Controlling air conditions is key to preserving SS Great Britain

Air-handling units designed to reduce relative humidity to around 20% are playing a key role in the preservation of the ironwork of SS Great Britain, the only surviving steamship designed and built by Brunel. The air-handling units were designed by Barkell and are fitted with Reznor indirect-gas-fired heaters and a Munters dehumidification system. The ship was launched in 1843 and was the first steamship to have both a screw propeller and an iron hull. She carried first-class passengers across the Atlantic, emigrants to Australia and was finally a floating warehouse for coal and wool in the south Atlantic. A salvage project in 1970 returned her from the Falkland Islands to her birthplace in Bristol. Consultants WSP designed a water-covered glass plate to create an airtight space between the hull and the wall of the dry dock, providing a controlled dry atmosphere in and around the hull and preventing damaging corrosion. Visitors can thus view the part of the ship that would normally be below the waterline. Temperature and humidity sensors around the hull are linked to an energy-management system that controls fan speed and burner rate.



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