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In 1981, NASA launched the first space shuttle. Taking with it a technology to deal with the extreme temperature risen with outer space. Today this same technology is helping earth bound citizens to deal with humidity control and high energy costs. That technology is the heat pipe. Applications on earth may not be as exciting, however dramatic energy savings and humidity control and at a relatively low cost may be just what some earthlings are searching for.

We were experiencing mold and mildew growth and a diffusers condensation on the windows and our walls were deteriorating and let alone with the type of systems that we have in our kitchen. We generally do not cook and we generally have steam and that also contributes to humidity . um~ all of these problems that we were experiencing was prompting us to increase our tonnage. Because, we couldn’t maintain the cooling levels that we needed inside the stores we were looking at increasing our tonnage from 17 and half to 20 tons.

The interesting aspect about the heat pipe installation on this particular library is that we did not have a humidity problem to begin with. The structure was about 20 years old. And as we got into energy conservation, we began to make changes over the basic systems. For example we quadrupled the insulation on the roof. In addition we put window film that not only reflected heat but insulated it and in the process we turned the reheat off and immediately created a humidity problem. The humidity kind for roughly 50 to 3, 4, 5 % to about 70 %. And in the process it began to cause the mildew and mold to appear on books.

At Burger King Corporations we battled severe problems in the South and in the problem’s mildew and mold growing on our wall papers and too much humidity in our buildings. We investigated a bunch of different types of technology. One being industrial systems another being dry air systems and we finished on heat pipes. And now heat pipes are in five stores in various parts of the southern United States and one in Detroit and found they did an excellent job at taking humidity out of the air.

There are more than 5000 heat pipes installations in the field. Only 3 of these have experienced any problems. And each of these were caused by external factors. Not only are heat pipes low maintenance, since there are no moving parts to be maintained. But are also cost-effective. Consuming no energy. The heat pipe allows the A.C evaporator coil to operate at a lower temperature, which substantially increases the air conditioning systems capability for removing moisture. To remove more humidity, indoor air is more comfortable. And a higher thermostat settings there is an overall energy savings. And the savings don’t stop with the energy bill.
Museum opened in 1982. It was an existing warehouse that was rehabilitated we had to receive the collection. And we had 94 old oil paintings by Salvador Dali and numerous drawings , graphics on display. It is very important that these paintings are kept at a certain temperature and level of humidity . About four or five years ago, They approached us as a project to install heat pipes at museum as an experiment to see how this technology worked and how well it worked in a museum environment. Um?since it’s in place we have noticed that the levels have been kept at a balance, meaning that the humidity and the temperature levels were not fluctuating as they were prior to it’s installation. It also helped in keeping our electrical and heating bills down and saving the museum money. We are very very pleased to control the environmental factors in the museum to make a better place for the collection to be exhibited.
Dehumidifier heat pipes can be built in two sections. One section is positioned in the warm return air stream of the air conditioning system. And the other in the cold supply air stream. This allows the heat pipe to be automatically activated whenever the air conditioning system is running. The first section absorbs heat from the returned air. Before this air reaches the cooling coil allowing the cooling coil to work at a cooler temperature. The immediate result is that the cooling coil is now removing far more moisture than before. The cooling load of the compressor is also lowered. The heat absorbed by the first section of the heat pipe is transferred to the second section. To reheat the supply air for humidity control. This process eliminates the need for additional reheat.

In a typical new installation, the cost of the heat pipe is offset by the use of a smaller cooling system. And with the field retrofit to an existing system, heat pipes usually pay for themselves in a couple of years.

After installing that the heat pipe technology on the air handler on the first floor, we have been able to maintain a relative humidity on the first top floor here on this stack area of about 55% which is totally acceptable. The interesting thing that in creating that problem the solution to it costed us about $7,000 to put the air handlers to have the heat pipes installed in the air handler. Since that time and 5 years after that , we’ve saved approximately $15,000 per year on a $7,000 expenditure.

The potential financial savings is mind-boggling. You have heard about heat piping using increasing humidification and you have seen several installations. The potential of heat piping that particular application varies between 20 % and 50 %. 50% is when you are using the heat pipes to replace reheat which is an ideal application. But we had the machine tested at the University of Arizona at Tucson. Side by side we have the major manufacturers high efficiency air conditioner. Our machine with the heat pipe run on 51% less electricity.

We have lowered our tonnage HVAC which lowers the amount of electric usage that we have on the total building by about 22% and we’re extremely excited about this feature.

We designed heat pipes in our patented curve. Heat pipes simply slide in to that curve. It takes literally two to three minutes to slide them in. It’s just like sliding a dresser door. Very very simple. So, we designed the heat pipes into our curve assembly. On a new store, the stores automatically take a curve for the air conditioning unit to sit on. So, it is just a matter of us building the racks inside that curve which slide the heat pipes make very very simple. Our retrofit application, we designed what we call a curve adaptor. You can simply go out to the existing store, lift the air conditioning unit up off the existing curve set the curve adaptor in place with heat pipes put the unit back on it and within thirty minutes retrofit is done. We put together a test with EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) and Alabama Power and Mississippi Power, a test for the K-mart corporation and the test site was chosen along with Mississippi. And we put heat pipes in five of the existing seventeen units on the roof there. Just to see how the building would react for as a moisture control. That is under test right now. EPRI is doing the monitoring on it which is the research foundation for EEI (Edison Electric Institute). So EPRI is going to be doing the documentation as for as the follow up and see how the heat pipes are actually performed.

Heat pipes have many different commercial applications. They not only work well for museums, libraries and restaurants but also have been installed in supermarkets, department stores and hotels. Like the Hilton, at Walt Disney World Village.
It to me it is the way to go. Ah?ah I am anxious to be able to install heat pipes in other areas of hotel. To be able do this, as capital budgets will permit, they will be installed in the future.

All Burger King South of primarily the Mason-Dixon line if you will, will have heat pipes as a standard unit in the buildings.

Currently we’ve decided to roll heat pipes on a national basis for us. Because to us it is proven that it does what it needs to do to reduce humidity levels.


Heat pipe technology, a simple and an inexpensive solution to costly humidity and air conditioning problems. For today and the future.