Many industrial facilities need to control the amount of moisture in the air. There are three ways to accomplish drier air: through compression, reduced temperatures, and desiccants. In this article we’ll take a brief look at each of these methods.
As a large-scale atmospheric control, this is an impractical method due to the cost, space requirement, and equipment necessary to accomplish the process. Compressed air must be cooled in order to prevent condensation. However, on a smaller scale, if compressed air is already used in your operation, it can be used to some effectiveness to dry the air in a small space.
Lowering air temperature
Typically this method is accomplished with a mechanical refrigeration process such as air conditioning. The cooler air becomes at regular atmospheric pressure, the less moisture it can hold – that is the basic principle at work with this type of dehumidification.
“When the air comes in contact with the cooling coil that is maintained at the temperature below its dew point temperature, its dry bulb (DB) temperature starts reducing,” says Haresh Khemani, writing in an article for Bright Hub Engineering. “The process of cooling continues and at some point it reaches the value of dew point temperature of the air.” At this point the water vapor within the air condenses into dew particles that form on the surface of the cooling coils. “The moisture content of the air (is reduced), thereby reducing its humidity level.”
This process, too, comes with some pitfalls. The exterior of the cooling coils often drops below freezing, causing the condensation to turn into ice on the coil surfaces. This necessitates de-icing methods such as a brine spray and or defrosts cycles which can add to the cost and maintenance of the refrigeration system.
Often favored as the most practical means of drying air, the process is simple: desiccant absorbs moisture from the air without changing its volume. A stream of air can be passed through a desiccant becoming markedly drier along the way, without the need for cooling or compression. Once saturated, the desiccant can then be readied to absorb more moisture, or “reactivated”, simply by applying heat.
“Desiccants have been used for many years to facilitate industrial process drying such as pharmaceuticals and food processing,” says Restoration and Remediation Magazine. “But more recently, they are increasingly being employed in the water damage restoration industry.”
Choosing the improper equipment for your solution can be costly in hardware and create ongoing problems. At Q Applied Systems, we take the time to thoroughly examine your application needs before putting together a comprehensive equipment analysis and recommendations.
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