Timber drying kilns are the great energy guzzlers in sawmills. But that is about to change. A company in Luleå in northern Sweden, Alent Drying AB, has developed a new timber drying method. The result: drying times are shorter and electricity consumption has been halved.
The method can be applied in existing drying kilns by changing the control system and installing the new drying software - an investment that is recouped within a year.
Alent’s drying method benefits both the environment and the economic situation in both industrialised and developing countries. In Sweden there are an estimated 1,500 chamber dryers, which, using the new technology, can each save 100,000 kWh per year. The EU zone has some 10,000 dryers, while there are perhaps a further 100,000 elsewhere in the world. Overall, the saving potential is huge: the company estimates that if all timber drying in the world were to use Alent’s method the saving would correspond to the output from 25 coal fired power plants.
Alent’s drying software is currently being developed for Microsoft’s latest platform so that it can be used in standard PCs and in control units from the world’s leading manufacturers. The focus is on boosting volume growth. For some time now, the company has had patents that save both the environment and energy when timber is dried, and it will shortly be ready to enter markets outside Sweden.
Its international business strategy involves selling program licences and know-how to an intermediary - timber dryers or companies working to improve energy utilisation in industry.
"We are hoping that Alent will be a good example of Swedish environmental technology exports emphasising what we are good at in Sweden", says the company CEO Erik Björkman, and continues;
"Swedish wood and drying technology is already internationally respected, both in research and in application. Our drying method opens up a new multidisciplinary area of application by combining wood physics and energy and environmental technology with modern control engineering. These are three areas in which Sweden is at the cutting edge."
Read more about the company.