About Total Drying
Industrial drying technology is an area which demands an innovative approach to produce solutions which satisfy customers demands.
The problems will not be solved by anything less than a dynamic partnership betweenscientists, technologists and manufacturers.
How can low energy methods be incorporated into the drying process?
How can low noise techniques be applied to high speed flow impact?
How can total moisture removal be achieved on fast moving containers?
How can condensation on cold surfaces be stopped?
How can bacteria spread by air-born moisture droplets be removed?
The project that is currently in place as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Secomak Ltd and the University of Hertfordshire addresses these problems.
If you would like to be involved in any aspect of this work or would like to contribute your views on drying processes and problems please contact us via this blog.
This Partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP). KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base. KTP is funded by the Technology Strategy Board along with the other government funding organisations.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


High speed drying may appear to be as different from hybrid vehicles as one can possibly imagine, but there are strong parallels.

Supply on Demand
The essential design feature of a low energy vehicle is a simple one. To save almost 30% of the vehicle fuel bill, you stop the engine when the car stops. A seamless restart gets you moving again and the benefits are not just fuel savings. Noise levels are also reduced and averaged noise values reflect the periods of silence. Drying processes that are responsible for 17% of the UK’s industrial energy consumption (ref: CGJ Baker; ‘Drying Technology’ Issue 3, 2005), benefit in an identical way to the stop-start feature of the hybrid car by using a ‘supply on demand’ approach.

Latest electrical inverter frequency controls coupled with intelligent electronics embedded into programmed logic controllers allow operation only when the product is moving past. Gaps or a stationary product means zero energy input and of course no noise. Average noise levels are reduced. For example an overall noise level of 85 dB(A) over an eight hour working period would drop to 80 dB(A) for a typical off time of 30%. Coincidentally this figure of 30% is the same as the hybrid car!

Combining Energy Sources
Hybrid vehicle experts conclude that there will not be a single break-through technology which will solve our transport energy problems. Instead there will be a solution which relies on a combination of the best existing technologies combined to form a true hybrid solution. Each element of the solution will, of course, be developed and optimised and iterations of the combined solutions will converge to create the vehicle of the future.

Drying solutions also need to use the best of current drying technology. This incorporates blower driven air and also compressed air systems to displace the water. Hybrid solutions can use compressed air jets to operate under the crown cap of a bottle and blower driven airknives can cover large surface areas to provide a hybrid approach. Compressed air when used for focussed drying with intelligent control provides the most economic solution but as with all sources of energy, it should not be wasted.

No Energy Wastage
The hybrid car has systems which match the supply to the load. Power output needs to be matched to the driving conditions and a drying machine also needs to operate by matching the energy supplied to the drying requirement.

Drying tests on high speed cans were recently undertaken at the University of Hertfordshire using drying equipment from Secomak Ltd. It was found that by lowering the electrical supply frequency from the usual 50Hz to a reduced value of 40 Hz, the Secomak Powerstrip dryer used 50% less power. This power reduction is predicted theoretically from the cubic relationship between motor speed and power. The remaining moisture level on each container was still below the dryness level needed in line with the requirements of the can maker’s code. This figure was reached with ease even at the lower frequency.
Thus 50% saving of energy was achieved whilst still meeting the drying requirements.

Electronic Sensing & Instrumentation
The value of the electronic components used in the typical car has tripled in hybrid vehicles and this will be reflected in drying machines as the control and indication of power use and the sensing of parameters. These include ambient conditions which become important in the ‘green’ drying machine. Psychrometric values of temperature, humidity and dew point influence drying success at different times of the year and in different parts of the world.
Ask anybody whether drying is easier in the desert or in a rain forest and the answer is obvious!

Transfer of technology spreads good practise and we are already experiencing the rapid reaction to global rises in energy costs. When manufacturers specify machines, energy efficiency design combined with functional excellence will be the drivers and the answers are out there. Secomak and the University of Hertfordshire are currently working on it!