Improving Adsorption Dryer Energy Efficiency by Simultaneous Optimization and Heat Integration

J.C. Atuonwu, G. van Straten, H. van Deventer, A.J.B. van Boxtel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Conventionally, energy-saving techniques in drying technology are sequential in nature. First, the dryer is optimized without heat recovery and then, based on the obtained process conditions, heat recovery possibilities are explored. This work presents a methodology for energy-efficient adsorption dryer design that considers sensible and latent heat recovery as an integral part of drying system design. A one-step pinch-based optimization problem is formulated to determine the operating conditions for optimal energy performance of such an integrated system subject to product quality. Because the inlet and target stream properties of the heat recovery network are determined by the adsorption drying conditions, they are unknown a priori and thus are determined simultaneously within the overall optimization using the pinch location method. Energy balances are written above and below the various pinch point possibilities and the optimal pinch point is that which minimizes the amount of external heating utility required while satisfying drying and thermodynamic constraints. Results for a single-stage zeolite adsorption drying process with simultaneous heat recovery optimization show a 15% improvement in efficiency compared to a sequentially optimized system. The improvement is traceable to alterations in enthalpy-related variables like temperatures and flow rates. The discrepancy in optimal operating conditions between the sequential and simultaneous cases underscores the need to change system operating conditions when retrofitting for heat recovery because previous optimal conditions become suboptimal when heat recovery is introduced. Also, compared to a conventional dryer (without an adsorption process) operating under similar conditions, energy consumption is reduced by about 55%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1471
JournalDrying Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • exhaust air
  • recovery
  • plants


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