In industrial processing facilities, even minor fluctuations in humidity can necessitate costly and time-consuming procedural modifications. Maintaining optimal humidity levels in these environments is essential for maximizing production while ensuring an appealing and high-quality final product. Humidity control is particularly important when processing items that naturally absorb moisture from their surroundings.
When controlling moisture in a building normally a good first step is the addition of a central HVAC system. Air conditioning will remove some moisture while providing a pleasant working environment for workers. When the addition of air conditioning does not provide the desired result, a dedicated industrial dehumidification system is needed.
One element often overlooked is the building integrity itself. A good thing to remember is that air passes freely through building walls and the rise and fall of humidity indoors follows closely outdoor humidity changes. A tight building with a non-permeable vapor barrier in the walls and ceiling is a must. Well-sealed windows and doors are also important. Well-sealed doors and windows minimize air infiltration from the outdoors. If a building exhaust fan is in place, the replacement outdoor makeup air entering the building adds additional moisture that has to be considered. Many times the addition of a dedicated outdoor makeup dehumidifier is a solution.
If moist air is constant all year or takes over in summer, manufacturers often struggle to maintain consistent room moisture. Even with air conditioning, relative humidity can rise to unacceptable levels for equipment operation and product integrity. The only solution is to add a dedicated dehumidification system to remove unwanted moisture while maintaining the desired room air temperature.
The Importance of Industrial Humidity Control
While humidity affects nearly all processing environments, some are more susceptible than others when it comes to humidity-related damage. For example, hygroscopic items such as dry foods and confectionery products naturally absorb moisture from the surrounding air. In addition to changing the product’s consistency and ease of processing, excess moisture can lead to reduced quality and shorter shelf-life. Insufficient humidity levels can also be detrimental to product quality, creating issues such as cracking, fragility, and degradation.
To prevent these issues, manufacturers must implement humidity control strategies aimed at preserving product integrity and optimizing the performance of the processing equipment. Effective humidity control includes monitoring the environment’s relative humidity, which refers to the amount of moisture present in the air at a given temperature relative to the maximum amount possible at that same temperature.
Relative humidity monitoring is important for, but not limited to:
- Controlling moisture levels around the final product to optimize quality and shelf life
- Reducing the risk of clumping during packaging of hygroscopic material
- Protecting moisture-sensitive electronics and processing equipment
- Controlling moisture levels in the printing industry, either too high or too low
- Water treatment facilities
- Underground cave archive storage
- Machining and grinding shops using water based coolants
- Removing moisture from outdoor makeup air before entering a building
- Creating a comfortable working environment for employees
- Controlling humidity levels in indoor swimming pools, hot tubs and spas rooms
- Maintaining a consistent and cost-effective operation
- Many custom one-of-kind applications found in industry
How to Implement Industrial Humidity Control
Dedicated Air Barrier
Implementing a dedicated continuous air barrier is one of the first steps in achieving control over a facility’s humidity levels in some applications. As air naturally enters and exits the facility, it can create fluctuations in humidity that put products and processing equipment at higher risk for moisture-related damage. A properly installed air barrier helps reduce condensation and other moisture-related issues by minimizing uncontrolled air leakage. This is especially important in moisture-sensitive processing environments, regardless of the facility’s geographical location or climate.
Another important component of humidity control is outdoor air dehumidification. When the amount of outdoor air entering a facility exceeds a certain threshold, that air must be adequately dehumidified with a dedicated outdoor air dehumidifier. In some cases, the dehumidified air may require subsequent heating or cooling to maintain the facility’s optimal humidity levels. An appropriately sized room exhaust fan is also required to maintain a slight negative pressure in the space.
Industrial Dehumidifiers for Humidity Control
As mentioned above, proper air dehumidification is essential for establishing and maintaining a facility’s desired humidity levels. The best industrial dehumidifier for a given processing environment depends on several factors, including the total cubic footage of the facility, relative humidity fluctuations, and how well the building is sealed or insulated. Two commonly used industrial dehumidifier options include:
- Refrigerant dehumidifiers: With refrigerant dehumidifiers, made by DCA, the damp air is passed over refrigerant-filled cold coils. This causes the moisture in the air to condense on the coil’s surface, where it can then be collected or drained. Refrigerant dehumidifiers are an affordable and efficient option for warm environments where the ambient temperature is stable and moisture levels are relatively predictable. Refrigerant dehumidifiers are used when dew points above 50 degrees F are needed and the room operating temperature is above 60 degrees F generally.
- Desiccant dehumidifiers: Desiccant dehumidifiers, not made by DCA, use a rotary desiccant wheel to absorb moisture from damp air. As the wheel rotates, it extracts moisture from the air and circulates the drier air back into the facility. Because desiccant dehumidifiers absorb moisture rather than condensing it, there is no risk of frost accumulation. This makes them better suited than refrigerant dehumidifiers for dew points below 50 degrees F and room temperatures below 60 degrees F.
- It must be noted that refrigerant and desiccant dehumidifiers do not compete with each other but rather operate in completely different environments.
At DCA, our extensive experience in industrial humidity control makes us well-qualified to deliver effective industrial and commercial humidity control systems for virtually any processing application. With your facility’s specific needs and constraints in mind, our team of experts can find or design a system that will optimize your manufacturing environment.
Why Choose Your Commercial Humidity Control Systems from DCA
Proper control of relative humidity and dew point will improve your facility’s environment and processes and benefit your bottom line. With over 25 years of dedicated experience in industrial dehumidification systems, Dehumidifier Corporation of America (DCA) will support you in all your humidity control needs.
DCA can custom design a dehumidification system specifically for your facility depending on its operating conditions and requirements. Contact DCA to discover the unique solutions we can provide.