This study investigates the drying mechanisms of corn when it is exposed to air at elevated temperature and velocity within a cross-flow packed bed dryer. A highly-instrumented laboratory-scale experimental test dryer was constructed to batch-dry samples of 0.03 m3 (1 ft3) of high moisture corn. This is achieved using a perforated wall drying chamber with forced air at temperatures ranging from 180–240°F. The high temperature, high velocity air entering the column is supplied by a variable speed fan and a variable Wattage electric heating coil through a 0.09 m2 (1 ft2) square air duct. This device is able to precisely control the drying air temperate and flow rate, while also measuring the temperature and humidity of the air exiting the dryer. In creating and instrumenting this apparatus, tests were performed to analyze both energy use and drying rate to determine the operating conditions that find a balance between energy and time requirements for moisture removal. This study used a variety of supply air temperatures and air flow rates in drying samples of corn at two initial moisture contents (19%MC and 24%MC) to 15%MC. This is done to determine if there are notable differences in energy requirements (Btu/pound water removed) between different operating conditions. This study determined that corn undergoes a significant pre-heating process before peak drying efficiency is achieved. Current grain dryer designs should focus the most energy just after that pre-heating process for highest overall efficiencies. Additionally, this study found an inverse relationship between dry time and energy efficiency, which showed that an optimum balance between those two factors should be identified.

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