Developing a sustainable solar food dehydrator for Cameroonian farmers

The SolPod is a solar food dehydrator that dehydrates crops while preserving their flavor and nutrients, allowing shelf life to be increased by 20x on average.

With a small team of engineers and product managers, I created detailed test plans for materials testing of the skirt and bucket design analysis. We also designed and created the necessary test fixtures, as shown below.

In Bamenda, Cameroon, we tested six combinations of materials for heat flow optimization. A brief overview of the testing procedure follows:

     1. Create fixtures with 2'x2' squares of material layered exactly 1" apart.
     2. Place fixtures at 60° angle with the ground, making sure each has identical sun exposure.
     3. Use thermocouples to measure dry/wet bulb temperatures and temperatures at top and bottom of fixtures for one hour.
     4. Repeat for various levels of sun exposure.

The results of these tests were then analyzed to decide on the optimal material combination for maximizing heat.

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