Design, Development and Simulation of a PV Ventilated System for Long-term Storage of Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas) under Tropical Conditions

Test bench for Sweet Potatoe - Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is a dicotyledonous plant which belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. It is at present cultivated in more than 100 countries worldwide. Most of the producer nations are situated in tropical developing countries where a high proportion of the poorest people live. Being relatively resistant to pests and diseases and comparatively water-use efficient, sweet potato yields better than most of the major root and tuber crops. The crop has been playing an important role as a life saver during periods of food shortages and famine especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Depending on the variety, the crop has a short harvesting time, 3-8 months from planting which is less than most other root and tuber crops. Despite the unique and huge potential which sweet potato holds for combating food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly vitamin A deficiency, full exploitation is constrained by its bulkiness and perishability. Due to the short shelf life of the crop, it has to be cured and placed in stores immediately after harvest, otherwise will likely not be marketable within 1-2 weeks. This often makes farmers to consume or sell the crop at low prices immediately after harvesting. To increase the availability and to avoid postharvest losses, good storage is required. Appropriate storage environment could make marketing over longer period of time feasible, thus improving food security and increasing farmer’s income. The primary goal of this research project is to design and develop a low-cost PV powered ventilated storage system to attain favorable conditions for long-term storage of fresh sweet potatoes and to evaluate the variation in weight loss, quality and respiration rate during storage under simulated tropical conditions. Simulation studies using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques will be used to provide an in-depth understanding of the flow distribution which is required for the development of the storage system.

responsible : Dr. Joseph Korese