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Low Energy Dryer for Agricultural Products

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PKAS-MW-DRY (Low Energy Dryer for Agricultural Products)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-03-31

Industrial dryers consume about 15% of total global energy use. Over 60% of driers in food processing are hot-air driers that use natural gas. The process is slow and foods loose some of its nutritional value due to long oxidation exposure. In addition some pathogens and spores have become resistant and survive hot-air drying processes leading to an increased use of chemicals for storage. Other drying technologies like Microwave-Vacuum and Freeze-Drying preserve nutritional value well but are expensive and not energy efficient. Plasma Kraft proposes to take an innovative drying technology from the pilot stage to full-scale production. The technology allows fast drying of food, preserving nutrient values and reduce surface spores and pathogens. Test show that energy consumption could be reduced to about half of the most advanced hot air driers and by a factor of 6 compared to freeze driers. Prospective customers are interested and willing to be early adopters provided successful demonstration activities. Horizon 2020 financial support will enable Plasma Kraft to demonstrate the innovation in an industrial setting and exploit the identified market opportunities. This innovation will dry food cheaper, make storage safer and improve food safety.
In Phase 1 we identified the overall market for industrial driers and develop a market entry strategy. The “proof-of-concept” pilot was improved further and we conducted successful testing of food products. Samples for identified clients were distributed and met with positive results and increased interest in the technology. Relevant EU regulations and directives and certification procedures were identified. We addressed key areas in the production process in order to assure product quality.
The goal of Phase 2 is to develop one complete small-scale drying system for testing and verification of the drying technology. One full-scale pilot system will be installed in cooperation with a targeted user/customer. The innovation aims to significantly reduce the need for chemicals to suppress pathogens during storage and is in line with EU policy to reduce chemical exposure in the food processing industry. The wider implications are that food can be dried fast and economically while maintaining high nutritional value and be transported or stored in a safe, efficient and economical manner using less energy and chemicals beyond what is the practice today.