Optimization of Commercial Ear-Corn Dryers

M. T Islam, B. P Marks, F. W Bakker-Arkema


Drying seed corn as ear-corn is a complex process, which traditionally depends on
operator experience. Therefore, there is significant opportunity to improve the process in terms
of preserving quality, minimizing cost, and/or maximizing capacity. A simulation model, based
on heat and mass transfer, was used in a process optimization program. Optimal values of the
initial bed-depth, the up-air and the down-air temperatures, the up-air and down-air airflows, and
the reversal moisture content were calculated, using the Box complex method, for maximizing
the capacity or for minimizing the energy cost of in-bin ear-corn drying at different initial
product moisture contents. Operating the dryer under the capacity-optimization strategy
increases the capacity by 26-43% but also increases the cost by 25-33%, compared to operating
under the cost-minimization strategy. Additionally, sensitivity analyses showed that the air
temperature has the greatest influence on the capacity, and the air flow rate has the largest effect
on the drying cost.

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