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What is Dewpoint

# What is Dewpoint

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07/18/2013

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P.O. Box 26, FIN-00421 Helsinki, FINLANDTel: +358 9 894 91Fax: +358 9 8949 2485Email: industrialsales@vaisala.comwww.vaisala.com1 (2)
What is dewpoint?
Dewpoint temperature T
d
[°C or °F]
Dewpoint temperature (°C or °F). Dewpoint is thetemperature where condensation begins, or where therelative humidity would be 100% if the air wascooled. This is readily apparent from the diagram forwater vapor, given that dewpoint is just a moreintelligible way to express partial water vaporpressure (see Figure 2: Dewpoint of gas at 42% RH).Even though dewpoint is expressed as atemperature, it correlates with the amount of watervapor in the air, and is therefore not dependent onambient temperature. Dewpoint temperature isalways less than or equal to the actual temperature,with the extremes for normal outdoor air being –30°C and +30 °C. Dryer and wetter gases can be foundin industrial environments, for example, wheredewpoints between –100 °C and +100 °C aresometimes measured. Theoretically, the dewpointtemperature can be as low as –273 °C (absolute zero),but at a normal atmospheric pressure it can neverexceed 100 °C. When the dewpoint is 100 °C, the aironly contains water vapor and no other gas, so theamount of water cannot be raised without increasingthe density of the vapor, and hence the pressure.The water vapor saturation pressure at differenttemperatures is a known variable, so the dewpointcan be calculated from the relative humidity andtemperature. Conversely, if the dewpoint andtemperature or relative humidity are known, themissing variable can be calculated.A glass of beer or any cold drink provides apractical example of dewpoint. Since the glassconducts heat fairly well compared to air, it cools toalmost the same temperature as the drink. The airsurrounding the glass is then cooled, creating a thinlayer of air at nearly the same temperature as theglass. If the temperature of the drink is below thedewpoint temperature of the surrounding air, the airaround the glass will become saturated with waterand the excess water will condense on the surface of the glass. These small water droplets are called dew.If the temperature of the drink is above thedewpoint temperature of air, the relative humidity of the air surrounding the glass will be higher than theambient humidity, but no visible condensation willoccur.
Frostpoint T
f
[°C or °F]
If the dewpoint temperature is below the freezingpoint, the term frostpoint is sometimes used. Thewater vapor saturation pressure of ice is slightlylower than that of water, which must be taken intoaccount when calculating frostpoint. When frostactually forms on a surface, it always occurs at thefrostpoint, and not at the dewpoint temperature.
Figure 2. Dewpoint of gas at 80 °C and 42% RH.
Measurement technology
The three most common methods to measuredewpoint are chilled mirror, metal oxide and polymersensor.
Chilled mirror
This technology can offer the highest accuracyover a wide range of dewpoint. However, due to itsoptical measurement principle, it is very sensitive todirt or dust on the sensor. Accurate chilled mirrordevices are expencive and therefore mostly usedwhere the absolute accuracy is needed and frequentmaintenance can be done, e.g. in laboratories.
Metal oxide
This including alumium oxide tehnology, isdesigned for low dewpoint measurement in industrial