Controlling the humidity in your cleanroom may be crucial to meet government and company specifications and protect the integrity of your processes and product.
If the humidity is too high, bacterial growth can flourish, metal products or equipment can corrode, photolithographic degradation can occur, and condensation and water absorption can occur. This can cause real issues for processes with moisture-sensitive products, like semiconductor manufacturers.
If the humidity is too low, static buildup and discharge can become an issue, possibly causing shorts for products in electronics cleanrooms. Plus, poorly controlled humidity can make working conditions uncomfortable for your employees.
So, what are some of the methods you can use to control humidity in your cleanroom? In this blog, the experts at Angstrom Technology are here to answer that question.
Air conditioning/mechanical refrigeration
Humidity is relative, meaning that the lower the temperature is, the lower the relative humidity is. It makes sense then that lowering a cleanroom’s temperature will decrease humidity. When using air conditioning systems to dehumidify a space, the system reduces the temperature of a surface within the condenser unit to a temperature below the dew point of the airstream in the cleanroom. That surface is then exposed to the airstream in the cleanroom, and the water vapor in the airstream condenses, subsequently dehumidifying the space. The air must be re-heated to the desired room temperature and piped back into the cleanroom.
Desiccant systems draw air through a desiccant medium, which adsorbs moisture. The dehumidified air is then routed to the cleanroom. Consumer-grade desiccant systems collect condensate in a receptacle that must be emptied. On the other hand, commercial systems exhaust humid air through the ductwork out of the building. Vented systems can dehumidify to lower relative humidity levels at lower temperatures.
These systems are not mutually exclusive. In fact, where temperature control is also important, they work best when used in conjunction. Using a desiccant system in addition to air conditioning can also help reduce the load on the HVAC system, saving energy, wear and tear on the HVAC system, and, of course, money.
Humidity control is critical in some cleanroom applications, such as semiconductor manufacturing and pharmaceutical manufacturing, but it is an important consideration regardless of your application. Monitoring and controlling your cleanroom humidity, whether through air conditioning or mechanical refrigeration, a desiccant system, or both, is necessary to meet your cleanroom’s specifications and to ensure cleanroom integrity.
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