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Energetic and environmental optimisation of drying processes by integration of heat pumps

01.03.2014 - 28.02.2016


Drying is a complex and energetically intensive process accounting for at least 15% of industrial energy usage and even higher in some specific sectors: 30-55% in medicinal plants processing, 50% in textile manufacturing and up to 70% in wood industry. Heat pump assisted dryers are known as efficient heat recovery devices due to the potential of saving up to 50% or more of the primary energy used. During the last few decades a lot of academic research was performed on heat pump dryers (HPDs) to reduce energy consumption. However, reliable industrial applications are still exceptional. HPDs are much more complex than each of their components separately. Hence, theoretical and experimental analyses of the overall system must consider the complex interaction between the drying process and the HP cycle. The main target of this project is to integrate HPs into different industrial drying processes in order to exploit the corresponding advantages by energetic and environmental optimization. The focus is on convective dryers because they are used most frequently and can be most conveniently modified to integrate HPs. By adapting HPs to operate under varying temperature levels (by using fluid mixtures, hybrid and multi-stage HPs, HPs with variable pressure ratio etc.) and developing innovative control systems, HPs could better follow the drying process. Thus the average efficiency of the HPs would increase substantially. As drying is crucial in various production systems, the project results are expected to be welcomed among a broad spectrum of industrial branches proving it to be a trans-sectorial project. In the project consortium, RTOs with a strong track record on HP and/or drying technology are brought together with branch oriented SMEs having practical knowledge of the production methods and specific technological/economic/ecological prerequisites in the industrial sectors. Fields associated with wood, textile, agricultural product processing, brick and tiles as well as biotechnology are represented by German RTOs. Within the Flemish User Group, additional branches are represented by participating companies.


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