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Shipping Containers


Condensation is a Headache in a Shipping Container

There have been a few significant events around the globe in the past two years. The COVID-19 outbreak, the Russo-Ukrainian War, and the constant climate change. These issues have severely crippled global logistics and maritime transportation. Conditions like port closures and rerouting gave rise to many delivery delays. Here comes a huge issue - are the goods inside a shipping container going to make it to their destination and in good condition? Since shipping containers are metal, which is a thermal conductor, there could be significant temperature changes inside the metal walls throughout the day. When there is a drastic drop in temperature inside, the air reaches its dew point, and water drops will collect on the walls and roof. This condensation process, also known as container rain or cargo sweat, could only get worse when we transport goods across various climate regions.

Why you Should Pay Attention to Condensation

When heat escapes and the shipping container cools over temperature shifts, especially at night, the water in the air condenses and becomes water droplets. They will accumulate on any surface where heat is evaporating. If not taken care of properly, condensation in a shipping container could cost you a lot of money. 

In the short term, water droplets will drip on the goods, ruining the whole shipment. It doesn’t matter if they are thousands worth of fabric or millions worth of cars. The moisture will increase the chance of forming rust and corrosion. Mould and mildew will even devastate organic goods, along with bugs and bad odours. Significant monetary losses could incurre. 

In the long run, the damaged cargo would ruin your relationship with clients. This cost equates to more than the goods themselves. The deterioration of the container’s interior could be hard to reverse, even if you remove the damp goods. 

Five Factors that Contribute to Condensation

Condensation is closely linked to humidity and temperature changes. To look for the best solutions to tackle condensation, we need to have a better understanding of all the contributing elements. Here are five “HUMID” factors that account for unwanted droplets. 

  • How packed the goods are: Air contains water. The less tightly packed your goods are, the more air space there is. And when there is more air, the chances condensation occurs are higher. 
  • Usage: The way you use a container also has an impact on the moisture level inside. For instance, whether you open the container from time to time for loading. Anything to do with temperature and weather, such as the time of the day, will also affect moisture level. 
  • Moisture: The goods themselves play a vital role as well. The higher the moisture content the goods have, the higher the chance the water will get condensed over night. 
  • Inside ventilation: The airflow inside the container is of paramount importance. Air exchange moderates the differences between the temperatures inside and outside. Good airflow reduces the chance of condensation. 
  • Drop in temperature: Finally, here comes the most important factor. Depending on the weather, the route, and the exposure to wind, the temperature may vary drastically and trigger a drop in temperature.

How to Maximise Your Business’s Profitability

We know it’s impossible to completely get rid of the container rain. But, we do have some ideas for reducing and preventing container sweat. In view of the huge impact of moisture in condensation, you may want to consider a dehumidifier. There is a wide range of dehumidifiers that may be of use. 

Dehumidification for Shipping Containers

Shipping containers have standard air vents to allow a certain volume of air in. It may be effective in preventing insects and pests, but it is far from effective in preventing condensation from forming. High-capacity industrial dehumidifiers are tough enough to withstand harsh conditions on the sea. They also regulate the moisture content in a closed area. 

To ensure a moisture-free interior for months on the sea, desiccant dehumidifiers are preferable to refrigerant models. They remain effective at a lower temperature, even well below 0 degrees, where refrigerant dehumidifier technology struggles. They absorb moisture from the air in the container and minimise the chance of condensation. 

How it Works

Different from domestic and commercial dehumidifiers, some models of industrial-use desiccant dehumidifiers, such as the Ecor Pro DH800 INOX, provide for 24/7 moisture control on boats and marine environments. 

Desiccant dehumidifiers feature desiccant material on a rotary wheel. When the machine draws air in through its vent, it passes through the wheel, and the desiccant material absorbs moisture. Dry air is then blown out via a second vent, while moisture evaporates from the material and expelled through another vent as water vapour. 

When ducted, you can place portable dehumidifiers in a corner or mounted on the wall or ceiling. You can duct the humid air and vent it outside of the container, maintaining a moisture-free condition inside. A desiccant machine also eliminates the need to empty traditional dehumidifiers of water. So, you don't have to open the shipping container regularly, which in turn allows more humid air in.