Catalytic Drying Technologies
1. What is Flameless Catalytic Energy?
Flameless Catalytic Infrared Energy (FCIR) is generated by catalyzing natural gas or propane with a proprietary enhanced platinum catalyst. Natural gas or propane, when combined with air across the platinum catalyst, reacts by oxidation-reduction to yield a controlled bandwidth of infrared energy and small amounts of CO2 and water vapor.
2. Why is "controlled bandwidth" important?
The key to this process is that the bulk of the radiant energy bandwidth generated is in the "far infrared" range, with wavelengths ranging from approximately 3 to 7 microns. Water absorbs energy extremely efficiently at 3, 4.5 and 6 microns. By directing this energy spectrum at water-containing products, evaporative energy is targeted to the water within the product. Far infrared does not heat the air, therefore energy is transferred very efficiently to the organic matter.
3. How efficient is Catalytic Infrared for dehydrating fruits and vegetables for use as edible products, or as feedstock for nutraceuticals?
Catalytic infrared processing has proven to be compatible with a broad range of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Examples include the production of edible dried foods with excellent flavor, texture and color, the extraction of vitamins or minerals from herbs (such as rosemary), and the production of botanicals for food, cosmetic or medicinal purposes.
Catalytic infrared energy has proven its value as an efficient and highly repeatable technology that delivers exceptional end product quality, with substantially less heat exposure, in a shorter process cycle, at lower cost, than conventional heating methods.
4. What is the cost of a Flameless Catalytic Infrared Energy system compared to conventional systems that attempt to perform the same function?
In general, equipment costs are on a par with conventional conveyor-type systems on a cost-per-conveyor area basis. However, since drying/heating times can be greatly reduced using flameless catalytic infrared energy, it is likely that smaller equipment or more throughput (or both) can result from using a CDT catalytic infrared system.
5. How do energy costs compare between flameless catalytic infrared systems and conventional convection heating/drying systems?
A typical convection conveyor dryer or column dryer requires as much as 50 horsepower just to move heated air. Flameless catalytic infrared energy is transferred directly to the product without the requirement to heat large volumes of air. Therefore, horsepower requirements are greatly reduced. In typical applications, CDT's system uses 12 - 25 horsepower to move the conveyor and operate small recirculation and ventilation fans.
Regarding fuel use, conventional convection dryers that use open flame burners or heat exchangers are much less efficient at utilizing all of the energy in the fuel when compared to the direct energy transferred using flameless catalytic infrared energy systems. Of course this requires the proper kind of catalytic system such as developed by CDT. Fuel costs can be reduced 30-50% in some applications due to the efficiency of the direct energy transfer and lower heat losses, which are minimized by vastly reducing the required air handling.
6. Is flameless catalytic infrared energy safe?
Flameless catalytic infrared energy is very safe. Wavelengths generated are in the "far infrared" range, not microwaves. And because it is flameless, catalytic systems are approved for use in environments where other systems are not, such as in dusty environments and environments where volatile compounds (alcohols, etc.) are present in the vapors generated by the heating/drying processes.
7. Can I have my product or process idea tested by CDT?
Yes. CDT provides complimentary testing to help you determine the optimum process for your application. CDT has pilot scale and large scale testing facilities for delivering flameless catalytic infrared energy in ways designed to answer your questions about quality, capacity, operating conditions and equipment specifications. Testing is proprietary for the customer and is protected, at the customer's request, by non-disclosure agreements.