Tight Humidification Tolerances in Critical Environments

Sean Convery, PE, Cator, Ruma & Associates
Ryan Lee, Cator, Ruma & Associates

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Critical Environments often require a tight tolerance of humidification. These spaces are typically laboratories, operating rooms, clean rooms, and museums, among others. With the arid climate of Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Region, and the Western United States, humidification can cost an owner a lot of money for energy both initially and on an ongoing basis. Additionally, these arid environments present unique challenges in designing and operating humidification systems. What is often overlooked and not deeply researched is the maintenance requirements of the humidification systems, including the water supply to the system. This presentation will discuss the various humidification methods, the psychrometric analysis, pros and cons, maintenance requirements of each, and recent lessons learned. Comparison of methods will also include energy consumption.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze psychrometrics regarding Isothermal humidification and Adiabatic humidification;
  • Compare energy use of various humidification systems;
  • Identify maintenance issues with various humidification systems; and
  • Investigate lessons learned from recent installation of humidification systems in tight tolerance environments.


Sean Convery, PE is a Mechanical Principal at Cator, Ruma & Associates and President of the Colorado I2SL Chapter. Sean's 25 years of mechanical design experience includes energy-efficient mechanical systems for wet and dry research labs, critical environments, government projects, veterinary medicine, healthcare, and museums requiring tight humidity tolerance. He has been involved in the design of over 80 lab projects, many of them Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3).

Ryan Lee, PE LEED AP BC+C is a Senior Mechanical Engineer at Cator, Ruma & Associates. He has designed HVAC and utility systems for complex facilities including various kinds of laboratory, higher education, manufacturing, and other spaces with tight environmental control requirements. With projects that have been located overseas and in multiple US climate zones, Ryan has designed a multitude of isothermal and adiabatic humidification systems.


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