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Innovative Steam Drying of Empty Fruit Bunch with


High Energy Efficiency
a a a
Muhammad Aziz , Takuya Oda & Takao Kashiwagi
a
Solutions Research Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan
Accepted author version posted online: 30 Oct 2014.Published online: 22 Jan 2015.

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To cite this article: Muhammad Aziz, Takuya Oda & Takao Kashiwagi (2015) Innovative Steam Drying of Empty Fruit Bunch
with High Energy Efficiency, Drying Technology: An International Journal, 33:4, 395-405, DOI: 10.1080/07373937.2014.970257

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07373937.2014.970257

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Drying Technology, 33: 395–405, 2015
Copyright # 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0737-3937 print=1532-2300 online
DOI: 10.1080/07373937.2014.970257

Innovative Steam Drying of Empty Fruit Bunch with High


Energy Efficiency
Muhammad Aziz, Takuya Oda, and Takao Kashiwagi
Solutions Research Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan

and unsaturated oils.[3] From the total weight of fresh fruit


Empty fruit bunch (EFB) is one of the solid wastes from crude bunch (FFB), the amounts of CPO and PKO that can be
palm oil mills and has the lowest value for utilization compared to clarified are about 20 and 2%, respectively.[4] Total
other solid wastes. To achieve an efficient utilization of EFB, drying production amounts of CPO and PKO in Indonesia are
is considered the first crucial process due to the high moisture con- predicted to reach about 31 and 3.7 million tons in
tent of EFB. In this study, EFB drying based on exergy recovery is
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proposed to achieve high energy efficiency. A fluidized bed is 2014.[5] Unfortunately, an increase in palm oil production
adopted as the main dryer. The proposed model is evaluated in terms also brings an increase in abundant production of waste,
of energy efficiency, especially regarding the influence of target including empty fruit bunch (EFB), shells, and fibers. Only
moisture content and fluidization velocity. Up to 92% of the energy about 10% of the whole palm tree is changed to palm oil,
involved in the drying process can be recirculated. The total energy and the rest becomes the wastes.[6]
consumption for drying decreases as the target moisture content
decreases, though there is no significant impact of fluidization In a conventional CPO mill, the solid wastes are basi-
velocity to total energy consumption. In addition, the required total cally utilized for boiler fuel to generate electricity and
length of the heat transfer tubes immersed inside the fluidized bed steam required in the mill. Unfortunately, among the solid
dryer is calculated because it relates to fluidization performance wastes in a CPO mill, EFB has the lowest economic value
and economic issues. Lower target moisture content results in a and is less preferred as a solid fuel because of its high
longer heat transfer tube, and higher fluidization velocity leads to
a shorter heat transfer tube. moisture content, requirement for additional treatment
such as cutting and crushing before being fed to the burner,
Keywords Drying; Empty fruit bunch; Energy efficiency; Exergy
etc.[7] EFB is a bunch without the palm fruit. It is produced
recovery; Fluidized bed dryer during FFB threshing to detach the palm fruit from the
FFB. The weight of EFB generated from FFB is about
20%.[8] EFB has a nonuniform shape and low bulk density
INTRODUCTION
and contains a high moisture content ranging from 60 to
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are the largest
70 wt% on a wet basis (wb).[9,10]
producers and exporters of palm oil and its products in
The energy, both thermal and electrical, in CPO mills is
the world. In the case of Indonesia, palm oil production
usually supplied by a standalone steam and power gener-
increased about 10% annually during 2002–2009. The
ator employing a steam boiler. The solid wastes, including
massive expansion of palm plantations, especially in
fibers, shells, and part of the EFB, are used as a fuel, which
Sumatra and Kalimantan, is considered the main cause.[1,2]
is burned in a combustor. Because the boiler system is
Palm oil industries have served as a large source of income
designed to supply the thermal and electrical energy
for Indonesia for many years. In addition, palm oil and its
required for milling, only a part of the solid waste is uti-
products emerged as a very important oil. The demands for
lized as fuel, especially those that are easy to burn and need
palm oil and its products have increased significantly
no further treatment. This leads to nonuse of large quanti-
following the world’s economic growth, especially in some
ties of EFB due to its disfavor, especially due to high moist-
developing countries such as China, India, and some Asian
ure content. Hence, it is usually recycled as mulch in
countries.
plantation areas to avoid any soil erosion and maintain
Palm fruit, harvested from the palm tree (Elaeis
the nutrient cycle.[11,12] Unfortunately, high transportation
guianensis), yields crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel
cost, greenhouse gas emissions, and labor costs pose prob-
oil (PKO), which have different compositions of saturated
lems in its utilization.[13] Further utilization of EFB to
increase its economic value is urgently required. EFB is
Correspondence: Muhammad Aziz, Solutions Research Lab-
oratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1-I6-25 Ookayama,
believed to be a potential energy source. Some countries,
Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan; E-mail: maziz@ssr.titech. including Indonesia and Malaysia, are promoting the use
ac.jp of EFB for small-scale power generation.[14]

395
396 AZIZ ET AL.

As an energy source, EFB can be converted through Daud.[21] Moreover, they performed an evaluation on the
thermochemical and biochemical conversion.[15] In effect of drying temperature and flow rate of superheated
thermochemical conversion, EFB can be utilized as a solid steam on the quality of dried EFB including fiber mechan-
fuel for combustion or gasification for power generation. ical strength, color, and microstructures.[14] Unfortunately,
Moreover, EFB can be briquetted for longer storage= these studies were limited to the characteristics of EFB
transportation and higher calorific value. Unfortunately, drying using superheated steam without any further dis-
because EFB has a relatively high moisture content, drying cussion on the energy analysis and energy conservation in
is an imperative pretreatment process before its utilization. EFB drying, which are the main focus in this study.
Drying is one of the most energy-intensive processes in Drying kinetics depends on physical and chemical
industry due to high energy consumption to evaporate structures of the material and surrounding environmental
the water. To the best of our knowledge, few studies have conditions. Hence, moisture removal requires energy to
focused on the novel idea of EFB drying with significantly overcome some forces, including capillary force, sorption
high energy efficiency. Various energy-efficient drying force, forces related to water diffusion, and chemical bond-
processes have been proposed and developed, such as heat ing force. Furthermore, the relative vapor pressure—that
pump[16] and pinch technology,[17] but none can signifi- is, the ratio of partial vapor pressure to saturated vapor
cantly reduce the energy consumed in drying. This is due pressure—is assumed as the main driving force in thermal
to the high exergy destruction during drying. drying. Generally, drying to lower target moisture content
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Furthermore, to evaluate how energy is used in the requires a stronger driving force; therefore, lower relative
system including both material processing and energy vapor pressure is required. The relative vapor pressure
conversion, energy and exergy analyses are crucial and depends on parameters related to surrounding environmen-
convenient methods. Energy analysis relates to the energy tal conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and mixing
balance based on the first law of thermodynamics. Unfor- ratio. In the case of drying with superheated steam under
tunately, it does not take into account the degradation of ambient condition, the relative vapor pressure can be
energy during a process and provides no information on assumed as a function of temperature. The correlation of
the quality of various energy types and streams involved relative vapor pressure to the target moisture content leads
in the process. Therefore, exergy analysis is additionally to the concept of equilibrium moisture content, which is
introduced to assess both energy quality and quantity. Fur- the dynamic equilibrium with the environment. The
thermore, it can indicate the location of energy degradation equilibrium moisture content, MCeq, of EFB drying with
in a process, leading to process improvement and minimum superheated steam on a wet basis can be approximated as
exergy destruction. It is developed based on the first and Eq. (1).[21] It is clear that to dry EFB to lower equilibrium
second laws of thermodynamics. This study focuses on an moisture content, a higher drying temperature is required.
innovative drying method for EFB to improve its calorific A higher temperature leads to a lower relative vapor press-
value with significantly low energy consumption. Further- ure; hence, a stronger driving force of drying can be
more, this study proposes a possible design of integrated achieved.
drying, conversion process, and power generation. Con-
cretely, it proposes an innovative drying process employing  
superheated steam for EFB based on exergy recovery tech- 15:365 exp 0:001 ðTb  100Þ1:869
MCeq ¼    :
nology. Both energy and exergy analyses are performed
1 þ 15:365 exp 0:001 ðTb  100Þ1:869
during the process design. The influence of target moisture
content and fluidization velocity on the total required ð1Þ
energy for drying and required length of the heat transfer
tube immersed inside the dryer is evaluated. Furthermore, The minimization of exergy destruction in the whole
a design of integrated drying, gasification, and combined process is crucial to improve the energy efficiency. The
cycles based on process integration technology is proposed. exergy destruction leads to irreversibility, which decreases
the overall energy efficiency. In a drying process without
SUPERHEATED STEAM DRYING OF EFB BASED ON heat recovery, the greatest exergy destruction is due to
EXERGY RECOVERY the exhausted drying medium. Furthermore, in drying with
Drying with superheated steam as a drying medium has conventional heat recovery, there is still relatively high
some advantages compared to other methods of drying due exergy destruction because of poor total energy recovery
to better heat transfer, ability to dry at elevated tem- in the overall drying process. To minimize the exergy
perature, faster drying rate, lower fire risk, etc.[18–20] The destruction throughout the overall process, an exergy
characteristics of EFB drying with superheated steam have recovery technology is proposed and applied.
been previously reported in the literature. Drying curves Exergy recovery is adopted to recirculate and effectively
have been modeled and estimated by Hasibuan and Wan reutilize all of the energy involved in a process. Basically, it
STEAM DRYING OF EMPTY FRUIT BUNCH 397

can be achieved by combining the exergy elevation and heat of condensed compressed-steam flowing out from
effective heat coupling. The exergy of a process stream is the dryer. Subsequently, the preheated EFB flows to the
elevated by means of compression, heat pump, chemical main dryer for water evaporation. A fluidized bed (FBD)
heat pump, etc., creating a hot stream that is utilized as a with an immersed heat exchanger is selected as the evapor-
heat source for the subsequent process. The amount of ator due to its advantages such as good particle mixing,
exergy elevation depends primarily on the performance of uniform temperature distribution, rapid heat and moisture
heat exchangers, including the dryer, and heat coupling. transfer, and large contact surface area.[22] In FBD, water
Generally, the performance of heat exchange inside the evaporation occurs, leading to separation of solid dried
heat exchanger is influenced mainly by the minimum tem- EFB and evaporated steam. During fluidization, it is
perature difference between the hot and cold streams. In expected that both dried and wet EFB is separated nat-
addition, the heat coupling of hot and cold streams must urally due to their different densities. The wet EFB will
be performed intensively so that a balanced amount of sink initially once it enters the FBD. On the other hand,
energy=heat can be achieved. This can be realized by coup- the dried EFB will float as its moisture evaporates. Hence,
ling the same type of heat in the same stage, including sen- it results in overflow of the dried EFB at the upper side of
sible, latent, endothermic, and exothermic heats. As a the bed.
result, an optimum balance of heat exchange can be The water evaporated from wet EFB goes together with
achieved and hence the amount of unrecovered heat can the steam used as the fluidizing gas. After leaving the FBD,
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be minimized significantly. Therefore, the idea of exergy this steam will enter the cyclone-type of separator to
recovery is significantly different from heat cascade utiliza- remove the solid particles blown in the fluidizing steam.
tion, which is usually applied in drying with conventional Furthermore, the steam exhausted from the cyclone is split
heat recovery. In heat cascade utilization, there is no idea into two streams: purged steam and fluidizing steam. After
of exergy elevation; hence, the energy=heat of the hot leaving the splitter, the purged steam is compressed by a
streams cannot be recovered thoroughly, leaving a large compressor for exergy elevation. The compression ratio
part of unrecoverable heat. Finally, it results in a huge of the compressor depends strongly on the performance
amount of exergy destruction leading to still higher energy of heat exchange throughout drying, especially the mini-
input required for drying. mum temperature approach in all of the heat exchangers,
Figure 1 shows a basic process flow diagram of the including the dryer. The compressed steam is flown to the
proposed EFB drying with superheated steam as a drying FBD through immersed heat exchanger tubes for heat
medium employing exergy recovery. Bulky EFB collected recuperation. In the dryer, basically the condensation heat
from some CPO mills is physically treated through cutting of compressed steam is exchanged with the evaporation
and shredding. This will produce smaller and uniformly heat of moisture inside the EFB. As its latent heat is recov-
sized EFB, improving the moisture removal rate and its ered, the compressed steam condenses and leaves out FBD
uniformity as well as better heat transfer due to a larger as a condensate. It flows to the separator to separate the
contact surface area. Before entering the main dryer, steam from the condensate if that steam still exists after
EFB will be preheated to a certain temperature using the heat exchange. The steam is recirculated and mixed with
that exhausted from the FBD, and the condensate is uti-
lized to preheat wet EFB. On the other hand, the fluidizing
steam is utilized as fluidizing gas for fluidization after its
pressure is increased slightly by the blower. Then, it is
flown to the bottom side of the FBD through the distribu-
tor plate.
Figure 2 shows the basic modeling for input and output
of materials and energy in the proposed drying process. As
the main materials at both inlet and outlet sides, wet and
dried EFB is considered to consist of solid EFB and water
adsorbed in the solid EFB although the amount is differ-
ent. This is due to evaporation, which produces conden-
sate. A basic mass balance for the proposed drying
system can be written as
    
mm;1 þ mw;1 ¼ mm;3 hm;3 þ mw;3 hw;3 þ mw;4 hw;4 : ð2Þ

FIG. 1. Basic process flow diagram of the proposed EFB drying employ- Moreover, in the proposed drying process, electricity
ing exergy recovery. becomes the main energy input as it is consumed by
398 AZIZ ET AL.

Finally, specific exergy of the condensate is written as


   
T P
exc ¼ Cw ðT0 ; P0 Þ  T0 Cw ln  Rv ln : ð9Þ
T0 P0

PROCESS MODELING AND EVALUATION


To model and calculate the material and energy
balances throughout the proposed drying process, a steady-
FIG. 2. Basic concept for input and output of materials and energy in state process simulator Pro=II (Invensys Corp., UK) is
the proposed drying process.
used. Some assumptions are made, including (1) the FBD
consists of a mixer, a heat exchanger, and a separator;
compressor and blower. Furthermore, considering an (2) the minimum temperature approach in the fluidized
actual application of the proposed drying system, there is bed dryer and other heat exchangers is 10 C; (3) target
inevitable heat loss from the system to the surrounding moisture contents during drying are set to 5 and 10 wt%
environment. Therefore, the energy balance of the system wb; (4) the ambient temperature and pressure are 25 C
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can be written as and 101.33 kPa, respectively; (5) the adiabatic efficiency
of the compressor and blower is 87%; (6) component psy-
    
mm;1 hm;1 þ mw;1 hw;1 þ E el ¼ mm;3 hm;3 þ mw;3 hw;3 chochemical properties are calculated based on Soave-
 
ð3Þ Redlich-Kwong equations; (7) pressure drop at each heat
þ mw;4 hw;4 þ E loss : exchanger is assumed to be 5 kPa; (8) there is no heat loss;
(9) there is no air contamination inside the dryer; and (10)
In addition, the exergy balance for the system can be writ- heat is completely transferred in the FBD from the com-
ten as pressed steam to EFB particles via the heat transfer tube.
    
Table 1 shows the composition of the EFB including
mm;1 exm;1 þ mw;1 exw;1 þ Exel ¼ mm;3 exm;3 þ mw;3 exw;3 ultimate and proximate analysis, which is used in this
   study. The moisture content of wet EFB in this study is
þ mw;4 exw;4 þ Exloss þ Exdes : assumed to be 60 wt% wb. In Indonesia, the average
ð4Þ capacity of palm oil mill production is about 50–60
t-FFB h1.[24] Considering that the production of EFB
The specific exergy of each substances can be generally from FFB is 20% and EFB is collected from 10 different
written as CPO mills, the amount of wet EFB processed and used
in this study is 100 t h1. In the pretreatment stage before
ex ¼ ½h  h0   T0 ½S  S0 : ð5Þ

Specific exergy of the material[23] can be written as


TABLE 1
exm ¼ ½hm ðT; PÞ  hm ðT0 ; P0 Þ  T0 ½Sm ðT; PÞ  Sm ðT0 ; P0 Þ: Composition of EFB used in drying
process calculation[35,36]
ð6Þ
Component Value
Specific exergy of the moisture inside the material[23] is
calculated as Elemental analysis
C (wt% db) 46.62
    H (wt% db) 6.45
exw ¼ hf ðT Þ  hg ðT0 Þ  vf P  Pg ðT Þ N (wt% db) 1.21
 
  Pg ðT0 Þ ð7Þ S (wt% db) 0.035
 T0 Sf ðT Þ  Sg ðT0 Þ þ T0 Rv ln 0 :
xv P0 O (wt% db) 45.66
Proximate analysis
As the exergy rate of electricity is 1.0, the exergy of the Moisture (wt% wb) 60.0
input electricity is equal to its energy amount, which is Volatiles (wt% wb) 34.84
calculated as Fixed carbon (wt% wb) 3.71
Ash (wt% wb) 1.46
 
Exel ¼ E el ¼ V I t: ð8Þ Calorific value (MJ kg1) 17.02
STEAM DRYING OF EMPTY FRUIT BUNCH 399

drying, wet EFB is cut and shredded to an average size of


5 mm square. The details of the assumed drying conditions
with superheated steam for EFB are listed in Table 2.
Figure 3 shows the process flow diagram of the pro-
posed drying process in the simulator. The FBD is shown
as the integration of a mixer (MX1), a heat exchanger
(HX2), and a separator (SEP1). The exhausted steam is
split to fluidizing steam (S12) and purged steam (S6). The
purged steam is compressed by a compressor (CP1) for
exergy elevation before its heat is recuperated for drying
in the FBD. The immersed heat exchanger inside the
FBD is represented by HX2. The condensate leaves the
FBD and is utilized to preheat wet EFB in HX1. To
improve the fluidization of shredded EFB and achieve
more uniform heat transfer and temperature distribution FIG. 3. Process flow diagram of the proposed drying process.
throughout the bed, silica sand with an average particle
diameter of 0.3 mm is utilized as the fluidizing medium.
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In addition, the fluidizing medium is expected to reduce where Dpb and Dpd are the pressure drops across the bed
the blower work because of its smaller particle size than and distributor, respectively, and can be calculated as
the shredded EFB. follows:
The pressure drop inside the fluidized bed, Dpf, required
for fluidization can be approximated as follows[25]: Dpb ¼ ð1  emf Þðqs  qg Þ H g=c ð11Þ

Dpf ¼ Dpb þ Dpd ; ð10Þ Dpd ¼ 0:4 Dpb : ð12Þ

Furthermore, the minimum fluidization velocity of flui-


dizing medium (silica sand), Umf, is calculated based on the
TABLE 2 modified Ergun equation for small particles[25] as follows:
Assumed drying conditions in process calculation

!
Properties Value ds 2 qs  qg g e3mf U2s
Umf ¼ : ð13Þ
150 lg 1  emf
EFB material
Average particle diameter (mm) 5
Moisture content (wt% wb) 60 The calculated minimum fluidization velocity is then
Sphericity 0.6 confirmed through basic experiment. Furthermore, regard-
Heat capacity (kJ kg1 K1) 0.1031 þ 0.003867T ing the heat transfer inside the FBD, it is considered that
Fluidizing medium the heat from the compressed steam is transferred initially
Material Silica sand to the fluidizing medium, which is silica sand, before it is
Average diameter (mm) 0.3 transferred to the EFB. The heat transfer from the
Heat capacity (kJ kg1 K1) 1.1 immersed heat exchanger inside the FBD to silica sand par-
Sphericity 0.86 ticles in the bed, at, can be approximated by the following
Voidage at minimum fluidization 0.42 correlation[26,27]:
Particle density (kg m3) 2,600
!0:14  0:24
Bulk density (kg m3) 1,500
at ds q Cs es 2=3
Fluidized bed ¼ 0:74 Ar0:1 s es 2=3 þ 0:46 Re Pr ;
kg qg Cg eg
Side length (m) 5
Bed height (m) 5 ð14Þ
Heat transfer tube
Material SUS444 (80% Fe, where the Archimedes number, Ar, Reynolds number, Re,
18% Cr, 1.95 Mo) and Prandtl number, Pr, are calculated as follows:
Thermal conductivity (Wm1 K1) 26.8

Inner diameter (mm) 50 ds3 g qg qs  qg
Thickness (mm) 3 Ar ¼ ð15Þ
lg 2
400 AZIZ ET AL.

q g v g dt compression work consumed to elevate the pressure of


Re ¼ ð16Þ purged steam and blower work required to increase the
lg
pressure of fluidizing steam for fluidization. It can be
Cg lg observed that drying to a moisture content of 5 wt% wb
Pr ¼ : ð17Þ requires lower total required work than drying to a moist-
kg
ure content of 10 wt% wb. In addition, the relation of
In addition, the heat transfer coefficient following the compressor outlet pressure to each fluidization velocity
condensation of compressed steam inside the horizontal and target moisture content is shown in Fig. 5. Although
heating tubes, ac, can be approximated as follows[28]: the drying temperature of lower target moisture content is
higher (142 C in the case of a target moisture content
0:023 Rel 0:8 Prl 0:4 kl h . i of 5 wt% wb compared to 122 C in the case of a target
ac ¼ 0:55 þ 2:09 ðp=pcrit Þ0:38 : ð18Þ moisture content of 10 wt% wb), drying to a lower target
dt
moisture content requires a lower compression ratio
The heat transfer from the fluidizing medium (silica sand) during the compression of purged steam.
to the shredded EFB in the dynamic regime is approxi- It is considered that in drying to a lower target moisture
mated using the following equation[29]: content, better material and energy balances can be
achieved than at a higher target moisture content. Lower
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ap ¼ 2:923dp 0:503 ds0:140 : ð19Þ target moisture content means a greater amount of evapo-
rated steam, especially the purged steam, which is further
The driving force of heat transfer from the hot to cold compressed and utilized as the main energy=heat source
streams is presented using log mean temperature difference throughout the drying process. Basically, the latent heat
(LMTD), which is defined as follows: of water evaporation is coupled with the latent heat of


steam condensation, as well as the sensible heat. In fact,
Thot;in  Tcold;out  Thot;out  Tcold;in the heat exchange occurs not only between the compressed
LMTD ¼ 

 :
ln Thot;in  Tcold;out Thot;out  Tcold;in steam and water inside the EFB in each hot and cold
stream but also includes its solid EFB. Hence, the sensible
ð20Þ
heat of solid EFB is supplied by the additional sensible heat
of compressed steam, leading to a higher compression ratio
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION than that required for heat coupling between steam and
To measure the total energy efficiency of the proposed water. Drying with a smaller amount of evaporated water
drying process for EFB, the total required work is calcu- (higher target moisture content) will require a higher
lated in correlation with the fluidization velocity for each compression ratio to provide this sensible heat.
target moisture content, which is shown in Fig. 4. The In addition, following the pressure–enthalpy diagram of
fluidization velocity is presented as a multiplication of water, the latent heat following evaporation and conden-
the minimum fluidization velocity of silica sand. Total sation decreases as its pressure increases. Although this
required work is basically defined as the addition of amount is insignificant, it results in unequal heat coupling

FIG. 4. Correlation between total required work and fluidization velo- FIG. 5. Correlation between required pressure outlet at the compressor
city for each target moisture content during drying. and fluidization velocity for each target moisture content of drying.
STEAM DRYING OF EMPTY FRUIT BUNCH 401

between steam condensation and water evaporation, requires shorter total heat transfer tube length than drying
leading to additional duty to the compressor to cover this to a target moisture content of 5 wt% wb. Drying to a
inequality. higher target moisture content leads to a lower amount
There is no significant influence of fluidization velocity of evaporated steam, especially the purged steam, which
on the total required work for drying, as well as the outlet will be compressed and flown inside the heat transfer tubes.
pressure of compressor. As the fluidization velocity In addition, the compression ratio of the compressor is
increases, the blower work increases accordingly. However, higher in the case of a higher target moisture content.
the energy consumed for the blower is significantly lower Numerically, in drying to a target moisture content of
than that consumed by the compressor. Numerically, it 5 wt% wb, the steam pressure inside the heat transfer tube
increases from about 18 kW (1 Umf) to about 73 kW is about 275 kPa. This pressure increases to about 395 kPa
(4 Umf) in both target moisture contents. This is due to when the target moisture content is increased to 10 wt% wb.
the smaller total amount of fluidizing steam than purged This lower flow rate and higher pressure are considered the
steam and lower pressure increase of the blower than the main factors resulting in shorter total heat transfer tube
compressor. Hence, no significant change in total required length.
work is observed. The overall heat transfer from compressed steam to
The energy efficiency of the proposed drying process can EFB particles is relatively complex and is mainly influenced
be presented as the coefficient of the drying performance. It by the heat transfer coefficients mentioned above. Con-
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can be defined as the ratio of the energy required to remove sidering that heat transfer between particles and heat trans-
the water from the solid EFB to the total required energy fer due to conductive heat transfer of heat transfer tubes
consumed for the drying process. From the calculation, are constant at different fluidization velocities and target
the coefficient of drying performance increases from 8.0 moisture contents, the overall heat transfer inside the
(target moisture content of 10 wt% wb) to 10.8 (target FBD is mainly governed by the heat transfer due to steam
moisture content of 5 wt% wb). condensation and convective heat transfer from heat trans-
Figure 6 shows the relation between the required length fer tubes to fluidization medium (silica sand). Figure 7
of the heat transfer tube, which is immersed inside the shows the heat transfer coefficients due to steam conden-
FBD, and the fluidization velocity for each target moisture sation inside the heat transfer tube, ac, and convection
content. The heat transfer tubes are installed horizontally from heat transfer tubes to fluidization medium, at, for dif-
and parallel to each other from one side of the FBD to ferent target moisture contents and fluidization velocities.
the other side. Therefore, the total number of horizontal The heat transfer due to steam condensation inside the
tubes is defined as the quotient of total required heat trans- heat transfer tube, ac, increases as the target moisture con-
fer tube length divided by the side length of the FBD where tent decreases. Lower target moisture content leads to a
the heat transfer tubes are spanned. The length of the heat higher flow rate of compressed steam, leading to a higher
transfer tube (the number of tubes spanned) will influence Reynolds number, Re, of the stream. In addition, there is
the fluidization performance of the fluidizing medium and no significant influence of fluidization velocity on heat
EFB particles, as well as its maintenance and capital cost. transfer due to steam condensation inside the heat transfer
Generally, drying to a target moisture content of 10 wt% wb tubes. This is mainly due to the constant flow rate of the
compressed steam flowing inside the heat transfer tubes
for the same target moisture content. In addition, the
exchanged heat amount from compressed steam to the
FBD only changes slightly in the case of fixed target moist-
ure content.
On the other hand, heat transfer due to convection of
horizontal heat transfer tubes in the FBD, at, is signifi-
cantly influenced by both fluidization velocity and target
moisture content. Fluidization velocity has a significant
impact on the flow rate of the fluidization gas, which is
steam. Higher fluidization velocity means a higher flow rate
of the fluidization gas, resulting in higher Reynolds num-
ber, Re. Moreover, the target moisture content has a strong
relation to the drying temperature inside the FBD, which
influences some physical properties of the fluidizing gas,
such as density, viscosity, heat capacity, and thermal
conductivity. Concretely, lower target moisture content
FIG. 6. Required length of heat transfer tube immersed inside the FBD. demands a higher drying temperature; hence, the density
402 AZIZ ET AL.

FIG. 7. Heat transfer coefficients due to condensation inside the tube and convection outside the tube for different fluidization velocities and target
moisture contents.
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and heat capacity of steam decreases. On the contrary, vis- content and fluidization velocity of 5 wt% wb and 2 Umf,
cosity (both dynamic and kinematic) and thermal conduc- respectively. Considering no heat loss from the system,
tivity increase, which results in lower Archimedes number, about 92% of the total energy required for drying can be
Ar, and Prandtl number, Pr. Finally, a lower target moist- recirculated by applying the proposed drying process for
ure content leads to a lower heat transfer coefficient due to EFB. The produced dried EFB is still in a high temperature
convective heat transfer from horizontal tubes to the flui- condition with a relatively high exergy rate. To further
dizing medium inside the FBD, at. minimize the exergy destruction, a continuous utilization
Considering the total energy consumption and some process of dried EFB in hot condition is expected, such
technical issues, drying to a target moisture content of as gasification.
5 wt% wb and fluidization velocity of 2–3Umf seems to be
the best option for drying of EFB. A lower fluidization
velocity leads to a longer heat transfer tube, which means INTEGRATION OF DRYING TO GASIFICATION AND
a greater number of installed horizontal heat transfer COMBINED CYCLE
tubes, hence resulting in higher capital cost, maintenance, The dried EFB is considered a potential energy source.
and higher disturbance during fluidization. On the other EFB has relatively high amount of volatile matter (up to
hand, very high fluidization velocity leads to entrainment 82%) and low sulfur, which strengthen the idea of utilizing
of the fluidizing medium (silica sand) and small EFB parti- EFB as an energy source.[30] In addition, to minimize the
cles, causing some technical difficulties in separation and exergy destruction of the proposed drying process,
filtration. especially the dried EFB, integration of a drying process
Figure 8 shows the energy flow diagram of the proposed with conversion and utilization processes is recommended.
drying process for EFB in the case of target moisture Among the available conversion and energy harvesting
processes, an integrated gasification and combined cycle
(IGCC) is considered that has high generation efficiency
due to greater carbon conversion, lower exergy destruction
in power generation, etc., as well as its low environmental
impact.[31,32] Moreover, among the available conversion
technologies, gasification has advantages such as high car-
bon conversion efficiency and faster reaction, leading to its
suitability for biomass conversion.[33,34]
Integration of drying, gasification, and combined cycles
for EFB with high energy efficiency can be achieved by
combining both exergy recovery and process integration
technologies. The former thoroughly recovers the energy
involved in a single process, and the latter recuperates
FIG. 8. Energy flow diagram of the proposed drying process (target and utilizes the unrecoverable energy in a certain process
moisture content 5 wt% wb, fluidization velocity 2 Umf). into other processes. Hence, the total exergy destruction
STEAM DRYING OF EMPTY FRUIT BUNCH 403

FIG. 9. Possible integration of proposed drying process to gasification and combined cycle for energy harvesting from EFB.
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in the overall integrated processes can be significantly balances. In addition, there was no significant influence
reduced. Figure 9 shows the possible integration of drying, of fluidization velocity on the amount of energy consumed
gasification, and combined cycles for energy harvesting due to insignificant energy consumption required for
from EFB. After drying, the hot dried EFB is converted fluidization.
to syngas in the fluidized bed gasifier under a high gasifi- Drying to a lower moisture content required a longer
cation temperature (900–1300 C). Similar to other biomass heat transfer tube, which is immersed inside the FBD to
gasification, EFB gasification also mainly produces syngas mainly facilitate the latent heat exchange due to the higher
containing H2, CH4, and CO. flow rate and lower pressure of the compressed steam flow-
The produced syngas leaves the fluidized bed gasifier and ing inside the heat transfer tubes. Moreover, drying under
its heat is recuperated to superheat the recirculated steam higher fluidization velocity resulted in shorter heat transfer
for the steam turbine. Furthermore, syngas is cleaned up tubes due to the higher heat transfer coefficient due to con-
before it is oxidized in the combustor to produce a high vection from heat transfer tubes to the fluidizing medium.
enthalpy of the gas to spin the gas turbine. The exhausted The balance between target moisture content and fluidiza-
gas with a relatively high exergy rate (temperature ranges tion velocity was one of the key successes in EFB drying in
from 600 to 900 C) is utilized for primary superheating of terms of technical and economic points of view.
the recirculated steam in the heat recovery steam generator. In addition, the integration of drying with conversion
Finally, the recirculated steam expands in the steam turbine and utilization processes was considered to be important
to generate the electricity. The flue gas from the combined to achieve higher total energy efficiency in the overall utili-
cycle process with a relatively low exergy rate is flown to zation process. Integration of drying and IGCC seems to
the drying stage for preheating purposes. Hence, the total be promising technology in terms of energy efficiency.
exergy destruction from the overall processes can be mini- Finally, the utilization of EFB for power generation can
mized, leading to higher total energy efficiency. improve the value of EFB, as well as reduce the environ-
mental impact and increase the energy supply in general.
The generated power can be utilized for mills, sold to
CONCLUSIONS utilities, or distributed to the surrounding neighborhood
High energy-efficient drying for EFB has been proposed to increase the electrification ratio and community
and evaluated based on the idea of exergy recovery standard of life.
technology. The exergy recovery was performed through
optimum exergy elevation and efficient heat coupling. A
fluidized bed was selected as the main dryer. The energy NOMENCLATURE
efficiency of the proposed EFB drying process was evalu- Ar Archimedes number
ated under different target moisture contents and fluidiza- C Specific heat capacity (J kg1K1)
tion velocities. The application of exergy recovery can c Conversion factor (1 kg m N1 s2)
recover up to 92% of the total energy required for drying. d Diameter (m)
A lower target moisture content led to lower energy E Energy (J)
consumption for drying due to better material and energy Ex Exergy (J)
404 AZIZ ET AL.

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