0508H1-1242A.jpg Lon Tonneson
FIRE STARTER: A sunflower head nears maturity and will soon be ready to be harvested.

New aftermarket equipment prevents sunflower combine fires

Kits are available for John Deere 9770 and the Case 8230 and 8120 combines.

An aftermarket equipment kit developed by engineers and technicians at South Dakota State University will soon be available to help prevent a majority of the fires that start in combines while harvesting sunflowers.

The equipment they developed includes a fan to pull outside air through a filter. The clean air is then pushed through a duct into an enclosure surrounding the combine’s turbocharger and exhaust manifold.

The equipment has been tested on several combine models over five harvest seasons and has successfully allowed farmers to utilize full machine capacity without fires even during warm, dry harvest seasons.

There are currently eight combines operating in the Dakotas with the equipment.

A team led by Daniel Humburg, a now-retired professor of agricultural engineering, developed the equipment. https://www.viagrapascherfr.com/viagra-achat-en-ligne/ The South Dakota Oilseeds Council and the National Sunflower Association helped fund the research.

Because of variations in exhaust systems, the design of the fire prevention equipment is specific to different makes and models of combines.

DSH Engineering LLC – a company formed by Humburg – is taking orders until July 1 to make kits for John Deere 9770 and the Case 8230 and 8120 (2010 year and later, depending upon serial number) combines in time for the 2017 sunflower harvest. The equipment may also fit other models that use the same engine and exhaust system. DSH Engineering can’t guarantee delivery in time for harvest on orders placed after July 1.

If you have a different combine model, or want a kit for the 2018 harvest, contact DSH Engineering.

“While we cannot guarantee a kit for all models, we will add designs where it is possible to accommodate older machines and new Tier 4 models,” Humburg says.

The kits cost $4,250 each, plus any applicable ag excise tax. The company doesn’t install the equipment, but provides instructions on how to do it.

The kit is intended to prevent ignition of dust at hot exhaust system components. It will not prevent fires that start from hot bearings, electrical shorts or friction that can cause high temperatures. Vigilance is still needed when harvesting sunflowers, Humburg says.

Humburg says he started DSH Manufacturing when he retired from SDSU because he couldn’t find a company to make the kits.

“I didn’t want to say we found a way to prevent these kinds of combine fires, but that you couldn’t buy it,” Hamburg says. “I wanted to at least this get this off the ground to help farmers who were interested in growing sunflowers.”

For more information, write DSH Engineering, 3308 Sunnyview Dr., Brookings, S.D., 57006; email Humburg at [email protected] or call Humburg at 605-693-3761.

Fire causes
Before they could develop equipment to prevent sunflower combine fires, SDSU researchers had to figure out what was causing most of them.

They found that a great deal of the dust and debris that sticks to a sunflower combine is the white pith from the sunflower stalks. The pith breaks down and is drawn into the fan that pulls air through the radiator to cool the engine.

"A portion of this dust ignites when it hits the turbocharger and exhaust system," Humburg says. "Every once in a while one of those embers lives long enough to land on a surface covered with the same stuff."

Farmers reported finding scattered, smoldering fires on the side of the combine downstream from the radiator blast, especially under windy conditions.

"Once a fire starts, it's easy for a spark to be relocated," Humburg says. Many machine components can burn, including fiberglass shields, wiring harnesses, flexible hoses and plastic fuel tanks.

"Dust doesn't have to sit on a hot component; just coming close ignites some of the material when the machine is operating under heavy load conditions," he says.

Researchers discovered that sunflower debris ignites at temperatures that are 68 to 86 degrees F lower than corn or soybean residue.

Farmers say they can find an engine load threshold above which they will experience fires immediately. They monitor fuel usage and rated engine load to pinpoint this threshold each year.

"If they push engines beyond this threshold, they have a higher likelihood of a fire," Humburg says. A greater engine load will increase the exhaust system's temperature.

SDSU Ag Communications and the National Sunflower Association provided information for this article.

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