Saturday, December 10, 2011

Greetings from the torture chamber

Dear Readers,

Not because I think you care, but because Ali asked me too, here is an update on where I have been. 

A trip to Florida in December should be a nice escape from the cold of Utah right?  Think again.  Here is a picture I took Monday morning from the balcony just before heading to work.

The fact that the outside temperatures have been quite low this past week is entirely irrelevant. I am working a 6:00am to 6:00pm shift and that was the last time I saw the sun and the beach at the same time. In fact, I did not see the light of day at all yesterday. It's a shame isn't it?

As Ali mentioned in a previous post my main responsibility at work is to design diesel generators for aircraft mobile ground support equipment. This past week I have been at Mckinley Climatic Labs for high temperature testing of several of these products.  This facility is described by Air& Space Smithsonian as a torture chamber.  The the test chamber is capable of creating and maintaining the most extreme naturally occurring weather conditions found on earth and even worse.  Today we had the chamber up to 153F at 7% humidity. You are probably thinking that is pretty hot.  You are right, but that condition was much more bearable than the 127F and  45% humidity achieved a few hours later.  Our office is a 11x36ft air conditioned booth in the middle of a hanger large enough to house a jumbo jet.  Electronic sensors are necessary for frequent data acquisition at these conditions, but they have to be checked every now and again to verify calibration.  This involves short excursions into the chamber to swing a good old reliable mercury thermometer in a sling psychrometeter.

Before this experience, I understood the definition of enthalpy and its relationship to humidity in air.  Having felt both the above conditions within a few hours of each other today, I have a whole new grasp on the concept.  At 153F and low humidity your sweat is immediately evaporated from your skin providing some cooling although still uncomfortable.  At 127F and high humidity, sweating has very little cooling effect, the body dumps as much moisture to the skin as possible in the form of sweat, and the air is actually condensing on your body.  Your clothing is drenched in a matter of minutes at this condition.  Needless to say, it is extremely uncomfortable. In the west we experience a dry heat and balk at those in more humid climates when they complain about temperatures in the 90s and how unbearable it is.  I shall balk no more.

And that is why we leave the blogging to Ali.  Again, I know you don't care, but Ali asked for it and I love her so here we are.


Karen said...

Yes, humidity is a beast! I DON'T like it. This was interesting, thanks for sharing.

Ali said...

Thanks for the post, love. I actually feel smarter having read it. I can't wait for you to come home.

Alan said...

You are a good man.

Alan said...
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