has advanced considerably and many high-tech solutions are available. However many of those solutions are not appropriate to the needs of small scale community production.
Appropriate Dehydrator Technology.
Solar Vertical Stack Dryer. New Zealand 1984. The photograph is of my first, owner built solar dehydrator, which I operated across 3 seasons. The sheathing was weather treated plywood. The solar air heating panel to the front of the apparatus was constructed from scavenged materials. The solar heat collecting plate was made from corrugated roofing iron, painted matt black. It operated on the principle of warm air convection. I was able, during sunny weather, to heat the drying chamber to 40�C. That was usually, on average, 15�C above ambient temperature. Crude temperature control was achieved by means of an adjustable, ambient air flap, opposite, and at the same height as the solar air inlet. The stack, which stands above the drying chamber, houses two cheap plastic domestic bathroom convection fans to assist the warm moisture laden air to be vented to the atmosphere. The fans are powered by warm air convection and not electricity. The shape of the drying chamber roof and the narrowing of the stack was intended to increase the air velocity needed, to carry the vaporised water into the atmosphere
Observations and Comments
The sheathing was three ply. So that in those
months that it was used operationally. Considerable solar heat gain
was garnered. It was also light in weight. The apparatus was
constructed so that it could be easily stripped down, and reassembled at a
new site. Therefore it would have potential to be manufactured in kit
sets. Now that sounds like a good community project to me!
Different Types of Dehydrators
Considerable savings in energy may be achieved by including a solar air heating panel as the air inlet for the heating plenum.
The horizontal stack and tunnel dryer are fuel burners and use electricity powered axial flow fans. The horizontal stack is side loaded. Pride of place
must go to the tunnel dryer, for use on the larger commercial cultivation. It can be constructed from adobe or mud bricks, soil cement bricks or concrete blocks. It has a Solar hot air panel which forms the roof. The furnace is constructed from a suitably modified 200L oil drum, which makes it economic in operation. The major expense is the power required for the fans. A system of vents allows for precise temperature adjustments and the recirculation of air. The dehydrator climate may be modified at will to allow the operator precise air and temperature control through the various drying phases. The moisture laden warm air on exit may be suitably condensed to produce single distilled water which bears a relationship to the herb from which it has been stripped. As such, after a further single distillation, it may be used as part of a hydro-alcoholic solvent, to extract the herb from which it was recovered.
Enthalpy of Evaporation.
Solar Gain Chart
Combustion and Fuel Values
Combustion, or burning, is a chemical process
involving carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen reacts with the fuel and
produces combustion products, some of which contribute to ozone layer
damage. The reaction is sensed as heat and light.
Fuel Energy Values
The Pharmageddon Herbal
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