Tag Archives: accuracy

CO2 and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor Air Quality in General

The quality of the air in a room can greatly affect the health, productivity, and well being of any occupants. Previously the temperature and humidity of indoor air were considered as the most important parameters contributing to air quality, but there are several other factors which must be taken into account.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems are very often caused by gases or particles released into the air by pollution sources. This can be avoided by carefully selecting the materials which are to be used inside dwellings, offices, classrooms, gymnasiums, hotels, shopping malls, hospitals and in all en-closed spaces which are inhabited. But there is another source of air pollution, which cannot be avoided. this other source is people themselves. Every time a person exhales, CO2 is released. Inadequate ventilation may increase CO2 concentration to an unhealthy or even life-threatening level.


CO2: made up of 2 oxygen atoms, double bonded to a single carbon atom.

The most important control parameters for a good Indoor Air Quality are temperature, relative humidity and CO2 concentration. If these values are used with an intelligent air conditioning system, an energy efficient air supply can be used to produce a high quality atmosphere.

Facts & figures:

CO2 is a naturally occurring molecule consisting of two oxygen atoms and a single carbon atom.

At standard temperature and pressure CO2 is a gas, invisible and without any smell or taste.

CO2 is 50% heavier than air and has no liquid state under atmospheric pressure.

In the earth’s atmosphere CO2 has a concentration of 390 ppm by volume.

The worldwide industry produces approximately 36 billion tons of CO2 per year.

Industrial activities are responsible for an increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration and thus for an increase of global warming (greenhouse effect).

Influence of CO2 on Humans

Only a small amount of the atmosphere is made up of CO2, the prevailing components are nitrogen and oxygen. The natural outdoor atmosphere CO2 level is approx. 390 ppm. Increasing this concentration causes several symptoms of poisoning, ranging from drowsiness at around 1´000ppm to unconsciousness and even death at above 10´000 ppm. Even if a  rise in CO2 concentration has not yet severely influenced the health of people, it may reduce their productivity, efficiency and well-being.



Some of the possible health effects

How to Measure CO2

The most common measuring method for CO2 concentration nowadays is based on a spectroscopic principle. Sending infrared light (IR) with a wave length of 4.23 μm through a gas sample. CO2 molecules in the sample absorb the light at this wavelength. an IR sensor is then used to detect any changes in the energy levels of the light after passing through the sample. The more C)2 in the sample, the more of the light that will be absorbed, and the weaker the IR signal will be when it reaches the sensor.


Example of an IR CO2 sensor

The sensitivity of a CO2 sensor increases with the length of the light path through the sample gas. Thus the sensor used in Rotronic CO2 measuring devices makes use of multiple reflections of the IR beam on the walls of the probe chamber. this means the small CO2 sensor (2.5 cm x 5 cm) has a measuring path length of 12.5 cm and is accordingly sensitive. This type of sensor is called a NDIR (Non Dispersive Infra Red) sensor. This means that a broadband IR light source is used and the measured wavelength is filtered out at the end of the beam in front of the IR detector.

Why the Need to Measure CO2

New energy efficient demands lead to more airtight buildings and ventilation being completely turned off at night. Intelligent HVAC systems must be able to adapt themselves to situations with changing occupants of rooms. One answer is Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) with built-in CO2 sensors. By using DCV, huge amounts of energy can be saved without any drawback for the occupants. According to a study of the UN Climate Panel 40-50% of world energy is used in buildings. Only the adoption of the EU Directive on Energy Efficient Buildings would result in saving 30-45 MT of CO2/year. As HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is responsible 40-65% of energy usage in commercial and public buildings, a balance between comfort and energy saving must be found.


A large HVAC system

One example demonstrates the evidence of CO2 controlled room ventilation. The exhaled air of a human contains up to 40´000 ppm CO2. In one hour a person breathes out 15 litres of CO2. Thus in a classroom with a volume of 200 m³ occupied by 25 pupils the CO2 concentration increases in one hour by 1´875 ppm!

Especially in wine cellars, breweries, the beverage industry and other industries in which CO2 may be produced or processed the constant measuring of CO2 concentration is absolutely vital to prevent a deadly threat to the employees. This is not only a rational procedure but is also enforced by official regulations in nearly every developed country.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Wind Turbines

Its been pretty windy recently, So wind farms are probably doing quite well at the moment. The biggest wind farm in the world, at the moment, is the London array, which can produce 630MW of power.

Wind Energy in General

The future is very encouraging for wind power. The technology is growing exponentially due to the current power crisis and the ongoing discussions about nuclear power plants. Wind turbines are becoming more efficient and are able to produce increased electricity capacity given the same factors.

Facts & figures:

There is over 200 GW (Giga Watts) of installed wind energy capacity in the world.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has forecasted a global capacity of 2,300 GW by 2030. This will cover up to 22% of the global power consumption.

Converting wind power into electrical power:

A wind turbine converts the kinetic energy of wind into rotational mechanical energy. This energy is directly converted, by a generator, into electrical energy. Large wind turbines typically have a generator installed on top of the tower. Commonly, there is also a gear box to adapt the speed. Various sensors for wind speed, humidity and temperature measurement are placed inside and outside to monitor the climate. A controller unit analyses the data and adjusts the yaw and pitch drives to the correct positions.

The formula for wind power density: 

W = d x A^2 x V^3 x C  

d: defines the density of the air. Typically it’s 1.225 Kg/m3. This is a value which can vary depending on air pressure, temperature and humidity.

A^2: defines the diameter of the turbine blades. This value is quite effective with its squared relationship. The larger a wind turbine is the more energy can be harnessed.

V^3: defines the velocity of the wind. The wind speed is the most effective value with its cubed relationship. In reality, the wind is never the same speed and a wind turbine is only efficient at certain wind speeds. Usually 10 mph (16 km/h) or greater is most effective. At high wind speed the wind turbine can break. The efficiency is therefore held to a constant of around 10 mph.

C: defines the constant which is normally 0.5 for metric values. This is actually a combination of two or more constants depending on the specific variables and the system of units that is used.


Why the need to measure the local climate?

To forecast the power of the wind over a few hours or days is not an easy task.

Wind farms can extend over miles of land or offshore areas where the climate and the wind speed can vary substantially,
especially in hilly areas. Positioning towers only slightly to the left or right can make a significant difference because the wind velocity can be increased due to the topography. Therefore, wind mapping has to be performed in order to determine if a location is correct for the wind farm. Such wind maps are usually done with Doppler radars which are equipped with stationary temperature and humidity sensors. These sensors improve the overall accuracy.

Once wind mapping has been carried out over different seasons, wind turbine positions can be determined. Each turbine will be equipped with sensors for wind direction, speed, temperature and humidity. All of these parameters, the turbine characteristics plus the weather forecast, can be used to make a prediction of the power of the turbine using complex mathematics.

wind-turbine-controlThere is a small weather station on the top of this wind turbine

The final power value will be calculated in “watts” which will be supplied into power grids. Electricity for many houses or factories can be powered by this green energy.

Why the need to measure inside a wind turbine?

Wind farms are normally installed in areas with harsh environments where strong winds are common. Salty air, high humidity and condensation are daily issues for wind turbines.

Normal ventilation is not sufficient to ensure continuous operation. The inside climate has to be monitored and dehumidified by desiccant to protect the electrical components against short circuits and the machinery against corrosion.

Internal measurements are required to ensure continuous operation and reduce maintenance costs of a wind farm.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                       Rotronic UK

Energy Efficiency and Reliability in Modern Data Centres


Data centres are rapidly becoming the power houses of the modern world. Combined with the rise of digital industries, virtually all business operations now rely in some way on the transfer of data. As data transfer rates increase in tandem with an explosion in mobile communication the demands on data centre infra-structure are ever increasing.

It is estimated that by 2018 global data traffic will exceed 8500 exabytes (32% compound annual growth rate).

Data centres provide the infra-structure to support the transfer and hosting of data. They are often classified into 4 tiers. Tier 4 provides highest levels of redundancy, security and efficiency. For example, a Tier 4 data centre is required to have an uptime of 99.995% equivalent to less than 27 minutes downtime per year! Tier 4 sites have fully redundant systems, power supplies and biometric security. Zero downtime is the ideal as the costs incurred via end user penalties can be huge.

data centre tiers

Why the need to measure temperature, humidity and differential pressure?

Data centres must be maintained to specific environmental conditions to ensure the performance and longevity of the hardware installed. As standard, temperature must be 18-27 °C, dew point 5-15 °C dp and humidity no higher than 60 %rh. This ensures the hardware is at a suitable temperature, condensation is avoided and the chance of static build up is reduced (caused by low humidity).

A control range of ±9 °C may seem relatively broad, however 100% of the energy supplied to server hardware is converted to heat. In most data centres if the cooling system fails and servers are not shut down, heat levels will rise above a critical 35 °C within minutes or even seconds. If unchecked, temperature levels will rise causing hardware damage and can result in electrical fires.

Achieving the specified control range requires precision sensors and advanced control systems. Typically modern data centres are designed using computational fluid dynamics to ensure the very highest efficiency. Despite this it is estimated around 5% of US electrical energy used is for data centre cooling.

pue power usage effectiveness

Since 100% of electricity utilised by servers is converted to heat, theoretically a 100% efficient cooling system would require an equal amount of energy. Efficiency is measured by comparing total facility energy use, with IT equipment energy use. This is called Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). Theoretically PUE can be 1 but typically reported values are above 2. By utilising precision measurements and design, modern data centres achieve PUEs of ~1.1!

An improvement of 0.5 in a data centre’s PUE  equates to a energy saving of ~£2.2 M & ~12,000 tonnes CO2 over 5 years (for a site with 1 MW load).


What solutions can Rotronic offer?

Rotronic provides a range of instruments for environmental monitoring and control. Reliable and precise outside air sensors and weather shields enable natural cooling to be utilised where possible.

Inside the data centres, Rotronic interchangeable HC2-S probes can provide a combination of precise, fast response temperature and humidity measurements with ease of calibration. Our latest PF4 differential pressure transmitters provide precision low drift measurements.

With both digital and a range of analogue outputs available as well as several probe mounting options, products can be selected for all applications.

Importantly though we aim to understand your needs and build a relationship with the goal of providing an appropriate solution, combining instruments, training, calibration and ongoing support.

Dr Jeremy WIngate
Rotronic UK


Humidity and Seed Storage

I recently visited a facility where they were doing a lot of research into plant biology. As such, it was important for them to have their seeds stored at exactly the correct temperature and humidity to prevent germination or degradation of the seeds.

Seed storage in general

Around 10000 years ago when the first human beings stopped hunting and gathering wild plants, and started to cultivate on farms, preserving and storing seeds became important.

There are various reasons to store seeds, for example, simply preserving grain for consumption later in the year or for sowing during the following season. A little more complex is the collection and preservation of seeds for a longer period of time. This may be done to protect species from extinction or to ensure genetic variety for future generations. Long term storage is also necessary as a back up in case of catastrophic events, such as natural disasters, and disease outbreaks. This type of long term storage is usually done in well protected storage building called seed banks.

Seed-Diversity-in-the-Mil-007A range of seeds in storage

Inside each seed is a living plant embryo which, even in a state of dormancy, breathes through the exchange of gases across its membrane, and is constantly undergoing metabolic processes, also known as aging. The natural lifespan of a seed is influenced by several factors including: permeability of the seed coat, dormancy, and seed physiology. But one of the most important factors is the external environment the seed is exposed to. Temperature and humidity play a key role in the storage capabilities of seeds.

Facts & figures:

The oldest seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed about 2,000 years old.

The Millennium Seed Bank Project in the UK is the biggest seed bank in the world. Currently they store 31880 species and 1`907`136`030 seeds.

China, with 197 million metric tons, is the world`s biggest producer of rice.


Why the need to measure humidity?

Controlling the environment in seed storage is essential for maintaining the germination capacity of seeds, or simply the quality of the seed as a food.

iregi_siteSunflower seeds

In General

Every 1% decrease in the moister content will double the storage life. The same applies for every 5°C decrease of the storage temperature.

A rule of thumb: the sum of the temperature in degrees F and the % relative humidity should be less then 100 for good seed storage conditions.

Storage conditions

Proper storage conditions maintain relative humidity levels
between 20% and 40%, giving corresponding seed moisture contents between 5% – 8%, depending on the type of seed. This range is safe for most seeds. When seed moisture content drops too low (<5%), storage life and seed vigor may decline. When seed moisture content goes above 8%, aging or seed deterioration can increase. Deterioration effects the integrity of the cell membrane, along with several biochemical processes, which overall results in loss of vigor and viability. Seed moisture contents above 12% will promote growth of fungi and insects. Most seeds cannot germinate until seed moisture contents go above 25%.

seedgrowthA newly germinated seed

Seed preparation for long term storage (Seed bank)

To prepare for long term storage, seeds are first put in to a drying room where temperature and humidity is carefully kept at 15°C and 15% relative humidity. Under these conditions the seeds gradually dry out. They are then cleaned, counted and put into airtight containers, before being placed in a seed bank at -20°C. The seeds are then tested for viability on a regular basis.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                                        Rotronic UK

Sugar Production and Relative Humidity

The sugar market worldwide

Sugar is one of the most important raw materials traded on the worldwide markets.

Top 5 sugar producing companies

1. Suedzucker AG,

2. Cosan SA Industria & Comercio

3. British Sugar PLC

4. Tereos Internacional SA

5. Mitr Phol Sugar Corp.

In the 18th century only a few countries were producing sugar. However, these days over 100 nations process different base materials into sucrose. Remarkably India, China, Brazil & the European Union alone deliver 50% of the global demand.

Sugar Facts:

– Worldwide 170 million tons of raw sugar were produced in 2011/2012

– Brazil, India, China & EU are the most important sugar producing nations

– With an annual consumption of more than 24 million tons India, is the world’s largest market for raw sugar

Raw materials & processing

In temperate regions such as West, Central & Eastern Europe, the United States, China and Japan raw sugar is produced from sugar beet. However in the tropics and subtropics sugar is extracted from sugar cane.


Sugar cane & Sugar Beet


The processing of these two raw materials only differs in the first few steps. The main goal is to extract the juice, containing the sugar,  as efficiently as possible.

Extracting the sugar

Sugar cane is cut into small pieces during the harvest. It is then put through an industrial press to squeeze out the sweet sap.
Sugar beet has to be processed in extraction towers, where the plants release their sugar during a hot water treatment at 70°C.


After filtering the juice the water is extracted by passing through different stages of evaporators until only a thick syrup is left consisting of around 70% sugar.


The syrup is then boiled until sugar crystals are formed. These crystals are then cleaned through centrifugation. To further improve purity this process is repeated twice.

Cooling & drying

Now the sugar has to be dried. One option is in large scale drum dryers at a temperature of 60°C. after drying, the sugar is cooled down on fluidized-bed coolers before heading to the warehouse or packed for shipping.


Inside a drum dryer.

Storage & logistics

Sugar belongs to the group of hygroscopic goods with an extremely low water content – below 1.5%. Basically sugar is a robust material but vulnerable to high humidity and temperature changes.
Generally it is recommended to store and transport sugar at a temperature of 20-25°C and 25-60% relative humidity.

By taking a closer look at the adsorption curve of sugar it is easy to see that over a long range of relative humidity the product quality is not affected. But as soon as the humidity level rises to 75% sugar starts to clump and above 80% relative humidity even dissolves .


Immediately after production the refined sugar is stored in humidity controlled sugar terminals or ventilated silos connected to dehumidifiers.

6.2.4. Sugar Terminal 5086

Sugar in a storage terminal


Large quantities are trans-ported in silo trucks or train wagons. When sent by ship sugar is packed in double-walled bags made of natural fibre and plastic. If sealed like this, temperature is the crucial parameter which can affect the quality of the sugar. Due to big differences in temperature water vapour left inside the bags may cause clumping and even liquefaction.
The finer the sugar, the higher the risk of clumping.


Sugar clumping

Why the need to measure humidity?

As seen above, temperature and humidity measurements are crucial parameters in the sugar industry. Due to its hygroscopic behavior sugar can resist small changes in humidity, and slight temperature variations are not a major problem. But as soon as relative humidity rises above 80% or temperature changes significantly, the product can be destroyed as it clumps or even turns liquid.
During the process of evaporation, crystallisation, drying and cooling temperature and humidity play a huge role.

Philip Robinson                                                                                                        Rotronic UK


Meteorology: Numerical Weather Prediction

The Calculation of Weather Data

What is the weather going to be like tomorrow?

For a long time, people have tried to predict weather conditions using the hydrologic climate cycle.

In the early 1920`s scientists were able to compile a six-hour forecast. Back then it took six weeks to calculate by hand the weather data collected at two points in Europe and create a useful illustrative model.

Today, supercomputers are used to predict the weather for a period of several weeks. The complex modelling programs require several million data points for parameters such as temperature, humidity, pressure, vertical & horizontal wind velocity with time stamps and absolute coordinates. To create a correlation between the data and the environment, scientists “slice” the atmosphere virtually into smaller horizontal & vertical parts – this process is called discretization. It is more useful to compute the chronological change of the parameters using this model.

Meteorological events that are too “small” such as a single thunderhead, layer clouds or smaller turbulences will be parameterised through variables. This parameterisation is a science of its own that aims to reduce uncertainties as best as possible.

Every forecast calculation starts with the current weather conditions. The quality of this input is crucial for the accuracy of the final forecast. Meteorologists link the forecast of yesterday’s weather with the actual measured parameters. Only large data centres are capable of computing this data assimilation. The overall result is a best possible calculation basis to predict the weather for the next day. If this groundwork is flawed the forecast may be incorrect, for example it could report rain at the wrong location.

Today’s meteorological mathematicians also take parameters into account that change extremely slowly compared to the other factors. Growth and the reduction of polar ice, or the temperature of the oceans are summarised as boundary values

After a model is run using all the available data, meteorologists’ process and customize reports for a wide range of target groups such as public authorities, flight control centres, energy producers, industries and many more, including the issue of specific warnings.

Facts & figures:

17.8 cm is the diameter of the largest hailstone ever recorded.

Sukkur City in Pakistan is one of the most humid places in the world with 30 °C dew point & a felt air temperature of 65 °C.

A study showed that a small thunderstorm system holds more than 10 million tons of water.

No two weather patterns are completely alike.

Some weather models assimilates data obtained from more than 25,000 weather stations.

Why The need to Measure Humidity?

As described above, the daily weather fore-cast relies on the precise measurement of weather parameters. The science of numerical weather prediction aims to describe the daily hydro-logic cycle in numbers – humidity plays an important role in this – data errors will multiply during calculations.

Humidity values influence weather calculations e.g. through the water vapor balance equation – this formula expresses the influence of humidity through rain & condensation, and vice-versa.

Incorrect measurement or incomplete humidity data directly leads to wrong predictions of a huge number of weather phenomena; this can include the condensation altitude of clouds, locations of hyetal regions, fog layers and storms.

In 1999, incorrect data sent by a weather station in Nova Scotia, Canada led to an incorrect forecast for Hurricane Lothar two days before it hit Central Europe. Authorities were insufficiently prepared to alert people in time.

What is the Rotronic Solution?

Rotronic products are used in weather stations around the globe. They provide temperature & humidity data continuously with high accuracy even in demanding environments.

Rotronic manufactures a range of meteorological probes and weather shields to meet the standards required by meteorological organizations.

Philip Robinson

Rotronic UK

Humidity Control & Pharmaceutical Tablet Coating

Tablet coating in general

Pharmaceutical tablet coating involves the application of a coating composition to a moving bed of tablets with the use of heated air to facilitate the evaporation of the solvent. Several different types of coating are typically used.

Tablet Coating
Tablet Coating Machine
  • Sugar-coated tablets are coated with a coloured or an uncoloured sugar layer. The coating is water soluble and quickly dissolves after swallowing. The sugar-coating protects the encapsulated drug from the environment and provides a barrier to objectionable tablet taste or odour.
  • Film-coated tablets are compressed tablets coated with a thin layer of a polymer that forms a skin-like film. This is usually coloured and has the advantage over sugar coatings  that it is more durable, less bulky, and works faster at the desired location in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Enteric-coated tablets have delayed release properties. They are designed to pass unchanged through the stomach to the intestines, where the tablets disintegrate and allow the drug to dissolve and start its effect. Enteric coatings are used when the drug substance itself would be destroyed by gastric acid or is irritating to the gastric mucosa.

Facts & figures:

Aspirin is one of the most used drugs in the world – approximately 35,000 metric tonnes are produced annually, enough to make over 100 billion aspirin tablets.

Americans consume 80% of the world`s supply of painkillers — more than 110 tons of pure, addictive opiates every year.

How can accurate measurements help?

Environmental control is the practice of managing the temperature, humidity, air circulation, ventilation and air pressure of a given space. Within certain types of pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, precise environmental control can help limit inefficiencies and potential problems.

Pharmaceutical tablet coating is one such application. Inefficiencies during the coating process may result in contamination and tablet impurity in the form of tablet-to-tablet colour variation, surface pitting from over-wetting, twinning due to spray drying, cracking or peeling. Most of these problems can be overcome by better control of the environment within the process. Over-wetting, for example, occurs when the coating hits the still wet tablet surface and the surrounding air does not dry it quickly enough. Another example involves spray drying, when the coating hits the tablet surface after the moisture has been removed resulting in poor adhesion of the coating.

In the case of incorrect cooling and drying of the sugar solution, a rough, translucent and uneven coating may be produced.

Since the required environment for a perfect coating strongly depends on the composition of the tablets, many pharmaceutical manufacturers have scientists who perform experiments to determine the ideal coating procedure including temperature and humidity levels. Once these specific requirements are determined, the set-points can be configured at the controller to enable the precision tablet-coating machines to work at optimal performance.

spoonfull of medicines
A spoonful of perfectly coated tablets!

Tablet Coating Benefits-Summary

  • covers the unpleasant taste, odour and colour
  • provides physical and chemical protection for the medicine (light, moisture and air)
  • controls the release of a drug (enteric coating)
  • improves the appearance of tablets
  • easier to swallow the tablets
  • assists and facilitate the identification of a drug
Dr. Jeremy Wingate
Rotronic UK

Humidity measurement in Paint Spray Booths

Paint booths in general

Spray painting has existed since the late 1800’s. The technique was developed in a bid to accelerate painting times compared to brush painting. Spray painting is a method of painting where paint is atomised onto a surface via a spray gun. The paint is mixed together with a solvent or water (called a carrier) so that it can be applied correctly.

Cars, aircraft, boats and other such equipment is often spray painted in a spray paint booth.

A spray booth is an enclosed room, designed for spray painting. Depending on the requirements, the booth may be equipped with filtered air to avoid getting dust in the room and an exhaust air system to clear the fumes of any evaporating solvents used during the spray painting process.

Regulations, such as the Occupational Safety & Health Administration from the United States department of Labor have a criteria for design and construction of spray booths state that a spray booth is: a power-ventilated structure provided to enclose or accommodate a spraying operation to confine and limit the escape of spray, vapour and residue, and to safely conduct or direct them to an exhaust system.

Spray paint booths regulate relative humidity, temperature, airflow and pressure to ensure a quality coating and a perfect curing.

Certain paints contain flammable solvents which release flammable fumes: in this case explosion-proof components are required for all measuring equipment that come in contact with the fumes.

Paint dry and cure times
Paint dry and cure times

Why do we need to monitor and measure in Paint Spray Booths

In order for paint to dry correctly within the paint booths, the relative humidity and temperature levels should be within the following conditions:

 – 65 to 75%rh
 – 20 to 24°C

Based upon the intake air, there may be a requirement to either dry or humidify the air in order to reach the desired values. From the temperature side, exactly the same thing: the air might need to be cooled or heated depending on the outside temperature.

Additionally, paint booths might have a  separate monitoring system inside the booths in which the different elements are painted. In order to ensure that the paint is  applied correctly to the element to be painted, it is important to ensure that the surface temperature of the element is not too close to the dew point level in the booth.

If the surface temperature of the element to be painted is close to the dew point temperature, then there will be risks of condensation forming on the surface of the element. If this were to happen, the coating will not be optimal and the drying and curing phase will not be completed properly and the results could be catastrophic.


Rotronic have recently launched a totally new range ATEX (Intrinsically Safe and Explosion Proof) instruments. Paint spray booths typically require ATEX certified instruments.

More details here.

Rotronic ATEX range
Rotronic ATEX range


Greenhouses and environmental control

The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled areas has existed since Roman times. The emperor Tiberius ate a cucumber-like vegetable daily. The Roman gardeners used artificial methods (similar to the greenhouse system) of growing to have the vegetable available on his table every day of the year.

The next step from the conventional greenhouse as we know it today will be the introduction of “vertical farms”. Currently, sophisticated so called “plantscrapers“ are being planned or are already under construction in Sweden, Japan, China, Singapore and the United States.


Skyscraper farming might yet be a possible answer to the question of how to feed the nine billion people that are expected by the middle of the century. These types of green-houses have a tightly con-trolled level of temperature, humidity & CO2, sophisticated watering systems and in addition to sunlight, advanced artificial LED lighting that is specifically designed and installed for each plant family. This way, the crops grow much faster and very efficiently all year round. It is estimated, that the Swedish plantscraper that is planned to be 54m high, will produce thousands of tonnes of food a year, enough to feed up to 30,000 people.

Facts & figures:

  • Tomato is the second most important commercial vegetable crop after potato. Current world production is about 100 million tonnes produced on 3.7 million hectares.
  • In the year 2000, per capita consumption of fresh tomatoes in the U.S. was 17.8 lb,/ 8.73 kg.
  • About 85 percent of the world’s soybeans are processed, or “crushed,” annually into soybean meal and oil. Around 98 percent of the soybean meal that is crushed is further processed into animal feed.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO for reporting purposes) for calendar year 2011 was almost 35,658 million tonnes.

Why do we need to measure humidity?

Greenhouse humidity levels are important both in prevent-ing plant diseases and promot-ing healthy and strong plant growth. High humidity can promote Botrytis and other fungal diseases. High humidity also restricts plant transpira-tion, which in turn limits evapo-rative leaf cooling and can lead to overheating of plant foliage. If high humidity persists for a long time, the restriction of transpiration can limit the “transpiration stream” of nutrients and can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Low humidity levels are best avoided because these may increase foliar transpiration to the extent that the root system cannot keep up. Humidity is perhaps the most difficult of the greenhouse conditions to control. Most growers simply aim to avoid the extremes of humidity. Over most temperature ranges, a greenhouse humidity of 50 – 85 %rh is generally safe. Low humidity can be managed with the use of misters and foggers. It is also useful to shade plants under conditions of low humidity to reduce the rate of transpiration.

Transpiring plants add water vapour to the greenhouse air, increasing the humidity inside the greenhouse. Therefore, managing high humidity starts with ventilation control. Replacing warmer, humid greenhouse air with cooler, drier external air. Ventilation also involves significant energy losses, and therefore ventilation must often be accompanied by heating. Therefore, lowering greenhouse humidity with a combination of ventilation and heating increases energy costs significantly.

Area Sales Manager