Mansfield Anodisers are a small anodising company specialising in high quality finishing of aluminium components.
The aluminium components are treated electro chemically to provide a coating for protection and colour. The final coat in the process requires drying to prevent staining and the company was experiencing problems with its drying room which caused uneven drying and therefore limited production.
Temperature logging showed that there was a wide range of temperature at different heights within the room, shown in the first chart.
After consultation some small, self powered temperature loggers where used to show that there was a wide temperature range being created in the drying room. It was suggested that instead of using the small desktop oscillating fan to move the air around the room, the company should invest in a de-stratifcation fan (a simple domestic ceiling fan) which would not only assist in air circulation horizontally but would also force any hot air near the top of the room downwards. The result of this was a more even mixture of air in the room which is shown in the second chart.
The adoption of the new fan resulted in a more controlled, speedier drying process. It reduced the bottleneck effect on production and minimised the heating energy required within the drying process. Asking the Environmental Technology Centre to investigate and paying the small sum of £80 for the fan provided a very swift payback on investment!
Thermal Stratification in buildings is the layering of differing air temperatures from floor to ceiling. This results from the natural process of heat rising in an internal space. Thermal de-stratification is the process of mixing these internal air temperatures to effectively eliminate the stratified layers and achieve temperature equalisation throughout the internal space. In a stratified building temperature differentials of up to 10 oC can be found over a height of 10m on average. In extreme cases temperature differentials of 10 oC have been found over a height of 1m. In a de-stratified building temperature differentials can be reduced to 1 - 2 oC or less from floor to ceiling. It has been suggested that stratification is the single biggest waste of energy in buildings today.