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Front. Energy Power Eng. China 2010, 4(3): 386391 DOI 10.

1007/s11708-010-0003-3

RESEARCH ARTICLE

Haifeng LI, Yanjun DAI, Jianguo DAI, Xibo WANG, Lei WEI

A solar assisted heat pump drying system for grain in-store drying

Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag 2009

Abstract For grain in-store drying, a solar assisted drying process has been developed, which consists of a set including a solar-assisted heat pump, a ventilation system, a grain stirrer, etc. In this way, low power consumption, short cycle time and water content uniformity can be achieved in comparison with the conventional method. A solar-assisted heat pump drying system has been designed and manufactured for a practical granary, and the energy consumption performance of the unit is analyzed. The analysis result shows that the solar fraction of the unit is higher than 20%, the coefcient of performance about system (COPS) is 5.19, and the specic moisture extraction rate (SMER) can reach 3.05 kg/kWh. Keywords solar energy, heat pump, airow, in-store drying

Introduction

Drying is necessary for high water content grains, especially when the grain has to be stored for a long time. Grain in-store drying, a drying method in which the grain with high water content is put into the granary directly and ambient or heated air is used as the drying medium to ventilate the granary, has been adopted by many grain depots because of its efciency and simple operation. Of the many drying methods developed, natural ventilation
Received March 11, 2009; accepted May 29, 2009 Haifeng LI, Yanjun DAI ( ), Jianguo DAI Institute of Refrigeration and Cryogenics, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China E-mail: yjdai@sjtu.edu.cn Xibo WANG China Grain Reserves Corporation, Beijing 100040, China Lei WEI Henan Weilai Machine Engineering, Co., LTD, Zhengzhou 450001, China

drying, heated ventilation drying and stir ventilation drying are the most common ones. Natural ventilation in-store drying is simple, inexpensive and effective, and has been used in grain drying elds such as the natural ventilated instore drying depots in the USA and Canada since the 1950s. However, it is often limited by the ambient conditions and its drying process is usually longer. Hence, heated ventilation in-store drying has been developed and popularized since the 1960s in the USA and some other developed countries. Moreover, to eliminate the grain water content gradient caused by instore drying, grain stirrers, which can bring the grain from the bottom to the top surface of the depot, has been developed and applied. Grain butler, a stirrer made in Germany, is well developed and is efcient in keeping the water content uniform within the grain depot [1,2]. As a great agriculture country, China produces massive rice, wheat and corn. Every year huge amounts of grain need drying, and the most popular way is the use of a grain dryer or a natural ventilation in-store drying system. However, the former not only consumes a lot of fossil energy but also brings the workers high labour intensity because of heavy transportation. The latter often requires a long drying time period which consumes a lot of electrical energy and is subjected to weather conditions. Many kinds of economical grain drying units using renewable energy have attracted a lot of attention worldwide in the past decades. Among them, solar energy drying systems are the most investigated, and solar assisted heat pump technology is particularly attractive, as the heat pump is a reliable and energy saving facility. If solar heating is combined with the heat pump, the intermittence and low energy density of solar energy can be remedied. Besides, the heat pump can recycle the sensible and latent heat of the return air, which will ensure the efciency and safety of the grain drying process [3,4]. China, a country with a vast territory, has great differences in climate conditions in different regions. To save energy, it is critical that extensive studies be conducted in exploring efcient ways of in-store grain

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drying under different operation conditions. This paper is a report of the study and analysis of the performance of a solar assisted heat pump system for grain in-store drying.

2 In-store drying process by solar assisted heat pump unit


2.1 Solar assisted heat pump unit for in-store drying

The solar assisted heat pump system is composed of solar air collectors, an air source heat pump, a grain stirrer, and a supply and return fan, etc. Figure 1 shows the schematic diagram of the in-store drying system.

Fig. 2 Multifunction heat pump unit for in-store grain drying

Fig. 1 Schematic diagram of a solar assisted heat pump for in-store drying
1,2,3air valve; 4solar air collector; 5condenser; 6evaporator; 7exhaust fan; 8expansion valve; 9compressor; 10supply fan; 11stirrer; 12granary

The solar air collectors are connected one by one in parallel. The solar heating unit and the heat pump unit are also arranged in parallel to reduce ow resistance. Both the condenser and the evaporator of the heat pump are the nned tube heat exchanger. Considering the grain bulks resistance, the solar collector fan, the condenser and the evaporator fan are installed and combined with the air supply system to form an integral drying ventilation system. Figure 2 shows the heat pump unit for in-store grain drying. The system can work in three operation modes, the solar assisted heating and ventilation mode, the heat pump heating and ventilation mode, and the heat pump dehumidication and ventilation mode. The detailed working process is shown in Fig. 3, in which Fig. 3(a) illustrates the solar assisted heating and ventilation mode which can be adopted on sunny days. The working process of this mode can be explained by Fig. 1. On a sunny day, when the supply and return fan is turned on, air valves 1 and 2 are moved to the position of the solid line. Ambient air is heated by the solar collectors and the heat pump respectively. The airows that come from the solar

collectors and the heat pump are mixed by the supply fan and then sent to the granary to dry the grain. The return air from the granary is introduced to the evaporator for heat recovery. During the drying process, the stirrer keeps working so that a uniform drying effect can be ensured. The heat pump heating and ventilation mode, feasible at night, is shown in Fig. 3(b). In this mode, the collector fan is turned off and the air valve 3 is closed. Air valves 1 and 2 are moved to the position of the solid line. Ambient air is heated by the heat pump, and then sent to the granary to dry the grain. Also, the return air from the granary is introduced to the evaporator for heat recovery. The heat pump dehumidication and ventilation mode, used on rainy or cloudy days, is shown in Fig. 3(c). In this mode, the collector fan is turned off and air valve 3 is closed. Air valves 1 and 2 are moved to the position of the dashed line. Ambient air is introduced rst into the evaporator where the air is cooled and dehumidied, and then sent into the condenser for reheating. Thereafter, it is sent to the granary for grain drying. It should be noted that during the drying process, the stirrer keeps working all the time so that a uniform drying effect can be ensured.
2.2 Air distribution in granary

To have a good in-store drying effect, both reasonable air distribution in the granary and appropriate air temperature and humidity are strictly required for ventilation drying with heating, without heating, or with dehumidication. For a safe and efcient in-store drying, it is important that the process air be supplied to the granary quickly and uniformly. In this study, a new type of CEDZ all-steel ventilation duct manufactured by a domestic company, as shown in Fig. 4, is utilized. This ventilation duct is called a ventilation cage, and is designed according to pressventilated airow. The cage, with a large opening ratio, a low ventilation resistance, a exible changing duct length and distance (among ducts), and less dead corners for ventilation, is composed of the main duct, the branch duct, the elbow, the plug, the tee joint, the fastener, and the distributor, etc.

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Fig. 3 Three working modes of the drying process with solar assisted pump
(a) Solar assisted heating and ventilation; (b) heat pump heating and ventilation; (c) heat pump dehumidication and ventilation

Fig. 4 Ventilation cage on the ground

Fig. 5

Grain stirrer

2.3

Grain stirrer

3 Demonstration drying granary and performance index


3.1 Demonstration drying granary and solar assisted heat pump system

To ensure the uniformity of drying and to solve the problem of the grain at the bottom of the bulk being dried exceedingly while that at the upper part not being dried sufciently, a stirrer is also necessary because it can guarantee drying uniformity in the vertical direction with a lower power consumption apart from the reasonable air distribution unit. Therefore, a grain stirrer called the grain butler, fabricated by a German company, as shown in Fig. 5, is used. The stirrer increases the contact area of the process air and the grain, so that the drying time can be reduced.

Based on the requirements for in-store grain drying, a granary in Kunming, Yunnan Province is chosen for demonstration. In Yunnan, the grain is usually harvested in October. Hence, the weather data on a typical sunny day in October is selected for system design. It is assumed that the maximum solar radiation on a day is 894 W/m2, and the average value can reach 750 W/m2. The highest

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temperature is 20C and the lowest is 9.5C. The solar heating unit can work 8 hours per day. The designed area of the solar collectors composed of 20 units is about 100 m2. The dimensional size of the heat exchanger is 1100 mm1500 mm130 mm, and the area for heat exchanging is 183 m2. The designed air ow rate of the solar collector, the supply air through the condenser and the exhaust air is 7000 m3/h, 23000 m3/h, and 20000 m3/h, respectively. Considering the ow resistance inside the grain bulk, a supply fan with an input power of 19 kW and a designed air ow rate of 30000 m3/h is selected. The input power of the exhaust fan is 2.5 kW and the designed air ow rate is 20000 m3/h. Detailed parameter of the granary is presented in Table 1.
Table 1
items grain variety grain temperature/C grain moisture content/% granary size/mmm height of grain bulk/m granary capacity/t wall thickness/m roof structure

COPH

Qcon : Pcom

(3)

For the studied solar assisted heat pump system for instore grain drying, the performance of the whole system can be evaluated by another index, COPS, expressed as COPS Qcon Qu : Pcom Pc (4)

As for the power consumption of the in-store drying, dehydration quantity per unit of power can be used as its evaluation index, whose denition is given as [7]: SMER dehydration quantity , input power (5)

Parameter of granary for simulation


parameter round-grained rice 20 1617 37.2222.867.8 6 3000 0.79 stress arch board

where the unit of the dehydration quantity is kg, and the unit of the input power is kWh.

4
4.1

Result and discussion


Performance of solar collector

3.2

Performance index

The performance indexes of the solar collector include solar thermal efciency which indicates the performance of the solar collector itself, and the solar fraction which stands for the contribution of the solar heating unit to the total energy consumed by the whole system. The solar thermal efciency, dened as the ratio of usable heat collected by the solar collector to the solar radiation received on the collector surface for a certain time period, is expressed as [5,6]

Here, the evacuated tubular solar collector is considered, because the product is easily available at a relatively low cost. The solar heating unit includes many solar collector modules, each of which is composed of an adiabatic header, 52 evacuated tubes, inner coupler casing and xed ttings. Figure 6 shows the solar radiation intensity and the inlet-outlet temperature of the solar collector on the testing day. It is seen that on a typical day, the temperature rise of the collector is 15C30C. The outlet temperature is about 35C45C which can meet the requirements for grain drying. Therefore, the utilization of an evacuated tubular solar collector is reasonable for the in-store drying system. The thermal efciency of the solar heating unit is shown in Fig.7. The thermal efciency of the collector is about

!t Qudt c : t Ac ! IT dt t
1 2 1

t2

(1)

The solar fraction, dened as the ratio of usable heat obtained from the solar collector to the total required heat of the system for a certain time period, can be expressed as

!t Qudt SF t : IL dt !t
1 2 1

t2

(2)

The performance of the heat pump unit is usually evaluated with the coefcient of heating performance (COPH), whose denition is given as

Fig. 6 Inlet-outlet temperature and solar radiation intensity versus time

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Fig. 7 Thermal efciency of solar air collector

Fig. 8 Heat capacity of the heat pump

60%70%, high enough to reduce the number of the facilities and save the working area.
4.2 Performance of solar assisted heat pump unit

According to the design requirements, the heat supplied by the heat pump will account for about 75% of the total heat produced by the whole system. Hence, the performance of the heat pump may have an important impact on the drying effect. A multifunction heat pump unit set is manufactured according to the special requirements for in-store grain drying. The performance of the heat pump is shown in Figs. 8 and 9 when the ambient temperature is 20C and the temperature rise is about 15C, respectively. Figure 8 shows the heat capacity of the heat pump. On a typical day, the heat capacity is about 102115 kW, which indicates that the performance of the heat pump is relatively steady and can ensure the safety of the drying process. If the system works in the heat pump heating mode, because the temperature rise of the air is not high, the COP of the heat pump is more than 4.72. If the solar heating unit is also involved, the heating performance of the whole system can be improved signicantly. It is seen from Fig. 9 that the maximum COPS of the whole system can reach 6.25. During daytime, the average COPS can reach 5.66. If night time heating is also considered, the average COPS of the system will be up to 5.19.
4.3 Performance of in-store drying
Fig. 10

Fig. 9

COP of the system

Figure 10 shows the simulation result of in-store drying of the granary listed in Table 1 with the solar assisted pump system on fteen typical days. The simulation is based on the deep-bed drying model [8,9]. The computing program is written according to the method proposed by A. Iguaz [10]. The actual mass of the stored grain is about 3000 t. The initial temperature and the water content of the grain is 20C and 17% respectively. The simulation result

Simulation of grain drying on typical days

demonstrates that the drying process remains in a constant drying rate stage during the whole drying period. The variation of grain temperature is small, which is limited within 1C. It takes 10 days to reduce the water content of the grain by 1.5%, and about 15 days to reduce the water content by 2%.

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SMER is selected as the evaluation index of power consumption for in-store grain drying. A higher value of SMER means lower power consumption. According to the computation, the SMER of the in-store grain drying process by the solar assisted pump system is 3.05 kg/kWh, higher than other in-store grain drying experiments done in many grain depots in China [1113], indicating that the instore drying method by the solar assisted heat pump system can meet the requirement for low power consumption. SF is selected as the evaluation index of the contribution of the solar collector to the total system. In terms of energy saving, the utilization of solar energy is important for the system. The higher value of SF means that more solar energy is utilized, which increases the COP of the total system. In this study, the demonstration granary is in Kunming where solar energy is abundant. According to the computation, the SF of the system in this study is more than 20% under the conditions of a typical day. On sunny days the SF can reach 28%.

more than 20%. In terms of the drying effect, the dehydration quantity per unit power consumption is 3.05 kg/kWh, including the power consumption of the compressor and the fans.
Acknowledgements This work was supported by the National Key Technologies R&D Program (No. 2006BAD08B06-2).

References
1. Miler W. Foreign grain drying technology. Beijing: China Financial and Economic Publishing House, 1985, 53120 2. Xu Caixia. Study on the optimum combination of solar energy and heat pump drying. Dissertation for the Masters Degree. Beijing: Beijing Forestry University, 2004 3. Fu Pengcheng, Li Ke, Liao Shengwen. Analysis of application and results of hot pump technology in the in-store drying of grain. Grain Storage, 2007, 12(1): 1618 (in Chinese) 4. Cao Chengwen. Computer simulation of grain drying systems. Transaction of the CSAE, 1999, 15(suppl.): 135141 5. Hawlader M N A, Jahangeer K A. Solar heat pump drying and water heating in the tropics. Solar Energy, 2006, 80(5): 492499 6. Wen Yuliang. Theoretical study on the gravity-assisted solar collector of loop heat pipe. Dissertation for the Masters Degree. Kunming: Yunnan Normal University, 2005. 7. Dai Jianguo, Wang Xibo, Dai Yanjun, Wei Lei. Simulation and analysis of heat pump in-store drying. Grain Storage, 2008, 37(3): 2529 (in Chinese) 8. Srivastava V K, John J. Deep bed grain drying modelling. Energy Conversion and Management. 2002, 43(13): 16891708 9. Mhimid A, Nastrallah S B, Fohr J P. Heat and mass transfer during drying of granular productssimulation with convective and conductive boundary conditions. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer. 2000, 43(15): 27792791 10. Iguaz A, ArroquiC, Esnoz A, Virseda P. Modelling and simulation of heat transfer in stored rough rice with aeration. Biosystems Engineering, 2004, 89(1): 6977 11. Yang Guofeng. Application of mechanical ventilation to reduce moisture content of paddy in large warehouse. Grain Storage, 2004, 34(2): 1315 (in Chinese) 12. Yi Shixiao, Sheng Hongxian, Wang Fengfu. Test of ventilation and lowering moisture on late indica rice of high moisture content in large warehouse. Grain Storage, 2005, 22(4): 3234 (in Chinese) 13. Liu Hui, Zhang Lailin, Ren Liming. The in-store drying experiment of high moisture content by mechanical ventilation. Journal of Henan University of Technology. 2007, 28(5): 2225 (in Chinese)

Conclusion

The characteristics and the performance of a solar assisted heat pump system for in-store grain drying have been studied. As a brief summary, the novelty and the major results of the study are to be emphasized as follows: 1) The in-store drying process with the solar assisted heat pump system is completed with a solar assisted heat pump heating unit, a ventilation cage unit and a grain stirrer, etc. 2) The solar assisted heat pump heating can ensure the efciency, low-power consumption and the safety of the drying process; the ventilation cage can ensure that the drying in the horizontal direction is uniform; the grain stirrer can guarantee that the drying in the vertical direction is uniform. 3) On typical sunny days, the average thermal efciency of the solar air collector can be more than 0.6 and the solar collector can work 8 hours. In the heating and ventilation mode operated only by the heat pump unit, the temperature rise of the process air is about 15C, and COPH is about 4.5. In the heating and ventilation mode operated by the solar assisted heat pump as a whole, the COPS of the system can reach 5.19. 4) As for the contribution of solar energy to the total heat of the system in the designed condition, the solar fraction is