new online calculator can illustrate where you might find energy savings within grain-drying systems.

The Purdue University Energy Estimator projects energy costs for in-bin and high-capacity grain dryers. Researchers in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering developed the online resource.

While farmers usually know what they spend to dry grain, they don’t always understand how dryer components and operating conditions contribute to the energy bill, says Klein Ileleji, one of the Purdue agricultural engineers who developed the calculator.

“This tool allows them to do that, or at least gives them an avenue to look at grain-drying systems more closely,” Ileleji notes. “With this estimator, they can run scenarios that will inform them ahead of time how much energy they’re consuming on the farm and the factors that can help them reduce costs.”

Users begin by selecting either an in-bin or high-capacity dryer model from a menu of options. In-bin dryer users can calculate energy consumption and costs for corn, wheat and soybeans, using propane, natural gas or an electric heater. Users can choose among 82 locations within the Corn Belt, as well as the date they plan to dry grain.

The in-bin estimator asks users to enter initial and target grain-moisture content, starting grain temperature, bin diameter and height, grain price in dollars per bushel, fan-airflow rate and electric cost per kilowatt hour.

“Running the simulation provides results for four different drying strategies: continuous natural air, constant heat, variable heat and self-adapting variable heat,” Ileleji says.

To calculate high-capacity dryer energy use, you can select among seven grain crops, as well as propane or natural gas fuel, and enter fuel cost per gallon, electricity cost, beginning and desired grain moisture, ambient-air temperature, relative humidity and drying air temperature.

Seconds after you enter the information, the estimator provides results: fuel, electric and grain shrinking costs per bushel; drying time in days; average moisture content; MBTUs required for drying; and BTUs per pound of water. Additional data fields appear for high-capacity dryers.

“Keep in mind that these are best estimates,” Ileleji says. “While they are research-based, and we’ve done our best to make the tool as accurate as possible, the results should not be construed as actual savings.”