The drying process of smoked sausage occurs with large quantities of warm air and is therefore a relatively energy-intensive process. All drying towers and associated air circulation systems of the Unilever plant in Oss – The Netherlands have been investigated and mapped, in order to accurately assess the potential for energy efficiency enhancement of these processes. Also, the tower’s performances have been determined by measuring the temperature-time profile of the products and drying air.
Based on the inventory, a thermal analysis of the drying processes have been made. Dedicated laboratory experiments in collaboration with product experts from Unilever have revealed insight in the relation between process settings and product quality. On this basis, a full-scale drying tower optimization has been carried out. Solutherm’s scope for this encompassed the full range from theoretical product and process analysis, design of optimized air circulation system, optimization of the process controls of the drying towers, to the assistance during commissioning.
The energy consumption of the drying towers has been reduced by the project by 50%, yielding an reduction of the site’s CO2 emissions by at least 10% per year.