46th TWC, Tob. Work. Conf., 2014, abstr. 42

Solar assisted curing in flue-cured tobacco

Clemson University, Pee Dee Research and Education Center, 2200 Pocket Road, Florence, SC 29506-9706, USA

The objective of this study was to assess the relative efficiency of a prototype solar flue-curing barn that utilizes heat collected in a plenum around the outer metal wall of the barn to preheat the air going into the barn and burner. Part of this assessment entailed creating a thermodynamic profile of the barn during the curing process to determine temperature uniformity throughout the barn. Ambient outdoor temperature and weather conditions were recorded. The goal was to better understand the prototype barn system as a whole. Prior work conducted at Blackstone, VA over a three year period with identical prototype barns indicated the solar barn required less fuel for heating, averaging 12.25 lbs of cured leaf per gallon of liquid propane compared to conventional barns of similar make which averaged 10.66 lbs of cured lead per gallon of liquid propane. The solar assisted barn shortened the overall curing time over similar standard barns. Preliminary work conducted at Florence, SC over a three year period resulted in averages of 10.56 and 12.16 lbs of cured leaf per gallon of liquid propane for the prototype and standard barns respectively but was deemed inconclusive due to fresh air intrusion that hindered the prototype barn from reaching and maintaining the maximum temperature range required in the latter stage of the curing process. Average electrical consumption per cure at the Florence location during the study period was 1719 and 1604 kW for the prototype and standard barns respectively. Further work is planned in Florence to modify the air inflow system to reduce the infiltration of unheated air. (Reprinted with permission)