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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fundamentals and technology of wafer drying Laytner, Frank


The commercial rotary dryers used to dry wood wafers (of approximate dimensions 0.63 mm thick, 50 mm wide and 76+ mm long) for the production of panelboard are modified versions of agricultural dryers and have not been designed for the optimal drying of wood wafers. The lack of available information on wafer drying necessitated that the first goal of this research was the characterization of wafer drying behaviour. After the important parameters of wafer drying were identified, the applicability of fluidized bed technology to wafer drying was assessed and an industrial size dryer was designed. The proposed fluidized bed wafer dryer was then compared to a commercial rotary dryer in terms of energy efficiency. Wafer drying behaviour was investigated in two factorial experiments. Three lengths of wafers (25 mm, 44 mm and 63 mm) were individually dried in a 0.15 m draft tube at temperatures of 90°C, 120°C and 150°C. The statistical analysis of the resultant drying rate curves showed that the drying behaviour of aspen wafers was influenced by the effect of wafer length on the external heat and mass transfer rates to the wafer surface, and on the length of internal pathways for bulk flow and diffusion of water. The external drying conditions had a decreasing effect on drying rate until about 10% moisture content at which time drying became limited by internal heat and mass transport. The initial assessment of fluidized bed technology for wafer drying used a 0.15 m semi-cylindrical column for the determination of wafer drying rate curves and wafer behaviour in a fluidized bed of inert particulate solids at excess superficial velocities of 0.25 to 1.0 m/s. Wafer drying times in a bed of 0.5 mm sand at 150°C were about 40% of the drying times for wafers dried by forced convection of air at the same temperature and twice the superficial velocity (~ 1 m/s). Wafer movement in the fluidized bed followed the circulation patterns of the emulsion phase and was thus dependent on the bubbling behaviour of the bed. A minimum excess superficial velocity of 0.25 m/s (depending on distributor design) was required to prevent permanent settling of the wafers to the distributor. Preliminary experimentation on a 2-compartment bed showed that wafers could be circulated through the two compartments in near plug flow. However, the application of this technique to a 4-compartment continuous fluidized bed wafer dryer was unsuccessful because of the separation of sand and wafers caused by slugging beds in two of the compartments. A preliminary design was prepared for an industrial size, 5-compartment fluidized bed wafer dryer to approximate plug flow of wafers by a series of well-mixed fluidized beds in series. The design calculations showed that this dryer was more efficient in terms of energy and plant space than a conventional triple pass rotary dryer.

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