Experimental apparatus for measuring moisture transfer in porous materials subject to relative humidity and temperature differences

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Virginia Tech


A detailed design was developed of an apparatus to measure moisture transfer in porous materials. The apparatus is to be used to collect data to aid in the development of mathematical models which accurately describe this phenomena. The apparatus consists of dual environmental chambers between which a specimen material is sealed. The temperature of each chamber is controlled separately allowing nonisothermal test conditions. The relative humidity is maintained without the use of saturated salt solutions. The moisture transfer rate is measured by periodically weighing a desiccant column used to absorb moisture as result of diffusion across the specimen. The apparatus was built and used to verify a heat transfer model written to predict its thermal characteristics. The chamber temperature capabilities are 5°C to 60°C with up to a 20°C temperature difference across the specimen. The relative humidity limits are based on the heat transfer into or out of the system. High relative humidities (75 to 85 percent) are possible at chamber temperatures close to ambient, but decrease sharply at the extremely high or low temperatures and during nonisothermal operation. The apparatus maintains a constant temperature within ±0.4°C of the setpoint when subjected to varying ambient temperatures. The spatial temperature variation close to the sample (within 25 mm) is within approximately ​​​​±1°C of the average chamber temperature. The relative humidity can be manually controlled to within ±.7 percent RH. Automated control, complicated by a response lag, was within ±1 percent RH.