Willmar, Minn. — Enquiring eyes watched with curious anticipation as the towering Micronex Kinetic Disintegration System growled into gear. The dryer system, recently installed at the Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers facility near Willmar, employs a new particle reduction technology that also creates heat to dry a product for processing. In MnVAP’s case, it’s alfalfa that will be pelleted for feed.

The MnVAP presentation culminated an AURI-sponsored dryer demonstration day on November 4, attended by more than 30 people. Because of the popularity of a similar event in May, AURI held the second demonstration to focus on drying technologies that could help processors increase efficiency and open up new biomass opportunities.

“Some processors are looking at technologies with no heat because it doesn’t denature protein in what they’re drying,” says Kevin Hennessy, AURI scientist and dryer day organizer. “Others are looking at ways to use low-value material to power their

drying needs.”

Besides reducing processing bottlenecks and drying costs, Hennessy says processors are looking at technologies that could open potential markets. “For example, depending on the technology, dairy digester solids could be used as fuel or fertilizer. New markets could be opened up for processors if their drying was more efficient.”

The dryer technology demonstrations also give AURI scientists an opportunity to listen.

“These events help us to identify the needs of the industry,” says Alan Doering, AURI scientist. He says building a community of processors, vendors and researchers is a platform for discussing industry hurdles and ways to address them.