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Title:
BALE DRYING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2012/001461
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention pertains to a method of drying a bale (18) of compressed harvested material, e.g. bales of hay, straw and the like. The method comprises the steps of generating a plurality of channels (152) within the bale (18) and injecting a gas (154) into said plurality of channels (194). The present invention also pertains to a bale drying facility (100), a self- contained drying module (118) for use in such a facility (100), and a software program for controlling the execution of the steps of the method.

Inventors:
TEGLGAARD, Gert (Vivedevej 4A, Fakse, DK-4640, DK)
Application Number:
IB2010/052981
Publication Date:
January 05, 2012
Filing Date:
June 30, 2010
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
TEGLGAARD, Gert (Vivedevej 4A, Fakse, DK-4640, DK)
International Classes:
A01D87/12; A01F25/08; F26B9/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2011026493A2
WO2010026451A1
WO1997030318A1
WO2010026451A1
Foreign References:
US20050172701A1
ITMO930024A11994-09-10
SU917772A1
DE2854559A1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUDDE SCHOU A/S (Vester Søgade 10, Copenhagen V, DK-1601, DK)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for drying a bale of compressed harvested material comprising the steps of:

- generating a plurality of channels within the bale at preselected areas thereof, and

- injecting compressed gas into the channels.

2. A method according to claim 1 , further comprising the step of estimating the water content of the bale.

3. A method according to claim 1 , 2 or 3, wherein the step of estimating the water content of the bale comprises one or more of the following steps:

- weighing the bale,

- measuring the electrical conductivity of at least a part of the bale,

- measuring water content of the bale by using a capacitive sensor,

- measuring the absorption of electromagnetic energy in at least a part of the bale, and/or

- measuring infrared energy radiation radiated from at least a part of the bale. 4. A method according to claim 2 or 3, wherein the step of measuring the water content of the bale is performed continuously, or intermittently at certain time intervals, during the drying of the bale.

5. A method according to claim 4, wherein the step of injecting compressed gas into the channels is terminated, when the measured water content falls below a threshold value.

6. A method according to claim 2 or 3, wherein the step of measuring the water content of the bale is performed before the step of injecting the compressed air into the channels, and the time under which the compressed gas is injected into the channels is determined in dependence of said measurement of the water content.

7. A method according to any of the claims 1-5, wherein the step of estimating the water content of the bale further comprises the step of generating a two or three dimensional image of the water content of the bale, and generating the plurality of channels in dependence of said image.

8. A method according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising the step of individually adjusting the injection of compressed gas into the each of the plurality of channels.

9. A method according to any of the claims 1-7, further comprising the step of individually adjusting the injection of compressed gas into the each of the plurality of channels in dependence of an estimated water content of the bale. 10. A method according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising the step of heating the gas before injecting it into the channels.

1 1 . A method according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising the step of de-moisturizing the gas before injecting it into the channels.

12. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the step of generating the plurality of channels within the bale, comprises one or more of the following steps:

- inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale,

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale,

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale using an auger bit, and/or

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale using a hole saw.

13. A method according to any of the claims 1-1 1 , wherein the step of generating the plurality of channels within the bale comprises the steps of

- inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale, and

- removing the plurality of spikes from the bale before injecting compressed gas into the channels.

14. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the step of generating the plurality of channels further comprises the step of tearing the wall(s) of the plurality of channels.

15. A method according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising the step of mounting at least one plate along at least one side of the bale before injecting compressed gas into the channels.

16. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the plurality of channels are generated from at least two sides of the bale. 17. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the plurality of channels are generated in at least two rows.

18. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the plurality of channels are generated substantially simultaneously.

19. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the compressed gas is injected into the plurality of channels at a pressure between 0.2 bar to 0.6 bar above the atmospheric pressure. 20. A method according to any of the claims 1-18, further comprising the steps of injecting the compressed gas into the plurality of channels at an initial pressure, and then subsequently injecting the compressed gas into the plurality of channels at a working pressure, wherein the initial pressure is higher than the working pressure. 21 . A method according to claim 20, wherein the initial pressure is between 2 to 4 times greater than the working pressure.

22. A method according to claim 20 or 21 , wherein the working pressure is between 0.2 bar to 0.6 bar above the atmospheric pressure.

23. A method according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising the steps of

- estimating or measuring the flow rate of the injected gas from the channels through the bale, and

- adjusting the injection of compressed gas into the plurality of channels in dependence of the estimated flow rate.

24. A method according to any of the preceding claims further comprising the step of providing means for holding or fixing the bale before the step of generating the plurality of channels within the bale.

25. A bale drying facility comprising means for receiving a bale of compressed harvested material to be dried, means for holding or fixing the received bale, means for generating a plurality of channels within the bale and means for injecting compressed gas into the plurality of channels. 26. A bale drying facility according to claim 25, further comprising means for executing the steps of the method according to any of the claims 2-23.

27. A self-contained module for holding or fixing a bale to be dried, the module comprising a structure having a shape that at least in part is pre-manufactured to accommodate to at least a part of the overall shape of the bale type to be dried.

28. A self-contained module according to claim 27, wherein the structure is an at least four sided fixture for holding a bale comprising an overall cuboidic shape with at least four rectangular side surfaces.

29. A self-contained module according to claim 28, wherein the at least four sided fixture comprises a gas permeable grid, frame or web.

30. A self-contained module according claim 27, 28 or 29, wherein the module further comprises at least one spike for generating the plurality of channels.

31 . A self-contained module according to claim 30, further comprising a plate with a plurality of gas injection studs adapted to engage the opening of the plurality of channels, when the plate is pressed against one side surface of the bale to be dried.

32. A self-contained module according to claim 27, 28 or 29, wherein the module comprises a plurality of spikes mounted on at least one plate for facilitating optimal gas flow from the channels through the bale when the plate with the spikes is pressed against one of the sides of the bale to be dried.

33. A self-contained module according to claim 31 or 32, wherein the plate has substantially the same shape and size as one of the side surfaces of the bale to be dried in order to facilitate optimal drying of the bale. 34. A self-contained module according to any of the claims 27 - 33, further comprising means for measuring the water content of the bale to be dried.

35. A software program stored on a machine readable data storage device, which when run on a computer is adapted to control the execution of the steps of a method according to any of the claims 1-24.

36. A drying device for drying bales of compressed harvested material, e.g. hay, straw or alfalfa, the drying device comprising one or more displacement members for generating one or more channels within a bale, the drying device being connectable to a blower for injecting gas into the one or more channels, said displacement members having a longitudinal extension between a pointed end and an end that is fluidly connectable to the blower, characterized in that the displacement members comprises at least two substantially flat elongated parts that are connected to each other along the longitudinal extension of the displacement member. 37. A drying device according to claim 36 or 37, wherein the displacement member is formed as a cross bar or a T-bar with a pointed end.

38. A drying device according to claim 36 or 37, further being adapted for being used in a method according to any of the claims 1-24.

39. A drying device according to claim 36 or 37, forming part of a drying facility according claim 25 or 26.

40. A drying device according to claim 36 or 37, forming part of a self-contained module according to any of the claims 27-34.

Description:
BALE DRYING

The present invention pertains to a method of drying a bale of compressed harvested material, e.g. bales of hay, straw and the like. The present invention also pertains to a bale drying facility, a self-contained drying module for use in such a facility, and a software program for controlling the execution of the steps of the method.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Harvested materials are subjected to biological breakdown by micro organisms. The rate of the breakdown is generally higher for a material having a high water contents as compared to the same material having a lower water contents. Hence, by lowering the water contents in the bale, it can be stored longer. In the event that the harvested material is used as food or bedding for animals it is important that the water content of the harvested material is low, otherwise it will degrade and become unusable as food or bedding for animals.

Furthermore, harvested material having low water content produces more heat than the same material having a high water content when burnt. In addition to this, burning of harvested material hawing relatively high water content will leave a lot of soot (carbon deposits) in and around the facility wherein it is burned due to the incomplete burning of the harvested material, which therefore leads to environmental problems such as air pollution as well as waste products coming from the necessary cleaning of the facility, oven chimney and the like. Low water contents is therefore advantageous in a sustainable energy production, were the material of the bales is burnt, e.g. in district heating. Thus in order to provide an effective and environmentally friendly energy production, district heating facilities using harvested material for energy production by burning it, generally cannot accept the material from the suppliers, usually farmers, unless the water content of the bales of harvested material is below a certain level.

Thus, farmers who intent to sell their bales of harvested material to a district heating facility often face the problem that they are asked to leave again with their bales, because they are too wet for being used in the energy production. In the past there have been approaches to address this problem by drying the bales of harvested material.

For example, SU 917772 A1 describes a haystack forklift loader, wherein the loader exhibits a built-in forklift comprising hollow forks to be driven into bales of hay for moving bales around and drying the bales from the inside by forcing compressed atmospheric air through the forks and into the bale by them having apertures therein. The air compressor is mounted onboard the forklift loader. Document DE 2854559 describes a fork aggregate having a flange arranged perpendicular to the length of the forks for the aggregate to be driven into a bale of hay by hammering on the flange, each forks being comprised of an inner cylindrical part and an outer conical mantle, and being provided with lateral openings for ventilating or drying the bale. Said aggregate solves the problem of being used in narrow, hardly accessible spaces by primarily manually hammering the forks into the bales.

WO 2010/026451 also describes a fork lift mounted drying device, having specially designed "forks" to be driven into a bale to be dried by a moving tractor. While the above mentioned bale drying devices may be useful for the individual farmer, who aims at preserving the food and/or bedding quality of the bales of compressed harvested material, it is common to all of the drying devices mentioned above is that none of them are suitable for large scale drying of bales of compressed harvested material for example in connection with a district heating facility.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Thus, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method of drying a bale of compressed harvested material that enables large scale drying of the bales. It is a further object of the present invention to provide a drying facility, and a self contained drying module.

It is an even further object of the present invention to provide an at least in part automatically controlled drying of the bales. According to the present invention, the above-mentioned and other objects are fulfilled by a method for drying a bale of compressed harvested material comprising the steps of: Generating a plurality of channels within the bale at preselected areas thereof, and injecting compressed gas (such as air) into the channels.

By generating a plurality of channels within the bale, it is possible to inject a compressed gas, such as air under pressure, into the interior of the bale, thus forcing the injected gas to travel from the channels through the material of the bale to the outside of the bale. When the gas travels through the material of the bale it will absorb water or moisture on its way to the outside of the bale. Thus, during this process the water content of the bale will be reduced, thereby facilitating drying of the bale. It is a great advantage of the present invention that it may be employed in large scale drying of bales, for example in conjunction with a district heating facility. However, it is not immaterial, at which places or areas within the bale the channels are generated. By generating the channels at preselected areas of the bale, for example in dependence of an estimation of the water content and/or water distribution, a much more efficient drying of the bale is facilitated.

Preferably, the method according further comprises the step of estimating the water content of the bale. Hereby it is achieved that it is possible to evaluate whether drying of the bale is needed at all. Furthermore, it is achieved how much drying of the bale is needed, and whether drying of the bale at all is feasible.

The step of estimating the water content of the bale may comprise one or more of the following steps:

- weighing the bale,

- measuring the electrical conductivity of at least a part of the bale,

- measuring water content of the bale by using a capacitive sensor,

- measuring the absorption of electromagnetic energy in at least a part of the bale, and/or

- measuring infrared energy radiation radiated from at least a part of the bale.

By weighing the bale a crude and simple estimate of its water content may be achieved. This weighing may be compared to the typical weight of a dry bale of compressed harvested material of the same material substance, e.g. the typical weight of a bale of rye straw, rape straw, barley straw etc., because a wet bale is heavier than a dry one.

Since water has a different electrical conductivity than the electrical conductivity of the harvested material, a more reliable estimate of the water content of the bale may be achieved by measuring the electrical conductivity of the bale. Alternatively, a capacitive sensor may be used to estimate the water content of the bale. The dielectric constant of water is at zero degrees Celsius equal to 88. The dielectric constant will follow the water content of the harvested material, such that if a increased dielectric constant is measured, this implies that the water content of the harvested material is is higher and vice versa. Another alternative is to simply use a infrared radiation sensor known in the art.

A water molecule is made of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms which are held together, not in a straight line, but in a "V" shape. The oxygen atom is located at the bottom of the "V" and the hydrogen atoms are at ends of the arms. The water molecules and even the oxygen and hydrogen atoms within them can oscillate. However, experiments have revealed a specific oscillation (really a rotation of the entire molecule) that is particularly important. The characteristic frequency of that oscillation falls within the same range as the microwave type of electro-magnetic radiation. Microwaves are commonly used in radar, so a large amount of work had already been done to develop dependable, relatively compact devices to produce them. Thus, preferably the water content of the bale is measured by using micro-wave radiation, for example by using a so called micro-wave sensor known in the art, e.g. as manufactured by TEWS Elektronik.

In one embodiment of the method according to the invention, the step of measuring the water content of the bale may be performed continuously, or intermittently at certain time intervals, during the drying of the bale. Hereby it is possible to monitor the drying of the bale and for example adjust the injection of compressed gas into the channels in dependence of this monitoring. In order to save energy, and number of water content measuring equipment this monitoring may also be intermittent and thus only performed at certain time intervals. These time intervals may be fixed and predetermined or they may be determined by the availability of the water content measuring equipment and/or performed in dependence of the output of a previous measurement of the water content of a particular bale to be measured for water content in order to account for nonlinearity's in the drying process.

The step of injecting compressed gas into the channels may be terminated, when the measured water content falls below a threshold value. The threshold value may empirically or theoretically determined and it is a measure of when the bale is sufficiently dry to be burned in a oven, of for example a prior art district heating facility, without significant levels of air pollution or depositing of soot due to incomplete burning of the material of the bale. By terminating the injection of gas into the channels, when the bale is sufficiently dry for being burned without the problems mentioned in the introduction of the present patent description, excessive drying is avoided, which leads to minimal energy consumption during the drying process. Ultimately, the total energy consumption during the drying of the bale must be substantially smaller than the effective energy produced by burning the bale. Hereby the term "effective energy" is the net energy produced, when energy dissipation and other factors that influence the efficiency of the oven and surrounding equipment, wherein the bale is burned, has been accounted for.

In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the step of measuring the water content of the bale may be performed before the step of injecting the compressed air into the channels, and the time under which the compressed gas is injected into the channels is determined in dependence of said measurement of the water content. Hereby is achieved that the drying time is optimized to the individual bale, whereby excessive drying and the associated excessive energy consumption during this excessive drying may be avoided.

The water content or harvested material containing most water may not be evenly distributed throughout the bale. Thus, in another embodiment, the step of estimating the water content of the bale may further comprise the step of generating a two or three dimensional image of the water content of the bale, and generating the plurality of channels in dependence of said image. Hereby is will be possible to generate the plurality of channels in those places of the bale which have the highest water content, so that the gas can be injected directly into these places of the bale, where the water content is highest. It is contemplated that this will lead to a more efficient drying of the bale. The two or three dimensional image could for example be generated by a computer and possibly also be displayed on a monitor. In a preferred embodiment the method may further comprise the step of individually adjusting the injection of compressed gas into the each of the plurality of channels. This is an alternative, and yet effective way of accounting for a non-uniform distribution of the water content in the bale. The adjustment can be facilitated by the use of valves and/or sliding gates in the gas supply system.

In order to provide an efficient drying of the bale, the step of individually adjusting the injection of compressed gas into the each of the plurality of channels may be performed in dependence of an estimated water content of the bale.

Since hot gas, e.g. hot air, is able to absorb a higher quantity of water or moisture, than colder air, the method may according to a preferred embodiment further comprise the step of heating the gas before injecting it into the channels. This will reduce the total time that it will take to dry a bale as compared to not using heated gas, whereby it will be possible to dry a larger number of bales during any given time interval.

In order to increase the water or moisture absorption of the gas that is used for drying the bale, the method may in one embodiment further comprise the step of de- moisturizing the gas before injecting it into the channels. This will also lead to a reduction in the time that is needed for drying a bale.

The step of generating the plurality of channels within the bale may in one embodiment comprise one or more of the following steps:

- inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale,

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale,

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale using an auger bit, and/or

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale using a hole saw. The spikes may in one embodiment be left within the bale, during the drying process, i.e. during the injection of compressed gas into the plurality of channels. In such an embodiment are the spikes equipped with apertures which the gas can flow through. Furthermore, the spikes may be barbed in order to ensure safe and reliable retention of the spikes within the bale. The step of generating the plurality of channels within the bale may in one embodiment comprise the steps of

- inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale, and

- removing the plurality of spikes from the bale before injecting compressed gas into the channels.

This way drying of the bale may be facilitated without the need of having the spikes placed within the bale during the total drying time of the bale.

According to one embodiment of the method, the step of generating the plurality of channels may further comprise the step of tearing the wall(s) of the plurality of channels. By tearing the walls of the plurality of channels, the gas flow from the channels into the bale is enhanced.

In a preferred embodiment, the method may further comprise the step of mounting at least one plate along at least one side of the bale before injecting compressed gas into the channels. This way the flow of the injected gas from the channels through the bale may be controlled. Preferably the plate is mounted or pressed against the same side or sides of the bale, from which the channels are generated. In one embodiment the spikes that are used to generate the channels may be mounted on the plate, and be perpendicular to said plate. Hereby it is assured that the injected compressed gas does not escape from the opening of the channels, but is forced to flow from the channels through the material of the bale to the outside of the bale.

The plurality of channels may be generated from at least two sides of the bale.

The plurality of channels may in a preferred embodiment be generated in at least two rows, in order to reduce the compression of the material of the bale around the channels. In order to reduce the processing time, the plurality of channels may in a preferred embodiment be generated substantially simultaneously.

The compressed gas is preferably injected into the plurality of channels at a pressure between 0.2 bar to 0.6 bar above the atmospheric pressure. According to one embodiment, the compressed gas is injected into the plurality of channels at an initial pressure, and then subsequently injected into the plurality of channels at a working pressure, wherein the initial pressure is higher than the working pressure. Hereby is achieved that the compressed harvested material of the bale is loosened and that a number of flow paths from the channels and through the bale to the outside of the bale are generated by the initially high pressured gas. Thus, making it possible to apply a lower working pressure during the reminder of the drying period.

Tests have shown that good results are achieved, when the initial pressure is between 2 to 4 times greater than the working pressure.

Preferably, the working pressure is between 0.2 bar to 0.6 bar above the atmospheric pressure. The method may according to one embodiment further comprise the steps of

- estimating or measuring the flow rate of the injected gas from the channels through the bale, and

- adjusting the injection of compressed gas into the plurality of channels in dependence of the estimated flow rate.

Since a bale of compressed harvested material is rather compact, it may require a considerable force to insert means, e.g. spikes, for generating the plurality of channels into the bale. Thus, the method may further comprise the step of providing means for holding or fixing the bale before the step of generating the plurality of channels within the bale.

The plurality of channels, for a flow of a gas to the bale, may be such that each of said plurality of channels are elongated and extending from the outside of said bale into the interior of said bale, and each channel of said plurality of channels further being approximately coplanar with a plane dividing the bale into two portion having approximately equal volumes. Each channel has furthermore one or more channel openings for allowing a gas to be expelled into the interior of the bale, wherein the method comprises the steps of generating said flow of said gas, and distributing said flow of over said plurality of passages. Each of the plurality of channels is preferably extending approximately parallel to one another within the bale. Furthermore, each of the plurality of channels is also extending in approximately the same direction as the other channels. Preferably, at least two channels of said plurality of channels are extending in approximately opposite directions.

The above mentioned and other objects are achieved by a bale drying facility comprising: Means for receiving a bale of compressed harvested material to be dried, means for holding or fixing the received bale, means for generating a plurality of channels within the bale and means for injecting compressed gas into the plurality of channels.

The bale drying facility may according to preferred embodiments further comprise means for executing any of the steps of the method described above.

The above mentioned and other objects are furthermore achieved by a self-contained module for holding or fixing a bale to be dried, the module comprising a structure having a shape that at least in part is pre-manufactured to accommodate to at least a part of the overall shape of the bale type to be dried. The pre-manufactured shape may for example be for bales of the so called round bale type or big-bales, or so called mini big bales.

In a preferred embodiment, the structure is an at least four sided fixture for holding a bale comprising an overall cuboidic shape with at least four rectangular side surfaces. By using a four sided fixture for holding cuboidic bales, e.g. the so called big bales, a very precise fixation of the bale is achieved during the process of generating the channels within the bale. By using a four sided fixture, it is achieved that the channels can be generated from two opposing sides of the bale, preferably substantially simultaneously. It is important to properly fixate the bale during the generation of the channels in order to achieve the desired level of precision. Furthermore, if the -•-plurality of channels is generated by pressing a plurality of spikes into the bale, then this would require a considerable force. Thus in order to avoid undesired movement of the bale during insertion of the spikes it is important to hold it in a fixed position. In one embodiment the at least four sided fixture comprises a gas permeable grid, frame or web, and in another embodiment the module further comprises at least one spike for generating the plurality of channels. In order to control the flow of the injected gas, the module may in one embodiment further comprise a plate with a plurality of gas injection studs adapted to engage the opening of the plurality of channels, when the plate is pressed against one side surface of the bale to be dried. Preferably, the module comprises two plates that are adapted to engage two opposite sides of the bale to be dried. In a further preferred embodiment the plates are releasable from the module. For example the plates are pressed against two opposing sides of the bale to be dried, and then the bale with the two plates may be moved out of the module for further processing, i.e. drying. The movement of the bale into the module and out of it again may be facilitated by the use of a conveyer, e.g. transport chain or chains.

According to one preferred embodiment, the module may comprise a plurality of spikes mounted on at least one, preferably two, plate(s) for facilitating optimal gas flow from the channels through the bale when the plate with the spikes is pressed against one of the sides of the bale to be dried. Preferably, the module comprises two plates with spikes mounted on them, the plates being adapted to engage two opposite sides of the bale to be dried. In a further preferred embodiment the plates with the spikes are releasable from the module. For example the plates are pressed against two opposing sides of the bale to be dried, and then the bale with the two plates may be moved out of the module for further processing, i.e. drying. The movement of the bale into the module and out of it again may be facilitated by the use of a conveyer, e.g. transport chain or chains.

The plate (with studs or spikes) has, in a preferred embodiment, substantially the same shape and size as one of the side surfaces of the bale to be dried in order to facilitate optimal drying of the bale.

Preferably, the self-contained module further comprises means for measuring the water content of the bale to be dried. The above mentioned self-contained module may in one embodiment form a part of a bale drying facility as described above. Furthermore, the self-contained module may be installed in or in connection with a bale storage facility or a district heating facility. The above mentioned and other objects are furthermore achieved by a software program stored on a machine readable data storage device, which when run on a computer is adapted to control the execution of the steps of a method as described above. Especially, the bale drying method mentioned above may be substantially full automatic, and computer controlled.

BREIF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings. In the following, preferred embodiments of the invention is explained in more detail with reference to the drawings, wherein

Figs. 1 a-d illustrates the insertion of a bale dryer into bale according to an embodiment of the present invention,

Figs. 2a-b illustrates some embodiments and configurations of a bale dryer,

Figs. 3a-b shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a bale dryer,

Fig. 4 illustrates a bale dryer seen from another perspective,

Fig. 5a-b shows an alternative embodiment of a bale dryer,

Figs. 6a-c illustrates from different perspectives a preferred embodiment of an elongated injection and retaining member,

Figs. 7a-k illustrating alternative embodiments of the elongated injection and retaining member,

Fig. 8 shows an embodiment of a part of a bale drying facility,

Fig. 9 shows a schematic overview of the operation of a part of the bale drying facility, Fig. 10 shows an end view of a part of another embodiment of a bale drying facility, Fig. 1 1 shows an end view of another part a bale drying facility,

Fig. 12 shows an end view of another part of a bale drying facility,

Fig. 13 shows a flow diagram of an embodiment of a method of bale drying,

Fig. 14 shows a flow diagram of another embodiment of a method of bale drying, Fig. 15 shows a flow diagram of yet another embodiment of a method of bale drying, Fig. 16 shows a flow diagram of an embodiment of a method of bale drying,

Fig. 17 shows a flow diagram of an embodiment of a method of bale drying,

Fig. 18 shows an embodiment of a bale holding means,

Fig. 19a shows a side view of a preferred embodiment of an injection dryer,

Fig. 19b shows a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the injection dryer illustrated in Fig. 19a,

Fig. 19c shows an end view of the injection dryer illustrated in Fig. 19a and Fig. 19b, when inserted into a bale,

Fig. 20a shows side view of an alternative embodiment of an injection dryer,

Fig. 20b shows a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the injection dryer illustrated in Fig. 20a, and

Fig. 20c shows an end view of the injection dryer illustrated in Fig. 20a and Fig. 20b, when inserted into a bale. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which exemplary embodiments of the invention are shown. The invention may, however, be embodied in different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout. Like elements will, thus, not be described in detail with respect to the description of each figure. Figs. 1 a-d illustrates the insertion of a front-end loader mounted bale dryer 10 into bale 18. A transport vehicle 12 in the form of a tractor releasably supports the bale dryer 10 by its front loader 14. As is shown in Figs. 1 a-b, the bale is engaged by the bale dryer 10 by first orienting the bale dryer 10 so that its injection dryers 16 (also referred to as spikes or displacement members in the present patent description and appended claims) are oriented horizontally, whereupon the injection dryers 16 are pushed into the bale 18 by moving the tractor 12 towards the bale 18. After the engagement by the bale dryer 10, the bale 18 can be lifted by raising the front loader 14, as is shown in Fig. 1 c, allowing the bale 18 to be transported to a different location. Before commencing the drying of the bale 18, the bale dryer 10 is disconnected from the front loader 14, while still being engaged to the bale 18, as is shown in Fig. 1 d. A blower 22 and a heater 24 are connected to the bale dryer 10 via a single conduit 20. When the blower 22 is activated, pressurized air is forced through the conduit 20 to the bale dryer 10. The bale dryer 10 distributes the air over its injection dryers 16, from which the air flows inside the bale. When the heater 24 is activated, the bale 18 will be heated by the injected air, which speeds up the drying process.

Figs. 2a illustrates a configuration of a bale dryer 10 based having four injection dryers 16, where the elongated insertion member 26 (also referred to as spikes in the present patent description and appended claims) of each injection dryer 16 is pointed at its distal end 30 to reduce the force necessary for inserting it into the bale 18. When inserted into the bale 18, each elongated insertion member 26 defines a channel into the bale 18. The channel is open 34 to the material of the bale 18 at a number of locations along its length, through which pressurized air conveyed into the channel defined by the elongated insertion member 26 can be expelled into the material of the bale 18. The pressurized air is provided through conduits 32 coupled to each of the injection dryers 16, and the flow and pressure of the pressurized air in the passage may be regulated individually for each injection dryer 16 by valves 36. Each injection dryer 16 has a plate 38 at its proximal end 28 oriented to be approximately perpendicular to the longitudinal length defined between the proximal 28 and distal 30 ends of the insertion members 26. Each injection dryer 16 is inserted so that its plate 38 is juxtaposed to and coplanar with the insertion side of the bale. This way, air released in the bale 18 is to some extent prevented from escaping along the outside of the elongated insertion member 26. The rightmost injection dryer 16 in Fig. 2a is provided with a pressure gauge 40 placed downstream from the valve 36. The pressure gauge 40 is coupled to a pressure control unit 42 adapted to control the flow and pressure of the air from the conduit 32 by an actuator 44 on the valve 36. When the moisture contents of the bale 18 goes down, more air can pass through the bale. Assuming that the valve 36 somewhat restricts the flow of air, this means that the pressure downstream from the valve 36 goes down for a given pressure in the conduit 32 while drying. Hence, in order to have a controlled flow of air through the bale 18, the pressure control unit 42 restricts the valve 36 when the pressure gauge 40 measures a lowered pressure. The leftmost injection dryer 16 in Fig. 2a is provided with a moisture gauge 46 measuring the water contents of the bale 18, e.g. through impedance measurements of the material. The moisture gauge 46 is coupled to a moisture control unit 48 adapted to control the flow and pressure of the air from the conduit 32 by an actuator 50 on the valve 36. When the measure corresponding to the water contents of the material of the bale reaches below a certain threshold value, the valve 36 is closed. Alternatively, the moisture control unit 48 could be operatively connected to a blower 22, so that the injection of air could be terminated when the measure corresponding to the water contents of the material of the bale reaches below a certain threshold value. The technical elements shown in connection with the leftmost and rightmost Fig. 2a injection dryer 16 could in a preferred embodiment be combined to work together with each of the injection dryers 16 of a dryer 10.

Fig. 2b is a sectional view of another configuration of a bale dryer 10 based on four injection dryers 52-58 inserted into a cuboidic bale 18. The first two injection dryers 52 and 54 are inserted through one of the long sides 60 , the third dryer is inserted through one of the short sides 62, while the fourth injection dryer 58 is inserted through the other long side 64 opposite from the first one 60. The first three injection dryers 52 to 56 forces air into the bale 18, while the forth injection dryer 58 provides a lowered pressure in the bale 18 by removing air there from, e.g. by way of a pump. Thus, the flow of air inside is not only defined by the expelled air, but also by the lowered pressure provided by the injection dryer 58. By varying the insertion points and which injection dryer that is expelling air and which injection dryer that is removing air, the airflow within the bale 18 can be controlled and concentrated to specific region in the interior of the bale 18. Figs. 3a-b are perspective views of a bale dryer 10. Five injection dryers 16 oriented parallel with respect to one another are supported by a hollow base 66. The hollow of the base 66 defines a manifold through which air is distributed from a single coupling 68 into the injection dryers 16. Each injection dryer 16 is provided with a plate 38 at the proximal end 28 of its elongated insertion member 26, serving the double purpose of preventing air from escaping back along the outside of the elongated insertion member 26 and providing a support for a bale when tilting the distal ends 30 of the elongated insertion members upward, thereby preventing a further insertion of them into the bale 18. Each of the injection dryers 16 is provided with a manually operated valve 36 for individually controlling the flow and pressure of the air distributed through them and into a bale. The base 66 of the bale dryer 10 is further provided with a coupling 69 allowing it to be handled by a transport vehicle, e.g. by the front loader 14 of tractor 12.

Fig. 4 is a back view of the bale dryer 10 shown in Figs 3a-b, further showing an air conduit 20 coupled to the coupling 68 through which pressurized air supplied from a blower (not shown) can be lead to the bale dryer 10.

Fig. 5a is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a bale dryer 10. The base 66 is here T-shaped and supports two injection dryers 16 on its horizontal section 70 and a single injection dryer 16 on its vertical section 72. The injection dryers 16 are parallel to each other and are positioned at the corners of in a unilateral triangle, thus allowing for balanced insertion along the symmetry axis of a cylindrically bale, foe example a so called round bale. Fig. 5b is a perspective view of another alternative embodiment of a bale dryer 10 according to the present invention. The base 66 is here X-shaped and supports three injection dryers 16 on its horizontal section 70. The horizontal section 70 is also provided with two retainers 74 between the three injection dryers 16. The vertical section 72 is provided with two retainers 74. The retainers are elongated and extend in parallel from the base 66 with the elongated insertion members 26 of the injection dryers 16 and serve the purpose of providing additional retention of a bale when the injection dryers 16 expel air inside it.

Figs. 6a-c illustrates an embodiment of an injection dryer 16, where Fig. 6a is a direct front view, Fig. 6b is a direct side view, and Fig. 6c is a perspective front view. The elongated insertion member 26 comprises a hollow cylinder 76 at its proximal end 28, top 78 and bottom 80 bars having a rectangular cross-section, and side bars 82 defining a channel when inserted into a bale 18. The channel is open to the material of the bale 18 between the bars 78 to 82, by which pressurized air lead into the channel by the injection dryer 16 can enter the bale 18. The bars 78 to 82 converge to define a pointy distal end 30. At its proximal end 28, the injection dryer 16 is further provided with a plate 38, having the same function as the plate 38 described in relation to Fig 2a. The distance between the side bars 82 increases from the proximal end 28 to a point of maximum separation 84, from where the separation decreases to the pointy distal end 30. This resulting shape gives the injection dryer a retaining ability when inserted into a bale 18. With this embodiment of the injection dryer 16, a wide channel for air into a bale 18 can be achieved that simultaneously has large opening to the interior of the bale 18, which allows for a large flow of drying air to be injected through the injection dryer 16. Figs. 7a-k shows alternative embodiments of an injection dryer 16. The injection dryer 16 of Fig 7a defines an opening 34 sufficiently large for the material of a bale to flex into the opening 34, thereby providing a retaining ability of the injection dryer 16. The large opening 34 also enables a large flow of drying gas through the injection dryer 16 and into a bale (not shown). In the depicted orientation, the opening 34 is located so that it has a wider portion 85 closer to the distal pointed end 30 and a narrower portion 86 closer to the proximal end 28. This also gives a retaining ability of the injection dryer 16. The injection dryer 16 of Fig. 7b differs from the injection dryer in Fig. 7a only in that the opening 34 is rounded instead having sharp edges, which reduces the retaining ability of the injection dryer somewhat, but also reduces the insertion resistance, i.e. it will require a somewhat smaller force to insert the injection dryer 16 shown in Fig. 7b into a bale.

For the injection dryers 16 of Figs. 7c-e a large flow of drying gas is enabled through a plurality of smaller openings 34, as compared to the injection dryers 16 of Figs. 7a-b. This also gives a smaller retaining ability of the injection dryers, as the material of a bale is less prone to flex into the smaller openings 34. This is compensated for by the elongated insertion member 26 having a wider portion 85 closer to its distal pointed end 30 and a narrower portion 86 closer to its proximal end 28. In Figs. 7c and 7e the elongated injection members 26 are rotationally symmetric with respect to a longitudinal direction defined between the proximal end 28 and the distal end 30, while in Fig. 7d there is no such symmetry.

The injection dryer 16 of Fig. 7f differs only from the injection member described in relation to Figs. 6a-c only in that instead of having point of maximum separation 84, the elongated insertion member is curved with respect to the longitudinal direction defined between the proximal end 28 and the distal end 30. This feature also gives a retaining ability of the injection dryer when inserted into a bale. Furthermore, such a curved injection dryer 16 can be attached to a plate that can be pivoted in relation to a bale, when the said injection dryer is inserted into the bale. The curved form of the injection dryer 16 enables it to be inserted a bale in by a pivoting motion of the plate (not shown). For the injection dryers 16 of Figs. 7g-i flow of drying gas is also enabled through a plurality of smaller openings 34, instead of a small number of large openings as for the injection dryers 16 of Figs. 7a-b. The retaining ability of the injection dryer 16 shown in Fig. 7g is enhanced by a portion having a helical-like portion 87 of the elongated insertion member 26. This shape also reduces the backflow of drying gas along the outside of the elongated injection member. The retaining ability of the injection dryer 16 shown in Fig. 7h is enhanced by a threaded portion 88 of the elongated insertion member 26. This also reduces the backflow of drying gas along the outside of the elongated injection member 26. In order to insert the injection dryers shown in Figs. 7g-h, they are provided with rotational support 90 allowing them to be screwed into a bale, either manually or by a machine. The retaining ability of the injection dryer in Fig. 7i is enhanced through barbs 92 at the distal pointed end 30 of the elongated insertion member 26.

An air pressure of 3500 mm WG or approx 35000 Pa (Pascal) and airflow of about 2000 m 3 /h are used. Preferably, the he air pressure is in the range of 1500 to 4000 mm WG, and more preferably 3000 to 4000 mm WG; and most preferably close to 3500 mm WG.

Fig. 8 shows a part of a bale drying facility 100 having means 102 for receiving a bale 18 of compressed harvested material to be dried. The means 102 for receiving a bale 18 is in this illustrated example embodied as a conveyor 104 onto which the bales 18 to be dried can be loaded, by for example a tractor quipped with a front loader (not shown). The conveyor 104 comprises a chain 106 having teats 108 that are adapted for engaging the bales 18, so that they are more easily retained on, and transported along the conveyor 104. The bale drying facility further comprises means 110 for generating a plurality of channels within a bale 18. The channel generating means 1 10 are only schematically illustrated in Fig. 8 and comprise essentially a plurality of spikes 16. These spikes 16 could in one embodiment of the invention have the same shape as the injection dryers 16 depicted in any of the figures 1 - 7. In Fig. 8 is only illustrated four such spikes 16 and they are only schematically illustrated. However, in a preferred embodiment the number of spikes 16 is between four and twelve, such as for example nine. The spikes 16 are also preferably arranged in at least two rows. The bale drying facility 100 also comprises means for holding or fixing the bale 18 to be dried. The holding means is in the illustrated example embodied as a plate 1 12 that can be pivoted in relation to an axis 1 14. Preferably there is a corresponding plate 1 12 on the opposite side of the illustrated conveyor 104 so that when both plates are pivoted until they engage the sides of a bale 18, these plates 1 12 fixates the bale with a clamping-like force. The plates 1 12 may, on the side that is adapted to engage the sides of a bale, be equipped with teats, for example metal spikes (not shown), that are adapted for entering the bale when the plate 1 12 is pivoted into abutting contact with the side of a bale, whereby these teats (not shown) will aid in fixing the bale. The holding or fixing means may be controlled by hydraulics, or alternatively pneumatically controlled.

The channel generating means 1 10 may be embodied as a bale dryer 10 as shown in any of the Figs. 3a, 3b, 4, 5a or 5b, possibly modified to be used without a tractor.

After the generation of the channels, the channel generating means 1 10 may be left in the bale, as shown by the rightmost bale 18 in Fig. 8, and a tube 1 16 may be attached to it for the provision of gas to be injected into the bale through said tube 1 16 and further through a manifold in the means 1 10 into the spikes from where the gas flows into the bale 18. As can be seen from Fig. 8 and the description above, the holding means embodied as plates 1 12, forms part of a self-contained module 1 18.

For the injection of gas into a bale, the bale drying facility 100 also comprises means for injecting compressed gas into the plurality of channels. This injection may be facilitated by one or more blowers operatively connectable to the means 1 10 by for example gas conducting tubes.

Alternatively, the tubes 1 16 are not connected right away when the bales leave the module 1 18. Instead the bales 18 may be transported away from the conveyer 104 after they leave the module, for example by a truck or tractor equipped with a front loader adapted for the purpose of loading the bales 18, and placed in a place where the injection tubes are connected to the means 1 10, where after gas, e.g. heated air, is injected into the bales 18. The drying facility 100 may also comprise a storage facility for dried bales.

Fig. 9 shows a schematic overview of the operation of a part of the bale drying facility 100 shown in Fig. 8 as seen from an end perspective. Illustrated in Fig. 9 is how the plates 1 12 (bale holding means) pivot in relation to the axis 1 14, as indicated by the arrows 120. For holding a bale 18, the plates 1 12 are pivoted in relation to the axis 1 14 until they engage the sides 122 of a bale 18. In order to ensure an increased fixation, the plates 1 12 are equipped with teats 124 that will extend slightly into the bale 18, when the plates 1 12 abuts to the sides 122 of the bale 18. When the bale 18 has been fixed a plurality of channels is generated within it. The means 1 10 for generating the channels is only schematically illustrated in Fig. 9, and it comprises a plurality of spikes 16 that are inserted into the bale 18, when the channel generating means 1 10 are moved downward as indicated by the arrow 126. The plates 1 12 are adapted to accommodate to a part of the outer shape of a bale, and may form part of the self- contained module 1 18.

Fig. 10 shows an end view of a part of another embodiment of a bale drying facility 100 wherein a substantially box shaped bale holding means 128 is used to fix the bale 18, while channels are generated within it from both sides by the channel generating means 1 10 equipped with spikes 16. The two channel generating means are pressed into the bale 18 as indicated by the arrows 130, substantially simultaneously. The channel generating means may in one embodiment be lest in the bale, and used as a dryer itself, or they may be removed again after insertion. After the removal of the channel generating means 1 10, two plates 132 equipped with gas outlet studs 134 may be attached or pressed against the sides 122 of the bale 18 as shown in Fig. 1 1. The relative placement of the studs 134 on the plate 132 corresponds to the relative placement of the spikes 16 on the channel generating means 1 10. This implies that the studs 134 will extend slightly into the channels that are generated in the bale 18, when the plates 132 are pressed into abutting contact with the sides 122 of the bale 18.

As illustrated more clearly in Fig. 12, the plates 132 may furthermore be equipped with a manifold 136 fluidly connected to all of the studs 134 of each plate 132. By connecting said manifold 136 to a blower, schematically illustrated by the box 138 via a tube 140, gas (e.g. heated air) is injected into the bale 18 via the studs 134 and further into the channels 142. By using a plate 132 that is in abutting contact with the sides of the bale 18 during the injection of gas into it, the amount of gas that leaks back out from the channel openings is reduced considerably. Rather the gas that is injected into the bale 18 is forced to pass through the material of the bale 18 and escape from it from the other four sides as indicated by the arrows 144. Hereby a more efficient drying of the bales is facilitated. Fig. 13 shows a flow diagram of a preferred embodiment of a method according to the invention of drying a bale of compressed harvested material. The illustrated method comprises the step 150 of estimating the water content of the bale, and a step 152 of generating a plurality of channels within the bale, and subsequently a step 154 of injecting compressed gas into the channels. The illustrated method may comprise the optional step 160 of determining the time under which the compressed gas is to be injected into the channels. This determination is preferably based on said measurement of the water content in step 150.

Fig. 14 shows an alternative preferred embodiment of a method according to the invention of drying a bale of compressed harvested material. The illustrated method comprises the step 150 of estimating the water content of the bale, and a step 152 of generating a plurality of channels within the bale, and subsequently a step 154 of injecting compressed gas into the channels. Optionally, the method illustrated in Fig. 14 may furthermore comprise the step 156 of heating and/or de-moisturizing the gas before the step 154 of injecting the gas into the channels.

In the method illustrated by the flow diagram in Fig. 14, the step 150 of measuring the water content of the bale is performed continuously, or intermittently at certain time intervals, during the drying of the bale, i.e. during the step 154 of injecting gas into the bale. The illustrated method also comprises the step 158 terminating the injection of gas into the channels, when the measured water content falls below a threshold value. In Fig. 15 is illustrated a flow diagram of another embodiment of a method according to the invention of drying a bale of compressed harvested material, comprising the step 162 of generating a two or three dimensional image of the water content of the bale, the step 164 of generating a plurality of channels in the bale in dependence of said image, and a step 154 of injecting gas into the plurality of channels. Prior to the step 154 of injecting the gas into the plurality of channels, the method may comprise the optional step 156 of heating and/or de-moisturizing the gas before injecting it into the plurality of channels.

The step 152 shown in Fig. 13 or 14, or the step 164 shown in Fig. 15 of generating the plurality of channels may in a further embodiment comprise one or more of the following steps: - inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale,

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale,

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale using an auger bit, and/or

- drilling a plurality of channels in the bale using a hole saw.

In Fig. 16 is illustrated a flow diagram of another embodiment of a method according to the invention of drying a bale of compressed harvested material, comprising the step 150 of estimating the water content of the bale, the step 168 of generating a plurality of channels within the bale by inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale, and a step 154 of injecting gas into the plurality of channels through apertures in the spikes. The illustrated method may furthermore, comprise the optional step of heating and/or de- moisturizing the gas before the step 154 of injecting it into the bale.

In Fig. 17 is illustrated a flow diagram of another embodiment of a method according to the invention of drying a bale of compressed harvested material, comprising the step 150 of estimating the water content of the bale, the step 168 of generating a plurality of channels within the bale by inserting a plurality of spikes into the bale, a step 170 of removing the plurality of spikes from the bale, a step 172 of pressing a plate against at least one side of the bale, and a step 154 of injecting gas into the channels of bale through studs of the plate. The method may furthermore comprise the optional step 156 of heating and/or de-moisturizing the gas before injecting it into the channels.

In any of the illustrated methods in any of the figures 13 - 17, the step of generating the plurality of channels may further comprises the step of tearing the wall(s) of the plurality of channels.

The step 150 of measuring the water content of the bale in any of the two methods illustrated in Fig. 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17 may comprise one or more of the following steps:

- weighing the bale,

- measuring the electrical conductivity of at least a part of the bale,

- measuring water content of the bale by using a capacitive sensor,

- measuring the absorption of electromagnetic energy in at least a part of the bale, and/or

- measuring infrared energy radiation radiated from at least a part of the bale. In the embodiments of the method illustrated in any of the figures 13, 15 and 17, the step 150 of estimating the water content of the bale may be optional.

Fig. 18 shows an alternative embodiment of a bale holding means, embodied as a box like structure 174, with two open ends, so that a bale 18 to be dried can be led through box like structure 174 on the conveyor 104. On one side 182 of the box like structure 174 there are a plurality of holes (not shown) through which the injection dryers 16 can be inserted into the bale 18, whereby a number of channels are generated within the bale 18. For simplicity only two injection dryers 16 are illustrated. The injection dryers 16 are connected to a blower 22 through a conduit 20. The blower 22 is configured for blowing heated gas into the plurality of channels that are generated within the bale 18. The blower 22 has preferably a heater incorporated into it or is connected to heater, so that the gas can be heated before it is injected into the plurality of channels within the bale. The gas that is used is preferably air that is sucked into the blower from the surroundings. The injection dryers 16 are inserted into the bale 18 using hydraulic driving means, schematically illustrated by the hydraulic cylinder 178, and hydraulic station 180. It is understood that other driving means such as electrical and pneumatic means also could be used. The conduit 20 is preferably wound onto a winch 176. The winch 176 is preferably spring loaded, so that the conduit 20 is automatically rolled onto the winch 176 when the injection dryers 16 are pulled out of the bale 18.

The injection dryers 16, conduit 20, winch 176, blower 22 and hydraulic driving means (the hydraulic cylinder 178 and hydraulic station 180) constitutes parts of a channel generation machinery 186. It is understood that the opposite side 184 of the box like structure 174 also could be equipped with holes through which injection dryers 16 could be inserted into the bale 18. In fact the illustrated parts of a channel generation machinery 186 could also be provided on the opposite side 184 of the box like structure 174, whereby it would be possible to insert the injection dryers 16 from both sides of the bale 18.

In a one embodiment of the illustrated channel generation machinery 186, no winch 176 is used. Instead the conduit 20 may for example be suspended from the ceiling.

Fig. 19a shows a side view of a preferred embodiment of an injection dryer 16, which is essentially formed as a cross bar with a pointed end 188. As more clearly illustrated in Fig. 19b the injection dryer 16 is formed by four elongated parts, essentially four elongated plates 190, 191 , 192 and 193.

Fig. 19c schematically illustrates an injection dryer 16 of the kind illustrated in Fig. 19a and Fig. 19b, inserted into a bale 18. It is contemplated that the usage of a cross bar or any similar structure, wherein plates are used gives a better distribution of the gas, e.g. air, within the bale 18. As illustrated in Fig. 19c four channels 194 are generated within the bale 18, when the injection dryer (also referred to as displacement member in the present patent description) 16 is inserted into it. This is due to the fact that the flat elongated parts displace the material of the bale away from the "corners", where the four plates meet each other.

Fig. 20a and 20b illustrates a side view and a perspective view of a injection dryer 16 (also referred to as displacement member in the present patent description), respectively. The illustrated injection dryer 16 is generally formed as a T-bar with a pointed end 188, essentially formed by two plates 195 and 196 that are substantially perpendicular to each other.

Fig. 20c schematically illustrates an injection dryer 16 of the kind illustrated in Fig. 20a and Fig. 20b, inserted into a bale 18. In a similar fashion as illustrated with reference to Fig. 19c, it is seen that the due to the T-profile of the injection dryer 16 the plates 195 and 196 displace the material of the bale 18 in such a way that two channels 194 are generated within the bale 18.

In order to dry the bale 18 gas, e.g. air is injected into the channels 194.

A preferred embodiment of an aspect according to the invention pertains to a drying device for drying bales of compressed harvested material, e.g. hay, straw or alfalfa, the drying device comprising one or more displacement members for generating one or more channels within a bale, the drying device being connectable to a blower for injecting gas into the one or more channels, wherein the displacement members have a longitudinal extension between a pointed end and an end that is fluidly connectable to the blower, and wherein the displacement members comprises at least two substantially flat elongated parts that are connected to each other along the longitudinal extension of the displacement member. The flat elongated parts may be welded together, or integrally formed as two connected parts, e.g. by molding, rolling, extrusion or any other suitable process. Preferably, the displacement members are formed as a cross bar or a T-bar with a pointed end. These displacement members are in a preferred embodiment identical to or similar in structure to the injection dryers shown in Fig. 19. By a cross bar is meant a bar having a cross or X-profile, i.e., a cross section perpendicular to its longitudinal extension that is substantially formed as a cross or X, and by a T-bar is meant a bar having a cross section that is substantially formed as a T.

Metal bars having a so called cross- or T-profile are manufactured as standard "of the shelf" products. This implies that a displacement member according to the preferred embodiment mentioned above would be rather easy to manufacture, because the needed bar-profiles of the required size, price and strength are readily available.

The drying device may further bee adapted for being used in a method according to any of the description above, wherein the displacement members are used as spikes or injection dryers. The drying device may also form part of a drying facility according to the above description, wherein the displacement members are used as spikes or injection dryers. Furthermore, the drying device may also form part of a self-contained module according to the above description, wherein the displacement members are used as spikes or injection dryers.

LIST OF REFERENCES

In the following is given a list of reference numbers that are used in the detailed description of the invention.

10 bale dryer 82 side bar

12 transport vehicle 84 point of maximum separation

14 front loader 85 wider portion

16 injection dryers, spikes 86 narrower portion

18 bale 87 helical portion

20 air or gas conduit 88 threaded portion

22 blower 90 rotational support

24 heater 92 barbs

26 insertion member, spikes 100 bale drying facility

28 proximal end 102 bale receiving means

30 distal end, distal pointed end 104 conveyor

32 conduit 106 chain

34 channel openings 108 teats of the chain 106

36 valve 1 10 channel generating means

38 plate 1 12 plate (bale holding means)

40 pressure gauge 1 14 axis

42 pressure control circuit 1 16 tube

44 actuator 1 18 self-contained module

46 moisture gauge 120 arrow indicating movement

48 moisture control unit 122 sides of a bale

50 actuator 124 teats of the plate 1 12

52 - 58 injection dryers, spikes 126 arrow indicating movement

62 short side 128 alternative bale holding means

60, 64 long side 130 arrow of movement

66 base 132 plates

68 coupling 134 gas/air outlet studs

70 horizontal section 136 manifold

72 vertical section 138 blower

74 retainers 140 tube cylinder 142 channels

top bar 144 flow of gas out of a bale bottom bar 150 estimating water content generating channels 154 injecting gas

heating/de-moisturizing gas 158 terminate gas injection determine time of gas injection 162 generate image of water content generate channels in dependence 168 inserting plurality of spikes age of water content

remove plurality of spikes 172 press plate against sides of bale box like structure 176 winch

hydraulic cylinder 180 hydraulic station

side of box like structure 184 side of box like structure channel generation machinery 188 pointed end of injection dryer, 192 parts of an injection dryer 69 coupling

channels within a bale