Design of an Efficient Drying System
Benjamin Dollins, Rebecca Hoey, Micheal Matousek
Dean Smith, of S & S Farms in western Oklahoma, is a producer of super-hot chili peppers for use in the pharmaceutical industry. The current drying process consists of peanut wagons to hold the peppers, fifteen Peerless 103 dual 3-phase dryers that have natural gas burners to heat the air, and a blower that forces the air into the false bottom of the peanut wagon. The peanut wagons are placed under open-sided barns that are exposed to the environment. Currently the dryers raise the ambient air temperature 20°F (-6.7°C) to 30°F (-1.1°C). The current drying time for the peppers ranges from 48 hours at the beginning of the drying season to about 18 hours at the end of the season. The peppers remain in the field on the plant for as long as possible which allows them to dry naturally, thereby reducing the additional energy required to dry them. After they are harvested, they are stored in a barn until they are placed in the peanut wagons for drying. After the peppers have been dried to the desired moisture, they are milled into a powder before being shipped off to the extraction company.
S & S Farms peppers are used for a variety of different products, including Icy Hot and pepper spray. Before processing and shipping his peppers he must reduce the moisture content to 5 %. The goal of Spicy Solutions is to develop a time and cost effective drying method to reduce the expense associated with the increasing price of natural gas, by developing a continuous flow drying process.
Scope of Work
For our project the process must accommodate a total of 1.7 million pounds of peppers per year, and approximately sixty thousand pounds per day. A main design requirement of our project is presented by the client, which is to reduce the amount of natural gas used. The current milling process outlines several limitations, including that the peanut wagons must be easily accessed and transported, and the drying time of the peppers must be able to keep up with the milling process. The peanut wagons must be able to be moved from the drying location to the central barn for milling and reloading. The peppers need to be processed in a timely manner to maintain the speed of the milling process and reduce the chance of spoilage. Our team would like to have a final design that is easy to implement and maintain.