Solar hay drying research at the University of Saskatchewan
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A new solar hay dryer was designed and developed at the University of Saskatchewan for the commercial production of high-quality hay and processed forage products. The solar hay dryer, consisting of a solar collector with aluminum absorber plate and spaced fins, a drying shed with perforated metal grate floor above the ground level, swing-away plywood frames and polyethylene curtains for effective sealing of the sides and end of the hay stack during drying, an insulated duct and a crawl space below the floor where a 3-hp In-line centrifugal fan is situated for negative pressure air circulation, was evaluated for its functional performance. The solar collector performed satisfactorily with high average daily collector efficiency of 76% under bright sunshine conditions. Sealing the hay stack with polyethylene curtains coupled with the suction pressure produced uniform air distribution and uniform drying of the hay. The overall system drying efficiency of 79% was obtained for the drying system. The fan supplied about 70 m3/min of air, and the air temperature rise above ambient was 13-15 C during peak bright sunshine hours in August and 10- 13 C in September. In late August and early September, 1996, the solar hay dryer was used to dry hay from an average initial moisture content of 33% w.b. to 13% w.b. and from 25% w.b. to 11% w.b. in 4 and 3 days, respectively.
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