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ROTRONIC TECHNICAL NOTE

Dew Point Temperature


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is dew point


temperature?
A. Dew point temperature (com-
monly referred to as ‘dew point’ or
‘dewpoint’) is the temperature at
which water vapor in any gas at
constant pressure begins to con-
dense into liquid water at the same
rate as it evaporates. If the air tem-
perature is equal to or below the
dewpoint, water condensation will
occur meaning water vapor will
transform from the vapor state into
the liquid state. Condensed water
will appear as dew on a surface and Industrial air compressors require reliable dew point measurement.
may also appear as a cloud or fog
suspended in the air. fairly common to measure the dif-
When the air temperature is ference between ambient tempera-
equal to the dew point temperature, ture and the dew point temperature.
the air is at the saturation point and The alarm point for condensation,
the relative humidity is 100%. The for example, can be set at a differ-
greater the difference between air ence of 10 degrees between ambi-
temperature and dewpoint, the ent temperature and dewpoint.
lower is the relative humidity. Dewpoint is also an ideal meas-
urement for very dry conditions
(<10% relative humidity). Dewpoint
Q What is frost point? Desiccant dryers for compressed air
can be equated to the absolute
typically operate at -40° frost point.
A. Frost point is the temperature amount of water vapor present as
(usually below 0°C or 32°F) at which long as the air pressure remains
water vapor condenses as frost Q. When should I choose constant. Most direct dewpoint
instead of liquid water. A more sci- measurement technologies are
dew point as the
entific definition; frost point is the more suited to measuring very low
temperature at which air is saturated parameter I measure? amounts of moisture compared to
with respect to water vapor over a A. Dewpoint is an ideal measure- relative humidity measurement
surface of ice. Frost point will be a ment when your goal is to avoid technology.
different measurement than dew- continued
condensation or to know when
point below 0C. condensation is about to occur. It is

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ROTRONIC TECHNICAL NOTE

Dewpoint is also ideal for com-


pressed air systems because con- OPTICAL BALANCE
densation is a concern as the air is
compressed in the system. The
dewpoint changes with pressure
which can create condensation in
the compressed air system.

Q. What are the pros


and cons of measuring
dew point versus relative SAMPLE FLOW

IMAGE SOURCE - THUNDER SCIENTIFIC


humidity?
A. Dewpoint measurement tech- 115 VAC

nology is usually more expensive


and more accurate than relative LED
THERMOELECTRIC
HEAT PUMP
humidity measurement technology REGULATION 20.01 POWER
at low dewpoints. Dewpoint sensor
115 VAC
reaction time is usually slower than DEW POINT TEMPERATURE
relative humidity sensor reaction
time. In some cases, dewpoint sen- Schematic of conventional chilled mirror sensor.
sors can take several hours to settle
where RH sensors may take only a
few minutes. Some dewpoint sen- ambient temperature (exception will become relatively dryer as the
sors are highly sensitive to contam- noted above). Only changes in difference between dew point and
ination in dirty process air causing pressure or the actual amount of ambient temperature increases.
frequent calibration and sensor water vapor present will affect the This is why systems that are main-
maintenance. dewpoint. tained in a vacuum state are typi-
cally very dry.
Q. Does the dew point Q. How does pressure
change when the system affect dew point Q. What are the most
temperature changes? measurement? common types of
technology for measuring
A. No. Dewpoint will not change A. As the pressure of a system
as the system temperature changes increases, the dew point tempera- dew point?
below the saturation point. If the ture will rise and approach satura- A. The condensation hygrometer
system temperature is at or below tion. Dewpoint is a common or chilled mirror is the most well
the dewpoint temperature in a measure in compressed air sys- known technology for dew point.
closed system, the dewpoint will tems because it is possible to reach The chilled mirror is a direct meas-
change because water vapor is the saturation point and introduce urement of the dew point tempera-
removed from the air. It is a com- liquid water into the compressed ture as compared to a calculated
mon misconception that changes in air by simply increasing the pres- measurement achieved with a rela-
temperature will affect the dew- sure. As the pressure of a system is tive humidity sensor. Chilled mirror
point. It is important to remember decreased, the dew point tempera-
that dewpoint is independent of the ture becomes lower and the gas continued

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ROTRONIC TECHNICAL NOTE

technology is very precise, very Q. How do I know Q. Where can I buy a


expensive and requires technical
expertise as well as high mainte-
which technology is best dewpoint instrument?
nance of the instrument. for my application? A. Rotronic Instruments offers a
Another common technology is line of dewpoint instruments
A. Your choice of technology will
to measure relative humidity and including portable meters and fixed
depend on several factors including
temperature to calculate the dew transmitters. The Rotronic dew
your objective for the measurement,
point temperature with accepted point probe uses a relative humidity
the amount of water vapor present,
scientific formulae. For this type of sensor and a temperature sensor to
the ambient temperature and pres-
technology to be accurate in dry calculate the dew point tempera-
sure, the level of contaminants
conditions, the sensor must be ture at a fixed pressure. An
present in the gas and your budget.
enhanced with additional technology advanced, proprietary algorithm
It’s best to consult with a measure-
or processing software. allows the Rotronic technology to
ment expert or engineer to deter-
Aluminum oxide is another measure in very dry conditions (as
mine the best technology for your
common technology which is very low as -70°C dew point. <5ppm
particular application. It is fairly easy
effective in environments with trace water vapor, <.02% RH). Visit
to choose the wrong technology in
amounts of water vapor and dew- www.rotronic-usa.com/dewpoint
critical applications causing signifi-
points as low as -100°C. However, to learn more about the Rotronic
cant problems in sensitive processes.
this technology is not reliable as dewpoint instruments.
moisture increases or in dirty
process gas streams.

Q. Isn’t dew point


temperature the same as
wet bulb temperature?
A. This is a common misconcep-
tion and is both true and false. Wet
bulb temperature is equal to dew
point temperature when the air is
saturated. At any other point below
saturation, the two measurements
are very different. The measure-
ments are also made using very
different technologies.

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Tel. 631-427-3898 • Fax. 631-427-3902 • info@rotronic-usa.com
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