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The holy grail of scale free & close control humidification

Low maintenance, scale-free humidity control with close control is required in many scientific, laboratory or precise manufacturing applications so that tests or procedures can be run uninterrupted for extended periods of time ensuring consistent and precise results.

Humidity control for laboratory conditions

Humidifiers obviously use water to operate, however water is not pure H2O when it comes through the pipework serving our factories and places of work. Limescale, silica and many other mineral deposits are either naturally in the water supply or included by our water companies resulting in these elements precipitating out within our humidifier. Steam cylinders or Ultrasonic chambers, once the pure H2O has been atomised as a mist or steam, will retain these particles even when drain cycles are employed to encourage their removal to drain.

So, what is the answer to this conundrum? The answer is humidifiers which are smart and have features which consider this issue along with water treatment.

Take the Neptronic SKE4 steam humidifier for instance. If the unit is supplied with a pure water supply, then the manufacturers have included such features as drain disenable and water supply trickle feed. The drain function is to help with the removal of minerals so if none are present this can be turned off saving water, energy as the drain water would be hot and increasing control as the reduction in water in the steam cylinder would reduce output also if the water was replaced with a slug of cold water. Alternatively, the second function of trickle feed can be used so that a consistent but small amount of water can be added to replace boiled off steam which does not knock the humidifier off its boiling point, making the steam output consistent with fine control.

Whilst the reverse osmosis plant will require some maintenance this can be done with a by-pass while the humidifier is still operating, with a single plant able to supply multiple humidifiers if they are located in the same vicinity.

Ultrasonic humidifiers have a unique advantage in that they react instantly to a control signal reducing the response time compared with a steam humidifier which, even if it is in standby mode (water is kept hot but below boiling temperature), does require some time to produce steam. A restriction of the Ultrasonics is that they are generally most suitable to smaller applications where the humidity load is below 20 litres/hour. However, in many cold stores, test chambers and hydroponic applications this is right in the sizing sweet spot plus, being an adiabatic humidifier, the cooling effect is advantageous.

These humidifiers have very low energy consumption so in these days of energy efficiency again this system is attractive to many applications. When served with reverse osmosis water or demineralisation cartridges the minerals are removed from the water prior to the mist generating chamber and again become a low maintenance option with extended run times not being interrupted with scale removal procedures.

High-pressure water humidifiers for large manufacturing facilities are also able to operate off reverse osmosis water, again making the humidifiers extremely reliable and low on maintenance requirements.

Evaporative in-duct or in room adiabatic systems for datacentre or process cooling applications are also able to manage scale to provide stable and continuous outputs over extended periods of time.

The key to any humidity control or adiabatic cooling project is to get good advice and to use industry leading equipment which allows you to make the correct selection with an emphasis on control, low energy usage, reliability, low maintenance or the most cost-effective solution both on capital and running costs.

Maintenance of the humidifiers even without mineral build up should be carried out in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations, but can be straightforward and low cost if linked to a planned maintenance program.

Labour time on site is a precious and expensive commodity so to reduce maintenance time and consumables is always an option worth considering and can provide attractive payback times to overcome the additional capital cost of the water treatment or humidifier type.

To make the correct initial selection of a system which performs efficiently and effectively with limited running costs can be a daunting prospect if humidity control is not your day-to-day field of expertise, but this is the reason that we have humidity specialists who can make humidity control easy and profitable for a contractor to offer.

1 June 2023

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