Drying Processes - the Balance Between Efficiency and Product Quality
Drying is an important process in almost all industry sectors, including ceramics, pharmaceutical, food, chemical, construction, and semiconductors. This process is always concerned with two main criteria, maximising the product efficiency, and maintaining the product quality. However, in most cases, an efficient drying process often requires a high temperature to promote the evaporation of the water or any solvent from the product.
Harsh thermal conditions can affect the product quality, i.e. lead to cracks and distortion in ceramic products, or cause deactivation of key ingredients or undesired phase transitions for food and pharmaceutical products, etc. On the other hand, to maximise product quality, a moderate temperature could be selected, which leads to low process efficiency, i.e. prolonging the drying cycles. As a result, there seems to be a dilemma between efficiency and quality inherent to the drying process. This dilemma can be resolved either by the proper selection of drying methods/dryer types or the optimisation of the drying profile.
There are a wide range of drying techniques available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. These include conventional drying (with controlled airflow), humidity drying, vacuum drying, freeze drying, superheated steam drying (also known as R-O2 drying) and microwave drying.
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