Now the company is in the process of doubling its drying capacity to about 8000 pallets kiln volume. Again customer is choosing 1003 type kilns.
To extract one liter of water from freshly cut wood, conventional drying kilns would need around 1.2 kW/h thermal energy. Three years ago Muehlboeck Drying Technology from Eberschwang managed with its patented Energy Saving Type 1003, to bring this value down to 0.65 kW/h per liter of water. Normally the thermal energy that is brought in, after having been transported through the kiln, is being blown out with the exhaust air. ’A clear sign of this waste of energy are the plumes of steam above drying kilns’, explains founder and managing director Kurt Muehlboeck. He succeeded in transporting the energy captured in the exhaust air, with the help of crossflow heat exchangers, back to the fresh air. ’This way we managed to cut the thermal energy use, which forms the biggest cost factor in wood drying, in half’ the managing director continues. With Type 1003 the ventilated air temperature is only around 10°C higher than the outside temperature. Originally developed for fresh-air-ventilated kilns, these Upper-Austrians now also apply this system to their Continuous drying kilns and Beltdryers, while even being able to bring the energy use for the latter down to as low as 0.47 kW/h. The first kilns of Type 1003 were installed in 2012 at pallet manufacturer Speckner of the Innviertel, who is currently in the process of doubling its drying capacity.
Investing in a complete new technology always contains a risk. ‘We trusted Muehlboeck’s experience and technical know-how and have not been disappointed’ Josef Speckner recalls. For a company like Speckners, Muehlboeck estimates the amortization time of the additional expenses for the energy saving system to be 2 years. This is depending on the initial moisture level of the wood, the drying speed, the stack size and the thickness of the boards. ‘Since we extract water from very wet wood in a short period of time, the 1003 Type system has truly paid off for us’ explains Speckner. When drying for instance sideboards, the amortization period is reduced to 1 year according to Muehlboeck. As initial reason for the investment in drying capacity Speckner calls the growing customer demands in regards to quality in the last years. ‘Proper drying is a decisive criterium for us. I’m convinced that quality will prevail in the long term. This is where our technical leading edge will pay off’, states the pallet manufacturer. Of its annual production of around 1 million pallets, 90% is exported and therefore has to be ISPM 15 certified.
After consistent positive experiences with the Muehlboeck Type 1003 drying kilns, it was not hard for Speckner to decide where to purchase the expansion of capacity. ‘From the energy savings all the way to the clear operability, we are satisfied with the installation’ the pallet manufacturer tells us. The drying kilns are controlled by the Muehlboeck K5 programming. ‘My employees can monitor the drying progress in weekends and evenings also from their pc at home and don’t need to come here’ Speckner states satisfied, and Muehlboeck adds that his drying kilns can now even be monitored and controlled per smartphone. In order to not put the good relationship with the local residents to the test, for Speckner a very quiet operation of the new kilns was an important issue. ‘Muehlboeck accommodated this, as well as all our other concerns’ Speckner praises the cooperation. For the drying technology pioneer the implementation of such special requests is a given. ‘In a time where the Moon landing already seems ages ago, a quiet drying kiln should not be a problem’.
Energy saving pays off
Speckner managed to get back a not insignificant part of the investment costs, through the sale of so called Energy Savings Certificates. When a company verifiably implements quantifiable energy savings, it can sell these in the form of certificates. Speckner didn’t want to give us an amount however. Amongst the buyers of these certificates was Save Energy Austria, a daughter of proPellets Austria. Their managing director, Dr. Christian Rakos, also did not mention a specific amount, however estimates the proceeds significantly higher than those out of environmental subsidies.
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