Moisture: keeping the right balance

Water is essential for life – it covers over 70 percent of surface of the earth. It surrounds us. It is in the moisture in the air we breathe, it makes up more than half of the volume of our bodies and is found in a state of equilibrium in many other organic and inorganic materials. This equilibrium differs according to materials and is dependent on the relative humidity of the air and corresponding temperature of the air.

While there is a natural equilibrium, those levels don’t always suit our needs as we seek to improve the quality and efficiency of life. There are times an adjustment to the balance of moisture is required in order to manage materials in storage, production and transportation environments.

A simple example of the effect of unmanaged moisture levels from everyday life would be that of salt and sugar crystals. Both substances are wet in the original, natural form from which they are sourced. When processed and dried for our convenience, they still remain hygroscopic (able to absorb water) and strive to reach equilibrium with the climate they are exposed to. We have all experienced clumps of hardened sugar or solidified salt in a humid air environment.

Hygroscopic materials or substances are varied, ranging from fibres such as cellulose or cotton, to sugars, salts, starch and even plastic polymers. The behavior of these substances and their affinity to water, either as raw products or as ingredients in other products, can be a real headache for individuals and for industry. Moist boxes in logistics, clogged silos of sugar or starch materials, or moist plastic granulate for injection moulders are all examples of costly problems for stakeholders when substances try to regain moisture equilibrium.

The relationship of water content in the air and the corresponding balance or equilibrium of moisture in substances is recorded experimentally for each product and substance. This is called a moisture isotherm. Using moisture isotherms, we engineers are able to predict the moisture content of substances by virtue of their exposure to moisture and temperature.

This knowledge helps us to supply the perfect climate for each material and substance, for applications in storage, production and transport of materials. The correct dry environment for every application improves production efficiency, product quality as well as reduced waste and maintenance cost.

Humans may need water to sustain life – but you need not let water make your life difficult.

Call us for a solution to your moisture problems.

SCE, Engineering Your Sustainable Growth®