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Comment Heat Transfer

A way to dry compressed air more cost effectively

By Chemical Engineering |

After years of testing and development, Atlas Copco Compressors LLC (Rock Hill, S.C.; www.atlascopco.us) will begin production of a new air-dryer technology by the end of this year. Unlike conventional drying systems, the MDG rotary drum dryer guarantees a stable pressure dew point (PDP) of –40°F at almost zero energy cost. That’s because the system uses the heat of compression, which is normally wasted, for regenerating the drying agent. The only external energy required for drying the oil-free compressed air is that used for rotating the drum, so the total power consumption is below 0.2 kW, says the company.


The working principle for the dryer is based on using hot compressed air to regenerate the desiccant, which is impregnated on a honeycomb glass fiber inside a single, rotating pressure vessel that is divided into two sections for drying (75%) and regeneration (25%). In the MDG (diagram), the full flow of hot compressed air leaving the last stage of the compressor is passed through a heat exchanger (2) and a water-cooled cooler (3). This cooled air (4) then passes through the drum to produce dried air (5). Some of the dried air (6) returns to the heat exchanger where it is heated, and then used for regenerating the desiccant (7), with the moisture recovered by a second cooler (8).


According to the company, energy can account for up to 80% of the total lifecycle costs of a dryer in conventional systems. The traditional heatless dryer is said to be the most expensive to operate, because 15–20% of its rated flow capacity is consumed as purge air. In contrast, the rotary dryer delivers 100% of the flow capacity at the output, says the company.


dry compressed air

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