SAPDRY : Development of grain drying facilities that use super absorbent polymers and adjusting the properties of SAPs to optimize drying of grain and control of aflatoxin contamination

Project identifier 18-SAPDRY
Project Status finished
Start date 2014-10-01
End date 2017-10-01
Roadmap Theme
  • Agriculture and food systems for nutrition: Improved food value chains
  • Cross-cutting issues: Integration of research and innovation activities
  • Type of Project Applied research project
    Type of Project Personal capacity building projects
    Programme ERAfrica
    Keyword Superabsorbent polymers; maize
    Location South Africa; Kenya
    Budget 366 200
    Main Funder Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST)
    Co Funder Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
    Co Funder German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)
    Co Funder Department of Science and Technology (DST), South Africa
    Coordinator University of Nairobi
  • ETH Zürich
  • University of Kassel
  • University of Venda
  • Documents ERAfrica projects booklet


    Aflatoxin contamination in maize is documented to cause loss of life and post harvest losses in tropical climates. Aflatoxin contamination results when farmers who depend on direct sunlight to dry their grain are instead faced with rains during the harvest. This project addresses this problem by using super absorbent polymers to dry maize in places where it not possible to apply electricity or fossil fuel. This project is proposed as a follow up activity arising from a research project, funded by the Research Fellowship Partnership Programme (RFPP) that investigated the effectiveness of SAPs in drying maize and control of aflatoxin. The results clearly indicated that SAPs are effective for drying and aflatoxin control in maize. The proposed project seeks to apply the results to fabricate drying and storage structures and test the SAP for drying and control of aflatoxin contamination in maize using field scale experiments. The key objective is to produce a standard ready-to-use storage structure that incorporates SAPs as well as solar heating and air convection to dry grain fast enough to forestall aflatoxin contamination. Several other activities are proposed to complement the overall objective of aflatoxin control. For instance, hydrogels are not specifically designed for drying and it is proposed to investigate the degree of cross-linking and other properties that may be optimised to maximize their water absorption potential. It is also necessary to investigate the electrical properties of grain contaminated with aflatoxin so as to provide data that may assist in the development of simpler meters to measure the levels of aflatoxin in maize and other grain crops. The facilities developed by the project will be patented and publications will be made in refereed journals. As part of capacity building the following activities will be carried out: joint supervision of Ph.D. and M.Sc. student, staff exchange programmes, equipment sharing, training courses in scientific writing, publication and specialized techniques of experimentation where the senior partners will mentor the other partners.

    This is an ERAfrica project