African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6401

Full Length Research Paper

Determination of solar energy requirements for indirect cooling combined with evaporative cooling for storage of fresh produce

Sipho Sibanda
  • Sipho Sibanda
  • Agricultural Research Council, Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Pretoria, South Africa.
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Tilahun Seyoum Workneh
  • Tilahun Seyoum Workneh
  • University of KwaZulu Natal, School of Engineering, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
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  •  Received: 26 July 2020
  •  Accepted: 01 September 2020
  •  Published: 31 October 2020

Abstract

A solar photovoltaic (SPV) system generating power to run a 53-m3 storage for indirect air-cooling combined with evaporating cooling (IAC+EC) for providing a cool environment for storage of tomatoes under small-scale farming was evaluated. The experiment consisted of nine 330 W solar modules, twelve 230 AH Gel batteries, 145 VDC solar charge controller, 5 kW inverter, 290 W ventilation fan, 260 W water pump, psychrometric unit, and a 3.8-ton tomato storage chamber constructed and assembled on site. The psychrometric unit consisted of three-cooling pad layers and a 1760 W indirect heat exchanger. The solar modules were arranged in three series-three strings and were used in conjunction with a three string-48V bank facility. The performance evaluation of the system was conducted with full recirculation of air inside the storage chamber using solar module yield and efficiencies of inverter, battery and charge controller. Based on the experiment data the SPV system produced 2873.5 W that is 98% of the design power output at 80% probability of exceedance. The power yield of 2873.5 W was 24% higher than the power required in running the electrical appliances for IAC+EC system. Tracking the SPV system under ambient conditions with an average daily generation during the period of the experiment, the electrical power efficiency was 14.9%. The power output of modules increased with temperature of the module to 24°C and declined thereafter. The power generated by the SPV system depended on the solar irradiance availability, ambient temperature at the site and the time of the day.  It was found that the SPV system could power the IAC+EC during daytime for the summer season, and the excess power stored in the battery could run the system until 22.00 h at night when temperatures were low enough for storage of tomatoes and SPV system was then switched off.

Key words: Small-scale farming, design power, theoretical power, efficiencies, actual power.