What is remarkable about this development is that it has occurred over the whole world; indeed the slack in drying R&D experienced over the past decade in the western countries and Japan has been more than compensated for by increase in such activity in the developing economies of the world, with one notable exception of India. Still, over 250 patents are granted annually by the US Patent Office and about 100 by the European Community Patent Office.
These numbers are a testimonial to industrial interest in drying technology development. The corresponding numbers for other unit operations which are more in vogue in academia, e.g., adsorption, crystallization, membrane separations, are each about an order-of-magnitude lower.
The negative correlation between the academic activity and industrial patent activity is probably a result of lack of proactive interaction between industry and academia, which the author has termed in earlier publications as a “closed loop” model of academic research leading to “research by academics and for academics.” For an applied discipline like drying technology lack of industry-academic interaction can have serious negative effects.
Faculty members must be attuned to industrial needs to carry out relevant research and solve real- not imaginary problems. Pie-in-the-sky curiosity-driven research projects are the realm of pure sciences which are funded independently; engineering and technological R&D must have practical relevance to justify continued support by tax-payers and industry.
Impact of such research should be measured not by impact factors of journals papers are published in or the citation counts- not even the so-called over-hyped “h” factor-but by its real life applications. We need measures to assess engineering research and credit it properly. It was early in the seventies that I carried out my first detailed literature search of on all aspects of drying.
This was in itself a massive task as it involved long days and nights at the library and extensive snail mail correspondence even beyond the “iron curtain”. I was perplexed by the lack of scientific literature in the English language at that time. Much of the scientific and engineering literature on drying appeared in Russian, Japanese, German, Polish, Hungarian and French.