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ICheiTl

0263-8762/04/S30.00+0.00

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© 2004 Institution of Chemical Engineers
Trans IChemE, Part A, October 2004
Chemical

Engineering

Research

and Design,

82(A10): 1344—1352

AIR FLOW PATTERNS IN DEHUMIDIFIER
WOOD DRYING KILNS
Z. F . SUN *, C . G . C A R R I N G T O N , J . A. A N D E R S O N and Q. S U N
1

1

2

1

Physics Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
^Energy Group Ltd, Dunedin, New Zealand

1

B

y simulating the airflow patterns, velocity and pressure distributions in an industrial
dehumidifier wood drying kiln, it is shown that typical dehumidifier system configurations create a risk of high levels of air recirculation at the dehumidifier, with adverse
implications for dryer capacity and efficiency. The simulation results also show that, for high
efficiency, it is important to avoid air recirculation. An alternative air flow configuration,
which could achieve this result using a single set of fans, is presented and its performance
assessed.
Keywords: wood drying; heat transfer; mass transfer; mathematical modelling; heat pump;
dehumidifier.

INTRODUCTION
Airflow design is potentially important in the design of
dehumidifier drying kilns which operate as closed, fullyrecirculatory systems. In this paper, we show how the
performance of a dehumidifier wood drying kiln can be
impaired by a mismatch between the kiln airflow system
and the dehumidifier. In turn, the poor performance of
the dehumidifier reduces the overall efficiency of the kiln,
resulting in increased drying time and energy use.
In industrial wood drying kilns, the effect of non-uniform
airflows is particularly difficult to resolve. Nijdam and
Keey (2002) have investigated airflow patterns in conventional heat-and-vent timber kilns to determine design modifications that promote more uniform flows. Their velocity
measurements down the height of the timber stack in a
kiln with outward-swing overhead baffles showed that the
uppermost packets of the stack were starved of airflow.
Nijdam and Keey (2002) demonstrated that, using contoured right-angled bends and inward-swinging overhead
baffles in higher-velocity wood drying kilns, there was a
3-fold reduction in the range of the vertical velocity
distribution.
In a typical industrial dehumidifier kiln, the dehumidifier
comprises separate modules, with their own fans, independent of other fans which may be used to maintain air movement in the kiln. In this system the kiln airflow and the
dehumidifier airflow interact closely, although they are normally not designed as an integrated system. The impact of
mismatches is difficult to anticipate. It is also difficult to

'Correspondence to: Dr Z.F. Sun, Physics Department, University of
Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.
E-mail: zhifa@physics.otago.ac.nz

measure the distributions of air velocity and pressure, due
to the complex interactions of the subsystems, such as the
kiln fans, wood stack, air ducts and the dehumidifier fans
and heat exchangers. In this paper we present an analysis
of airflow in a commercial dehumidifier wood drying kiln
as a whole, using a three-dimensional CFD model. We
show how airflow design has the potential to affect the performance of dehumidifier wood drying kilns in unexpected
ways. A modified kiln configuration, in which an air duct
connects the exit of the dehumidifier fans with the upper
duct space of the kiln, has been assessed using the CFD
model. The results show that this kiln configuration can
significantly improve the dehumidifier wood drying kiln
performance. In particular, for dehumidifier wood drying
kilns to achieve high efficiency, it is advantageous to use
a single set of fans to drive the air flow and to ensure all
the flow passes the dehumidifiers without recirculation.

SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
Figure 1 shows the flow configuration and the coordinate
system based on a commercial wood drying kiln. The origin
of the coordinate system is at the mid-point of the left-hand
wall (Figure la) of the kiln at floor level. The system consists of two dehumidifier modules installed side-by-side, a
wood stack and six kiln air recirculation fans, all located
within an insulated kiln chamber.
The two main elements of the dehumidifier, which influence the flow patterns in the kiln, are the condenser and
evaporator and their air fans, shown in Figure 1(a). Each
module has two condenser fans and three evaporator fans.
For simplicity, in this investigation only the characteristics
of the volume flow rate and pressure drops of the condenser
1344

as shown in Figure 1(b). 1999). being 2. The space between board layers is 20 mm.3 m condenser coils and fans evaporator coils and fans U-1.8 m 0.pe (2) and 3.8 m air duct 3.75 m 0.B7m 4. . 1997). more than 20. The three packets are supported by bearers 100 mm thick. 2004.)+CUTH.67 (=0. Schematic diagram of an industrial dehumidifier wood-drying kiln. 3 ^-(pe) + —(pw. Here the flow resistance of the heater. yielding an accurate description of how the effective turbulent transport varies with the effective Reynolds number. As shown in Figure 1(a). Part A. the effect of small gaps between in-line boards on the pressure drop of airflow across wood stacks (Langrish and Keey.54 m 1 0 8 m 1. are considered.5 m A-A (b) B (c) 1345 the geometry shown in detail in Figure 1. Stacks of wood are normally several packets deep in the air flow direction and several packets high.0. Since the aspect ratio of the ducts formed by the board layers and stickers is relatively large.S . small gaps between in-line boards have been ignored in the simulation. In Figure 1(a). the cross section of the kiln chamber along the x-direction has a trapezoidal shape. . 3 (P"i) + X . which is located between the condenser fans and condenser coils.S 2 -C eP-T 2 . C = 1. The RNG k-e model can be expressed by the following momentum equations and the equations for turbulent kinetic energy (k) and its rate of dissipation (e) (Fluent Incorporated.68. It is assumed that the kiln is fully loaded with 60 layers of wood boards and thus the horizontal ceiling of the drying zone is just on the top of the concrete slabs. 2000).25 m wide and the gaps separated the packets vertically are neglected. with the front higher than the rear by 1 m. however. which is smaller than the minimum value (unity) which was suggested by Nijdam and Keey (2002) to mitigate the adverse effect of the frictional pressure drop down the height of the plenum chamber. are placed on the top of the timber stack to reduce warp during drying (Nijdam and Keey. 9 / . This allows accurate extension of the model to near-wall flows and lowReynolds-number or transitional flows (Fluent Incorporated. NUMERICAL METHOD coils and fans are considered. the effects of the stickers inside the stack on flow patterns have been neglected. are fully effective.1 m deep each in the air flow direction. and air bypass is neglected.stack 6. with In order to characterize the distributions of air velocity and pressure and air recirculation occurring in the kiln. 9e\ . The backwardsloping roof would produce stronger vortices in the front top corner and thus a larger pressure drop than the peaktop and barrel-top kilns discussed by Nijdam and Keey (2002). r . 2002). 3 BP duj Peir 9bc. 1997): 9 9/ . 1996) and on external mass and heat transfer rates (Sun. derived analytically by RNG theory. a = 1.3 m 4. Thus. As shown in Figure 1(a). 82(A10): 1344-1352 . Figure 1. The gaps separated the packets in the airflow direction are 0. the dashed lines represent the walls of a simple air duct which connects the top ceiling space with the exit of the dehumidifier in a modified configuration of the kiln.9m A (a) 0. 3M. the standard RNG k-e model constants. The details of the horizontal board layers are shown in Figure 1(c).e) N at ax. prevent air flow from the stack to the side bypass space. 2001) can be neglected.R (3) In the simulation. It is assumed that the side baffles which prevent air bypassing the side of the timber stack. which is maintained by longitudinal stickers (or fillets) across the width of the stack at intervals of 450-600 mm (Keey et ai. the renormalization group (RNG) k-e turbulence model has been used to solve the turbulent momentum transport equations.AIR FLOW PATTERNS kiln fans. The ratio of the inlet plenum-space width to the sum of the heights of the sticker spaces is equal to 0. The RNG k-e model employs a differential form of the relation for the effective viscosity.51 m baffle-board central symmetry line 2. since the airflow of the evaporator enters the condenser and the flow rate is typically only 10% of the condenser air flow. C = 1. 3 / 3.2.J + n.08 m 0. have been used: C = 0. Concrete slabs.(pUiUj) OX.U % dk\ M e f f .(put) = .63 m 4. Each dehumidifier module also has an electric air heater to preheat the kiln before drying commences. „ 9 . 150 mm thick.v.22 m).2 m- 11 5. has been incorporated with the condenser coils. The standard M l 6 2e 0 Trans IChemE.24 m . The wood stack is assumed to be a normally aligned stack of wood boards (Sun and Carrington. As demonstrated by previous authors. Stickers at the side end of the stack. e " e M e f fdxi T .(pk) + .42.0845. (1) d.8/1. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. three in-line packets.

1996). Based on the kiln and dehumidifier flow configuration. To use the standard wall functions. the mesh size used is Ax x Ay = 2. The pressure profile of the airflow at both the entrance and the exit of the stack should not be affected by the friction force of the walls of the boards significantly.5 x 2. EFFECTS OF MESH SIZES Successful computations of turbulent flows require sufficiently fine meshes for the regions where the mean flow changes rapidly and there are shear layers with a large mean rate of strain. a three-dimensional grid has been designed. should have a value of 30 approximately (Fluent Incorporated. both the pressure and air velocity calculated using equation (4) in the space between the board layers are in good agreement with profiles obtained using a mesh size of Ax x Ay = 2. larger meshes may be used for the regions outside the stack. the recommended maximum (Fluent Incorporated. 82(A10): 1344-1352 .v x Ay = 2. the wall unit or the surface y .and y-directions of the whole kiln. as follows Si = -0. Solid lines: air spaces between board layers (mesh size: A. et al. 1 MESH CELLS AND BOUNDARY CONDITIONS In order to maximize computational efficiency.5 mm).5 x 2. to be used to obtain the profiles of the pressure and the average velocity of the airflow passing through the sample stack.34 mm has been assumed in the standard wall function for the surfaces of wood boards (Langrish and Keey. The methods and boundary conditions used for the simulation of the flow patterns of the airflow across the sample stack are similar to those discussed by Sun (2001).1346 SUN logarithmic wall functions have been used for the near wall treatments (Fluent Incorporated. Ax x Ay = 100 x 20 mm. the mesh size is varied. except for the regions near the walls of the kiln chamber. The profiles were compared with those obtained using a smaller mesh size of Ax x Ay = 2. a correlation describing the pressure gradient along the flow direction. even when a relatively large mesh size. the aspect ratio of the mesh cells in these spaces is less than 5 : 1 .4 m. at a typical free-stream inlet velocity of 2 m s~ . is used. Beneath the top ceiling of the kiln. In order to improve numerical accuracy.8 m s in the space (from x = 1 m to x = 3. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. This was obtained using the mesh-independent results of the pressure drop simulated under different central line velocities. except that a roughness height of 0. but with a depth of 2. only one half of the kiln is considered. The spaces between the board layers inside the stack are represented as an isotropic porous medium. the mesh size is Az = 20 mm. equation (4) was used as a negative momentum source term in the standard fluid flow equations of the RNG k-e turbulence model. T . 1997).1 Figure 2. the mesh size in all the three directions is 80 mm. the distance from the wall at the wall-adjacent cells must be determined by considering the range over which the log-law representing the wall functions is valid. has been established. A i r pressure and velocity profiles along a sample stack. 1997).5 x 2. 1997) to solve the pressure-velocity coupling equations. In the top ceiling space of the kiln. which corresponds to an average central line velocity of 5. by treating the central plane of the kiln along the flow direction as a symmetric plane. since the air velocity near the walls is relatively small. the second-order-upwind scheme has been used to discretize all the balance equations. //. Thus.5 x 2. the mesh size is 80 mm. Ax x Ay = 100 x 20 mm. 2004. Along both the horizontal x.5 mm. It is seen that. as described above. mixed mesh cells of unstructured mesh elements have to be used in certain spaces. in order to use largerf meshes for the space between the board layers to save cpu time and storage memory.5 mm. This allowed a larger mesh size. which is mainly caused by the friction force of the boards. Part A. Figure 2 shows the profiles of the air static pressure and the averaged airflow velocity along the the sample stack. The effects of the mesh size have been investigated using a two-dimensional model for a sample wood stack which is similar to the in-line packets shown in Figure 1(a). Since the physical geometry of the board layers and the flow patterns around the board layers has a periodically repeating nature. five layers of meshes adjacent to the walls and the ceiling were constructed. which is smaller than the horizontal mesh size of 100 mm used to analyse the sample stack. Dashed lines: equation (4) used for the spaces between board layers (mesh size: Ax x Av = 100 x 20 mm). 1997). which is equal to the height of the spaces between board layers. Therefore. The results show that equation (4) may be used with the larger mesh size for central line velocities up to 1 0 m s " . In addition.42 1066|M| 1 7 4 9 6 (4) 6 By treating the space between board layers as an isotropic porous medium. in order that the mesh cells can be linked properly Trans IChemE. In order to take account of the effects of the walls. For a system with a complex circulating geometry. Along the vertical j-direction of the kiln. A mesh size of 10 mm is sufficiently small for the regions near the walls. with a mesh size of 10 mm in the inward normal direction of the walls. defined as pu y/ix. In order to obtain mesh-independent results and y+ % 30. In order to get mesh-independent modelling results of wood drying kilns.4 m) between board layers. only two half-board layers in the sample stack have been considered. The SIMPLE algorithm has been used together with the solver of Fluent/Uns (Fluent Incorporated. Since the standard wall function is used in the calculation.5 mm as shown in Figure 2. sufficiently fine meshes should be used for the regions near to the surfaces of wood boards in wood stacks and the walls of the kiln chamber.

6677v . 5 . The operating condition for the kiln is defined through a fixed atmospheric pressure (=101. Part A. pyramidal. kiln chamber walls and other solid components. 2004. In equations (5) and (6). personal communication). which are 2.7694|v| with the structured mesh cells in their neighbouring spaces.4 < v < 10 2 2 (5) (6) (7) where v is the local velocity. 82(A10): 1344-1352 . yielding in total 1. the annular characteristic of the exit flow of propeller-type fans has been ignored.20 x 10 mixed mesh cells composed primarily of tetrahedral mesh elements and hexahedral.82 and 2. The condenser heat exchanger and heating elements of the preheater are treated as a single porous medium. 9. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. which are. and the fan curve of the Fantech 0714/10 (blade angle: 25% diameter 0. Figure 4.63 m). with high velocity downstream of the kiln fans and air flow eddies in the side corners.5175v 1.7350. A constant air viscosity corresponding to room temperature was used in the calculation. In addition. The following relations have been obtained: 6 5 141. and AP = 203. 1993) are shown in Figure 3.8578 . A negative source term representing the pressure gradients across the condensers and preheater was estimated from performance data for commercial finned-tube heat exchangers as follows: Si = -77.7 2 < for the pressure rise across each of the condenser fans. 4 1.25 x 10 nodes and 5.3.1612v 179.325 Pa) at a point at the rear end of the kiln. The fan curve of the Woods air movement (WAM) 2101 propeller kiln fans (diameter 0. The boundary conditions for air flow are determined by the performance characteristics of the kiln fans. Air flow eddies are also generated in the spaces between the kiln fans. The total air volume flow rate through the stack is determined by the pressure jumps across the kiln fans. A commercial software.7837v .2.97 x Mr hexahedral cells. Since the flow in the kiln is not uniform.7454v .6828v . as in Figure 1(b). and wedge elements where appropriate and 6. in turn related to the volume flow rate of the airflow.50. Fan curves of the Woods air movement kiln fans and the Fantech 0714/10/25 condenser fans.AIR FLOW PATTERNS 300 Woods Air Movement 2101 Fantech 0714/10 Extension of fitted relation 250 S 0_ 200 150- £ 100 Q_ 50 02 4 6 Volume flow rate m s ~ 3 8 1 Figure 3. GAMBIT (Fluent Incorporated.1 < v < 15.24 m.029 + 28. v represents the average local velocity normal to the fans. 6 < v < 7 .71 m) condenser fans (Fantech pty Ltd. the non-slip wall condition is applied to the surface of the wood boards. the calculated mass flow rates of the three kiln fans are different. Trans IChemE. SIMULATION RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Figure 4 shows the profiles of the velocity magnitude vector of the airflow on a horizontal x-y plane coinciding with the axes of the kiln fans. It can be seen that the velocity field is quite complex. This shows one side of the kiln.53 kg s~ along the y-direction. Vector of velocity magnitude on the horizontal plane where z = 4. and the three circular vertically oriented surfaces represent the kiln fans. was used to build the mesh cells. 7. Owing to the lumped parameter models employed for the kiln and condenser fans. 1998).1. 2. provided by the manufacturer of the kiln (Campbell. 2001. 1347 for the pressure rise across each of the kiln fans.

50e+00 2. respectively.50e-01 0.71 m) are not uniform at the entrance region of the first packet. which increase from the first packet to the third packet. It can be seen that air flow eddies are produced at the top side-corners of the kiln and in the downstream spaces between the condenser fans. As shown in Figure 7. The average values of the x-velocity in the bottom airflow channel are 1. unlike the air velocity profiles on the top plane.9 y=1. Vector of velocity magnitude on the vertical plane where x = 8. respectively. The eddies represent dissipative processes that reduce the efficiency of both the kiln fans and the dehumidifier fans. second and third packets.35 y = 1. the air velocity on the bottom plane decreases. The flow patterns of the airflow on the top plane of the second packet are similar to those of the first packet.50e+002? o 1. at 4. .00e-01 •• ' • " 'A) 411 1 2.71 m. It is seen from Figure 6 that the velocity profiles on the top plane (z = 3. s . the CFD results indicate that air flow eddies are produced at all the top and bottom corners of the kiln and at the corners of the timber packets.8 y = 2.00e+00-5.756+00' | 1.71m) and bottom (z = 0.93. In this figure. 2. At the entrance of the third packet. However.258+00 g 1. 1. These appear to be caused by the kiln fans installed in the ceiling space of the kiln and by the strong resistance of the airflow impelled by the condenser fans illustrated in Figure 5. the two horizontally oriented gridsurfaces represent the condenser fans. the large span in x-velocity in the exit region of the third packet indicates the presence of recirculation eddies at the exit of the stack. . This variation in the velocity appears to be caused by non-uniform flow in the ceiling space of the kiln illustrated in Figure 4..11 m. Part A.00e+00 * 7.00e-01 - _ -1.89 kg s .00e+00 „ . More generally.v-velocity profiles on the plane z = 0.5 to 1. The calculated mass flow rates of the two condenser fans are the same. 2004. second and third packets.00e+00E. Since the effects of the longitudinal stickers inside the stack have been neglected in the simulation. Figures 6 and 7 show profiles of the x-velocity along lines from the stack inlet to stack outlet on two typical horizontal planes.25 y = 2. The x-velocities averaged over the cross-sectional area of the top airflow channel at the locations of 1 m from the leading edge of each of the packets are 0.59 and 1.00e+000 1 2 3 4 5 6 x-coordinate (m) 7 8 Figure 6.94.725 m.11 m) of the stack. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. but the velocities are larger. at the top ( z = 3. this would not produce serious errors in the average mass flow rates. 1. 1. Trans IChemE.00e+00 2. entrances of the first and second packets.25e+00 2.5 m s~' approximately.39 m s~ in the first.7 1 2 4 • 1 3 4 5 x-coordinate (m) 6 Figure 7. the air velocity spans in the cross ydirection may be overestimated.92.45 y = 0.00e+00o > 5. and 2.50e+00 2. m m .50e+00 £• o 1.> i iC\ 1. .50e-01 5.37 m s ~ ' in the first. the x-velocity span is smaller than those at the et al. 3. • o o = a y=0 y = 0.00e-01 0.1348 SUN Figure 5 shows the velocity field in a vertical y-z plane coinciding with the axes of the condenser fans of the dehumidifiers. The large range in the x-velocity indicates that there are large recirculation eddies in the top entrance region of the first packet. The x-velocity spans from 0.r-velocity profiles on the plane z = 3.00e+00 Figure 5.50e+00 -| 3. However. 82(A10): 1344-1352 .

11 m shown in Figures 6 and 7. This figure shows that a significant fraction of air leaving the dehumidifier mixes with the airflow out of the stack and re-enters the dehumidifier.37 m s~ at the bottom of the packet to 2. which shows pathlines of massless particles discharged from the condenser fans.96.53 m.AIR FLOW PATTERNS The velocity profiles for the middle plane of the stack (z = 1. w is the x-velocity averaged over the whole cross-sectional area of the stack at the locations inside each of the three packets. and the velocity in the top region is much larger than that in the first packet. oriented grid-surfaces denote the condenser fans. respectively. Air velocity profile along height of the stack. which are not shown here. Profiles of the x. 2004. It appears that the empty spaces between successive packets have the effect of redistributing the airflow rate through the packets. It is seen that. The average values of the x-velocity in the middle airflow channel are 1. The increase in the air velocity in the third packet may be due to the effect of the kiln fans. at the top of the packet. The variations and fluctuations of the vertical profiles of the air velocity in the first and second packets are consistent with the measurements by Nijdam and Keey (2002) in a traditional peak-top kiln and in a newer barrel-top kiln. since the upper part of the third packet is close to the kiln fans. since much of the airflow delivered by the kiln fans comes from the stack directly. the simulation indicates that the real recirculation mass flow rate is likely to be much larger than this minimum value. Nijdam and Keey (2002) found that the upper part of the stacks were normally starved of airflow at the air entry end. For the present kiln.7% of the total air mass flow rate delivered by the condenser fans. are similar to the velocity profiles at z = 3. the velocity profiles are also not uniform. Part A. with increasing in the height of the stack. The difference (3.39 njs. for this kiln (test 1 in Table 1). the three vertically oriented gridsurfaces represent the kiln fans.11 m). It can be seen from Trans IChemE. Here.94 m s" at the top of the stack.20 m s at z = 0. s _ Figures 10 and 11 show the pathlines of massless particles which are discharged from the upper and lower rear-end surfaces of the stack respectively. However.92 m s>~ at the bottom of the stack to 2. Particles are coded by the grey colour. the total mass flow rate (19.55 kg s~ ) delivered by the condenser fans is larger than that (15. the two horizontally 1 2 3 Height from base of timber stack (z-direction) (m) Figure 8. and the grid-box represents the dehumidifier walls. due to a recirculation zone adjacent to the stack within the inlet plenum chamber. the vertical rectangular gray surfaces represent the rearend surfaces of the upper 21 board layers and lower 39 board layers of the stack. Illustrative pathlines of particles leaving condenser fans. However.70 kg s ) delivered by the kiln fans. In Figures 10 and 11. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. second and third packets respectively.71 m and z = 0. Overall calculated results for the kiln with the present configuration (Figure 1) are listed in Table 1 along with results for a modified configuration discussed below.91 m).and y-velocity along lines from the stack inlet to stack outlet indicate that. The vertical profile of the air velocity in the third packet shows that the air velocity in this packet gradually increases with the height of the stack from 1. test 1). It is seen that.89 m s " in the first. 1. 1349 1 _ 1 Air flow recirculation between the outlet of the dehumidifier and its inlet is also illustrated in Figure 9. the profiles of x-velocity on the middle plane of the stack are more uniform than those on the top plane (z = 3. This would happen i f all the airflow leaving the stack were to enter the dehumidifier. Indeed. 82(A10): 1344-1352 .88 and 1. in the vertical zdirection.71 m) and on the bottom plane (z = 0. in the first packet. In Table 1. because the kiln fans and the condenser fans are not configured in an integrated way. Figure 9. and then decreases to 0.85 kg s~ ) between the mass flow rates delivered by the condenser fans and kiln fans represents the minimum amount of airflow recirculation from the exit of the dehumidifier to its inlet. the minimum amount of the airflow recirculation is 19. The vertical profile of the air velocity in the second packet is more uniform than that in the first stack. part of the airflow recycles several times from the outlet of the dehumidifier to its inlet. Figure 8 shows the vertical profiles of the x-velocities averaged over the cross-sectional areas of the corresponding flow channels at the locations of 1 m from the leading edge of each of the three packets (solid lines. the air velocity increases from 1. 1 m from the inlet of each packet.

82(A10): 1344-1352 . enters the kiln fans directly. Overall calculated results for test 2 are also listed in Table 1. _1 wk. This indicates that.2% of the total flow rate of the condenser fans. energy used by the condenser fans to maintain this large amount of recirculation flow.26 (ms ) _ 1 1. was investigated Figure 10. the calculated average x-velocity (2. Calculated results for different kiln configurations. Particles are coded by the grey colour. the mass flow rate entering the kiln fans from the dehumidifier is less than 9. In addition. As shown in Table 1. air recirculation from the exit to the inlet of the dehumidifier was eliminated.70 (kgs ') 19.23 m s ) in test 2 is larger than that (1.26 (kgs ) . compared with test 1 the overall mass flow rate of the _ . The air velocities in the three packets of the kiln in test 2 are significantly larger than those in test 1. although most of the air flow discharged from the lower 39 board layers enters the condenser and then passes across the dehumidifier fans. Trans IChemE. by using appropriate ducting and only the condenser fans.2% of the total energy used by the condenser fans. Part A. of the air discharged from the upper 21 board layers of the stack is 39. Particles are coded by the grey colour.91 m s ) in test 1. Figure 11. 6.1350 SUN et al. In addition.55 kg s~' and the mass flow rate of air recirculation from the exit of the dehumidifiers to its inlet is more than 10.1 15. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. the velocity distributions from the first packet to the third packet are more uniform than those in test 1 and the air velocity profiles in the vertical z-direction in test 2 are similar to those in test 1. In test 2. (Pa) 6 0 2 (4 condenser fans) 2 (4 condenser fans) No Yes 31.91 2.8% of the total flow rate of the kiln fans comes from the dehumidifier. without using kiln fans but with an air duct. 2004.15 kg s~'. the energy consumption of the kiln fans would be eliminated in test 2. the drying performance of the kiln would be improved. Thus. test 2 in Table 1. which would reduce the efficiency of the dehumidifiers.fan (kgs ' ) 15. Test 1 2 Number of kiln fans Number dehumidifier modules Duct AP. Pathlines of the particles discharged from the rear-end surface of the lower 39 board layers of the stack. Table I . using an air duct connecting the dehumidifier to the top ceiling space of the kiln. a modified configuration. The vertical profiles of the average x-velocity in test 2 are shown by the dashed lines in Figure 8.58 Figure 10 that all the air flow discharged from the flow channels of the upper 21 board layers of the stack. Pathlines of the particles discharged from the rear-end surface of the upper 21 board layers of the stack. Since no kiln fans are used. approximately 51. shown by the dashed lines in Figure 1(a). It is seen that. representing 51.34 38.23 using the CFD turbulence model. with some local recirculation in the space above the dehumidifier. Hence less than 60. Figure 11 shows that.1 A MODIFIED CONFIGURATION To illustrate the effect of changing the dehumidifier kilns.70 < 18. The mass flow rate. does not make any contribution to the performance of the kiln.0 kg s . using the data shown in Table 1 for test 1.2% of the total flow rate of the kiln fans.55 18. This airflow recirculation would raise the temperature and reduce the humidity of air at the inlet of the dehumidifiers. part of the air flow discharged from the lower part of the staGk goes to the kiln fans directly.

but with one dehumidifier module. 82(A10): 1344-1352 . the total energy of the preheater is almost constant. the drying time increases by 14% and the total energy used by the dehumidifier.5 O Energy of dehumidifier 50 A Drying Time f" 1.29 kg s~ and the stack pressure drop in test 2 has increased by 7.4 JZ g 40 * 1. As expected. Effects of airflow recirculation at dehumidifiers on dehumidifier energy and drying lime. and drying time are shown in Figures 12 and 13. 1995). 2002). Measurements of drying rate and dehumidifier power input were made under two conditions: (i) as illustrated in Figure 1. On the other hand.3 >. a dynamic dehumidifier wood drying model developed previously (Sun et al.80 m s~ . Effects of airflow recirculation at dehumidifiers on kiln fan energy and preheater energy. to assess the influence of airflow recirculation at the dehumidifiers on the performance of the kiln system. with some recirculation at the dehumidifier. and the external heat and mass transfer rates between airflow and the surfaces of wood boards were calculated using correlations established on the basis of modified boundary layer theories which take account of the separation and reattachment flows (Sun. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. 2000) has been used. 30^ 30 40 50 60 Model Drying Rate (kg l r ) 70 1 Figure 14.. maximum evaporating temperature. The results of the dynamic simulation are qualitatively supported by measurements conducted on a commercial kiln with the same configuration shown in Figure 1.AIR FLOW PATTERNS condenser fans in test 2 has decreased by 1. It is not possible to compare the two sets of data directly. temperature. The model solves the integral form of the unsteady state mass. There are two dehumidifier modules in the kiln. at CD c 1 2 1. the adverse implications of the air recirculation on the performance of the dehumidifier. The stack inlet air velocity is 2 m s ' . respectively. preheater and kiln fans increases by 18%. pressure and velocity of the air stream. kiln fan energy. With 50% airflow recirculation from the exit to the inlet of the dehumidifiers. and minimum stack inlet relative humidity are limited to be 75°C. The distributions of the average mass fractions. do not occur in test 2.07 to 3. due to differences in = The calculated overall dehumidifier energy use. 2004. to prevent recirculation. momentum and energy balance equations for both the air flow and the wood boards. The volume flow rate of each condenser fan has decreased from 4. can be estimated using this model. The final moisture content is 13%. that the total dehumidifier energy for the condenser and evaporator fans and compressors and the total energy of the kiln fans increase significantly with increasing airflow recirculation from the outlet to the inlet of the dehumidifiers. 25 C and 40% respectively (Carrington et al. which are discussed below. and the volume of timber is 70 m . similar to that shown in Figure 1(a). An air preheater of 30 kW is used. based on the CFD results as shown in Table 1 for the present kiln (test 1). and the power of the condenser fans should increase by approximately 1%.1 10 20 30 40 50 Percentage of Air Recirculation (%) Figure 12. It is seen from these figures <10 70 ~ • Pre-baffle O Post-baffle 60 4 1. For illustrative purposes.4 Pa. 3 900 10 20 30 40 Percentage of Air Recirculation (%) 50 60 Figure 13. 1351 1500 r 1400 • O 3 I JZ s 1300 • O Energy of preheater 1200 • • Energy of kiln fans CD c 1100 • 111 1000 INFLUENCE OF RECIRCULATION ON DRYER PERFORMANCE The CFD turbulence model cannot be used to simulate the thermodynamic cycle and mass and heat transfer processes in the dehumidifier or in the wood boards. as well as the average moisture content of the wood boards and their temperature. The drying time also increases with the percentage of airflow recirculation. which is turned off when the stack inlet dry-bulb temperature reaches 50°C. Trans IChemE. The maximum condensing temperature.6 1. Hence. heater energy. the timber is Pinus radiata sapwood with an initial moisture content 140%. Part A. and (ii) with a duct. Comparison of measured drying rate with a model benchmark under conditions with and without recirculation.

Comparison of measured dehumidifier power consumption with a model benchmark under conditions with and without recirculation. it is important to (a) ensure the c. 2029-2033.G. 80(A7): 739-744. without suitable air ducting at the dehumidifier air discharge. New timber kiln designs for promoting uniform airflows within the wood stack. Nijdam. 30 September-2 October.G. 2001. A momentum source term describing the pressure drop within the porous medium has been added to the standard fluid flow equations. Trans IChemE.fan condenser fans /-direction /-direction kiln kiln fans REFERENCES Carrington. Chem Eng Sci. Berlin.F.G. p e y Figure 15. Performance analysis of a dehumidifier using HFC-134a. has been analysed. a large fraction of the dehumidifier airflow recycles back to the inlet of the dehumidifiers.. the model assuming no recirculation.J. Part A. J. C. turbulent kinetic energy (m s~~) mass flow rate (kg s" ) pressure (N t r T ) pressure drop of air flow passing through stack (N m ~ ) momentum source term for porous media (N m ~ ) time (s) velocity component or velocity in jr-direction (m s ' ) average x-velocity in stack (m s~ ) velocity (m s ) coordinate (m) coordinate (m) coordinate (m) 2 _ l inverse effective Prandtl number for turbulent kinetic energy inverse effective Prandtl number for turbulent dissipation rate turbulent dissipation rate ( m s ) effective viscosity (p. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors gratefully acknowledge the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology for supporting this work under contract UOOX0004. 78: 107-117. Sun. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. P. Sun.F. Fluent Incorporated. 82(A10): 1344-1352 .C. Part A. Accurate agreement with the model is not necessary for this comparison. and Keey.B. and Walker. Bannister.. airflow is properly ducted to prevent recirculation and (b) avoid using two sets of air fans in series. Int J Refrig. J. and Bannister.SUN 1352 22 et al.G. 1999. Chem Eng Res Des. P.F. NH). Lebanon. Keey. Q. 103-108.) (kg m ' s ) turbulent viscosity (kg m s ) density (kg m ~ ) 2 . 1993. for dehumidifier wood drying kilns to achieve high efficiency.. Sun. 2000.F. 57(11).A. 2002. Correlations for mass transfer coefficients over blunt boards based on modified boundary layer theories. 25-28 January. and Liu.1 _ l 3 Subscripts the temperature and humidity when the measurements were made. In order to solve the computational difficulties for simulation of a practical kiln. 2004. 89-98.. Z.2 User's Guide (Fluent Incorporated. 56(5): 1883-1896. Fans by Fantech. to provide a common performance reference for the measured data. in Proceedings of 6th International IUFRO Wood Drying Conference. C. 1998. Sydney. Sun. Trans IChemE. The results show that this configuration significantly improves the dehumidifier performance. A modified kiln configuration. and Carrington. by 18 and 14%.B. Langrish.B. Chem Eng Res Des. Fantech Pty Ltd. pp. NH).fan i j k k. T A G . Dynamic modelling of the wood stack in a wood drying kiln. 16 . In addition the data indicates that the power use is higher when the baffle is not present. Germany). 2000.. C. a simplified procedure has been developed in which the spaces between the board layers are treated as an isotropic porous medium.. In the results.F. Fluent Incorporated. Chem Eng Sci.3 - _ 1 . 2002. Z.. Effect of stack configuration on wood drying processes. Stellenbosch. Z. + p. Kiln-drying of Lumber (Springer. The effects of air bypassing in timber kilns on fan power consumption. pp. 1996. 1st edn (The Craftsman Press. South Africa. 1997.. Using a dehumidifier wood drying kiln model. Lebanon. for the example presented. respectively. R. Trans IChemE. 18 1 20 Model Power (kW) e iu. NOMENCLATURE k M P Af S/ r it fi v x y z - s s Greek symbols a k ct € 141 14 . The manuscript was received I July 2002 and accepted for publication after revision 18 June 2004. but close to the model results when the baffle is present. CONCLUSION Air flow patterns in an industrial dehumidifier wood drying kiln have been investigated using a CFD model.. Australia). Langrish. in which an air duct connects the dehumidifier with the upper airflow channel of the kiln. in Proceedings of CHEMECA 1996. This difficulty is avoided by comparing the measured data with dehumidifier model predictions. Carrington. Numerical simulation of flow in an array of in-line blunt boards: mass transfer and flow patterns. GAMBIT Modeling Guide (Fluent Incorporated. and Keey. the measured drying rate is consistently below the model prediction when there is no baffle. R. Z. T. Pi A. The results obtained show that. shown in Figures 14 and 15. R. Fluent/Uns and Rampant 4. ff fj.. It is concluded that. it has been demonstrated that such air recirculation reduces the efficiency of the dehumidifiers and increases drying time. 18: 477-485.