DENVER -- Sun-Flo International has announced development of a mobile solar food dehydrator it says could increase food production, especially in Third World countries, by preventing billions of dollars worth of crops from spoiling.
The firm also said it was considering construction of two facilities in southern Colorado to manufacture and continue research on the device.
'Many countries, including Mexico, lose as much as 60 percent of their post-harvest crops in transportation and distribution,' Marcello Cabus, Sun-Flo president, said Tuesday. 'In some places, the Philippines for example, it's closer to 80 percent.'
Cabus said post-harvest spoilage was about 30 percent in the United States, with some entire fields of crops lost because farmers cannot get to the crop in time.
Cabus said the dehydrator, which took two years to develop at a cost of $400,000, was tested in rich agricultural areas of western Colorado. He said the mobile trailer unit was small enough to be moved with a fifth-wheel unit on a pickup truck, or could be airlifted into position.
The machine uses a large solar collector to provide heat for drying, and also contains a gas-fired heater for backup in bad weather.
The official said fruit crops can be dried in four to eight hours, compared to 48 hours for stationary drying plants. The dried product is vacuum sealed on board the unit by workmen after leaving the drying tunnel.