Mechanisms of convective drying in thick beds of solids
Experimental and theoretical studies were made of the temperature distribution within beds, and of drying rates, with various materials undergoing convective drying. The experimental work covered thick beds of hygroscopic and non-hygroscopic materials (glass beads of different diameters, polystyrene pellets, activated alumina and wood powder) at air temperatures of 54oC to 84oC. Tests were carried out in a laboratory drying apparatus comprising a wind tunnel through which the air, of controlled temperature and humidity, was passed over a sample suspended from a balance. Thermocouples were inserted at different depths within the sample bed. The temperature distribution profiles for both hygroscopic and non-hygroscopic beds exhibited a clear difference between the temperatures at the surface and bottom during the constant rate period. An effective method was introduced for predicting the critical moisture content. During the falling rate the profiles showed the existence of a receding evaporation plane; this divided the system into a hotter dry zone in the upper section and a wet zone near the bottom. A graphical procedure was established to predict accurately the position of the receding evaporation front at any time. A new mathematical model, based on the receding evaporation front phenomenon, was proposed to predict temperature distributions throughout a bed during drying. Good agreement was obtained when the model was validated by comparing its predictions with experimental data. The model was also able to predict the duration of each drying stage. In experiments using sample trays of different diameters, the drying rate was found to increase with a decrease in the effective length of the bed surface. During the constant rate period with trays of a small effective length, i.e. less than 0.08 m, an 'inversion' in temperature distribution occurred in the bed; the bottom temperature increased and became greater than that of the surface.