Start-up spotlight: DryMAX Solutions
Many farmers know that the energy it takes to power grain dryers is an expense that must be calculated into their annual operating budget. It’s a cost, believes Kevin Eichhorn, that the system his company has developed can drastically reduce.
“One of the farmers I talked to was using 2,300 gallons of propane a day to dry his corn,” says Eichhorn, who is the CEO of DryMAX Solutions.
At $2.48 a gallon (which was the rate at America’s Electric Cooperative at the time), the farmer’s propane bill totaled a little over $5,700 for one day of drying.
Using radio wave energy, the company’s Forcefield technology eliminates the need for propane and high heat to dry grain.
How It Works
lthough it may appear to be a typical tower dryer, the DryMAX Solutions system has no moving parts. Using a radio frequency wave generator, which is connected to the dryer with a coaxial cable, Forcefield makes drying grain safer, and it is more efficient than traditional drying methods.
Targeting the highest moisture first, the radio waves dry the grain from the inside out and protect the most valuable part of the crop. This allows the technology to release moisture from the grain with a very small amount of energy at room temperature. Released as a vapor, the water is then pushed out by a fan.
The idea came about, Eichhorn says, because he wanted to find a way to dry without heat. What he found was that radio wave energy could be a replacement for liberating water while keeping the material cool. Four years later, the patented system is at the precommercial stage.
“When farmers have an entire bin of wet grain and their propane dryer breaks down, they don’t have propane gas, or they can’t go fast enough, that prevents harvest,” Eichhorn says. “Our dryer uses electricity, which is cheap, doesn’t run out, and doesn’t have market volatility.”
Depending on farmers’ needs, a dryer can also be sized to process a matching number or bushels per hour. “When farmers have to leave corn in the field past its prime because they don’t have space to dry it, they lose yield,” he says. “This modular design gives farmers the flexibility to start harvesting when they want to, instead of having to wait on corn drying in the field.”
While a final cost per bushel has yet to be determined, the Forcefield technology will be under 10¢ per bushel at 10 points. The initial unit will be more expensive than a traditional grain dryer. However, Eichhorn points out that due to the dramatic reduction in operating costs, the system will pay for itself in a few years.
To learn more about Forcefield, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Company
Company: DryMAX Solutions
Founder: Kevin Eichhorn
Headquarters: Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Background: Rather than dry grain with high heat, the Forcefield technology developed by DryMAX Solutions utilizes radio wave energy. After years of testing the patented system on more than 40 feedstocks, dryers equipped with Forcefield will be commercially available in 2021. The technology can be used to dry most grains (e.g., corn, soybeans), fruit, nuts, numerous industrial materials, and biomass/wood chips.