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Agricultural Applications of Propane: Fruit Drying

The agricultural applications of propane are numerous. The Propane Education & Research Council points out that propane is used on 865,000 U.S. farms for irrigation pumps, grain dryers, standby generators, and other farm equipment.Β  In our Agricultural Applications of Propane series, we will take a look at the role of propane in the following:Β tobacco curing, grain drying, fruit drying and crop drying. Today, let’s look into how propane factors into fruit drying.

Dehydration is the process of driving free water from products like fruits, vegetables and nuts at accelerated rates and stabilizing them at low-moisture content without damage to the products. Propane is an excellent choice for fueling the burners of fruit dehydrators because of the following reasons:

  • Propane is nontoxic and safe around food materials.
  • Emissions from propane burners are significantly lower than those from oil-fueled burners.
  • Propane can be stored for extended periods of time, while gasoline or diesel fuel tends to turn rancid.
  • In contrast to gasoline or diesel fuel spills, which can contaminate water, land, and crops, any propane leak vaporizes instantly.

Propane-fueled dehydrators are available in two basic designs: tray or tunnel dryers and cabinet dryers.

Tray or Tunnel Dryers

Tunnel dryers are generally fully assembled in the factory and are relatively inexpensive. Batches of the product are loaded onto trays and fed into the dryer on one end, and the dried product is unloaded on the other end. Tunnel dryers have these typical features:

  • Gas burner
  • Tubular steel frame
  • Heavy gauge sheet metal interior walls
  • Exterior walls with enamelized weather-protection roofing and siding material
  • Multi-speed fan
  • Thermostatic controls for humidity, temperature, and air velocity

Medium-sized and full-sized dehydration systems have a maximum drying (tray) area of about 3,700 square feet and 8,000 square feet, respectively. Mobile units that can be transported to a site near the crop are also available.

Cabinet Dryers

Propane cabinet dryers are compact dehydrators for small to medium production. They are available in a broad range of capacities to serve different dehydration needs and are particularly useful in facilities where space is at a premium. Typical features include the following:

  • Gas burner
  • Rugged tubular steel frame and heavy gauge sheet metal
  • Insulated exterior shell finished with industrial enamel
  • Stable platform of trays
  • Multi-speed fan
  • Temperature and air flow controls
  • Large access doors and fixed racks for easy loading, unloading, and cleaning

To learn more about the agricultural applications of propane, contact your local Account Manager today.

Related Series Articles:
Agricultural Applications of Propane: Tobacco Curing
Agricultural Applications of Propane: Grain Drying
Agricultural Applications of Propane: Crop Drying (coming soon!)

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