EQUANS (formerly ENGIE Refrigeration) has developed an excellent way of drying and preserving onions and other arable products. A solution where you are no longer dependent on bad weather conditions and expensive germ inhibitors, and with which you can operate in a CO2-neutral way: condensation drying. What does it give you? Retained product quality, minimal weight loss and significantly lower (up to 80%) energy costs, which translates to more profit.
The condensation drying installation is a cooling and heating installation in one, which makes this technology unique. It brings the air in the storage space below condensation point which removes a lot of moisture and products such as onion, ginger, cabbage, and garlic can be dried. The heat released during the cooling process can be re-used. Cooled air can hardly absorb moisture and by heating the air with the released heat, the air absorbs moisture again. If sufficient moisture has evaporated from the product, you can also heat the products to combat diseases.
While the energy-efficient heat pump uses the heat released from the cooling process (drying process) to heat up products or keep them at temperature, solar panels generate the fraction of energy that is required for this. In this way, you achieve the maximum achievable energy efficiency, and you can achieve CO2-neutral or even energy-positive storage.
The entire system is controlled by an in-house developed operating system, which can be operated and monitored both locally and remotely via PC or smartphone. Condensation drying can be used with or without external shutters. The hatch control has been so refined that you can take advantage of favourable outside air conditions and combine them with the drying capacity of the condensation dryer. The smart control controls the hatches and thrust the fans extremely accurately. If you do not want to use the outside air for a while, the system automatically switches to a closed environment, and you benefit from the best of both worlds.
The need for controlled drying and storage arises from quality losses and high energy costs associated with conventional storage methods. Previously, the agricultural sector depended on the outside air to dry and cool harvested crops. However, the quality of the outside air almost never meets the requirements to guarantee product quality. In addition, climate change causes too many fluctuations in outside air conditions.
To solve this, the outside air is heated with gas heaters in order for the air to absorb more moisture. This uses a lot of gas with the additional disadvantage that 1.6 kilograms of moisture are released per kilogram of propane gas burned. This moisture also must be removed again, with another 10% extra gas consumption. Drying and storing arable products in the conventional way, therefore, costs a lot of money, is harmful to the environment and leads to a loss of quality. Thanks to condensation drying, you no longer have to worry about this, because you no longer need outside air and gas heaters. If the outside air conditions are still favourable, you can take advantage of them by simply opening the hatches.
This high-quality way of drying and storing is not new. We have been using condensation drying technology in cheese warehouses and climate chambers for years. The results in that industry got us thinking and eventually led to the development of an effective approach to agriculture and the storage of crops such as onions and potatoes. Our rich experience in various industries helps us to continue to take innovative steps. It inspires us to translate techniques that work well in one market to other markets and condensation drying of crops is a good example of this.
EQUANS first developed and successfully applied the condensation drying system for the drying and storage of onions. The technology has since been further developed so that arable farmers can also benefit from it when storing sweet potatoes, flower bulbs, ginger, cabbage, garlic, and valerian. For potato growers, it is an interesting solution where potatoes that come off the land very wet, are dried.
Since the introduction of condensation drying, the enthusiasm among arable farmers has grown. There are now dozens of installations running in the Netherlands and abroad. Growers are very enthusiastic, because with condensation drying they have much more control over the product during the drying and storage phase. As a result, arable farmers can preserve their quality for longer and respond better to market conditions. Margins on the product are still good at the end of the season. Read more about this in our customer stories.
The energy-efficient drying and storage technology of EQUANS has been awarded the Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions Label. This makes it one of a 1,000 clean solutions in the world that protect the environment and has a quick return on investment. After all, it has a verifiable positive impact on the environment and is a profitable customer solution.
Intelligent mechanical cooling is one of EQUANS' storage solutions for agricultural businesses. We offer a solution for short-, medium- and long-term storage for every budget, a solution that meets your needs, product-specific features, energy capacity and product quality preservation.