condensation ice humidity cold store installations, How to manage humidity in cold storage installations

How to manage humidity in cold store installations and tackle ice and condensation?

In this article we will talk about humidity problems in cold storages. How to manage humidity in cold store installations?

WHAT IS HUMIDITY?

Humidity is an invisible parameter that can ratch up operating costs and furthermore punch big holes in customer satisfaction. Humidity present in the air makes ice and condensation form–resulting in loads of bothersome practical difficulties and revenue–nibbling costs. Due to humidity cooling goods for low-temperature storage can often lead to big problems with unwanted ice and condensation.

Most companies that operate refrigerated or freezer storage facilities have learned to tackle the regular day-to-day ice and condensation problems or have invested in ways to keep them to a minimumEven more efficiency, customer satisfaction, and profit margins depend on it. 

The problem is that this is only dealing with the symptoms, therefore not the root causes. While patching is not preventing. 

HUMIDITY CAN’T BE SEEN 

It can be difficult to know how much humidity is present inside your cold store set-up. The moisture is in the air, and you can’t see humidity consequently just the tell-tale signs that it’s there. 

BUT THE SYMPTOMS CAN! 

Nevertheless, humidity – and in particular, the tangible results of uncontrolled humidity – can have significant effects on a wide range of your operating costs. The problem is that the links between cause and effect aren’t always visible. 

THE TELL-TALE SYMPTOMS ARE THINGS LIKE: 

  1. Ice forming on fixtures and equipment and blocking evaporators 
  2. Water and ice accumulating and causing problems 
  3. Ice and ice pickles forming on cold surfaces 
  4. Stored goods are getting wet and damaged. Finally:
  5. Mist forming in the air 

THESE PROBLEMS USUALLY NEED DEALING WITH BECAUSE: 

  1. First of all, they give rise to additional costs that burden your budgets and affect profit margins 
  2. Also, they represent damage to stored goods and their packaging – which is bad for business and soon means dissatisfied customers 
  3. They give rise to work environment issues and conditions that are dangerous for anyone working in or passing through the facility. Finally:
  4. These problems represent a lack of control over operating conditions, thus affecting quality assurance and good practice in cold storage management. 

HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM? 

Ice and condensation will always form to some degree in any refrigerated or freezer storage facility; hence, you can’t escape the fundamental laws of physics. 

The question is whether there is an acceptable level? At what point should you take any measures needed to limit or control any undesirable levels of humidity that give rise to such ice and condensation? When doing an irritant and a bugbear become an unacceptable cost? 

The deciding factor usually lies in the balance between cost and benefit. When ice and condensation start making a significant impact on your operating costs, customer retention statistics, or work safety record, it’s probably time to do something about it. 

CAN YOU CONTROL HUMIDITY? 

The formation of ice and condensation is pretty much inevitable in any refrigerated or freezer storage facility – and probably has been ever since humans opened the door on industrial refrigeration. 

Indeed, the layman perception is that it’s a persistent, nagging problem that seems unavoidable. 

However, the fundamental laws of physics mean that ice and condensation can be kept from forming by controlling and adjusting the conditions present in the air. 

In many existing set-ups, the only realistic, reliable way to do this is by adsorption dehumidification – applied adequately. 

WHAT DO HUMIDITY PROBLEMS COST YOU? 

How much will it cost to make changes in your cold store set-up, and to introduce humidity management? Will it pay to make any changes/improvements? Experts with substantial practical experience can help determine the exact costs and benefits associated with humidity and its control.

EXAMPLE OF MOISTURE LOAD FROM DOOR OPENINGS

In the picture below, you can find a typical cold store doorway. It shows how the air moves when a door is opened between a warm and a cold room.

  • A door 3 meters high and 2 meters wide is opened ten times per hour for 10 seconds.
  • The external climate conditions are 8 °C and 80% relative humidity.
  • The conditions inside the cold storage facility are -18 °C and T_dew = -20 °C).
  • The moisture load from such a door (disregarding draughts during the opening) is then around 2.5 kg/hour.
  • A cold storage facility with four such doors will then be exposed to the ingress of 10 kg moisture/hour.

Courtesy of Cotes A/S
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Alberto Adriano

Entrepreneur in the field of International Commerce of Industrial Thermal Insulation; Sales Director at Globe Panels Ltd; 12 years of experience in Sandwich Panels; Exporting to Latin America since 2009.
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