Cooling of the Monitoring Electronics for Grain Storage and Food Safety

A significant proportion of human nutrition, > 60%, comes either directly or indirectly from grain. Corn, wheat, rice, and other cereals are dietary staples both in the US and around the world; they also provide feed for livestock and poultry in the meat, egg and dairy industries. Grain that has been contaminated by mold or insect activity potentially poses serious health risks for both humans and animals—yet today, there is no easy way to prevent at least some proportion of spoiled kernels from finding their way into the food chain.

Researchers studying grain storage have worked to provide aeration systems to protect the product, but often a risk of spoilage occurs due to lack of expertise by the growers and limited expertise in storage management. Grain storage is vital to selling and marketing safe products.

Today’s storage management systems offer technology that can monitor both weather and storage conditions. The data is run in real time and has been successful in predicting problems to maintain the right environment for the grain storage. Having the right system to monitor temperature and reduce moisture, allows farmers to successfully store the higher-yielding crops grown today for longer periods of time without the risk of mold or insect activity.

These sophisticated data collection and analysis computers are installed at the bin site and require an enclosure to protect them from the environment. However, the high speed processors generate significant heat that must be removed from the enclosure. Aspen engineers worked closely with the customer team to develop a very small cooling system using Aspen’s miniature vapor compression technology. The resulting subassembly is inserted into the electronics enclosure. It circulates the air inside and cools it as necessary, rejecting the processor heat into the surrounding ambient air. Aspen’s solution has allowed new grain monitoring and control systems to be moved into the field to greatly improve the safety in the grain industry.

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