The aim of this project is to obtain a physical-mathematical model which relates the process variables during drying of different foodstuffs in a photovoltaic-assisted solar dryer. Such drying processes gained recent attention due to the fact that the energy required for momentum, heat and mass transfer mechanisms might be provided by alternative sources, such as solar energy itself, which will then be used both as a thermal and electrical energy source. The main motivation for this project is to provide local farmers with an alternative tool for small-scale food production, so that product quality might be improved. The modeling is going to be based on both physical fundamentals (conservation laws) and/or artificial intelligence tools, hence grey-box modeling. In order to evaluate the model performance, different approaches are going to be tested: a model totally based on artificial intelligence, or a physical-mathematical model, with different hypotheses to be postulated. It is expected that the model presents a suitable precision, robustness, mathematical simplicity, so that it can later be incorporated as a soft sensor for moisture content and colorimetric parameters of the dried product. Databases provided by previous experiments carried out by research supervised by the candidate are going to be used for evaluating the suitability of the proposed model. In addition, a secondary expected result is the establishment of a partnership between the research centers involved in this proposal, so that international exchanges of undergraduate and graduate students might occur in later opportunities.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: