4 Unique Insights About Hemp Farming and Drying

4 Unique Insights About Hemp Farming and Drying

For years, the hemp crop was vilified alongside its sister plant, marijuana. With the government loosening laws around growing hemp for the first time in more than 80 years, popularity is on the rise for CBD oils, hemp milk, hemp beer, and other hemp-based products. The industry is booming, and hemp growers need a reliable drying system that will allow them to stay ahead of the demand. 

Because of industry-specific obstacles hemp growers face, Louisville Dryer set out to understand the unique position of hemp farmers. Hank Lawson,  Senior Process Engineer at Louisville Dryer, made it his personal mission to learn the best way our company can support hemp farmers and improve their business. 

“I went through the entire process to see what it takes to plant, grow, and harvest hemp,” Hank explains. “I grew two acres of the crop and harvested it with my family, Then, we used what we harvested to test the drying process. We experimented with the product in different types of dryers, so we could find out exactly how they could be most effective for the growers.”

Here are 4 unique insights Hank uncovered about hemp farming and drying.

Farming, Drying, and Processing Hemp to Maximize your Harvest – Our Journey



#1: Growing Hemp Is Challenging  

The challenge for hemp farmers starts with planting and harvesting. Hemp is not an easy crop to produce. It requires high fertility soil and abundant organic matter to grow. It is also susceptible to moles, insects, and weeds, and it has very particular water needs. Hemp farmers deserve a lot of respect.  They are hardworking, knowledgeable and invest a great deal of time and energy to yield a quality product. 


#2: Old-Fashioned Hemp Drying is Inefficient  

There is a four-step process to go from seed to profitable product for the hemp farmer:

  1. Sow
  2. Grow
  3. Harvest
  4. Dry

Experience and scientific advances have helped to streamline the first three steps in the process, but most hemp growers are still drying their crop the old-fashioned way by cutting it into strips and hanging it in tobacco barns. A farmer can grow a couple of acres that way but to increase production, growers have to increase the rate at which they can process wet biomass. 

Steam Tube Dryer


#3: A Hemp-Specific Dryer Increases Profitability

Hemp farmers that want to keep pace with the demand know they need to invest in an agricultural dryer, but many traditional industrial dryers are too expensive. 

To make the hemp drying process easier and more profitable, Louisville Dryer engineered an industrial direct heat dryer exclusively for the hemp industry. Our new hemp-specific design implements the same technology we have been using for decades to successfully dry other agricultural products. 

The most significant difference in the hemp-specific dryer is that it is substantially more affordable than other industrial dryers.

It can handle four tons of wet biomass per hour and offers hemp growers a massive increase in productivity over traditional drying methods. This revolutionary dryer is available to help hemp farmers increase efficiency in their operation, which ultimately leads to higher profitability. 


#4: Steam Tube Dryers Can Process THC and CBD

Steam Tube Dyers can process THC and CBD. Through multiple experiments, we discovered that hemp dried in our Steam Tube Dryer went through the decarboxylation process. This is the necessary reaction where the organically present THCA or CBDA is converted into THC or CBD, which provides the consumer with the desired medicinal effects of the product. 

Growers who are looking to decarboxylate their hemp product could consider using a Louisville Dryer Steam Tube Dryer to streamline their process, improve productivity, and ultimately increase profits. 

Contact Hank Lawson

“Going through the experience of the experimental hemp farm,” Hank says, “helped me understand our customers and their unique struggles, Now I can serve them better, and that has made the whole experiment worth it.”

We invite our hemp customers to reach out directly to Hank for any additional insights into the unique issues involved with growing hemp. He is always happy to have a conversation and uniquely positioned to anticipate your needs.

If you’d like to contact Hank or any of our team members about a direct heat or steam tube dryer, please call us at (800) 735-3163 or fill out our online contact form. A more efficient and profitable drying method could change everything for your hemp business.

Identifying and Solving The Risks of Dryer Shell Cracks

Identifying and Solving The Risks of Dryer Shell Cracks

Cracking in a dryer shell can cause alarm and anxiety. How will the cracking affect the life of the dryer? Just like a small chip in a car’s windshield, there is concern that high stress on a weakness in a rotary dryer shell could grow into a bigger crack. 

With the technical experience of the Louisville Dryer’s field engineers on your side, there is no need for stress. Dryer shell cracks do not always mean that the shell is on the verge of catastrophic failure. We can assess the status of your existing equipment and take the necessary steps to keep you operating efficiently.

Why Do Dryer Shell Cracks Occur?

Cracking generally occurs at high-stress locations and surfaces slowly. They are typically caused by the cyclic loading and unloading at these high-stress locations. 

There are four common shell crackings, which we have outlined for you. The cause and concerns vary, as do the repair solutions.  We are providing a broad overview of these common cracks to help you assess your needs. Please keep in mind that this is not inclusive of all shell cracks, and we always recommend a professional assessment by a knowledgeable rotary dryer specialist. 

Four Common Dryer Shell Cracks | Causes & Solutions

# 1. Shell cracking that moves away from support points. 

Identification: Cracks forming lengthwise near the middle of the shell.

Common Cause: Continual overloading or an abrasive or corrosive product that has worn away the thickness of the shell plate. 

Common Concern: In this scenario, the shell has started to exceed the limit its bending stress due to a reduction of shell plate thickness, or excessive weight. At this point, the cracks will continue to get worse, and sometimes at an alarming rate. 

Typical Solutions: Wrapping or lining the shell can provide a temporary fix, but it does not add full rigidity back to the unit. A longer-term solution might require cutting that section of the dryer out and installing a new section. If the contributing factor is abrasion or corrosion, then the next step is to identify and mitigate that cause. 

# 2. Cracking near the support pads of the riding tires. 

Identification: Cracks forming near the tires.

Common Cause: Continuously overloading the unit by running material loads considerably past design.

Common Concern: All components of the rotary are designed with a certain amount of service factors, but those factors can be exceeded. When higher throughput is introduced, the excess stress causes the tires and support pads to transfer that pressure to the shell which can cause a small weakness to increase in size and vulnerability.

Typical Solutions: If you notice this type of cracking, act quickly. Start by reducing the amount of material passing through the unit. Cracks that are not excessive can typically be ground out and rewelded for a cost-effective and simple fix.

# 3. Cracking emanating from the corners of support pads. 

Identification: Cracking of this nature typically occurs at support pads with sharp corners.

Common Cause: If the tire pads have sharp terminating corners, then the stress at these locations are exponentially higher than when the pads have rounded ends. It’s like the difference between pressing against something with a knife versus with the back of a spoon.

Typical Solutions: Stress riser induced cracks can be ground out and rewelded. In addition, the sharp corners of the support pads should be removed or the pads should be replaced entirely. 

# 4. Cracks around steam tube support bundles. 

Identification: Cracks between the supports and shell.

Common Cause: Steam tube supports should be designed to flex with the shell, and not act as a rigid, unforgiving inside stiffener. When supports are stiff, cracking can occur at the welded connections between the supports and shell.

Typical Solutions: Cracks can be ground and welded. U-style support stiffeners should also be installed on the shell externally to reduce stress from the tube support to the shell.

Protect Your Investment

Your dryer is a key piece of your operation and requires the best service from reputable experts. Louisville Dryer has been synonymous with rotary drying equipment for over a century. Our in-house team of engineers has the expertise to respond to any of your needs. 

Over our extensive history, we have built, installed, and serviced rotary equipment that processes nearly every imaginable kind of material. No problem is too big or too small for you to contact us. We can help you assess any cause or concern, from small cracks and weaknesses to larger malfunctions and threats to your productivity. You can rest assured you will receive effective solutions that keep your production moving on time and on budget. 

The Louisville Dryer team is open and willing to share our knowledge with you. It starts with making a phone call to us at (800) 735-3163 or by taking a moment to fill out our online contact form.

Five Important Questions From the Petrochemical Industry

Five Important Questions From the Petrochemical Industry

When it comes to rotary drying equipment in the petrochemical industry, versatility is key. Such a substantial investment requires research and careful consideration. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons, as well as heed advice from experts on the subject. 

Louisville Dryers have been a production asset for the petrochemical industry for over 130 years. As the industry has changed and evolved over that time, Louisville Dryers have changed right along with it. Always improving aspects of our design and equipment, we focus on meeting the ever-changing needs of petrochemical production.

Industries considering the investment and commitment of a petrochemical product dryer can glean wisdom and knowledge from our Senior Applications Engineer, John Robertson. John has worked in the industry for over 35 years and is an outstanding asset to the Louisville Dryer team and our customers. 

Recently we asked John to answer five top questions customers often have about our company and petrochemicals. John offers the answers to these questions with simplicity and expertise.


The Petrochemical Industry’s Five Questions 

As answered by Senior Applications Engineer, John Robertson

What role does Louisville Dryer play in the production of petrochemicals?

Louisville Dryers have been synonymous with rotary drying equipment for over a century. We do everything from the designing, manufacturing, and installation of a variety of rotary process equipment for the petrochemical industry. 

Our expansive areas of expertise include: 

Each piece of equipment is specifically and uniquely designed to accommodate the mechanics and the processes of the product application.

What makes our Steam Tube Dryer, in particular, well-equipped for the petrochemical industry?

When it comes to longevity and saving money over the life of the equipment, it all comes back to precision and efficiency. 

Our Steam Tube Dryer is the most efficient type of rotary dryer because of its steam-filled tube heating source. The steam is only replaced when heat is transferred to the product itself, so the amount of heat loss from the system is very minimal. Our Steam Tube Dryer allows for slow gentle drying, so the moisture that’s physically held within the particles of the product can move to the surface and dry. 

The sheer versatility of our Steam Tube Dryer makes it a home run for the vast operations of the petrochemical industry. It can be used in many different applications and can be modified to suit specific plant or product needs. 


What unique capabilities make Louisville Dryer a good fit for working within the petrochemical industry?

Louisville Dryer designs and manufactures all of its equipment in various alloys to suit the nature and product of the plant. Standard stainless steel, 304 and 316, duplex stainless steel, super stainless steel, as well as corrosion and heat resistant nickel alloys can be incorporated into our equipment. 

If a product needs an inert atmosphere or if a solvent is being driven off and needs to be recovered, we can design special seals for the feed and discharge hoods that limit the leakage of the ambient atmosphere or the loss of solvent. 

We can also design the dryer to use a steam pressure of up to 450 PSIG if a chemical reaction needs to take place. Our Steam Tube Dryer can also purely be used as a heat source to bring a product from one temperature to another.


How can companies in the petrochemical industry save money by going with Louisville Dryer?

Our exceptional quality. 

Louisville Dryer’s commitment to quality control is the number one factor that saves companies money over going with another brand of dryers. 

Our clients demand reliability, and we give it to them. All of our equipment is designed and manufactured with extreme precision and robust components. Our goal is to run continuous operations that meet or exceed our clients’ production needs. We are focused on less maintenance, less loss of production, and less equipment replacement. 

But don’t just take our word for it. Look at our proven record. Louisville Dryer has equipment in the field that has been in operation for 50 years, and we will continue to uphold our reputation of reliability for years to come. 


How can someone get the best insights and information about their specific petrochemical needs?


Contact us. The Louisville Dryer team is open and willing to share our knowledge with you. This is a substantial investment, so we want to feel confident about your decision and make sure you get it right. 

Our employees have hundreds of years of combined experience in mechanical design, process design, manufacturing, application, and service of industrial rotary processing equipment, especially dryers. You can speak with us directly and even schedule a site visit. It starts with making a phone call to us at (800) 735-3163 or by taking a moment to fill out our online contact form.


See Our Petrochemical Case Study:

Mash to Cash • Insight from the Inside

Mash to Cash • Insight from the Inside

Whiskey distilleries across the United States craft unique products with intricate balances of complex characteristics. Each facility is as distinct as the landscape that surrounds it and the people who orchestrate the production of its beloved spirits. Different as they may be, there’s one inescapable quandary shared among them all; once the good stuff is made, there’s a whole heap of stuff they have to get rid of. 

Distilleries have two choices when it comes to spent grain:

  • Scramble and try to give the spent grain away before it rots.
  • Turn the grain into something of value and let it make them money.

We asked an expert insider to get to the root of what distillers really want to know about turning their waste into profit – how to do it and if it’s worth it? Jack Schanie, the Applications Engineer for Louisville Dryer, has eyes and ears on the ground every day in this niche field and tells us what he knows about the business of distillers grains.

What are distillers grains?

Essentially, it’s the leftovers after distillation – or the material that was not converted to alcohol through the fermentation process. A liquid consisting mostly of protein, fiber, fat, and water remains in the still and is no longer useful to distilleries. This material is called Whole Stillage and needs to be disposed of quickly and properly to prevent slowdowns in production.




“The value of the material may be a significant portion of the original grain purchase.”

-Jack Schanie, Applications Engineer, Louisville Dryer Company








How do distilleries dispose of these grains?

This material cannot be disposed of through sewage treatment, so it’s processed as a byproduct. Some distillers will give it away as Wet Distillers’ Grain (WDG) to local farmers, or ship it short distances at a cost. WDG can be fed to livestock, but the problem is, if it’s not transported and consumed immediately, it will spoil or rot, leaving it useless.

The solution is to dry the material in a rotary dryer at the distillery. This way, it can be stored for long periods of time. Distillers can sell it as a nutrient-rich feed additive for cattle, hogs, chickens, and fish. The term for this product is DDG (Distillers Dried Grains) or DDGS (Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles).


What are the advantages of drying distillers’ grains, and how can this process benefit distilleries?

The benefits of the process are a win/win situation for both the distillery and agricultural industries. Drying the grains significantly extends the shelf life of the byproduct. Dried Distillers Grains typically last six to twelve months in a cool, dry warehouse or silo, compared to Wet Distillers Grains, which have a shelf life of less than one week. Drying makes the grains more valuable to farmers, and it’s easier for distilleries to unload while making them money instead of costing them money.


Is DDGS a viable source of revenue for a distillery?

Yes. For distillers with large quantities of WDG that don’t have a dependable local source to accept it, DDGS converts waste into a revenue source. In fact, once the WDG is dried, the value of the material may be a significant portion of the original grain purchase.



What’s necessary to dry distillers’ grains?

Two crucial elements are necessary:

  • The proper equipment
  • A partnership and support from an experienced team in the industry

The main component in the equipment is a Rotary Steam Tube Dryer. It’s a heat exchanger that uses the energy in steam to dry the material. It’s the best method because it provides more gentle heating, which gives the grains a light color. And that’s the key when assessing the value of the DDG product.

Engineering the equipment to adequately handle the weight and size of the material, mixing, air pollution control, and efficiency is vital for effective operation. There’s a lot that goes into it, and the proper design for all the moving parts is critical for distilleries. That’s why Louisville Dryer designs, engineers, and distributes dryhouses complete with everything a distillery needs to process their DDGS, and all the back-up and support of the leaders in the industry. 


Which distilleries are currently preparing and selling DDGS?

Most large distilleries and ethanol plants make DDG/DDGS. Louisville Dryer is the preferred equipment throughout the Bourbon Trail in distilleries such as Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, and others.


What kind of history does Louisville Dryer have in the Distillery industry?

Louisville Dryer has been building steam tube dryers for distilleries for over one hundred years and continues to do so. We’re proud to have a history of trust and reliability in the industry. We built the oldest known DDG dryer, which is still operating in the Old Forrester Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. The unit started drying in 1932 and has run continuously for eighty-seven years. We only recently replaced three dryers at Buffalo Trace, which were manufactured in 1944.


What are the benefits of going with a Louisville Dryer product?  

Louisville Dryers are designed to last. Louisville Dryer Company builds very robust equipment designed to run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with minimal shutdowns. We hold ourselves to the highest standard of quality when it comes to our workmanship. Distilleries who invest in a dryhouse from Louisville Dryer know they are getting a quality dryer that will last for years to come.


Where can distilleries get what they need to successfully and efficiently prepare DDGS?  

Louisville Dryer can put together complete equipment proposals for dryhouse designs for any distillery to prepare DDGS.

Our team is ready to help distilleries turn their waste into profits. Contact us today to learn more!