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Abstract, Kenya Journal of Mechanical Engineering, 2014

The aim of this study was to establish the feasibility of using super absorbent hydrogel in drying of maize (Zea mays L.) seeds under hermetic conditions to offer alternative solutions to seed drying. The performance of hydrogel in drying seed maize under hermetic conditions was evaluated based on three (3) treatments consisting of 1:5, 1:10 and 1:15 hydrogel to seed maize ratio by weight dried under different temperatures of 40, 35, 30 and 25oC and initial moisture content of 16, 28 and 53% (dry basis). The control did not utilize any hydrogel. Analysis of variance for a 4x4x3 factorial experiment was computed to ascertain whether drying temperature and hydrogel to seed ratio had any effect on the final moisture content attained and if there was any interaction between the ratio and drying temperature. The ANOVA results revealed that at 1% significant levels the effects of temperature, ratio and combination of temperature and ratio on the final moisture content were highly significant (p < .001). It was found that with a ratio of 1:5 seed maize to hydrogel by weight and drying temperature of 40oC the moisture content of seed maize was reduced from 16% to 12% (d.b) after seven days. This study demonstrates that super absorbent hydrogel is a potential desiccant that can be used in drying seed maize under hermetic conditions.

Keywords: Seed Maize, Hydrogel, Desiccant, Hermetic Drying