Online measurement and control of solids moisture in fluidised bed dryers

H. G. Wang, P. R. Senior, R. Mann, W. Q. Yang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Currently, two main methods are used to take online measurement of the solids moisture in fluidised bed dryers, namely microwave resonance and near infrared spectroscopy. In this paper, a new online approach to solids moisture measurement of batch fluidised bed dryers by electrical capacitance tomography (ECT) is presented for the first time. Based on online measurement of solids moisture, it is possible to implement feedback control and process optimisation of batch fluidised bed drying processes, aiming to increase the operation efficiency and to improve product quality. A twin-plane ECT sensor with eight electrodes in each plane is mounted in the bottom of a glass fluidisation chamber. From the adjacent electrode pairs, the water content of the solids is estimated based on the correlation between the moisture content and the permittivity value. To reduce measurement error, the effect of temperature on moisture measurement is compensated. The fluidisation velocity is estimated by a semi-empirical function based on the measured water content. The acquired information is sent to a controller to adjust the air flow rate of the fluidised bed dryer. To validate the moisture measurement by ECT, a mathematical model has been developed, based on the measured temperature and relative humidity of the outlet air. The Landweber iteration method is applied to reconstruct images. The averaged solids concentration along the radial direction at different fluidisation conditions is given and compared with results by the linear back-projection (LBP) method. Results from batch drying processes with online measurement and feedback control are given and compared with no feedback control. To compare the operation efficiency, the thermal efficiency is considered and the results show the possibility of online control and optimisation of the fluidised bed drying processes, based on online measurement of solids moisture by ECT. Some challenges and future work are discussed. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2893-2902
    Number of pages9
    JournalChemical Engineering Science
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2009


    • Electrical capacitance tomography
    • Fluidised bed dryer
    • Moisture measurement
    • Process control


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