Spray Dryer History

We generally like to forget moments when we end up with an egg on our face, but here is a story where eggs kickstarted a journey that would change the world.

The earliest mention of spray drying involved egg-handling in 1865. But pride of place must go to a Mr Samuel Percy, who is considered the first to have described in detail the spray drying of product in spray form. His patent of 1872, entitled ‘Improvements in drying and concentrating liquid substance by atomizing contains no diagram; But the idea was clearly laid out in the words:

The invention is a process of atomizing the desiccating fluid and solid substances, which differ from the ordinary atomizing apparatus in so much that the air or gas which forces the substance into atoms is dried, heated or cooled and also thrown forward forced into chamber and dried in consequence of the dried or heated air which propels them into chamber.

Industrial application of spray drying at any significant scale first occurred in the milk and detergent industries, in the 1920s. Till that could be done, spray drying had to evolve over a period of many decades from 1870 to early 1900s. Spray drying process witnessed widespread use and evolution during world war II when ways were needed to reduce weight of food material so that it could be transported quickly.

Since its origins, spray drying has come a long way in terms on advancement as well as output. The world’s biggest spray dryer was put into operation in 2013 in New Zealand. It can produce 30 tonnes of milk powder an hour. The global market for spray drying equipment was valued at around $ 4.11 billion, and is projected to reach $ 6.12 billion by 2023.

The next step in the evolutionary story of dryers would probably witness the interaction between Artificial Intelligence and CFD technology which is used to a large extent in spray drying.