Managing coldroom humidity saves money

Tuesday, 03 April, 2018

Managing coldroom humidity saves money

In the high humidity environment of food storage and coldrooms, off-the-shelf equipment is frequently out by up to ±6%. This inaccuracy can result in increased spoilage, reduced yields, decreased quality, poorer recipe repeatability and increased labour costs.

Now, a University of Vermont Extension professor has invented DewRight. This device increases humidity measurement accuracy by 67% (accuracy ±2%).

According to the inventor, Chris Callahan, this US$300 device could save produce growers an average of $6500 annually in improved storage conditions and artisanal cheese and meat producers up to $10,000 a year in higher yields during processing.

Unlike off-the-shelf devices, DewRight also functions accurately at lower temperatures that food storage and processing facilities often require and does not fail in the continuous high humidity environment, as conventional versions do over time.

The device makes use of wet bulb psychrometry, where an ordinary thermometer and one that is enclosed by a wet wick are spun in the air by the user. The difference in temperature between the two — the wet one will show a lower temperature as the evaporating water cools it — indicates the amount of moisture in the air, its relative humidity.

Callahan’s innovation was to make an electronic version of the mechanical device with improved accuracy in temperature measurement. The DewRight also automates the measurements, removing human error.

The new technology has been licensed and is being commercially developed, with assistance from UVM Ventures and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, by Vermont Energy Control Systems, which has added monitoring, data logging and control technology to Callahan’s device that will automate operation and allow remote access.

Image credit: © Sermek

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