The online food dehydration revolution
After winning the EDP Innovation Award 2015, Black Block developed hybrid dryers easily accessible from a mobile device and able to adjust automatically
“The idea appeared when, in 2011, we were involved in projects in the area of aromatic herbs and needed equipment with specific abilities. It didn’t exist”, Gonçalo Martins, the company founder, told. After that and until being awarded the EDP Innovation Award prize and creating a product which would meet this need and others, Black Block really gave a step.
We are talking about a food dehydration system (for fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and aromatic herbs), which operates by means of a set of “hybrid dryers that use conventional processes of dehydration, such as dehumidifiers and heaters, combined with warm air convection.” It is basically an environmentally friendly, solar-powered drying system.
The energy saving – “around 72 % when compared with conventional systems” – and the decrease in CO2 emissions of about 66 % are the first benefits to be noticed, but the list doesn’t stop there. The Black Block dryers are IOT, that is, Internet of Things, and are always available through a smartphone or a computer, making it possible for the user “at any time, turn on, off, control, monitor, or know what is happening with the ongoing process.”
And don’t forget that the startup is about to come forward with a change that will add some artificial intelligence. Confusing? Gonçalo explains: “An upgrade is on the way that allows, if the user so wishes, adding intelligence layers to the system, letting it learn with the drying process thus adjusting itself.”
From food to cork
These arguments contributed to calling the jury’s attention and granting the EDP Innovation Award 2015. It was an essential participation “in terms of media exposure” and it allowed settling in the EDP starter universe placing Black Block in a company network that favours the “exchanging knowledges.”
Creating a unique platform in the market combining different innovative techniques is, according to its founder, what distinguishes this company and has increased the goals of all the persons involved. The goal is now getting to build “60 equipment until the end of 2017” and, in four years, expanding to Spain, France and Italy and studying the possibility to expand to developing countries where the autonomy of solar energy may be essential.
They also evaluate the possibility of using the system in other areas besides food drying. They were even approached in the industrial sector by a “cork stopper factory, wood drying and food products warehouses.” Always looking for innovation.