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Europe: Researchers win prize for drying technology

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Drying is used in many industrial processes, for example in food production, and drying processes account for a substantial part of energy consumption in the industry.

Now, the SteamReg project has developed and tested a new technology for energy recovery from drying air—a solution which can reduce energy costs by 50%.

The project is a partnership between Technical University of Denmark (DTU) Mechanical Engineering, the Danish Technological Institute, Cotes, and DryingMate.

The project has recently been award the 2016 ELFORSK Prize that recognizes energy efficient innovations.

SteamReg is a technology for energy recovery from drying processes “requiring dry and hot air”, says Postdoc Lorenzo Bellemo from DTU Mechanical Engineering.

“The heat is recovered by generating superheated steam. The system saves a lot of energy in relation to the existing systems, because it is able to exploit the superheated vapor.”

It is a further development of a so-called sorption dehumidifier that has a rotor that absorbs moisture by means of a rotor material of silica gel.

In the dehumidification phase of the process, energy is supplied to ensure that the rotor is constantly ready to absorb new moisture.

The energy is normally lost because it is led to the surroundings as a waste.

But in SteamReg’s new system, this energy is reused in the actual system.

It can be done by means of a Mechanical Vapour Recompression heat pump that can re-use vapor condensation energy in the process.

The project partners expect to produce 20 systems for drying of milk powder over the next four years.

Story by Lisbeth Lassen, Technical University of Denmark