While most UFOs are typically known for their destructive crop circles, this UFO will actually promote better grain storage through proper aeration and potentially save commodities in the bin.
S3 Air Systems’ User Friendly Option, or UFO aeration system, was designed with simplicity and ease of installation in mind with the ability to retrofit to most hopper bottom bins. In fact, all components of the aeration system can fit through a standard 18-inch manhole.
Many other aeration systems require either removing bin sheets or removing the bin from the hopper entirely for installation.
The UFO aeration system consists of durable polymer pieces, which weigh under six pounds each.
Two pieces are bolted together to form one stage. Up to eight stages can be added, which are then topped off with a nose cone. The polymer stages are supported by steel plates, which are then bolted to telescopic steel legs.
“The aeration fan introduces air through the ductwork, the ductwork attaches to the bottom three vertical polymer stages, and it puts the air up through there for an even distribution,” says Kelly Silbernagel, director of business development for S3 Air Systems, a division of S3 Manufacturing.
“It’s a heavy-duty polymer vertical aeration system. We wanted to achieve the goals of making it affordable and making it lightweight so that it is easy to put in so you don’t have to break your back, or rent a crane (for installation).”
The conical shape of the stackable pieces allows for up to four times as much air flow as traditional aeration equipment. Forced air from the fan is able to push out further toward the sides of the bins creating a more consistent flow of air to a larger portion of grain in the bin.
The UFO can handle bins as large as 30 feet high with a 30-foot diameter.
“All the other stuff from market is either perforated or louvered material and this is something that under each stage is just a big open area to help push air through,” says Silbernagel.
He recommends using a three-horsepower fan for the smaller four-stage setup, which would be good to use on a 3,000-bushel bin. As the size of the bin increases, more stages and larger capacity fans should be used. For example, a 15,000-bushel bin requires a 10- or 15-horsepower fan and eight stages of the UFO system.
The system is intended for aeration only and should not be operated by adding any heat sources to the airstream. If the user chooses to disassemble the unit for any reason, the polymer pieces of the UFO system are able to nest together when unbolted and placed in storage — meaning, the product will take up less space in the shed.
A six-stage UFO kit comes with all the mounting hardware and ducting minus a fan, and sells for around $1,550 on the company’s website; however, pricing may be different through a dealer.