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Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Modelling of heat and mass transfer in a tunnel dryer


Salah Ben Mabrouk
a

a,*

, Besma Khiari a, Mohamed Sassi

INRST National Institute for Scientic Research and Technology, P.O. Box 95, 2050 Hammam-Life, Tunis, Tunisia
b
LESTE Laboratory of Energetic Systems and Thermal Studies, ENIM Ecole Nationale dIngenieurs,
Monastir Avenue Ibn El Jazzar, 5019 Monastir, Tunisia
Received 1 February 2006; accepted 10 April 2006
Available online 8 June 2006

Abstract
This work presents a numerical model for heat and mass transfer of granular products in a xed-bed tunnel dryer. The drying process
is simulated under real operating conditions based on a thin layer model and experimental drying kinetics. A simplied heat and mass
transfer numerical model is developed based on the governing equations and the drying rate of a thin layer bed of granular products.
The obtained system of non-linear partial dierential equations is numerically solved by a nite volume method. The turbulent airow
and granular bed convection coecient as well as the eective conductivity are estimated using the turbulent airow over at-plate correlations. Simulations are compared with experimental data from drying of grapes in a thin layer model.
In order to study the eects of the air inlet conditions on the relative moisture content and the drying time and therefore to optimise
the tunnel dryer operation, the inuences of dierent parameters essentially the air ow characteristics and the xed-bed dryer length are
examined. The numerical code allows establishing the drying front propagation for several operating conditions.
 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Drying kinetics; Moisture content; Tunnel dryer; Mathematical model; Numerical simulation

1. Introduction
The drying of granular product layers is very important
in the food-processing industry. In the past decades, considerable work has been done on the development of theory
and mathematical models for drying processes [15]. The
challenge for the engineering designer is now to dene optimal dryers, which provide a product of constant good
quality.
Some products with low initial moisture content (wheat,
corn, . . .) need a slow drying obtained by ventilation at the
ambient temperature. Other higher moisture content products, but less sensitive to the deterioration (hazelnuts,
grapes, pea) can be dried over long periods. It is necessary
to remove the moisture content of products to a certain

Corresponding author. Tel.: +216 71 430 160/215; fax: +216 71 430


934.
E-mail address: Salah.Benmabrouk@inrst.rnrt.tn (S.B. Mabrouk).
1359-4311/$ - see front matter  2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2006.04.007

level after harvest to prevent the growth of mould and bacterial action [68].
The optimisation of the cost of these operations and the
preservation of the quality require a study of heat and mass
transfer phenomenon during the drying process. Food
quality is another important factor to be considered simultaneously with energy saving.
Problems raised by the drying of the granular products are therefore based on the physics of transient heat
and mass transfers. The understanding of these transfer
mechanisms is very useful to the interpretation of drying
processes. Some authors like Spencer [4], Ratti and
Mujumdar [9], Giner et al. [10] and Kiranoudis et al. [11]
have employed rigorous models for designing convective
xed-bed dryers. In these models, the equations were
obtained from transient heat and mass balances for a dierential element of a xed-bed. The interfacial conditions
were assumed as steady and the mass transfer was controlled by diusion. It is evident that these models are valid
only for specic products and particle dimensions. Many

S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

2111

Nomenclature
Cp
d
e
f(Ta)
Hr
has
hc
hr
L
DHvap
m
m_
T
t
V
X
x, y
Y
Nu
Re

specic heat capacity (J kg1 K1)


product diameter (m)
xed bed height (m)
correction function
ambient relative humidity (kg kg1)
global heat exchange coecient (W m2 K1)
convective exchange coecient (W m2 K1)
radiative exchange coecient (W m2 K1)
specic length (m)
latent heat of evaporation (J kg1)
solid product mass (kg)
evaporation rate (kg m2 s1)
temperature (K or C)
time (s or hours)
air velocity (ms1)
moisture content (kg kg1 dry basis)
Cartesian coordinate
absolute humidity of air
Nusselt number (hasL/k)
Reynolds number (VaL/m)

Greek Symbols
b
mass exchange coecient
e
bed porosity
k
thermal conductivity (W m1 K1)

mathematical models have been proposed to describe the


drying processes.
Herman et al. [12] and Garcia and Ragazzo [13] proposed a drying model similar to most common mass transfer operations. Nevertheless, their model is limited to
steady state conditions and compared with experimental
data from carrot slabs in deep xed-bed drying.
Recently, Azharul Karim and Hawlader [14] proposed
a modelling study with both material and equipment models to solve the heat and mass transfer equations for
convective drying of tropical fruits. The material model
takes into account shrinkage material during drying and
shrinkage dependant eective diusivity. It is capable of
predicting the instantaneous temperature and moisture
distribution inside the product. Besides, the equipment
model describes the transfer process in the tunnel dryer
and predicts the instantaneous temperature and humidity
ratio of air at any location of the tunnel. Reviews of others mathematical models have been presented by Fortes
and Okos [15].
In this study, a reliable dryer model which can express
accurately the drying kinetics of the product as well as predict the drying behaviour of the air and the materials to be
dried is proposed. The purpose of the present work is to
extend our study on the drying process through a xed
granular bed [16,17]. The used method is adapted from

surface mass (kg m2)


volume density (kg m3)
solidgas transfer area (surface area per unit
volume) (m2 m3)
U
equivalent physical quantity
Dt
time increment (s)
Dx, Dy spatial increment (m)

r
q
n

Subscripts
a
air
am
ambient
cr
critical
e
eective thermal characteristic
eq
equilibrium
en
input or external face wall
g
gas
i, j
spatial index
in
initial or internal wall
l
liquid
p
constant pressure
r
reduced
s
solid or product
sat
saturation
v, vap vapour
wb
wet bulb

the general porous medium theory of Whitaker [18,19].


The heat and mass transfer description in the granular
environment and the multiple air-product interactions are
studied by a mathematical model. The air-product mass
transfer is described with a kinetic equation based on
experimental data, which expresses the evaporation ow
rate in relation to the characteristics of air and the state
of the product during the drying process [2022]. Extensive
experiments were conducted using grapes as a sample to
compare the experimental results with simulation results
for validation purpose.
The developed numerical model, on the other hand, permits to study the eects of the drying air conditions on the
drying time and therefore to follow the propagation of the
drying front for dierent operating conditions and thus to
optimise the considered dryer.
2. Theoretical approach
The problem under investigation is based on forced convection of air over granular wet porous particles (grapes,
corn, hazelnuts and pea) in a tunnel dryer (Fig. 1). The
schematic conguration is a thin layer of spherical shaped
products placed in a xed-bed to allow heat transfer
through the whole product surface. This is well adapted,
in a rst approximation, to conventional tunnel dryers,

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S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

Fig. 1. Schematic tunnel dryer.

which are widely used for dehydrating fruits and vegetables


in Mediterranean countries. The medium is discontinuous
and the macroscopic equations, which govern heat and
mass transfer, are generally obtained by the method of
scale changing from a one grain scale to a macroscopic
one which includes several grains. Several assumptions
are made in order to obtain the macroscopic scale governing equations [6,23]:

Air and water vapour are considered as perfect gases.


Air density is constant.
Air velocity distribution in the dryer is uniform.
Product is uniformly distributed in the drying chamber.
The changes in void fraction or bed porosity are negligible.
The thermal convective exchange between the two
phases is expressed with the help of a volumetric heat
transfer coecient that depends on the texture of the
porous medium and on the magnitude of the airow
velocity.

2.1. Mathematical model

2.1.2. Gas enthalpy conservation equation




oT a
oT a
_ pv T s  T a
Va
mC
qa C pa YC pv e
ot
ox




o
oT a
o
oT a
ekae
ekae
nhas T s  T a

ox
oy
ox
oy

The thermal conduction in air and between grains is expressed in terms of the thermal conductivities of the solid
product and the uid (air) based on an equivalent conductivity. The thermal dispersion eect is treated as a diusive
term added to the air thermal conductivity.
2.1.3. Solid product enthalpy conservation equation
1  eqs C ps XC pl

oT s
_
mDH
vap nhas T a  T s
ot


o
oT s
1  ekse

ox
ox


o
oT s
1  ekse

oy
oy

where m_ is the evaporation rate (Eq. 5) and DHvap is the


latent heat of vaporisation:

The granular porous medium characteristics are described by two macroscopic functions: (Ts, X) for the solid
phase and (Ta, Y) for the air uid phase which are the temperature and moisture content, respectively. The governing
equations are drawn from the general formulation
described in the literature [18]. The granular medium is
supposed homogeneous and isotropic and is studied in a
tow dimensional conguration. The resulting equations follow from mass and energy balances relating to an elementary control volume [16,24,25].
2.1.1. Gas mass conservation equation






oY
oY
o
oY
o
oY
qa e
Va
qa De
qa De
m_

ot
ox
ox
ox
oy
oy
1
where the air and vapour densities qa and qv are given by
the ideal gas equation.

DH vap DH 0vap C pv  C pl T s

While DH 0vap is the latent heat of vaporisation at 0 C.


The heat transfer coecient between the solid and the
air is noted by has. While kae and kse are the eective thermal conductivity of the air and of the solid, respectively.
2.1.4. Solid product mass conservation equation:
the drying kinetic equation
The drying kinetic equation is given by
m_ 1  eqs

oX
1  eqs X_
ot

is the drying
where X is the moisture content and X_ oX
ot
rate.
_ is assumed to be a function of many parameters
X_ (or m)
such as the air temperature Ta, the air velocity Va, the relative humidity Hr and the moisture content [26].

S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

The drying rate equation used in this study is deduced


from an experimental study on a thin product layer [16]:
oX
X_ in f X r
ot

with X r

X  X eq
X in  X eq

f X r X r X r 1  X r a1 X r a2 
where the functional dependence f(Xr) is based on the following boundary conditions:
0 < f X r < 1
f X r 1

for 0 < X r < 1

when X r 1

and

f X r 0

when X r 0:
7

Constants a1 and a2 are experimentally determined in the


laboratory at constant air conditions. It is assumed that
this equation remains valid when the temperature Ta and
the relative humidity Hr vary slowly [14]. The function
f(Xr) used in this study, has been deduced from an experimental analysis in a thin product layer. This experimental
study allowed determining the kinetic function of drying
and the characteristic parameters that represent the initial
velocity X_ in when the rst phase of drying is non-existent.
We propose the established following relation [17]:
n

X_ in bV a Y sat T sat  Y a 

where Ysat is the absolute humidity of saturated air and is


obtained from the moist air chart based on Tsat, Ta and Ya.
In a rst step, parameters b and n have been analytically
determined with the help of the experimental data for a
thin layer product (Table 1). Furthermore, the parameter
b was correlated by a relation that takes into account the
temperature of the hot airow:


with 30 C 6 T a 6 70 C

The grapes have been chosen as a food material, because


they have experimental drying characteristic curves obtained during our previous laboratory works [16]. For the
materials undergoing shrinkage, like grapes, diusion coefcient varies with moisture content and product temperature. One way to solve the problem of the shrinkage
eect is to incorporate the volume change into the diusion
Table 1
Drying air and product characteristics for the simulated processes
Cpa = 1006 J kg1 K1
Cpv = 1840 J kg1 K1
d = 6.0 103 m ! 12.0 103 m
Ta = 40 C; 50 C; 60 C; 70 C; 80 C
Va = 1.0 ms1; 2.0; 3.0; 5.0; 7.0 ms1
Xin = 4.0 kg kg1 ! 5.0 kg kg1 (d.b.)
Cpl = 4180 J kg1 K1
Cps = 1463 J kg1 K1
Hr = 5.0% ! 50.0%
kse = 0.13 ! 0.15 W m1 K1
qa = 1.293[273.15/Ta + 273.15]
r = 60.0 kg m2 ! 70.0 kg m2
DH 0vap 2501:6 J kg1

coecient [22]. Therefore, to consider the real condition,


an eective diusion coecient De may be introduced in
the product mass conservation equation. Again, the drying
material is considered as a thin slab of thickness equal to
the product diameter. If it is considered that the volume
contraction is assumed to be ideal, the shrinkage is shown
as a compression of the elements of the solid matrix, in
order to load only the water loss by dehydration. This
shrinkage phenomenon aects in particular the exchange
area and the diusion coecient of the material, which is
one of the main parameters governing equation (1). At
present, an assumption on the eective diusion coecient
of the material has to be made. Kinetic correlations were
included in the computational program as polynomial
equations (6)(9) to obtain good ts between simulated
and experimental results.
2.2. Determination of model transfer coecients
The above-developed model requires the knowledge of
an important number of parameters.
The average porosity e of the product layer is determined from the volume fraction qs occupied by the solid
product. The surface density of the product r is linked to
the average porosity e by the relation:
r
1  eqs
e

10

The parameter n which appears in the energy equation represents the specic surface area of the packed bed. It has
been given by Vafai and Sozen [27]:
n

bT a 3:465  103 1  0:02T a  0:00075T a 

2113

61  e
d

11

where d represents the granular product diameter.


The average convective transfer coecient hc between
the solid product and the air depends on the airow regime.
Based on the position of a uniform product layer, we have
adopted the at-plate turbulent airow correlation to calculate the Reynolds number, Re, and the Nusselt number,
Nu, among other thermo-physical parameters [28].
The average radiant transfer coecient hr is given by the
StefanBoltzman theory in admitting that the temperature
of the tunnel walls is equal to that of the airow. The heat
transfer coecient has corresponds to (hc + hr).
3. Numerical approach
Eqs. (1)(5) describe the physical mechanisms of a xedbed dryer. This mathematical model can be used to determine the dominant internal and external phenomenon in
a drying process. However, the solution of this model has
some practical problems. The product layer is suciently
thin in the direction of the tunnel depth to allow no gradients of product temperature and moisture content within it.
The numerical modelling is made by considering the following assumptions:

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S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

The surface of exchange between air and the product


layer remains constant.
The porosity of the medium is supposed to be constant
during the drying.
The shrinkage of the product leads to negligible modications of the transfer coecients.
The outow is considered to be unidirectional with constant velocity and without transfers in the transverse
directions. Besides, the walls of the tunnel dryer are supposed adiabatic.

3.1. Initial and boundary conditions


Initially, the product sample is supposed isothermal and
in hydrostatic equilibrium. The moisture content throughout the product layer is assumed to be uniform at the
beginning of drying. The initial conditions are then given
by

X x; 0 X in ; T a x; 0 T a0
12
Y x; 0 Y in ; T s x; 0 T am
The conguration of the tunnel entry section (x = 0) leads
us to put the following boundary conditions:
(

X 0; t X 0 ; T a 0; t T a0 ; dTdta t0 0

13
Y 0; t Y 0 ; T s 0; t T am ; dY  0
dt t0

3.2. Numerical resolution method


The above system of equations is numerically solved by
the nite volume method as described by Patankar [29].
The advantage of this method is that it ensures ux conservation, and thus avoids generation of parasitic sources. The
two-dimensional model consists of dening a grid of points
Pi,j within the calculated domain and then constructing
around each point a control volume (Fig. 2). The value

of a physical parameter U (generic of Ta, X, Ts or Y) at


n1
any point Pi,j and at the time t + Dt is noted as Ui;j
. The
equations are integrated over this control volume and over
an interval of time [t, t + Dt].
In order to discretise the resulting integral equations, we
make the following assumptions:
The uxes are constant on the side of the control volume, which is perpendicular to them.
The accumulation terms and the source terms can be
approximated by averaging on the control volume constructed around Pi,j.
Based on these hypotheses, space rst derivatives for a
physical entity U are approached by a second order Taylor development around points (i  1) and (i + 1)
(Fig. 2):
 n1
n1
n1
Ui1;j  Ui1;j
oU

dDx2
14
ox i;j
Dx
The relative interpolation value at time step (n + 1) is
 n1
n
Un1
oU
i;j  Ui;j

dDt2
15
ot i;j
Dt
Under conditions generally occurring in practice, the characteristic time of the air temperature Ta and the absolute
humidity Y is much smaller than the one relative to the
product drying time. Considering these assumptions, the
rst temperature derivatives at the space step (i + 1/2, j)
and (i  1/2, j) are approximated, respectively, by

n1
n1
n1
T a i1;j  T a i;j
oT a
16

ox i1=2;j
Dx

n1
n1
T a i;j
 T a n1
oT a
i1;j
17

ox i1=2;j
Dx
To avoid numerical instabilities we adopted an implicit
scheme. The coupled and non-linear character of the equations is treated by an iterative nite dierence technique
based on a procedure of calculation of /n1
i1=2;j from a
n1
known /n1
and
an
estimated
value
/
.
The value of
i;j
i1;j
n1=2
/i;j
at the instant (n + 1/2) is determined by the interpolation value at instants (n) and (n + 1). The test of convergence imposes, for each variable, the following condition:
max jDUi;j j  105

Fig. 2. Numerical network grid.

18

where DUi,j is the U evolution at the space step (i, j) between


two successive iterations.
When the supercial evaporation disappears, a drying
front appears at the level of the product layer. To better
follow its propagation, it is important to use a variable grid
size in space and in time. Besides, we have successively considered 201, 401 and 601 nodes in the space directions.
Fig. 2 shows the spatial mesh used in the numerical resolution. A computer program in FORTRAN was developed
to solve the set of nite dierence equations.

S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

4. Experimental study

X eq

In a preliminary study, the drying kinetics and the product characteristics were studied in the laboratory by means
of a specic apparatus that is completely described in Ref.
[16]. We consider a thin product layer, with thickness
between 0.8 cm and 1.0 cm, put on the insulating at plate
(25 cm length 10 cm width) inside the vein of the specic
apparatus. Air velocity Va, temperature Ta and relative
humidity Hr are closely controlled. Air ow rate was varied
by controlling the speed controller of the blower fan. The
air temperature was varied using a temperature controller
attached to the auxiliary heater. Weight loss data allowed
the moisture content to be calculated as follows: X(t) =
m(t)/ms; where ms is the weight of dry mass obtained after
a long stay in a vacuum at 95 C and m(t) is the weight of
the evaporated moisture. The values of X_ t dX =dt were
obtained by derivation of a polynomial expression based
on ve experimental points. The evolution of the drying
kinetics according to the reduced and normalised moisture
content of the product, Xr = (X  Xeq)/(Xin  Xeq), has
been studied for dierent airow parameters [15]. Moreover, a numerical procedure has been applied to establish
the characteristic drying curves as X_ =X_ in f X r ; T a where
Xeq is the equilibrium moisture content determined by the
adsorption curves. Statistical treatment of a large number
of points gave also reliable results for X(t), X_ t and
X_ X . Fig. 3 presents the experimental variation of drying
rate as a function of the reduced moisture content at dierent air velocity and temperature values. It can be seen that
the drying rate is not constant throughout the drying period. It constantly drops until the equivalent moisture content of the product is reached. In the case of grapes and for
an air temperature of less than 100 C, we can deduce the
following relationship between the drying rate and the
reduced moisture content:
f X r X r X r 1  X r 1:1697X r  0:8415

19

: 47 C, 1.30 m/s,
: 66 C, 2.15 m/s,
: 66 C, 4.65 m/s,
: 46 C, 2.10 m/s,
Simulation

0.8

25%
20%
20%
25%

0.6

X
X in 0.4
0.2


0:0362Hr
fT a
1  0:625Hr1  0:808Hr

20

where Hr is the relative humidity and f(Ta) is a correction


function.
5. Results and interpretations
5.1. Validation of the numerical model
The presented model has been validated by previous
numerical and experimental work achieved on Tunisian
grape samples [30]. Nevertheless, to appreciate the capacity
of the model to describe the dierent proles of drying, it
seemed useful to compare our numerical solutions to experimental results realised recently in the laboratory. Fig. 4
shows experimental and simulated evolution of the average
moisture content during thin layer product drying with a
slab thickness of 0.8 cm and an air velocity between
0.5 ms1 and 7 ms1. The airow regime is thus turbulent.
It can be seen that the surface directly exposed to the drying air approached the equilibrium moisture content faster
and the changes in the layers of materials are slow. The
predicted and experimental results show reasonably close
agreement, which validates the presented model. Best
reproduction of the experimental data was obtained with
air velocity from 1.0 ms1 to 5.0 ms1 and air inlet temperature between 40 C and 70 C.
The tunnel has variable length, L = 6 m and 10 m. It is
crossed by an air ow which has constant inlet physical
characteristic temperature, velocity and humidity. The
physical characteristics of the drying air and the product
layer are illustrated in Table 1.
5.2. Numerical simulation results
The results of the numerical simulation are presented as
curves giving the spatial distribution of the variables
X(x, t), Ts(x, t) and Ta(x, t) at dierent times.

Moisture content (Kg.Kg -1 d.b.)

For grapes, the equilibrium moisture content Xeq is given


by the following expression:

2115

4.5

Va = 0.5 ms-1

4.0
3.5
3.0
2.5

Va = 1 ms-1

2.0
1.5
1.0

Va = 2 ms-1
Va = 3 ms-1
Va = 5 ms-1
Va = 7 ms-1

0.5
0.0
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

Time (h)

0
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

Xr

Fig. 3. Characteristic-drying curves of grapes.

1.2

Fig. 4. Experimental and simulated average moisture content evolution


for xed-bed of grapes employing a sample thickness of 0.8 cm and inlet
air temperature of 60 C.

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S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

Figs. 5 and 6 show the evolution of the moisture content


and the product temperature, respectively at dierent times
for a xed-bed tunnel with 6 m length only. The product
layer thickness is 1.0 cm and the air inlet conditions are
3 ms1 and 60 C. In the experiment, the dryer temperature
at the inlet and outlet were recorded throughout the drying
period. However, from the simulation program, the temperature variation at dierent locations of the dryer with
time was computed. In this way, the predicted outlet temperatures are compared with measured temperatures for
dierent drying conditions.
After a transient phase during which the sample cools to
the humid temperature Twb, a short phase of constant drying rate (PCDR) velocity begins. During this phase, the
transport is only that of liquid water toward the surface.
The vapour ow inside the product layer is nearly equal
to zero. This thermal balance between the energy brought
by the drying air and the energy used for the evaporation,
has permitted to express the velocity of drying during the

5 mn

Moisture content (kgkg-1 d.b)

1h
2h

10 mn

3h

15 mn
4h
30 mn

5h
1
6h
7h
0
0

Tunnel length (m)


Fig. 5. Evolution of the moisture content proles of grapes through the
6 m tunnel dryer. Simulation conditions: Ta = 60 C; Tam = 25 C;
Va = 3.0 ms1; Hr = 25%; Xin = 4 kg kg1 (d.b.); Xeq = 0.05 kg kg1
(d.b.).

rst period of constant drying rate. From these gures, it


is evident that air temperature and air velocity have great
eect on drying rates. The drying appears by the propagation of the drying front from the upstream toward the
downstream position. The beginning of the second phase
with decreasing drying rate (PDDR) is characterised by a
slight distortion of the moisture content proles (Fig. 5).
Under the same conditions, simulation results showed
that moisture and temperature of the solid through the
product layer developed gradients during the rst two
hours of drying. These gradients were concomitantly
reduced until constant values and were reached after seven
hours of drying as it is shown in Fig. 6.
Fig. 7 shows the drying kinetics of a sample of grapes
spread out in a 10 m tunnel length with a sample thickness
of 0.8 cm and inlet air conditions of 5 ms1 and 70 C. This
Fig. 7 shows a front of evaporation that moves with time
and divides the bed in two regions: dried region and wet
region. Evaporation is essentially localised in the zone in
which the gradient of moisture content is high (front of
evaporation). When time increases the front of evaporation
approaches the outlet of the medium and the humid region
contracts.
We can notice that when the air velocity and the inlet
temperature increase, the evaporation front moves faster
and consequently the necessary time for drying decreases
(Figs. 5 and 7).
Fig. 8 shows the time space evolution of the relative
dierence temperature, DT* = [Ta  Ts]/(DTref), between
solid product and air temperatures calculated for drying
in a 10 m tunnel length. For this study, DTref is an interval
between reference temperatures and is equal to 27 C. At
the beginning, the relative dierence temperature DT* is
only important at the inlet of the bed, because the inlet
temperature is higher than the initial solid medium temperature. After that, there is a dierence only in the region
where the evaporation front is localised. This fact is due
to the dierence between the thermal characteristics of
the solid and the hot air. As it has been reported previously

Product temperature (C)

60
7h

55
6h
4h

50

5h

3h
2h

45

1h

40
35
0

30 mn
15 mn
10 mn
5 mn
6

Tunnel length (m)


Fig. 6. Numerical evolution of the solid temperature at dierent time
versus the 6 m tunnel length. Simulation conditions are identical to Fig. 5.

Fig. 7. Evolution of the moisture content proles of grapes through the


10 m tunnel dryer. Simulation conditions: Ta = 70 C; Tam = 28 C;
Va = 5.0 ms1; Hr = 25%; Xin = 4 kg kg1 (d.b.); Xeq = 0.05 kg kg1
(d.b.).

S.B. Mabrouk et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 26 (2006) 21102118

2117

reproduce experimental drying data for grape sample


layers.
References

Fig. 8. Timespace evolution of the relative dierence temperature


between the solid product and air temperatures. DT* = [Ta  Ts]/(DTref).
Using the conditions of Fig. 7, the numerical solutions are predicted for
Ta = 60 C.

[3], the relative dierence temperature DT* depends essentially on the ratio kse/kae and decreases when this ratio
tends to unity.
We have observed that the relative values of the temperature dierence DT* are less than those found in the whole
medium. After a long time, this relative dierence temperature appears at the outlet of the bed dryer (Fig. 8).
Moreover, the numerical simulation shows that the
product bed overheats at the inlet and near the drying front
interface. When time increases, the overheating propagates
inside the medium. The product temperature and the moisture content tend to their nal values in the entire medium,
and the evaporation ceases (Figs. 6 and 7).
In summary, the mathematical model proposed in this
work is able to predict dierent transport mechanisms in
thin product layers with dierent geometric characteristics.
Similar conclusions were reported by Herman et al. [13].
The mathematical model structure is such that can be
applied to other drying processes, for example, Eqs. (1)
(5) can represent a batch tray dryer, if medium proprieties
and physical thermal parameters are conveniently evaluated. The comparison with other recent studies is satisfying
[12,14,31].
6. Conclusion
A mathematical model for a transient drying process is
presented on the basis of heat and mass transfer properties
in both air and product. Although the model developed is
mathematically simple, it is able to provide reliable predictions of the drying rate and the temperature distribution in
the product sample, and temperature and moisture distributions in the drying air along the tunnel dryer. Thermodynamic relationships for water equilibrium between the air
and the product, the physical proprieties of the material
and the geometrical proprieties of the product layer were
considered. This study permitted to appreciate the capacity
of the developed model to describe the dierent drying
periods. The results showed the ability of the model to

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