Most materials can be successfully treated using one or more of the thermal technologies commercially available today, such as direct, indirect, flash, and radiant drying. As is often the case, though a certain technology may carry out your application successfully, there are better alternatives available when considering the total cost of ownership of a thermal technology. While offering a solution, does the technology or provider factor in mechanical wear, thermal efficiency, utility requirements, labor, footprint, emissions control, and many other factors which add to the total cost of ownership?
Your process, plant, capital and operating requirements will steer you toward the technology that best fits your application. If you have already narrowed your technology choices down to a few viable options, your next step should be to find a manufacturer that can provide sample evaluations and process simulations. These steps allow you to gauge process feasibility and narrow your technology options to more closely meet your exact needs in a full-scale process.
Top considerations for selecting a thermal technology
What volatiles are you trying to remove, and at what incoming moisture level? What is the feed consistency? Is your material cohesive and more prone to buildup? Are there any emissions requirements or area classification requirements to ensure safety of your personnel?
Is the moisture in your feed material free or bound? Are we operating in the constant rate or falling rate zone of the drying curve?
Does your material have low thermal properties such as a low melting point, or is there concern for degradation at higher temperatures?
Is this a new plant, or do you need to fit technology into an existing space? Is there a height limitation? Do you need scrubbers for emissions odor control?
Do you want to incorporate particle size reduction, or is it important to maintain the same particle size throughout the process?
Regardless of the above considerations, it is important to find an equipment manufacturer that has pilot-scale equipment capable of simulated product runs that can be used to design and guarantee commercial production. Don’t be surprised if a single-line manufacturer with only one or two technologies tries to make their equipment offering fit your process, rather than optimizing your process using the most efficient, cost-effective technology among a wide portfolio. If you find that more than one technology could fit your needs, it pays to explore each of them to find the best solution, prior to making large capital investments.
It is best to search for a single manufacturer with deep experience and a broad product line covers several technology options. Otherwise, you will need to repeat your evaluation process with multiple suppliers in an effort to find the best technology. This will help you select the best solution for your needs, rather than basing your decision solely on the equipment manufacturer’s selection of equipment.