2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives of this non-funded cooperative agreement between USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar) are:
-To expand UC Solar and ARS’s knowledge base around the interaction between solar thermal food cabinets and solar thermal collectors.
- To discuss the optimization of cabinets for solar thermal processing of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and the by-products of these crops.
- To connect researchers who are interested in advancing their knowledge and research in solar thermal processing of food crops with leading research institutions.
- To collaborate on funding proposals for solar-related research.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
To accomplish the stated objectives the following approach will be utilized:
- Create an affiliate relationship between UC Solar (a consortium of research labs spread among 5 UC campuses) and non-profit research institutions.
Researchers from UC Solar and ARS met in Merced, California, in October 2012 and Albany, California, in December 2012 to discuss projects on spectrally-selective drying cabinet materials and solar thermal drying of specialty crop purees and pomaces. In May 2013, ARS Research Agricultural Engineer at Albany, California, gave an invited oral presentation at the University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar) Research Symposium in Davis, California. Both of these activities helped achieve the first, second, and third objectives of this agreement, which pertain to exchange of solar thermal crop drying ideas among UC Solar and ARS researchers.
In March 2013, USDA-ARS and UC Solar, prepared a joint application for the California Department of Food Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This activity was in support of the fourth objective of this agreement – collaborating on funding proposals for solar-related research.
The progress on this project contributed to the completion of parent project Objective 5: Develop solar, ultrasonic, and pulsed-electric field processing technologies to be used alone or in combination with other common processing methods to improve quality, add value, and ensure food safety to specialty crops and their co-products. Specifically, this project applies to parent project Sub-objective 5.1: Develop a solar or solar-assisted cabinet dryer optimized for a given specialty crop and location.