Dehumidification Key to America`s Cup
Lisa A. Coleman
San Diego, CA–Team Dennis Conner is using cleanroom technology on its bid to retain the coveted America`s Cup sailing trophy. Dehumidification units from Munters Corp.`s Cargocaire Division (Amesbury, MA) are helping reduce the weight of the team`s boat, Stars & Stripes.
Munters Model HCD-600 and HCD-2250 are being used to remove water from the ship and its sails. When Stars & Stripes reaches the dock after a race for the Citizen`s Cup (the defender races for the America`s Cup), the boat is hoisted in the air, the sails are removed and the dehumidification unit begins its work.
“Humidity affects just about everything you can think about. Mostly its fairly benign but in many cases it has some significance,” says David McDougall, sales manager for Munters Corp. Cargocaire Division. “Now, Team Dennis Conner is using dehumidification to keep the weight out of the boat.” In this case, the extra water weight could mean the difference between winning and losing. The salt-water moisture is removed from the sails and the boat`s hull making for a lighter and, therefore, more competitive ship. Although the salt remains behind, it is rendered inert. The dehumidification also protects the electronics.
The Munters dehumidification units dry the sails and the ship overnight using a desiccant–material that easily attracts and holds water because it is especially effective in removing moisture from the air at low humidity levels. In Munters` units, the desiccant is impregnated into a corrugated composite material that is formed into a wheel. Rotating slowly between the air streams, the wheel absorbs, then gives off, moisture that is carried away by one of the streams. The rotary desiccant wheel was invented by Munters in 1958.
McDougall acknowledges that using cleanroom technology for a sailboat is unusual. However, “it was a lot of fun,” he admits. Munters` President Craig Fillman loaned Team Dennis Conner the dehumidification equipment in the last America`s Cup campaign “just for the fun of it,” says McDougall. “They started using it and really loved it. The other teams spied on them, saw our equipment and that`s how we rented a bunch of dehumidifiers.” Munters` units were also used in manufacturing the composite material for Stars & Stripes. n