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LEADER: Engr. Ceazar A. Cuaresma

BACKGROUND

Drying is a vital process in the conversion of various agro-forest and aqua-marine commodities into finished products. This process, if scientifically done for a particular commodity, reduces post-harvest losses and improves productivity and product quality.

Most commodities are traditionally dried to required moisture content by air or sun-drying specifically in the rural areas. This drying method is relatively cheap but inefficient due to high dependence on prevailing weather conditions.

In 1978, FPRDI developed the furnace-type lumber dryer (FTLD). This technology was primarily designed for lumber kiln drying. It is used with slight modification in the design and drying schedule for kiln drying non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as bamboo, rattan, woody vines for furniture and handicrafts. The principle of FTLD operation are also applied to develop new designs of kiln dryers for onion, coffee, copra, palay, corn, pandan leaves and water hyacinth stalks.

The FTLD is one of the most in-demand technologies of the institute. FPRDI database (TSD, 2013) show that since 1979 to November 2013 there were 230 units of FTLD installed in different regions of the country or an average of 7 units FTLD installation per year. The installed FTLD shave loading capacities ranging from 1,000 to 4,500 bd.ft. (42%) 5,000 to 15,000 bd.ft. (52%) and the rest 20,000 to 50,000 bd.ft.

Based on the assessment conducted by FPRDI (Mari, 2013) on the installed FTLD’s, the following observations were gathered: a) usual damage noted were cracks on the dryer and outer furnace wall, deteriorated fluepipe; corrosion of chimney assembly; breakdown of motors; and b) some dryers operate occasionally due to limited supply of lumber while other adoptors had already closed shop.

In another study conducted by FPRDI (Cortiguerra, 2013), the required number of FTLDs of various capacities based on log production and lumber recovery of ITPS such as Yemane (Gmelina arborea), Bagras (Eucalyptus deglupta), Big-leafed Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and Falcata or Moluccan Sau (Paraserianthes falcataria) per region were projected. For Yemane, log production was highest in Region 6 followed by regions 11 and 13 with total aggregate volume of 79,303 cu.m. (33,624,472 bd.ft.). To improve the quality of the lumber and resulting products for the housing components, furniture and allied industries, kiln drying is a must. The number of 10,000 bd.ft. capacity FTLD needed for region 6 alone is 1006 units. For the other IPTS such as Bagras, log production was noted in Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 with R13 showing highest log production and projected need for 10,000 bd.ft. capacity FTLD is 602 units. For big-leafed Mahogany, R6 showed the highest log production and the need for 10,000 bd.ft. capacity FTLD is projected at 990 units.

For the improved productivity, thermal efficiency and broader choice of customers, the FPRDI-developed drying technologies need continuous development and innovation.

GOAL

To develop thermally efficient and innovative designs of kiln dryers that would enhance the productivity, product quality and competitiveness of MSMEs in the agro-forest based and allied sector.

OBJECTIVES

  • To improve and semi-automate the operation of the FPRDI-designed FTLD.
  • To develop a solar-powered lumber dryer with biomass auxiliary heater.
  • To develop a portable kiln dryer for NTFP and handicrafts.
  • To design and develop a modified heat-exchanger for drying agro-forest and aqua-marine products.
  • To develop a high-temperature kiln dryer for thermal modification of wood and NWFP.
  • To design and develop an air-heated Vacuum furnace type dryer.