PhilMech tests grains drying system

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The Agriculture department wants farmers to adopt more efficient drying technology as part of efforts to increase mechanization in the palay sector.

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A prototype machine called the Fluidized Bed Drying System offers significant advantages compared to current technologies being used by farmers, said Rex Bingabing, executive director of the department’s Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).

Tests conducted so far have shown that the electricity-powered system can dry grains at a
cost of only P0.63 per kilogram at a capacity of 500 kilograms per hour.

“While still undergoing tests, the system shows potential in drying palay more efficiently than present drying systems. Notably, the system uses an efficient drying system that has been in use in different industries,” Bingabing said.

Most farmers currently employ commercialized technologies, including:

• flatbed dryers that use biomass waste to dry palay (unmilled rice) to a moisture content of around 14 percent from dripping wet;

• biomass-fed furnace/heater systems that uses rice hulls to generate heat to dry various farm commodities like corn, and dehydrates high value crops and fruits;

• grain moisture meters that give speedy and accurate moisture readings for grains like corn, palay and milled rice; and

• hermetic storage were grains are stored in an oxygen-free environment that makes it impossible for pests and fungi to thrive.

A typical fluidized bed drying system uses heated air to dry commodities. During the fluidization process, hot air or gas flows are introduced through a bed of solid particulates.
Based on field tests conducted by PhilMech, optimum drying can be achieved in about two hours, Bingabing said.

Bingabing, along with Reagan Pontawe, Nestor Asuncion, Roselyn Villacorte and Romualdo Martinez—all from PhilMech—conducted a study on the Fluidized Bed Drying System.

He said the system was a product of the “agrinnovation” research and development approach where the PhilMech modifies existing technologies for use in the country’s farms.

This approach has resulted in the development of prototype models in just six to 12 months compared to the usual three to five years, Bingabing claimed.

Among the farm machineries developed by PhilMech under the “agrinnovation” approach are a coconut water pasteurizer, tractor-mounted combine harvester, onion seeder, compact village corn mill, brown rice huller, cassava digger and a granulated cassava belt dryer.

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