Gas-to-Steam Humidifier Helps Museum Preserve Artifacts, Reduce Energy Costs

April 1, 2010
Unit provides chemical-free, low-cost humidification

Dedicated to the memory of Glenn H. Curtiss, who in 1908 manned the first pre-announced public flight in America, the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, N.Y., is filled with hundreds of historical artifacts. Made of a variety of materials (wood, canvas, fabric, paint), those artifacts are subject to cracking, chipping, peeling, and distortion without the right amount of humidity — ideally, 40- to 60-percent relative humidity (RH). The museum, however, lacked a humidification system, and RH hovered between 3 and 10 percent.

Looking to maintain a RH level of at least 40 percent with minimal (±3 percent) fluctuation, Jim White, the museum's engineer, began a search for a humidification system.

“My first consideration was to find a system that could handle a large area, yet fit in the limited floor space I had available,” White said.

White explored several options, including an electric humidifier with disposable cylinders. But “I knew that would be … expensive to operate and maintain,” White said.

Brian Willamson of R.L. Kistler suggested a steam-to-steam humidification system. Such a system provides chemical-free steam to a space. Because boiler steam is the heat source, energy costs are low. There was just one problem: The museum did not have a boiler.

“We knew the steam-to-steam product would work for the museum,” Willamson said, “but in order to operate the system, they would have to invest in a boiler, and we just didn't want them to have to make that extra investment.”

Because the museum had natural gas as an energy source, Willamson told White about the DRI-STEEM GTS gas-to-steam humidifier. The GTS could provide chemical-free, low-cost humidification with the control the museum required and fit in the space allotted without additional equipment.

“What excited me most about the GTS was the fact that it was a direct-fired, stand-alone unit that could be provided with an area-type steam-distribution system designed to distribute steam in large spaces without ductwork,” White said. “And I was certainly excited about the lower energy costs we would incur by using natural gas instead of electricity.”

White added: “I thought we may need to add one more unit to humidify the 2,000-cfm continuous outdoor air supplied by our rooftop air conditioners, but we're up and running at ideal RH levels.”

Information and photograph courtesy of DRI-STEEM Corp.
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