For farmers and other industry members looking for ways to improve their bottom line, higher energy efficiency continues to be a key objective. Ron Carpenter installed new grain drying technology during 2016 on his eastern Iowa farm to help reduce energy costs.
Carpenter, who farms in Lamont, Iowa, grew 3,000 acres of corn in 2016 and also manages a cattle operation. He stored and dried about 800,000 bushels of corn, using a new tower dryer from GSI (Grain Systems, Inc.) equipped with an advanced heat reclaimer system.
Carpenter said he saw significant energy savings which he attributes to the heat reclaimer and other enhancements to his GSI grain storage system. “We’ve used a stacked grain drying system in the past, but the tower dryer with heat reclaimer just seemed to make more sense,” he said. “It looks like it operated more efficiently, and it definitely did a better job in not damaging the corn.
“There’s an upfront cost to install the system, but you have to look down the road and consider the opportunity for long-term costs savings,” Carpenter added.
The technology was available on a limited basis in 2016 and will be fully introduced in the spring of 2017 in the United States and Canada, primarily for farming operations that require 1,200 bushel-per-hour and higher capacity dryers, as well as commercial grain operations and ag co-ops.
In three years of previous testing, the heat reclaimer system reduced operating costs by nine to 30 percent, depending on the grain type and ambient temperature. The testing process used identical side-by-side GSI tower dryers at two large farms in Kentucky and Illinois, and at an agricultural co-op in Wisconsin.
The first-of-its-kind, patented technology enables operators to reuse the dryer’s heat, while minimizing debris build-up. The system separates the hot, dry air and returns it into the drying process again, while simultaneously taking the cold, wet air and debris and discarding it through the open bottom.
The design team succeeded in overcoming challenges experienced with previous heat reclaim efforts. “The new technology controls and minimizes debris build-up in the dryer and heat reclaim shroud experienced with previous heat reclaiming systems,” explained Jarod Wendt, engineering manager, grain conditioning for GSI. “This not only improves drying efficiency, but also results in minimal cleaning required under the reclaim area.”
Other benefits include no negative effect on drying capacity, no difference in how the dryer is operated or how cool the grain is when discharged from the dryer. The project was supported by a grant from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC). Participation by PERC reflects its ongoing commitment to work with equipment manufacturers to help industry members be as successful as possible through improved energy efficiency.
“Propane has several advantages and is a great fuel source for grain drying. As with all equipment developments, we want to be sure it provides a solution that is cost-effective as well as reliable,” said Cinch Munson, director of agriculture business development at PERC. “The fact that GSI has achieved these efficiency gains is very promising and demonstrates the quality and efficiency of new propane-powered equipment.”
The heat reclaimer will be available as an optional feature on GSI’s 12-, 18-, 24- and 30-foot diameter tower dryers. The system can also be easily retrofitted on older GSI tower dryers built since 2001. For additional information, visit the heat reclaimer page on GSI’s website or contact your local GSI dealer.