Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Walter Yuen

Second Advisor

On Shun Pak


Malnutrition and food spoilage is a common problem in developing countries. This report details the design and manufacturing of a solar powered food dehydrator in order to combat these problems. The prototype has two subsystems: an air heating chamber and a fruit dehydration chamber. The prototype relies on solar radiation, the greenhouse effect, and natural convection to remove moisture from the food product. The goal of the prototype was to maintain a dehydration chamber temperature of 60-75oC for six hours during daylight and reduce the moisture content of sliced bananas to less than 20%.

The prototype was tested by placing sliced bananas in the dehydration chamber and comparing the results to sliced bananas left in the direct sunlight for six hours. It was found that the prototype dehydration reached target temperatures at certain points during the day, but the prototype did not maintain the target temperatures for an extended period of time. The average temperature of the dehydration chamber was 37.6oC. On average, the prototype had an 11% greater reduction in moisture content than the control. In order to improve on the design, it is suggested that implementing a fan system to force convection across the fruit would increase the dehydration rate. Additionally the introduction of a solar powered heating element could increase the temperatures in the heating and dehydration chambers.

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