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Chementator: Drying at the speed of light    

By Gerald Ondrey |

After several years of proven operation in the food- and nutritional-products industry, a patented drying technology is now ready to be applied for any liquid or slurry product. Developed by MCD Technologies, Inc. (Tacoma, Wash.; edlinks.chemengonline.com/7373-535), the Refractance Window (RW) system is said to cost about one third as much as freeze drying equipment, and consumes about one third to half the energy. The system operates similarly to a drum dryer in that the product is dried in a thin layer on a heated surface, except that the heated surface is at a much lower (70 – 80°C) temperature than drum dryers (120 – 150°C). The RW system uses circulating water at 95 – 97°C as a way to carry thermal energy to materials to be dried. Wet products are spread onto a transparent plastic conveyor belt that moves over circulating water in a shallow trough. Because the plastic sheet is very thin, it rapidly reaches thermal equilibrium with the hot water, and thermal energy is transmitted through it — by conduction and infrared radiation — to the product. The system has a thermal-transfer efficiency of 96 – 99%. Resident times of product on the drying belt are typically 3 – 5 min, compared…
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