Munters ensures air handling unit is shipshape

EC fan upgrades at SS Great Britain will save energy and protect against corrosion

Munters, leaders in energy efficient climate control, have completed a pioneering upgrade of the dry dock air handling unit (AHU) at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, in Bristol.

The upgrade, which was done in one day, ensures long-term protection against corrosion and reduces AHU fan energy consumption by 25-30%. Built-in redundancy also prevents airflow loss, for optimised performance.

SS Great Britain was the world’s first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner, and – in the early 2000s – Munters was part of a wider project to preserve the hull.

This included installing a specially designed AHU, with Munters’ desiccant rotor technology, in the dry dock. ‘Looking after the ship and conserving the original iron is the most important thing that we do,’ said Nicola Grahamslaw, conservation engineer for SS Great Britain. ‘By ensuring the air around the ship is kept at 20% relative humidity, we can stop the ship from rusting. This keeps her structurally safe for many years to come.’

With the belt-driven fan coming to the end of its expected life, Munters has upgraded the AHU with three electronically commutated (EC), direct-drive plug fans from ebm-papst.

It designed a bespoke bulk head so the new fans could be brought in in component form, flat packed, retrofitted in a fan-wall configuration, and digitally integrated into the ship’s control system.

Minimising downtime to a single day was critical to prevent the ship being exposed to humid air. Greg Frazer, of Munters service sales, said: ‘This upgrade brings cutting-edge technology into the original dehumidifier with minimal disruption. There is little maintenance, and predicted energy savings for the fan are 25-30%.’

The SS Great Britain Trust has committed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and conserving the ship is one of the biggest energy consumers.

‘What you do has to be sustainable,’ said Grahamslaw. ‘Every time we tweak the system, we are thinking about our carbon footprint, and learning how we can make that energy requirement as small as we possibly can on our journey to net zero.’

To view a video of the AHU upgrade, visit here.

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