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Abstract

Results of experimental and numerical investigations of wood chips drying are described in the paper. Experiments are carried out on two test facilities: a small laboratory rig and a larger pre-prototype dryer. Both facilities are thorough-circulation convective air dryers. The first one is a batch dryer, whereas the second one is a continuous dryer with wood chips flowing down by gravity from a charging hopper to a gutter with the aid of screw-conveyor. The latter is considered a half scale model (preprototype) for professional drying installations. A low feeding rate of wood chips into the pre-prototype dryer makes the process quasi-stationary and the difference between it and a batch drying is negligible. So, most experiments at this facility were carried out as batch dryers with non-agitated packed beds. The investigations exhibit the same linear correlation between the mass of evaporated water from the packed bed and the drying air velocity for both facilities. Numerical analysis of the drying process is conducted using the Ansys Fluent software enriched in drying capabilities by means of self-written procedures – user defined functions. Simulations confirmed a phenomenon of a drying front observed in the small laboratory rig. A thin layer of wood chips comprises the whole heat exchange and moisture evaporation phenomenon. The drying front travels downstream in the course of the process separating the already dried layer and still wet layer.
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