Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 18

Search results for: dehumidification

18 Enhancement Performance of Desalination System Using Humidification and Dehumidification Processes

Authors: Zeinab Syed Abdel Rehim


Water shortage is considered as one of the huge problems the world encounter now. Water desalination is considered as one of the more suitable methods governments can use to substitute the increased need for potable water. The humidification-dehumidification process for water desalination is viewed as a promising technique for small capacity production plants. The process has several attraction features which include the use of sustainable energy sources, low technology, and low-temperature dehumidification. A pilot experimental set-up plant was constructed with the conventional HVAC components such as air blower that supplies air to an air duct inside which air preheater, steam injector and cooling coil of a small refrigeration unit are placed. The present work evaluates the characteristics of humidification-dehumidification process for water desalination as a function of air flow rate, total power input and air inlet temperature in order to study the optimum conditions required to produce distilled water.

Keywords: condensation, dehumidification, evaporation, humidification, water desalination

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17 Development of Vacuum Planar Membrane Dehumidifier for Air-Conditioning

Authors: Chun-Han Li, Tien-Fu Yang, Chen-Yu Chen, Wei-Mon Yan


The conventional dehumidification method in air-conditioning system mostly utilizes a cooling coil to remove the moisture in the air via cooling the supply air down below its dew point temperature. During the process, it needs to reheat the supply air to meet the set indoor condition that consumes a considerable amount of energy and affect the coefficient of performance of the system. If the processes of dehumidification and cooling are separated and operated respectively, the indoor conditions will be more efficiently controlled. Therefore, decoupling the dehumidification and cooling processes in heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is one of the key technologies as membrane dehumidification processes for the next generation. The membrane dehumidification method has the advantages of low cost, low energy consumption, etc. It utilizes the pore size and hydrophilicity of the membrane to transfer water vapor by mass transfer effect. The moisture in the supply air is removed by the potential energy and driving force across the membrane. The process can save the latent load used to condense water, which makes more efficient energy use because it does not involve heat transfer effect. In this work, the performance measurements including the permeability and selectivity of water vapor and air with the composite and commercial membranes were conducted. According to measured data, we can choose the suitable dehumidification membrane for designing the flow channel length and components of the planar dehumidifier. The vacuum membrane dehumidification system was set up to examine the effects of temperature, humidity, vacuum pressure, flow rate, the coefficient of performance and other parameters on the dehumidification efficiency. The results showed that the commercial Nafion membrane has better water vapor permeability and selectivity. They are suitable for filtration with water vapor and air. Meanwhile, Nafion membrane has promising potential in the dehumidification process.

Keywords: vacuum membrane dehumidification, planar membrane dehumidifier, water vapour and air permeability, air conditioning

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16 Preliminary Study of Desiccant Cooling System under Algerian Climates

Authors: N. Hatraf, N. Moummi


The interest in air conditioning using renewable energies is increasing. The thermal energy produced from the solar energy can be converted to useful cooling and heating through the thermochemical or thermophysical processes by using thermally activated energy conversion systems. The ambient air contains so much water that very high dehumidification rates are required. For a continuous dehumidification of the process air, the water adsorbed on the desiccant material has to be removed, which is done by allowing hot air to flow through the desiccant material (regeneration). A solid desiccant cooling system transfers moisture from the inlet air to the silica gel by using two processes: Absorption process and the regeneration process. The main aim of this paper is to study how the dehumidification rate, the generation temperature and many other factors influence the efficiency of a solid desiccant system by using TRNSYS software. The results show that the desiccant system could be used to decrease the humidity rate of the entering air.

Keywords: dehumidification, efficiency, humidity, Trnsys

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15 Experimental Study on Dehumidification Performance of Supersonic Nozzle

Authors: Esam Jassim


Supersonic nozzles are commonly used to purify natural gas in gas processing technology. As an innovated technology, it is employed to overcome the deficit of the traditional method, related to gas dynamics, thermodynamics and fluid dynamics theory. An indoor test rig is built to study the dehumidification process of moisture fluid. Humid air was chosen for the study. The working fluid was circulating in an open loop, which had provision for filtering, metering, and humidifying. A stainless steel supersonic separator is constructed together with the C-D nozzle system. The result shows that dehumidification enhances as NPR increases. This is due to the high intensity in the turbulence caused by the shock formation in the divergent section. Such disturbance strengthens the centrifugal force, pushing more particles toward the near-wall region. In return return, the pressure recovery factor, defined as the ratio of the outlet static pressure of the fluid to its inlet value, decreases with NPR.

Keywords: supersonic nozzle, dehumidification, particle separation, nozzle geometry

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14 A Theoretical Model for a Humidification Dehumidification (HD) Solar Desalination Unit

Authors: Yasser El-Henawy, M. Abd El-Kader, Gamal H. Moustafa


A theoretical study of a humidification dehumidification solar desalination unit has been carried out to increase understanding the effect of weather conditions on the unit productivity. A humidification-dehumidification (HD) solar desalination unit has been designed to provide fresh water for population in remote arid areas. It consists of solar water collector and air collector; to provide the hot water and air to the desalination chamber. The desalination chamber is divided into humidification and dehumidification towers. The circulation of air between the two towers is maintained by the forced convection. A mathematical model has been formulated, in which the thermodynamic relations were used to study the flow, heat and mass transfer inside the humidifier and dehumidifier. The present technique is performed in order to increase the unit performance. Heat and mass balance has been done and a set of governing equations has been solved using the finite difference technique. The unit productivity has been calculated along the working day during the summer and winter sessions and has compared with the available experimental results. The average accumulative productivity of the system in winter has been ranged between 2.5 to 4 kg/, while the average summer productivity has been found between 8 to 12 kg/m2 day.

Keywords: solar desalination, solar collector, humidification and dehumidification, simulation, finite difference, water productivity

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13 Study on the Heat Transfer Performance of the Annular Fin under Condensing Conditions

Authors: Abdenour Bourabaa, Malika Fekih, Mohamed Saighi


A numerical investigation of the fin efficiency and temperature distribution of an annular fin under dehumidification has been presented in this paper. The non-homogeneous second order differential equation that describes the temperature distribution from the fin base to the fin tip has been solved using the central finite difference method. The effects of variations in parameters including relative humidity, air temperature, air face velocity on temperature distribution and fin efficiency are investigated and compared with those under fully dry fin conditions. Also, the effect of fin pitch on the dimensionless temperature has been studied.

Keywords: annular fin, dehumidification, fin efficiency, heat and mass transfer, wet fin

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12 Feasibility Study of a Solar Solid Desiccant Cooling System in Algerian Areas

Authors: N. Hatraf, l. Merabeti, M. Abbas


The interest in air conditioning using renewable energies is increasing. The Thermal energy produced from the solar energy can be transformed to useful cooling and heating through the thermo chemical or thermo physical processes by using thermally activated energy conversion system. Solid desiccant conditioning systems can represent a reliable alternative solution compared with other thermal cooling technologies. Their basic characteristics refer to the capability to regulate both temperature and humidity of the conditioned space in one side and to its potential in electrical energy saving in the other side. The ambient air contains so much water that very high dehumidification rates are required. For a continuous dehumidification of the process air the water adsorbed on the desiccant material has to be removed, which is done by allowing hot air to flow through the desiccant material (regeneration). Basically, solid desiccant cooling system transfers moisture from the inlet air to the silica gel by using two processes: absorption process and the regeneration process; The silica gel in the desiccant wheel which is the most important device in the system absorbs the moisture from the incoming air to the desiccant material in this case the silica gel, then it changes the heat with an rotary heat exchanger, after that the air passes through an humidifier to have the humidity required before entering to the local. The main aim of this paper is to study how the dehumidification rate, the generation temperature and many other factors influence the efficiency of a solid desiccant system by using TRNSYS software.

Keywords: desiccation, dehumidification, TRNSYS, efficiency

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11 Mathematical Modelling of Biogas Dehumidification by Using of Counterflow Heat Exchanger

Authors: Staņislavs Gendelis, Andris Jakovičs, Jānis Ratnieks, Aigars Laizāns, Dāvids Vardanjans


Dehumidification of biogas at the biomass plants is very important to provide the energy efficient burning of biomethane at the outlet. A few methods are widely used to reduce the water content in biogas, e.g. chiller/heat exchanger based cooling, usage of different adsorbents like PSA, or the combination of such approaches. A quite different method of biogas dehumidification is offered and analyzed in this paper. The main idea is to direct the flow of biogas from the plant around it downwards; thus, creating additional insulation layer. As the temperature in gas shell layer around the plant will decrease from ~ 38°C to 20°C in the summer or even to 0°C in the winter, condensation of water vapor occurs. The water from the bottom of the gas shell can be collected and drain away. In addition, another upward shell layer is created after the condensate drainage place on the outer side to further reducing heat losses. Thus, counterflow biogas heat exchanger is created around the biogas plant. This research work deals with the numerical modelling of biogas flow, taking into account heat exchange and condensation on cold surfaces. Different kinds of boundary conditions (air and ground temperatures in summer/winter) and various physical properties of constructions (insulation between layers, wall thickness) are included in the model to make it more general and useful for different biogas flow conditions. The complexity of this problem is fact, that the temperatures in both channels are conjugated in case of low thermal resistance between layers. MATLAB programming language is used for multiphysical model development, numerical calculations and result visualization. Experimental installation of a biogas plant’s vertical wall with an additional 2 layers of polycarbonate sheets with the controlled gas flow was set up to verify the modelling results. Gas flow at inlet/outlet, temperatures between the layers and humidity were controlled and measured during a number of experiments. Good correlation with modelling results for vertical wall section allows using of developed numerical model for an estimation of parameters for the whole biogas dehumidification system. Numerical modelling of biogas counterflow heat exchanger system placed on the plant’s wall for various cases allows optimizing of thickness for gas layers and insulation layer to ensure necessary dehumidification of the gas under different climatic conditions. Modelling of system’s defined configuration with known conditions helps to predict the temperature and humidity content of the biogas at the outlet.

Keywords: biogas dehumidification, numerical modelling, condensation, biogas plant experimental model

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10 Specification Requirements for a Combined Dehumidifier/Cooling Panel: A Global Scale Analysis

Authors: Damien Gondre, Hatem Ben Maad, Abdelkrim Trabelsi, Frédéric Kuznik, Joseph Virgone


The use of a radiant cooling solution would enable to lower cooling needs which is of great interest when the demand is initially high (hot climate). But, radiant systems are not naturally compatibles with humid climates since a low-temperature surface leads to condensation risks as soon as the surface temperature is close to or lower than the dew point temperature. A radiant cooling system combined to a dehumidification system would enable to remove humidity for the space, thereby lowering the dew point temperature. The humidity removal needs to be especially effective near the cooled surface. This requirement could be fulfilled by a system using a single desiccant fluid for the removal of both excessive heat and moisture. This task aims at providing an estimation of the specification requirements of such system in terms of cooling power and dehumidification rate required to fulfill comfort issues and to prevent any condensation risk on the cool panel surface. The present paper develops a preliminary study on the specification requirements, performances and behavior of a combined dehumidifier/cooling ceiling panel for different operating conditions. This study has been carried using the TRNSYS software which allows nodal calculations of thermal systems. It consists of the dynamic modeling of heat and vapor balances of a 5m x 3m x 2.7m office space. In a first design estimation, this room is equipped with an ideal heating, cooling, humidification and dehumidification system so that the room temperature is always maintained in between 21C and 25C with a relative humidity in between 40% and 60%. The room is also equipped with a ventilation system that includes a heat recovery heat exchanger and another heat exchanger connected to a heat sink. Main results show that the system should be designed to meet a cooling power of 42W.m−2 and a desiccant rate of 45 gH2O.h−1. In a second time, a parametric study of comfort issues and system performances has been achieved on a more realistic system (that includes a chilled ceiling) under different operating conditions. It enables an estimation of an acceptable range of operating conditions. This preliminary study is intended to provide useful information for the system design.

Keywords: dehumidification, nodal calculation, radiant cooling panel, system sizing

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9 Energy Saving in Handling the Air-Conditioning Latent-Load Using a Liquid Desiccant Air Conditioner: Parametric Experimental Analysis

Authors: Mustafa Jaradat


Reasonable energy saving for dehumidification is feasible with the use of desiccants. Desiccants are able to lower the humidity content in the air irrespective of the dew point temperature. In this paper, a tube bundle liquid desiccant air conditioner was experimentally designed and evaluated using lithium chloride as a desiccant. Several experiments were conducted to evaluate the influence of the inlet parameters on the dehumidifier performance. The results show a reduction in the relative humidity in the range of 17 to 46%, and the change in the humidity ratio was between 1.5 to 4.7 g/kg, depending on the inlet conditions. A water removal rate in the range between 0.54 and 1.67 kg/h was observed. The effects of air relative humidity and the desiccant flow rate on the dehumidifier’s performance were investigated. It was found that the moisture removal rate remarkably increased with increasing desiccant flow rate and air inlet humidity ratio. The dehumidifier effectiveness increased sharply with increasing desiccant flow rate. Also, it was found that the dehumidifier effectiveness slightly decreased with air humidity ratio.

Keywords: air conditioning, dehumidification, desiccant, lithium chloride, tube bundle

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8 Efficient Liquid Desiccant Regeneration for Fresh Air Dehumidification Application

Authors: M. V. Rane, Tareke Tekia


Fresh Air Dehumidifier having a capacity of 1 TR has been developed by Heat Pump Laboratory at IITB. This fresh air dehumidifier is based on potassium formate liquid desiccant. The regeneration of the liquid desiccant can be done in two stages. The first stage of liquid desiccant regeneration involves the boiling of liquid desiccant inside the evacuated glass type solar thermal collectors. Further regeneration of liquid desiccant can be achieved using Low Temperature Regenerator, LTR. The coefficient of performance of the fresh air dehumidifier greatly depends on the performance of the major components such as high temperature regenerator, low temperature regenerator, fresh air dehumidifier, and solution heat exchangers. High effectiveness solution heat exchanger has been developed and tested. The solution heat exchanger is based on a patented aluminium extrusion with special passage geometry to enhance the heat transfer rate. Effectiveness up to 90% was achieved. Before final testing of the dehumidifier, major components have been tested individually. Testing of the solar thermal collector as hot water and steam generator reveals that efficiency up to 55% can be achieved. In this paper, the development of 1 TR fresh air dehumidifier with special focus on solution heat exchangers and solar thermal collector performance is presented.

Keywords: solar, liquid desiccant, dehumidification, air conditioning, regeneration, coefficient of performance

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7 Regeneration of a Liquid Desiccant Using Membrane Distillation to Unlock Coastal Desert Agriculture Potential

Authors: Kimberly J. Cribbs, Ryan M. Lefers, TorOve Leiknes, Noreddine Ghaffour


In Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, domestic agriculture is hindered by a lack of freshwater, poor soil quality, and ambient temperatures unsuitable for cultivation resulting in a heavy reliance on imported food. Attempts to minimize the risk of food insecurity by growing crops domestically creates a significant demand on limited freshwater resources in this region. Cultivating food in a greenhouse allows some of these challenges, such as poor soil quality and temperatures unsuitable for cultivation, to be overcome. One of the most common methods for greenhouse cooling is evaporative cooling. This method cools the air by the evaporation of water and requires a large amount of water relative to that needed for plant growth and air with a low relative humidity. Considering that much of the population in GCC countries live within 100 km of a coast and that sea water can be utilized for evaporative cooling, coastal agriculture could reduce the risk of food insecurity and water demand. Unfortunately, coastal regions tend to experience both high temperatures and high relative humidity causing evaporative cooling by itself to be inadequate. Therefore, dehumidification is needed prior to utilizing evaporative cooling. Utilizing a liquid desiccant for air dehumidification is promising, but the desiccant regeneration to retain its dehumidification potential remains a significant obstacle for the adoption of this technology. This project studied the regeneration of a magnesium chloride (MgCl₂) desiccant solution from 20wt% to 30wt% by direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) and explored the possibility of using the recovered water for irrigation. Two 0.2 µm hydrophobic PTFE membranes were tested at feed temperatures of 80, 70, and 60°C and with a permeate temperature of 20°C. It was observed that the permeate flux increases as the difference between the feed and coolant temperature increases and also as the feed concentration decreases. At 21wt% the permeate flux was 34,17, and 14 L m⁻² h⁻¹ for feed temperatures of 80, 70, and 60°C, respectively. Salt rejection decreased overtime; however, it remained greater than 99.9% over an experimental time span of 10 hours. The results show that DCMD can successfully regenerate the magnesium chloride desiccant solution.

Keywords: agriculture, direct contact membrane distillation, GCC countries, liquid desiccant, water recovery

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6 Solar Liquid Desiccant Regenerator for Two Stage KCOOH Based Fresh Air Dehumidifier

Authors: M. V. Rane, Tareke Tekia


Liquid desiccant based fresh air dehumidifiers can be gainfully deployed for air-conditioning, agro-produce drying and in many industrial processes. Regeneration of liquid desiccant can be done using direct firing, high temperature waste heat or solar energy. Solar energy is clean and available in abundance; however, it is costly to collect. A two stage liquid desiccant fresh air dehumidification system can offer Coefficient of Performance (COP), in the range of 1.6 to 2 for comfort air conditioning applications. High COP helps reduce the size and cost of collectors required. Performance tests on high temperature regenerator of a two stage liquid desiccant fresh air dehumidifier coupled with seasonally tracked flat plate like solar collector will be presented in this paper. The two stage fresh air dehumidifier has four major components: High Temperature Regenerator (HTR), Low Temperature Regenerator (LTR), High and Low Temperature Solution Heat Exchangers and Fresh Air Dehumidifier (FAD). This open system can operate at near atmospheric pressure in all the components. These systems can be simple, maintenance-free and scalable. Environmentally benign, non-corrosive, moderately priced Potassium Formate, KCOOH, is used as a liquid desiccant. Typical KCOOH concentration in the system is expected to vary between 65 and 75%. Dilute liquid desiccant at 65% concentration exiting the fresh air dehumidifier will be pumped and preheated in solution heat exchangers before entering the high temperature solar regenerator. In the solar collector, solution will be regenerated to intermediate concentration of 70%. Steam and saturated solution exiting the solar collector array will be separated. Steam at near atmospheric pressure will then be used to regenerate the intermediate concentration solution up to a concentration of 75% in a low temperature regenerator where moisture vaporized be released in to atmosphere. Condensed steam can be used as potable water after adding a pinch of salt and some nutrient. Warm concentrated liquid desiccant will be routed to solution heat exchanger to recycle its heat to preheat the weak liquid desiccant solution. Evacuated glass tube based seasonally tracked solar collector is used for regeneration of liquid desiccant at high temperature. Temperature of regeneration for KCOOH is 133°C at 70% concentration. The medium temperature collector was designed for temperature range of 100 to 150°C. Double wall polycarbonate top cover helps reduce top losses. Absorber integrated heat storage helps stabilize the temperature of liquid desiccant exiting the collectors during intermittent cloudy conditions, and extends the operation of the system by couple of hours beyond the sunshine hours. This solar collector is light in weight, 12 kg/m2 without absorber integrated heat storage material, and 27 kg/m2 with heat storage material. Cost of the collector is estimated to be 10,000 INR/m2. Theoretical modeling of the collector has shown that the optical efficiency is 62%. Performance test of regeneration of KCOOH will be reported.

Keywords: solar, liquid desiccant, dehumidification, air conditioning, regeneration

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5 Experimental Investigation of Counter-Flow Ranque–Hilsch Vortex Tube Using Humid Air

Authors: Hussein M. Maghrabie, M. Attalla, Hany. A. Mohamed, M. Salem, E. Specht


An experimental investigation is carried out on counter-flow Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube (RHVT). The present work is carried out to study the effect of nozzle aspect ratio, tube length and the inlet pressure (P_i) on the coefficient of performance and energy separation of a RHVT. Further, the effect of moist air with different relative humidity (RH) 40, 60, 80 % is also achieved. The air relative humidity is adjusted using air humidification/dehumidification unit. The experimental study accomplished for number of nozzle N=6, with inner diameter D=7.5 mm., and length of the vortex tube (L) 75, 97.5, and 112.5 mm. The results show that the relative humidity has a significant effect on coefficient of performance and energy separation of a RHVT.

Keywords: COP, counter-flow Ranque–Hilsch vortex tube, energy separation, humid air

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4 The IVAIRE Study: Relative Performance of Energy and Heat Recovery Ventilators in Cold Climates

Authors: D. Aubin, D. Won, H. Schleibinger, P. Lajoie, D. Gauvin, J.-M. Leclerc


This paper describes the results obtained in a two-year randomized intervention field study investigating the impact of ventilation rates on indoor air quality (IAQ) and the respiratory health of asthmatic children in Québec City, Canada. The focus of this article is on the comparative effectiveness of heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) at increasing ventilation rates, improving IAQ, and maintaining an acceptable indoor relative humidity (RH). In 14% of the homes, the RH was found to be too low in winter. Providing more cold and dry outside air to under-ventilated homes in winter further reduces indoor RH. Thus, low-RH homes in the intervention group were chosen to receive ERVs (instead of HRVs) to increase the ventilation rate. The installation of HRVs or ERVs led to a near doubling of the ventilation rates in the intervention group homes which led to a significant reduction in the concentration of several key of pollutants. The ERVs were also effective in maintaining an acceptable indoor RH since they avoided excessive dehumidification of the home by recovering moisture from the exhaust airstream through the enthalpy core, otherwise associated with increased cold supply air rates.

Keywords: asthma, field study, indoor air quality, ventilation

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3 Energy Saving Potential of a Desiccant-Based Indirect-Direct Evaporative Cooling System

Authors: Amirreza Heidari, Akram Avami, Ehsan Heidari


Evaporative cooling systems are known as energy efficient cooling systems, with much lower electricity consumption than conventional vapor compression systems. A serious limitation of these systems, however, is that they are not applicable in humid regions. Combining a desiccant wheel with these systems, known as desiccant-based evaporative cooling systems, makes it possible to use evaporative cooling in humid climates. This paper evaluates the performane of a cooling system combining desiccant wheel, direct and indirect evaporative coolers (called desiccant-based indirect-direct evaporative cooling (DIDE) system) and then evaluates the energy saving potential of this system over the conventional vapor compression cooling and drying system. To illustrate the system ability of providing comfort conditions, a dynamic hourly simulation of this system is performed for a typical 60 m² building in Sydney, Australia. To evaluate the energy saving potential of this system, a conventional cooling and drying system is also simulated for the same cooling capacity. It has been found that the DIE system is able to provide comfort temperature and relative humidity in a subtropical humid climate like Sydney. The electricity and natural gas consumption of this system are respectively 39.2% and 2.6% lower than that of conventional system over a week. As the research has demonstrated, the innovative DIDE system is an energy efficient cooling system for subtropical humid regions.

Keywords: desiccant, evaporative cooling, dehumidification, indirect evaporative cooler

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2 Multilayer Thermal Screens for Greenhouse Insulation

Authors: Clara Shenderey, Helena Vitoshkin, Mordechai Barak, Avraham Arbel


Greenhouse cultivation is an energy-intensive process due to the high demands on cooling or heating according to external climatic conditions, which could be extreme in the summer or winter seasons. The thermal radiation rate inside a greenhouse depends mainly on the type of covering material and greenhouse construction. Using additional thermal screens under a greenhouse covering combined with a dehumidification system improves the insulation and could be cost-effective. Greenhouse covering material usually contains protective ultraviolet (UV) radiation additives to prevent the film wear, insect harm, and crop diseases. This paper investigates the overall heat transfer coefficient, or U-value, for greenhouse polyethylene covering contains UV-additives and glass covering with or without a thermal screen supplement. The hot-box method was employed to evaluate overall heat transfer coefficients experimentally as a function of the type and number of the thermal screens. The results show that the overall heat transfer coefficient decreases with increasing the number of thermal screens as a hyperbolic function. The overall heat transfer coefficient highly depends on the ability of the material to reflect thermal radiation. Using a greenhouse covering, i.e., polyethylene films or glass, in combination with high reflective thermal screens, i.e., containing about 98% of aluminum stripes or aluminum foil, the U-value reduces by 61%-89% in the first case, whereas by 70%-92% in the second case, depending on the number of the thermal screen. Using thermal screens made from low reflective materials may reduce the U-value by 30%-57%. The heat transfer coefficient is an indicator of the thermal insulation properties of the materials, which allows farmers to make decisions on the use of appropriate thermal screens depending on the external and internal climate conditions in a greenhouse.

Keywords: energy-saving thermal screen, greenhouse cover material, heat transfer coefficient, hot box

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1 Influence of Bacterial Biofilm on the Corrosive Processes in Electronic Equipment

Authors: Iryna P. Dzieciuch, Michael D. Putman


Humidity is known to degrade Navy ship electronic equipment, especially in hot moist environments. If left untreated, it can cause significant and permanent damage. Even rigorous inspection and frequent clean-up would not prevent further equipment contamination and degradation because of the constant presence of favorable growth conditions for many microorganisms. Generally, relative humidity levels of less than 60% will inhibit corrosion in electronic equipment, but because NAVY electronics often operate in hot and humid environments, prevention via dehumidification is not always possible. Currently, there is no defined research that fully describes key mechanisms which cause electronics and its coating degradation. The corrosive action of most bacteria is mainly developed through (i) mycelium adherence to the metal plates, (ii) facilitation the formation of pitting areas, (iii) production of organic acids such as citric, iso-citric, cis-aconitic, alpha-ketoglutaric, which are corrosive to electronic equipment and its components. Our approach studies corrosive action in electronic equipment: circuit-board, wires and connections that are exposed in the humid environment that gets worse during condensation. In our new approach the technical task is built on work with the bacterial communities in public areas, bacterial genetics, bioinformatics, biostatistics and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) of corroded circuit boards. Based on these methods, we collect and examine environmental samples from biofilms of the corroded and non-corroded sites, where bacterial contamination of electronic equipment, such as machine racks and shore boats, is an ongoing concern. Sample collection and sample analysis is focused on addressing the key questions identified above through the following tasks: laboratory sample processing and evaluation under scanning electron microscopy, initial sequencing and data evaluation; bioinformatics and data analysis. Preliminary results from scanning electron microscopy (SEM) have revealed that metal particulates and alloys in corroded samples consists mostly of Tin ( < 40%), Silicon ( < 4%), Sulfur ( < 1%), Aluminum ( < 2%), Magnesium ( < 2%), Copper ( < 1%), Bromine ( < 2%), Barium ( <1%) and Iron ( < 2%) elements. We have also performed X 12000 magnification of the same sites and that proved existence of undisrupted biofilm organelles and crystal structures. Non-corrosion sites have revealed high presence of copper ( < 47%); other metals remain at the comparable level as on the samples with corrosion. We have performed X 1000 magnification on the non-corroded at the sites and have documented formation of copper crystals. The next step of this study, is to perform metagenomics sequencing at all sites and to compare bacterial composition present in the environment. While copper is nontoxic to the living organisms, the process of bacterial adhesion creates acidic environment by releasing citric, iso-citric, cis-aconitic, alpha-ketoglutaric acidics, which in turn release copper ions Cu++, which that are highly toxic to the bacteria and higher order living organisms. This phenomenon, might explain natural “antibiotic” properties that are lacking in elements such as tin. To prove or deny this hypothesis we will use next - generation sequencing (NGS) methods to investigate types and growth cycles of bacteria that from bacterial biofilm the on corrosive and non-corrosive samples.

Keywords: bacteria, biofilm, circuit board, copper, corrosion, electronic equipment, organic acids, tin

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