The present invention relates to an air humidification
system for large enclosed spaces and to a humidification module which can be used
in such system.
In many industrial environments, such as for example in
the case of the textile, printing, woodworking industries and in other environments,
such as preservation cells for fruit and vegetables, as well as in storage areas
for paper, wood, et cetera, it is necessary to control ambient humidity.
Enclosed spaces of this type are humidified but also cooled
generally by using humidification systems which are constituted by pipes which are
suspended from the ground and are connected to means for pumping water.
Nozzles are provided along said pipes and are designed
to create a water aerosol which diffuses into the environment, humidifying the air.
To allow the air to absorb the water particles, their path
of descent must be long enough.
The length of this path depends on the environmental parameters
of the environment (humidity and temperature).
This path is typically parabolic, and therefore, during
installation, in view of the ranges of the typical environmental parameters at which
the system is to operate, it is necessary to calculate the correct height at which
the pipes must be arranged so that the aerosol does not fall to the ground without
being absorbed by the air, wetting the floor.
In some enclosed spaces, due to the limited height of the
ceiling, it might not be possible to install the pipes at the optimum height, with
evident problems regarding poor air humidification and the inevitable presence of
water on the ground, at least in the presence of ranges of the environmental parameters.
In order to solve these problems, individual humidification
modules are sometimes used which are connected to a common pumping system and are
distributed in the appropriate regions of the enclosed space to be humidified.
These humidification modules are constituted generally
by a duct which has an inlet for the water under pressure and an outlet constituted
by one or more nozzles suitable to provide the aerosol.
Ventilation means of various kinds are provided behind
the duct and are intended to create an air flow in a horizontal direction which
is substantially parallel to the ejection axis of the nozzles, so as to strike the
aerosol, extending the path of the water particles in a horizontal direction and
consequently increasing their absorption in the air.
However, these modules, as well as systems of the traditional
type in which the nozzles are arranged along simple pipes which are raised from
the ground and are not associated with ventilation means, have the problem of dripping
when the humidification system is stopped.
When the pumps that supply the water are stopped, the pressure
in the pipes in fact does not drop instantly and therefore water at a pressure which
is not sufficient to create a good aerosol tends to flow out of the nozzles (even
if they are provided with valves which open at a minimum preset pressure level of
the ejected stream, for example by means of a spherical flow control element associated
with a suitably calibrated spring), introducing into the enclosed space water particles
which are too heavy and cannot be absorbed even in the presence of an air stream
which extends their path.
The aim of the present invention is to provide a humidification
system which allows to solve the drawbacks observed in known types.
Within this aim, an object of the present invention is
to provide a humidification module which allows to avoid spreading water on the
ground both during operation and when operation is interrupted.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a
humidification module which is structurally simple and can be assembled easily to
provide humidification systems.
This aim and these and other objects, which will become
better apparent hereinafter, are achieved by an air humidification system for large
enclosed spaces, characterized in that it comprises at least one humidification
line, which is constituted by at least one humidification module, which in turn
comprises a box-like container inside which there is a water flow pipe which is
functionally connected at its inlet to water pumping means and at its outlet to
a water discharge space, said pipe having, along its extension, a plurality of nozzles
which are adapted to provide a water aerosol, said nozzles being substantially open
onto a first opening provided in said box-like container and being oriented toward
the outside of said first opening, an impeller being provided within said box-like
container and being suitable to aspirate air from at least one second opening of
said box-like container toward said first opening, a water flow control valve being
associated with the inlet of said pipe of a said at least one humidification module
arranged at the inlet of said line, a water discharge valve being associated with
the outlet of said pipe of a said at least one humidification module arranged at
the outlet of said line.
Further characteristics and advantages of the invention
will become better apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred
but not exclusive embodiment thereof, illustrated by way of non-limiting example
in the accompanying drawings, wherein:
- Figure 1 is a schematic perspective view of a humidification system according
to the invention;
- Figure 2 is a schematic perspective view of a humidification module according
to the invention;
- Figure 3 is a schematic transverse sectional view of a humidification module
according to the invention.
It is noted that anything found to be already known during
the patenting process is understood not to be claimed and to be the subject of a
With reference to the figures, a humidification system
according to the invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 10.
Figure 1 illustrates the humidification system 10 installed
within a large room 11.
The system 10 comprises, in this configuration, two parallel
humidification lines 12, which are arranged at a certain height from the ground
transversely to the room 11; each line 12 comprises, in this configuration, three
humidification modules 13 which are connected in series to each other.
Each humidification module 13 comprises a box-like container
14, which is shaped like a parallelepiped and inside which there is a water passage
pipe 15, which is functionally (so as to perform a function, namely water conveyance)
connected at its inlet 16 to water pumping means 17 and at its outlet 18 to a water
discharge space 19.
As mentioned, on each humidification line 12 the modules
13 are in series with respect to each other for an inlet-to-outlet connection of
the respective pipes 15 by means of additional connecting pipes 15a, so that the
water discharge space 19 corresponds to the inlet of the pipe of the adjacent humidification
module if the pipe 15 is related to one of the first two modules 13 of the corresponding
line 12; if instead the pipe 15 is related to the last humidification module of
the series of the corresponding line, the water discharge space is for example a
pipe for collection and discharge into public sewers.
In this configuration, the water pumping means 17 comprise
a volumetric pump 20, which is connected by means of a duct 21 to the two humidification
lines 12 and is shown in broken lines in Figure 1.
In particular, the duct 21 has a vertical portion 21 a
for connection to the humidification lines 12 and a portion 21b for connecting the
volumetric pump 20 to the vertical portion 21a.
The box-like container 14 has a shape which is elongated
in a main direction and, in this embodiment, is arranged in a substantially horizontal
In other embodiments, each module 13 can be arranged according
to a preferred spatial orientation, for example with the box-like container 14 extended
vertically or even at an angle.
The pipe 15 of each humidification module 13 protrudes
so as to match the extension of the box-like container 14 and therefore in this
embodiment is arranged horizontally.
The pipe 15 of each humidification module 13 has, along
its extension, a plurality of nozzles 22 which are suitable to provide a water aerosol.
The nozzles 22 are substantially open onto a first opening
23 provided in the box-like container 14 and are oriented toward the outside of
the first opening 23 along a preferential horizontal direction.
Advantageously, the nozzles 22, in this embodiment, are
centered with respect to the first opening 23.
A cross-flow impeller 24 is provided inside the box-like
container 14, is arranged along a rotation axis which is parallel to the pipe 15
and is suitable to draw air from a second opening 25 which is formed in a upper
wall 26 of the box-like container 14 toward the first opening 23 along a direction
which is substantially parallel to the ejection axis of the nozzles 22 (and therefore,
according to the example being described, horizontally).
Optionally, in addition to the second opening 25, there
may be additional intake openings in the box-like container 14, provided for example
on the side walls of said container.
The impeller is of the type constituted by a cylindrical
cage of longitudinal vanes 24a and therefore has a predominantly longitudinal extension.
Each nozzle 22 comprises a valve 27 which opens at a minimum
preset pressure level of the flow being ejected, in order to limit the spilling
of water which is not atomized into an aerosol when there is low pressure within
the pipe 15.
The system further comprises a water flow control valve
28, which is associated with the inlet 16 of the pipe 15 of the first humidification
module 13a of each humidification line 11, and a water discharge valve 29, which
is associated with the outlet 18 of the pipe 15 related to the last humidification
module 13b of the humidification lines 11.
The flow control valve 28 and the discharge valve 29 are
of the electrically actuated type (electric valves) and are connected electrically
to an electronic management and control unit 30; the volumetric pump 20 is further
connected electrically to said control unit.
The flow control valve 28 is of the normally-closed on-off
type, while the discharge valve 29 is of the normally-open on-off type.
Moreover, the humidification system comprises outside environment
humidity and/or temperature sensors, not shown in the figures, which are functionally
connected to the electronic management and control unit 30.
Advantageously, each humidification module is provided
with adjustment means 31 for adjusting the orientation of the output flow of the
water aerosol, which are constituted for example by two brackets 32 (only one is
shown in Figure 2) to be fixed to a supporting structure (not shown in the Figures),
which are coupled rotatably on opposite sides of the box-like container 14 which
correspond to the two sides which are perpendicular to the pipe 15; the brackets
32 allow to adjust the inclination of said box-like container and therefore of the
first opening 23 with the nozzles 22 according to a preferred orientation about
an axis which is parallel to the pipe 15.
Moreover, in the lowest point of the system, at the point
where the vertical portion 21a of the duct 21 is connected to the portion 21b for
connection to the volumetric pump 20, there is an additional discharge valve 34
which allows to empty the vertical portion 21a.
The operation of the humidification system is as follows.
Once the environmental parameters have been detected by
the appropriate sensors, the control unit 30 drives the opening of the flow control
valve 28 and of the discharge valve 29 of the humidification line 12 to be activated
(even all the lines that are present) and drives the pumping means in order to fill
the selected line 12 at low pressure; in this step, the nozzles do not produce aerosol
and do not drip.
Once the line has been filled, the discharge valve is closed
rapidly, thus leading to an extremely swift increase in pressure up to the optimum
operating value (typically 70 bar).
The nozzles 22 begin to spray a water aerosol when said
water has exceeded 7 bars gauge in the pipes, which is the activation pressure of
the opening valve 27 of each nozzle.
Simultaneously, the impeller 24 is turned and provides
an air stream which is propelled from the second opening 25 of the box-like container
14, in this embodiment horizontally, through the first opening 23, thus striking
the jets of aerosol which are advantageously centered on the air stream, extending
their path (the position of the nozzles in which they are centered on the air stream
is the optimum position, but variations are not excluded in which the nozzles are
not centered with respect to the first opening 23).
In the step for shutting down the system, the flow control
valve 28 is closed and the discharge valve 29 is opened, emptying the line; the
opening of the discharge valve 29 leads to a drop in pressure which is almost substantially
instantaneous from 70 bars (operating pressure) to 0 bars, thus avoiding the dripping
of water at pressures which are proximate to (but higher than) 7 bars (minimum opening
pressure of the nozzles 22).
The system can comprise a pressure switch 33 inside one
or more pipes 15 of the modules 13 of the line 11.
The pressure switch 33 is functionally sensing-driving
connected to the valves 28 and 29 as explained hereinafter.
Detection of a preset value of water pressure by means
of the pressure switch 33 within the duct constituted by the combination of the
pipes 15 of the modules 13 of the line 11 allows to automate simply the operation
of the system without the need for direct intervention of the control unit, since
when a minimum pressure of the water (for example 30 bars) is detected, the pressure
switch 33 drives the opening of the flow control valve, the closure of the discharge
valve, and the actuation of the impeller.
If the humidification lines are very long, for example
a few dozen meters, several discharge valves might be associated with a line (a
variation which is not shown in the figures), said valves being distributed along
the length of said line, in order to ensure an extremely swift pressure drop.
It is evident that the system can also be composed of a
single humidification module 13, as shown in Figure 2.
In this case, the water flow control valve 28 is associated
with the inlet 16 of the pipe 15 of the single humidification module 13 and a water
discharge valve 29 is associated with the outlet 18 of the pipe 15.
The temperature and/or humidity sensors are also associated
with the single module and the pressure switch 33 inside the pipe 15 also is optionally
During production, each individual humidification module
is preset to mount the components described so far; in particular, it is preset
to mount at the inlet 16 and at the outlet 18 the flow control valve 28 and the
discharge valve 29, so that according to requirements it is possible to configure
a humidification module which can operate individually (by having both flow control
and discharge valves) or operate in a humidification line as an initial module (by
having only the flow control valve) or operate in a humidification line as a final
module (by having only the discharge valve) or, finally, act as an intermediate
humidification module (by having neither the flow control valve nor the discharge
In practice it has been found that the invention thus described
solves the problems noted above in known types of humidification system; in particular,
the present invention provides a humidification system with corresponding humidification
module which allows to avoid the problems of letting water fall to the ground.
This has been achieved mainly by introducing the flow control
and discharge valves in input and in output to the humidification lines or within
the individual humidification modules.
In particular, the association of said valves with each
individual module allows to use said modules both individually and in combination
with each other; the integration of said valves with the module allows to facilitate
the installation of the system and the individual use of the modules.
Advantageously, the elongated shape of the box-like container
and the use of a cross-flow impeller which has a longitudinal main extension allows
to achieve high flow-rates with limited space occupation (with reference to a horizontal
arrangement) both in terms of width and in terms of depth.
The presence of said flow control valves, in cooperation
with the electronic control unit, allows to fill the lines only when humidification
is required, to empty said lines when the need for humidification ceases, to wash
automatically the lines at preset times and when there has been no demand for humidification
for a long time, ensuring in this last case a high standard of hygiene without requiring
manual washing and/or emptying procedures.
The invention thus conceived is susceptible of numerous
modifications and variations, all of which are within the scope of the appended
claims; all the details may further be replaced with other technically equivalent
In practice, the materials employed, so long as they are
compatible with the specific use, as well as the dimensions, may be any according
to requirements and to the state of the art.
The disclosures in
Italian Patent Application No. PD2006A000051
from which this application claims priority are incorporated herein by
Where technical features mentioned in any claim are followed
by reference signs, those reference signs have been included for the sole purpose
of increasing the intelligibility of the claims and accordingly such reference signs
do not have any limiting effect on the interpretation of each element identified
by way of example by such reference signs.