University technology cuts manufacturers' drying costs in half

A specialist in industrial driers has claimed a 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption, thanks to a university partnership that brought it aerospace technology.

The new drying system for the manufacturing industry takes advantage of technologies such as start-stop and computational fluid dynamics. It was developed by air movement specialist Secomak via a government-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership which gave it access to researchers at the University of Hertfordshire.

The result of the 27-month project is a drying tunnel with three parts. This incorporates compressed air drying of specific areas such as under the crown cap of a bottle or suction removal of water from containers or products. The blower-driven stage uses a drying panel to dry as efficiently and quietly as possible. Finally, a controlled humidity atmosphere takes the product to the final stage without condensation reforming on the surfaces.

Control of all systems provides intelligent stop/start when containers are present and moving. This saves around 30 per cent of the energy and the matching of the speed of the electrical blower to the water saturation takes this value to over 50 per cent savings.

“The big advantage of this system is that the machine is equipped with sensors which sense when product needs to be dried, rather than the dryer working all the time,” said David Palmer, the University of Hertfordshire graduate in Aerospace Systems who worked on the project. “This works in a similar way to energy-saving systems in hybrid vehicles and means that the energy consumption of our machine is directly proportional to the throughput of the product.”

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