Peanuts were mechanically cured from field moisture contents ranging from 11.5 to 32.8% wet basis to levels acceptable for marketing (< 10.5%) using two dryer control strategies. The first control algorithm consisted of a constant thermostat setting of 39 C, while the second required manual thermostat control on an hourly basis such that the minimum plenum relative humidity was between 40 and 60% and the maximum plenum temperature was less than 39 C. The average drying rate using the variable thermostat set point (0.3%/hr) was half that obtained with the constant set point (0.6%/hr). Average curing time for the variable thermostat setting was 56% longer than for the peanuts cured using the constant thermostat. Fuel consumption was reduced by approximately 30% using the variable set point. Kernel size distributions and milling quality indicated by bald kernels were significantly better (P ≤ 0.1) for peanuts cured using the variable thermostat control. Increasing available dryer capacity by 40% would allow the buying point manager to handle the same amount of peanuts during the same harvest interval. Economic analysis showed that the annual capital cost for additional drying equipment could not be offset by energy savings alone. Based on increased shelled product value and energy savings, shellers could realize an increase in net revenue of approximately $14/1000 kg of farmers stock peanuts by using a variable thermostat set point.
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