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11-23-2015

Prototype of the HiPerDry Project Entered the Test Phase

Microwave-Aided Drying

Several magnetrons and a specially developed antenna guarantee gentle and efficient drying (figure: GKV/TecPart)

In the framework of the HiPerDry project, a consortium of several partners developed the prototype of a new dryer for plastic pellets, connecting microwave drying to convective drying by superheated steam. A number of magnetrons and a specific antenna design guarantee gentle and efficient drying without overheating and without causing damage to the plastic. The system makes it possible to dry conventional plastics as well as biopolymers in a way that is fast and energy efficient.

The project is funded by the EU, and is now in its second year. The new drying technology was designed on the basis of a European benchmark of drying technologies currently used and on a scientific characterization of drying behaviors for various plastics materials. In addition to conventional polymers, e. g. PA6 or PET, biopolymers, e. g. PLA and PHB, were submitted to the investigations, too. In the coming months, operating parameters will be optimized and the process window be defined in a series of performance tests on the pilot plant recently set up. The dryer will then be tested under real production conditions and prepared for market launch.

Engineers expect the new plant to reduce drying times significantly and, at the same time, treat materials more gently. According to information by the project partners, this will save up to 50 % of energy as compared to the present situation. In parallel with development of the dryer, a life-cycle assessment (LCA) is conducted, to make sure the new technology is environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

Translated from Kunststoffe 11/2015, p. 12

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