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Better, more efficient dryers with reduced footprint - technology in action
It has been almost two years since GEA Niro introduced the concept of DRYNETICS™ to the spray drying industry. Today the technology has moved from the laboratory to the factory where GEA Niro spray dryers owe their development and their inspiration to this pioneering particle analysis technique.
DRYNETICS™ is a technique that allows researchers to watch the changing structure of a single particle as it dries and also extract a mathematical description of its drying kinetics for use in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. The technique uses an ultrasonic levitator to suspend a single droplet of feed material in an ultrasonic field. The droplet is then dried under carefully monitored conditions and observed as the solvent (normally water) evaporates. This innovation allows GEA Niro to test and design powder properties to meet customers’ needs using just a few ml of product rather than the several litres that are required with traditional test equipment. It also makes it possible to test a wide range of feed properties and drying parameters much more quickly than was possible previously.
When it was first developed, Michael Wahlberg, the test and development manager for GEA Niro, said that the new technique had the potential to change completely the way spray dryers are designed in the future. He said that it will no longer be necessary to estimate how a powder behaves in the dryer and the greater understanding of how particles behave within the dryer would allow the company to develop dryers that were kinder to the environment, safer, smaller and of higher capacity than had been possible in the past. Then it was all speculation. Now it is fact.
“Using DRYNETICS™ we are able to design better, smaller, more efficient dryers that allow us to optimise the drying parameters to create the particle morphology required by our customers,” Michael explained. “All the theory has proved to be correct in practice and our customers are reaping the benefit.”
There are now many examples of how GEA Niro has used DRYNETICS™ to provide significant commercial benefit to its customers. For one customer the dryer supplied had a chamber of 15 metres diameter rather than over 20 metres as used previously. This allowed the company to save considerable cost on the installation and on the building which was 5 metres lower than would have been necessary before. This smaller dryer allowed the company to reduce building costs and installation costs and reduce the environmental impact of the whole plant.
DRYNETICS™ has also been used to improve the fluid dynamics in large desulphurisation plants. By studying the drying characteristics and the flow within the dryer GEA Niro has been able to completely redesign the shape of the drying chambers to reduce their height by around 10 metres. Again this has saved cost on building and installation and reduced the environmental impact.
These are very practical examples of how inspired science from GEA Niro is changing the industrial world in which companies operate, enhancing the quality of their products and improving profitability in a very competitive environment.
DRYNETICS™ is currently installed in the GEA Niro Test centre in Copenhagen and available for product and process research projects for all GEA Niro customers.
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