Is it worthwhile for your company to buy a diesel grain dryer? For practical reasons, diesel is still the most common type of burner on the market today. However, viable alternatives, such as gas and biomass, are also gaining ground.
Depending on the requirements your business needs to meet, Mecmar has designed the ideal solution so that the quality of the dried grain is preserved over time.
In this short guide, Mecmar reviews the different fuel systems you can find on the market. Continue reading the article to find out more!
Gas, diesel and biomass: what are the options to choose from?
The process of drying cereals plays a fundamental role in the cereal processing chain, as it allows optimal conservation, particularly in countries where the climate is not particularly favourable during the harvest season.
Burners are installed in agricultural dryers, which generate heat by heating the air, allowing the water contained in the grain to evaporate. If treated and dried evenly and uniformly, the grain can then be stored in complete safety.
Drying is a slow process, but indispensable for eliminating mould and toxins, the presence of which – natural after the harvesting phase – would compromise the correct conservation of the grain in the medium to long term. Depending on the type of cereal, drying brings the moisture level of the grain down to a safe level for optimal storage.
But what are the different types of fuels that can be used in grain drying? Thermal power can be generated using either liquid or gaseous fuels, through a direct or indirect heating system.
Do you already know the difference between these two heating methods? We discuss this in our article on grain drying systems: the main features compared.
As an alternative to diesel, which, as mentioned earlier, is still the most commonly used fuel type in the drying process, there is growing interest in biodiesel. What is it specifically? Biodiesel is a fuel obtained from renewable sources, such as vegetable oils, through a chemical process of transesterification.
If we compare this type of fuel to ordinary diesel, we can see that biodiesel has some advantages in terms of sustainability. In fact, using a biodiesel grain dryer means reducing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as particulate matter emissions, thus less pollution and less impact on global warming.
Specifically, most biodiesel fuels are a mixture of conventional diesel and a bio component that can vary between 10 and 20%.
While the advantages of using liquid fuels are well known to all, particularly the logistics factor and availability, there is a growing popularity of agricultural dryers powered by gas, be it natural gas, LPG or biogas.
Methane and LPG prove to be the ideal type of fuel, as the combustion products of gaseous fuels have a low polluting impact. For this reason, a burner suitable for gas combustion can be installed inside Mecmar dryers.
Comparing the quantity of CO2 emitted during the combustion of diesel and LPG, it can be seen that in the latter case emissions are reduced by approximately 25%. Moreover, as methane comes mainly from the production of natural gas, it is considered a clean fuel.
In line with the sustainable development objectives signed by the governments of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, biomass – especially woody biomass – is now recognised as a valid alternative to traditional fossil and non-renewable energy sources.
Biogas is now a viable alternative to traditional gas. Unlike mains gas, it is essential to have a good knowledge of the composition of the gas mixture, as some burner components may corrode and be damaged if acidic mixtures are used.
If we consider that the percentage of carbon dioxide released into the air during combustion of good wood chips is very low, we can confirm that the use of wood chips as fuel reduces the impact of the drying process on the ecosystem, preserving the quality of life of all beings living in it.
Fuel consumption for cereal drying: which variables to consider?
How much fuel is consumed during the grain drying process? The elements that influence fuel consumption are heterogeneous and variable, however, the main ones relate to:
- the level of cleanliness of the grain: the cleaner the grain, the lower the fuel consumption for drying;
- temperature and humidity of the outside air: the colder and more humid the season, the higher the fuel consumption will be.
- the humidity of the grain to be processed: the level of humidity affects fuel consumption.
In this article we have seen an overview of the different fuel systems that can currently be used in the drying process. Not only diesel grain dryers, you can also choose greener and more sustainable alternatives for your farm, such as biomass or gas. Considering the size of the dryer, the quantity of grain to be processed and the type of fuel to be used, Mecmar will help you understand which dryer is best suited to your situation.