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Case Studies

Data Centre Humidification at Telecity Group

Humideco have provided dozens of low energy ultrasonic humidifiers at numerous data centres across the UK in recent years. Of course, cooling is always a prime consideration for a data centre, but maintaining a minimum humidity level is also important. When the air circulating through a data hall is too dry, there is a risk of data loss from servers through the build up of static charges. Hence a number of higher tier data centres have data hall humidity service level agreements in place, to ensure that a certain minimum level of relative humidity is maintained.

We work with several data centre design and build specialists on new build projects, plus we have installed “energy saving” replacements for many existing systems, often with a payback ROI of less than 2 years. As a typical example, we outline below a recent project for Telecity Group.

Sovereign House is a 5 storey data centre, with chilled water CRAC units on each floor, and roof mounted chillers. There are two fresh air plants, one at either end of the building, the main function of which was to maintain humidity levels throughout the data floors. Each was originally equipped with a 45kw steam humidifier, but the building manager was concerned about the energy consumption and maintenance costs of the steam humidifiers, which were regularly scaling up and requiring replacement steam cylinders. With a view to offering a lower energy alternative, Humideco were contacted in 2012 by Telecity’s building maintenance and engineering services provider, Optimum PLC.

A solution was proposed by Humideco featuring ultrasonic humidifiers in the air handling units, which potentially reduced the humidifier energy consumption from 90kw to around 6kw. As an additional benefit, the supply air temperatures at the fresh air plant could also be reduced, reducing the heating load. The ultrasonic humidifiers would use virtually mineral free RO water and so scaling would no longer be an issue. The system was installed in December 2012 by Humideco engineers and has since been in operation 24/7. Operating costs savings of over 80% have been realised.Humideco have since provided humidifier units and systems for several other Telecity sites in London and Manchester.

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A data centre Humidifiers inside a data centre

Warwick University GTS Humidifier Installation

Ranked in the top 10 of all major UK university league tables, the University of Warwick has recently been awarded The Times and Sunday Times University of the year. For one of their many science facilities, DriSteem’s UK distributor Humideco have recently supplied 4 large GTS (gas-to-steam) humidifiers, to maintain laboratory conditions within close limits of relative humidity, 24/7.

The DriSteem units have replaced the original steam humidifiers, which were failing. The new system includes an RO water treatment plant, to deliver mineral free water to the humidifiers. This means virtually maintenance free humidification, with the close burner modulation capability of the DriSteem units able to accurately deliver steam over long periods without the build up of mineral scale within the humidifier internals and the subsequent need for maintenance becoming an issue.

The steam is introduced into the AHU airflow, via bespoke Rapidsorb steam dispersion manifolds. This ensures steam absorption within a very short distance, typically around 400mm, by allowing only dry steam from the centre of each vertical dispersion tube to enter the airstream. The Rapidsorb manifolds also feature DriSteem’s insulated tubes, to reduce condensate, and minimise heat transfer to the air.

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The university of warwick outside logo stand DriSteem humidifiers inside warwick university

EcoMist HVAC at Canary Wharf

Tall buildings present particular difficulties for designers of building services: high heat loads across floors mean high demands for cooling, year round. For the provision of comfort humidification, this is less than ideal, as cooling often means dehumidification and low supply air temperatures, reducing the scope for moisture absorption.

Humideco have recently installed the low energy EcoMist HVAC system into two large fresh air plants at Canary Wharf to allow humidified air to be introduced at each floor. Each AHU handles 70m3/hr and the capacity of each humidifier is 800 kg/hr, too high a requirement for most other humidification methods to be a practical option

The EcoMist HVAC system effectively combines the benefits of two humidification principles in a single system. High pressure atomization using our unique, ceramic EcoMist nozzles is combined with DropStop evaporation modules. The result is a highly controlleable, efficient and hygienic humidifier, particularly suited to larger air handling units. The EcoMist systems replaced the original unsuccessful evaporative humidifiers, which were not able to operate at the required level of efficiency or reliability.

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Landscape of Canary Wharf at night Humideco EcoMist humidifiers inside canary wharf

Horniman Museum Humidification

Frederick John Horniman, Victorian tea trader and philanthropist, founded the “Horniman” Museum at his Forest Hill home after he began collecting objects, specimens and artefacts illustrating natural history, the arts, and the handicrafts of various peoples of the world during the 1860s.The original Museum and Gardens, featuring the landmark clocktower pictured below, were formally opened to the public on 29 June 1901.

Close environmental control of temperature and humidity within museums and galleries is important for the conservation of artefacts and works of art. Steam humidifiers have typically been used in conjunction with air handling units to achieve this, and this was the case with several of the Horniman’s galleries, but with ever increasing energy costs, the Museum recently decided to replace its AHU steam humidifiers with ultrasonic humidifier systems from Humideco. Ultrasonic humidifiers use less than 7% of the electrical energy of a steam humidifier and operate cleanly and hygienically from mineral free RO water. With ultrasonic humidifiers there are no throwaway cylinders, no mineral scale to contend with, and only 6 monthly planned maintenance is needed.

Due to the added benefit of evaporative cooling with ultrasonic humidifiers, it was possible for the museum to make further energy savings, via the BMS, by controlling the fresh air damper settings at certain times in order to balance the cooling, humidification and fresh air rate. In this way, the humidifiers can be used at times to cool the galleries without using chilled water.

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Horniman Museum buildings Stulz Ultrasonic humidifiers inside the Horniman Museum

Humideco system makes 95% energy savings for DVLA

The DVLA is an executive agency of the Department for Transport and, with many buildings across several sites in Swansea, it is a major employer in the area. Most of the humidifier units on site form part of the general office ventilation and air conditioning systems providing comfort conditions for employees, whilst there are others installed to condition and stabilise paper for the many printing operations that take place.

Over the last 10 years, Humideco have replaced several of the original AHU steam humidifiers with low energy systems, and have since provided specialist maintenance of all the humidifier systems across the estate.

Within a newer digital print facility, it is even more important to maintain closely controlled levels of relative humidity, for the clarity and efficiency of the digital print process. This facility is served by 8 air handling units, which predominantly cool, and these were originally fitted with steam humidifiers. After taking a closer look at the operation of these plants, Humideco advised that major savings in energy could be achieved by replacing the steam humidifiers with a low energy humidifier system, as the air could be both cooled and humidified, through the evaporation of water. Building Services Consultants, Hoare Lea and Partners were commissioned to carry out a detailed design and specified the EcoMist high pressure humidifier system, designed and manufactured by Humideco. This system features a centralised RO water treatment plant and pump unit, along with a 6 stage mist nozzle manifold, within each of the air handling units. Operational hygiene is assured through the use of UV sterilization and regular automatic draining and flushing cycles.

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Front entrance of the DVLA

The power requirement for humidification was reduced from 350kw, to around 12kw, a reduction of over 95%! This, of course, realised huge savings in energy costs, with further savings made from the evaporative cooling benefit.

Humideco EcoMist systems can be used solely to cool air in ventilation plants, either directly, or indirectly through a heat exchanger and this is a very useful technique for data centre cooling.

Eco-Mist humidifier system clocks up 25,000 hours at Avery Dennison

At its recent annual service, one of the first EcoMist humidifier systems to have been installed by Humideco was found to have clocked up over 25,000 hours of trouble free operation, and on the original Danfoss high pressure pumps, valves and controls.

Avery Dennison's self-adhesive technology and applications are an integral part of products used in virtually every major market and industry, with product sales in over 89 countries worldwide.

At the Avery Dennison Office Products manufacturing facility in Raunds, Northamptonshire, the well known range of Avery boxed label products are produced and packaged, on reel to sheet converting lines. One of the major factors determining the efficiency of the process is the smooth delivery of the finished self adhesive label sheets, once they are cut to size from the roll material. This relies upon the cut sheets laying flat, as they pass along to the next stage, but as the two sides of the sheet differ in terms of their hygroscopic properties, there is a tendency for the sheet to curl, unless the relative humidity of the air is maintained within fairly close limits.

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EcoMist humidifier suspended in the air in Avery Dennison premises

The Raunds facility is extensive, at around 15,000 sq. metres, with a 13 metre high roof so to provide an effective humidity control solution throughout this environment presented a unique challenge. The Eco-Mist humidification system, designed and developed by Humideco, was eventually selected and installed in what is thought to be one of the largest applications of its kind in the UK. The final Eco-Mist design features a 3 zone approach to the problem. EM20 fan units, installed at low level, control the process and roll material areas at 50%rh +/- 4%, whilst EM nozzles, installed at a higher level, maintain background humidity levels above 40%rh.

Following the installation of the system in 2007, process efficiency and machine speeds increased by around 20%. “We are seeing an immediate payback from the system, waste has been virtually eliminated and efficiency is consistently high” reported plant engineer Dan Ponsonby, at the time.

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