2014 SapDry

Development of grain drying facilities that use Super Absorbent Polymeres and adjusting the properties of SAPs to optimize drying of grain and control of aflatoxin contamination

Aflatoxin contamination in maize is documented to cause loss of life and post harvest losses in tropical countries. It results when farmers who depend on direct sunlight to dry their grain are instead faced with rain during the harvest. This project addresses this problem by attempting to use super absorbent polymers (SAPs) to help dry maize in places where it is not possible to apply electricity or fossil fuels. Previous results indicated that SAPs are effective for drying and aflatoxin control in maize. The key objective of this study is to produce a standard ready-to-use storage structure incorporating SAPs. In order to make the system independent of the grid, solar energy will be used to regenerate the SAPs and also to provide the necessary airflow by employing photovoltaic driven fans. Hydrogels are not specifically designed for drying and it is proposed to investigate the degree of cross-linking and other properties that may be optimized to maximize their moisture absorption potential. The project is carried out together with partners at the University of Nairobi, the ETH-Zürich, and the University of Venda. 

responsible : Dr. Franz Román