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DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND TESTING OF AN EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEM FOR STORING VEGETABLES

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DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND TESTING OF AN EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEM FOR STORING VEGETABLES

 

PROPOSAL

An evaporative cooling system for the preservation of fresh vegetables was developed for extending the shelf life of tomatoes and carrots and its performance was evaluated. It consists of a pyramidal shaped with total storage space of 0.075 m3, made of galvanized mild steel, stainless steel and internally insulated with 0.025 m polystyrene foam, a suction fan of 4.3 m/s velocity air flow and 0.5 W (1250 rpm), cooling pad (Jute) of 0.06 m thickness and water pump with discharge capacity of 3.5 l/min as well as a power rating of 0.5 W. A water reservoir of capacity 62.5 m3 is linked to the cooling system at the bottom through a P.V.C. pipe supplying water to keep the cooling pad/mesh continuously wet. Study was conducted to check the freshness of tomatoes and carrots, and data were observed daily. Results of the transient performance tests revealed that the evaporative cooling system chamber temperature and relative humidity depression from ambient air temperature varied over 16-26°C and 33-88% respectively. Ambient air temperatures and relative humidity during the test periods ranged over 26-32°C and 18-31% respectively. The shelf life of the vegetable produce inside the evaporative cooling system was extended by fourteen days relative to ambient storage. Thus, the evaporative cooling system has the prospect of being used for short term preservation of vegetables soon after harvest and it will be very useful in a developing economy like Nigeria.

 

Background of the study

Most of the post-harvest losses incurred on fruits and vegetables in developing countries are due to lack of adequate storage facilities. While refrigerated cool stores are expensive to install and run, they are still the best method of preserving fruits and vegetables.Cooling through evaporation is an ancient but effective method of lowering temperature. The quality of fresh fruits and vegetables depends on post-harvest handling, transportation and storage (Haidar and Demisse, 1999). Compared with several temperate fruits and vegetables, tropical and subtropical vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots, present greater storage and transportation problems because of their perishable nature   (Mitra  and when available in order to ensure their constant supply throughout the year with their nutritional value still retained (CFNEU, 2003). In addition, preservation of fruits and vegetables is of great importance because it makes provision for delayed use and eliminates wastage (Aremu, 1975). Low temperature handling and storage have been described as the most important physical method for post-harvest loss control (Seyoum and Woldetsdik, 2004). Temperature of the surrounding air and produce can be reduced by forced air cooling, hydro cooling, vacuum cooling, and adiabatic cooling (Thompson et al., 1998). In developed countries, methods employed for extending shelf life and minimizing post-harvest losses of perishable produce include mechanical refrigeration, controlled atmospheres, hypobaric storage, and other sophisticated techniques. These techniques are highly capital intensive and for most developing countries, the required manpower is either lacking or inadequate. These cooling methods, except adiabatic cooling, are expensive for small scale peasant farmers, retailers and wholesalers, as they require electric power. Moreover, in the existing mechanical refrigerating systems, proper storage conditions are not often put into consideration as stored items (vegetables) were normally subjected to excessive chilling or freezing. The injurious effects this has on stored vegetable products are often very severe, hence, one of the major reasons for the low efficiency of this system in extending the shelf life of fresh vegetables. Low temperature and high relative humidity can be achieved by using less expensive methods of evaporative cooling (Seyoum and Woldetsadik, 2000; Seyoum and Woldetsadik, 2004). Evaporative cooling has been reported for achieving a favorable environment in greenhouses (Jain and Tiwari, 2002), animations and the storage structure for fruit and vegetables

 

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