Development of a Membrane-based Thermal Energy Recovery System for Wood Drying Kilns

Primary Submission Contact

Darien Dewar

Faculty Sponsor

Stan Zygmunt

Faculty Sponsor Email Address





Mecahnical Engineering

Document Type

Poster Presentation


Fall 10-25-2019


Forest materials have high moisture contents, which must be significantly lowered to be used in practical applications. This research project proposed to investigate the feasibility of applying a membrane-based dehydration system in wood drying kilns to recover lost thermal energy from venting moisture laden air. The project was roughly divided into three major parts: test system design, membrane-system testing, and data analysis. During the design phase, the research group investigated the influencing factors that would be present inside a wood drying kiln. These factors, which are temperature, vacuum pressure, air flow rate, and ambient relative humidity, guided the selection and setup of the test system that was developed. After assembling the system trials were conducted and data regarding the relative humidity of air coming from the outlet of the membrane were collected. After analyzing the trial data, it was concluded that the flow rate of air entering the membrane influenced the transition time for achieving lower relative humidity. Trends in the data also allowed the research group to conclude that the greater the pressure difference across the membrane is, the lower the relative humidity of the air coming from the membrane outlet will be. From the results, it was observed that the highest efficiency values occurred at higher vacuum pressures and mid-range flow rates.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Darien Dewar: Student at Valparaiso University, studying mechanical engineering.

Dr. Ling Li: Professor of wood sciences and forest resources at the University of Maine.

Nassim Alikhani: Graduate student in the department of wood sciences at the University of Maine.

Additional Presentation Information

Tabletop Poster

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