Thermal-photovoltaic tech for agricultural dryers


From pv magazine France

Base Innovation has developed an agricultural dryer powered by PVT solar panels.

Cogen’Air panels are PV modules that have a heat-recovery system integrated into them. The module uses a heat exchanger that recovers the heat released on the back of the panels for thermal use such as heating or drying. This heat extraction also increases electrical efficiency by avoiding overheating of the PV system. According to the company, the gain in terms of peak power can reach up to 10%.

Image: Base Innovation

from the company

The company developed an intelligent regulation system that acts on the speed of the fans based on the humidity level of the heated air. This improves drying while limiting the consumption of the installation. The solution also makes it possible to monitor the operation of the dryer remotely and optimize its production.

Supported by French energy agency Ademe, the system has been patented since 2013 and has mobilized more than €500,000 ($551,000) in R&D over the past 10 years.

Base Innovation currently offers its solution to design or renovate agricultural dryers for bulk drying, bale drying, flat drying or bin drying. In practice, the panels integrate into a ventilation infrastructure with a management system that optimizes the operation of the dryer.

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“We have done tests on other sectors of activity,” company's representative Benoît Michenot told pv magazine. “Our solution is interesting for reducing the mass of water and thus reducing the cost of treatment per tonne, but the seasonal constraints inherent in solar energy and the technology of low-temperature drying have limited opportunities in this industry, so far.”

Michenot said the solar dryers offer low-temperature drying which affects the value of the final product.

“The grass can have the same nutritional value as the cereal to feed the animals, provided that it is dried in the right conditions,” he said. “This also leaves room for the development of micro-food chains.”

The company already has 60 solar dryers in operation in France.

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