French company Base Innovation has developed an agricultural dryer that works with hybrid thermoelectric solar panels (PVT).
Base Innovation has developed an agricultural dryer that works with PVT solar panels.
Cogen’Air panels are photovoltaic modules with an integrated heat recovery system. The module uses a heat exchanger that recovers the heat released on the back side of the panels for thermal use, such as heating or drying. This heat removal also increases electrical efficiency by avoiding overheating of the photovoltaic system. According to the company, the peak power can rise up to 10 percent.
The company developed an intelligent control system that affects the speed of the fans based on the humidity level of the heated air. This improves drying and limits the consumption of the installation. The solution also enables remote monitoring of dryer operation and production optimization.
Backed by the French energy agency Ademe, the system has been patented since 2013 and has mobilized more than 500,000 euros ($551,000) in research and development over the past 10 years.
Base Innovation currently offers its solutions for the design or renovation of agricultural dryers for bulk drying, bale drying, flat drying or tank drying. In practice, the panels are integrated into the ventilation infrastructure with a management system that optimizes the operation of the dryer.
“We have done tests in other industries,” said company representative Benoît Michenot pv magazine. “Our solution is interesting for reducing the mass of water and thus reducing the cost per ton of treatment, but the seasonal limitations associated with solar energy and low temperature drying technology are for now limited opportunities in this field.”
Michenot said solar dryers offer low-temperature drying, which affects the value of the final product.
“Straw can have the same nutritional value as grain in animal feed, as long as it is dried under the right conditions,” he said. “This also leaves room for the development of micro-food chains.”
The company already has 60 solar dryers in use in France.