Technology for Wood and Natural Fiber-Based Materials

Research Project

HP4Drying – Energetic and ecological optimization of drying processes through the integration of heat pumps

Drying processes account for at least 15 percent of the total industrial energy usage. In some sectors, for example the wood industry, this proportion can reach 70 percent. In this project, different heat pump-assisted drying methods are being pre-competitively developed and the energetic and economic efficiency for several industrial sectors exemplarily demonstrated.

Numerous studies have shown that up to 50 percent of primary energy can be saved through drying with heat pumps. However, this potential has until now only been realized industrially and in exceptional cases, since the operation of heat pump dryers is considerably more complex than the operation of the individual system components.

The focus of our research activities is placed upon on convective drying processes, which are the most widely-distributed and which can be advantageously supplemented with heat pumps. Intersectoral interest from the participating 37 German and 15 Belgian companies from the fields of drying, heat pumps, wood and wood-based materials, bricks and ceramics, agricultural products, textiles and bio-energy is correspondingly high.

Based on the current status of science and technology, established and innovative technical solutions will be analyzed. The effective integration of heat pumps into the respective drying systems and their quality and energy-optimized operation with largely automated process control under varying conditions form the focus of the project. Scientific challenges can thereby arise through the thermodynamic and procedural interactions between the heat pump and the dryer. The project results will be demonstrated on laboratory and pilot scales and using production facilities. Industry-specific opportunities and limitations for economic implementation will be demonstrated. Industrial case studies and scientific publications help in the acceleration of the technology transfer.