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Desalination 168 (2004) 111–115

Simulation model for a solar drying process

S. Timoumi*, D. Mihoubi, F. Zagrouba

Laboratoire des Procédés Chimiques, Institut National des Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques, BP 95, 2050 Hammam-Lif, Tunisie Tel. +216 (71) 430470; Fax. +216 (71) 430934; email: souad_tim@yahoo.fr

Received 17 February 2004; accepted 25 February 2004

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to study the thermal behaviour of a solar air heater as a source of energy for drying agricultural products. The output temperature and velocity of the drying air were first evaluated, and a mathematical formulation of the physical process of solar drying based on conventional heat and mass transfer equations is then presented and simulated.

Keywords: Solar; Modelling; Drying kinetics

1. Introduction

The high energy consumption of the drying operation and the importance of environmental protection have directed interest towards the application of solar energy to agricultural and industrial processes. In addition, the quality of the dried end-products has also recently become more and more important for the processing of agricultural products. These are the motivations for a multi-objective optimization problem of the drying along with the constraint of processing

*Corresponding author.

time. Sun drying is one of the old preservation methods where solar energy can be used to heat air. This fact, along with the recently underlined environmental questions, also implies reconsider- ing the application of solar energy in drying. This application is particularly well suited to all kinds of drying processes using relatively low temp- eratures, such as the drying of agricultural and other products or grain. The purpose is either to preserve them for later use, as is the case with food, or as an integral part of the production process, as with timber. Solar collectors have the advantage that they are more effective than sun

Presented at the EuroMed 2004 conference on Desalination Strategies in South Mediterranean Countries: Cooperation between Mediterranean Countries of Europe and the Southern Rim of the Mediterranean. Sponsored by the European Desalination Society and Office National de l’Eau Potable, Marrakech, Morocco, 30 May–2 June, 2004.

0011-9164/04/$– See front matter © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

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S. Timoumi et al. / Desalination 168 (2004) 111–115

drying. The efficiency of a solar collector depends on its type and model as well as on the rate of heat loss during operation.

(2)

2. Climate of Tunisia

The Arab world is an important geographical zone, with long sunny days during the year. Therefore, using solar energy can considerably reduce energy costs. Tunisia has about 2860 to 3200 h of sunshine per year and receives average solar energy of 4.8 kWh.m ^{!}^{2} .d ^{!}^{1} . This solar energy is sufficient, especially in summer, to meet all the energy demands for the drying of agricultural products.

3. Solar air heater model (Fig. 1)

The convection heat transfer between air and duct walls (fluid-plate and fluid-cover) is:

(1)

The convection heat transfer coefficient due to the wind from cover to ambient air is given by Watmuff et al. [1]:

The radiation heat transfer coefficient from cover to air is:

(3)

Swinbank [2] relates sky temperature to local air temperature by

(4)

Hence, the top loss coefficient from cover to ambient is:

(5)

The radiation heat transfer coefficient between plate and cover is:

(6)

Fig. 1. Solar air flat-plate collector.

Energy balances on the cover, plate, and fluid yield the following equations:

(7)

(8)

(9)

Solving we obtain:

(10)

S. Timoumi et al. / Desalination 168 (2004) 111–115

Substituting in Eq. (9):

(11)

The collector efficiency can be found from:

113

(19)

(12)

where

(13)

(14)

The collector heat removal factor is defined as:

(15)

where G is the flow rate per unit of collector area, and G = _{m}_{0} /A _{c}_{o}_{l}_{l} . Then, q _{u} is calculated as a func- tion of the inlet fluid temperature:

(16)

4. The drying model (Fig. 2)

As apples are usually dried in slices, the mass and heat transfer were supposed unidirectional. During the drying process, apple slices undergo

a simultaneous mass and heat transfer. Heat

transferred from air to the product causes the vapourisation of water, resulting in an increase of the relative humidity in the air. All of the heat

lost by the air is assumed to be utilized for mois- ture vapourisation as latent heat of water vapour.

4.1. Mass balance

The continuity equation applied to the two phases gives:

(20)

C

Solid:

C

Liquid:

(21)

After the combination of these two equations, and introducing the water content dry basis, noted w, one obtains the following central expression:

The mean fluid temperature was shown by Klein et al. [3] to be:

(17)

The outlet fluid temperature is:

(18)

(22)

Fig. 2. Schematic problem of sample dehydration.

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S. Timoumi et al. / Desalination 168 (2004) 111–115

4.2. Energy balance

Following the hypothesis that evaporation occurs only at the surface level, the internal heat transfer obeys Fourier’s law with a variable con- ductivity apparent coefficient function of the water content.

(23)

4.3. Initial and limit conditions

C For time zero, both temperature and water content are uniform:

C (x=e): on its surface, the product exchanges heat by both convection and radiation. The energy flux continuity therefore can be written:

(24)

where h _{c} (T _{a} !T _{s}_{u}_{r}_{f} ) is the flux density ex- changed by convection; Q _{w}_{a}_{l}_{l} the radiative flux density exchanged with the surrounding walls; _{m}_{0} L _{v} the flux density of heat corresponding to the vapourisation heat and 8 _{h} @(MT)/(Mx) is the flux density transmitted by conduction towards the heart of the sample.

C The sample (x=0) bottom surface is supposed to be symmetric:

(25)

5. Numerical resolution

The partial differential equations are much too complicated to find an analytical solution, so they

were solved numerically by a finite difference method. The temperature, velocity and humidity of air outlet of solar collector were used in simulating the drying process.

6. Simulation of the solar drying process

The hot air flow caused evaporation of water, leading to a decrease in the product moisture content, till it reached equilibrium. The effect of the air temperature on the drying process of apple slices is shown in Fig. 3. The effect of air velocity on the drying process of apple slices is shown in Fig. 4. The effect of air humidity on the drying process of apple slices is shown in Fig. 5.

6.1. Effect of air temperature

As noted in other studies [4–6], the main factor influencing drying kinetics is temperature. Thus, the drying kinetics and, therefore the water loss, depend directly on air temperature. The total drying time was reduced substantially with an increase of air temperature from 30°C to 50°C, and the drying rate was proportional to the air temperature (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Effect of inlet air temperature on drying kinetics.

S. Timoumi et al. / Desalination 168 (2004) 111–115

115

6.2. Effect of air velocity

As expected, there is an acceleration of the drying process due to the increase of air velocity. This effect is considered, in general, lower than the effect of temperature (Fig. 4).

6.3. Effect of air humidity

The effect of air humidity on the acceleration of the drying progress is considered, in general, as lower than that of air temperature (Fig. 5). As expected, there is an acceleration of the drying

Fig. 4. Effect of inlet air velocity on the drying kinetics.

Fig. 5. Effect of inlet air humidity on drying kinetics.

process due to the decrease of the air humidity of the drying air from 20% to 40%. Similar results for similar products have been reported in the literature [7,8].

7. Conclusions

The drying simulation model provides infor- mation about the influence of various important parameters on the drying phenomenon. However, the accuracy of the proposed procedure must be verified by comparing theoretical to experimental results. As we know, drying systems do not have an efficiency of 100%. There are heat losses through the walls. Temperature was found to be the most impor- tant factor of the drying rate for apple slices while the effect of air velocity and air humidity is considered lower than that of air temperature.

References

[1] J. Watmuff, Solar and wind induced external coefficients for solar collectors. Rev. Intern. Helio- tech., Marseille, France, 1977. [2] W.C. Swinbank, Long-wave radiation from clear

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

[8]

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