Dryers

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Dryers

The Dryers are the tools specially used for drying. The Drying is a mass transfer process consisting of the removal of water or another solvent. This process is often used as a final production step before selling or packaging products. To be considered "dried", the final product must be solid, in the form of a continuous sheet (e.g., paper), long pieces (e.g., wood), particles (e.g., cereal grains or corn flakes) or powder (e.g., sand, salt, washing powder, milk powder). A source of heat and an agent to remove the vapor produced by the process are often involved. In bio-products like food, grains, and pharmaceuticals like vaccines, the solvent to be removed is almost invariably water. In the most common case, a gas stream, e.g., air, applies the heat by Convection Dryers and carries away the vapor as humidity. Other possibilities are Vacuum Dryers, where heat is supplied by Conduction Dryers or Radiant Heating Dryers or Microwave Dryers, while the vapor thus produced is removed by the Vacuum Dryers. Another indirect drying technique is used by Drum Dryers, which are used, for instance, for manufacturing potato flakes, where a heated surface is used to provide the energy, and aspirators draw the vapor outside the room. In contrast, the mechanical extraction of the solvent, e.g., water, by Centrifugal Dryers, is not considered "drying" but rather "draining".


Drying mechanism

In some products having a relatively high initial moisture content, an initial linear reduction of the average product moisture content as a function of time may be observed for a limited time, often known as a "constant drying rate period". Usually, in this period, it is surface moisture outside individual particles which is being removed. The drying rate during this period is dependent on the rate of heat transfer to the material being dried. Therefore, the maximum achievable drying rate is considered to be heat-transfer limited. If drying is continued, the slope of the curve, the drying rate, becomes less steep (falling rate period) and eventually tends to nearly horizontal at very long times. The product moisture content is then constant at the equilibrium moisture content, where it is in dynamic equilibrium with the dehydrating medium. In the falling-rate period, water migration from the product interior to the surface is mostly by molecular diffusion, i,e. the water flux is proportional to the moisture content gradient. This means that water moves from zones with higher moisture content to zones with lower values, a phenomenon explained by the second law of thermodynamics. If water removal is considerable, the products usually undergo shrinkage and deformation, except in a well-designed freeze-drying process. The drying rate in the falling-rate period is controlled by the rate of removal of moisture or solvent from the interior of the solid being dried.


Applications of drying

Foods are dried to inhibit microbial development and quality decay. However, the extent of drying depends on product end-use. Cereals and oilseeds are dried after harvest to the moisture content that allows microbial stability during storage. Vegetables are blanched before drying to avoid rapid darkening, and drying is not only carried out to inhibit microbial growth, but also to avoid browning during storage. Concerning dried fruits, the reduction of moisture acts in combination with its acid and sugar contents to provide protection against microbial growth. Products such as milk powder must be dried to very low moisture contents in order to ensure flowability and avoid caking. This moisture is lower than that required to ensure inhibition to microbial development. Other products as crackers are dried beyond the microbial growth threshold to confer a crispy texture, which is liked by consumers.Among Non-food products, those that require considerable drying are Wood drying (as part of Timber processing), paper and washing powder. The first two, owing to their organic origins, may develop mold if insufficiently dried. Another benefit of drying is a reduction in volume and weight.