Energy-saving EC fan upgrades at Brunel’s SS Great Britain


20 July 2021
Brunel's SS Great Britain in Bristol

Munters, global leaders in energy efficient climate control, has completed a pioneering upgrade of the dry dock air handling unit (AHU) at Brunel’s SS Great Britain. The upgrade, which was carried out in just one day, ensures long-term protection against corrosion, while reducing AHU fan energy consumption by 25-30 per cent.   

Brunel’s SS Great Britain was the world’s first iron hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner. In the early 2000s, Munters was part of a wider project to preserve the iron hull, which included the installation of a specially-designed air handling unit (AHU), with Munters desiccant rotor technology, in the dry dock in Bristol.  

“Looking after the ship and conserving the original iron is the most important thing that we do” said Nicola Grahamslaw, ship’s conservation engineer for Brunel’s SS Great Britain. “By ensuring the air around the ship is kept at 20 per cent relative humidity, we can stop the ship from rusting. This keeps her structurally safe for many years to come.” 

The upgraded air handling unit at SS Great Britain

More than 15 years on and with the belt driven fan coming to the end of its expected life, Munters has upgraded the AHU with three electronically commutated (EC) direct drive plug fans from ebm papst. Munters designed a bespoke bulk head so the new fans that could be brought in in component form, flat packed, and retrofitted in a fan wall configuration and digitally integrated into the ship’s control system. Minimising downtime to a single day was critical to prevent the ship being exposed to humid air.  

Greg Frazer, Munters service sales, said “This upgrade brings cutting edge technology into the original dehumidifier with minimal disruption. There is little maintenance, and predicted energy savings for the fan are 25-30 per cent.”

Content continues after advertisements

The SS Great Britain Trust has committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and conserving the ship is one of the biggest energy consumers. “What you do has to be sustainable,” said Nicola. “Every time we tweak the system, we are thinking about our carbon footprint, and learning how we can make that energy requirement as small as we possibly can on our journey to net zero.”

Fan wall configuration

Brunel’s SS Great Britain dry dock EC fan upgrade:  

  • Reduce fan motor energy consumption by 25-30 per cent 
  • Built-in redundancy prevents air flow loss for optimised performance 
  • Reduce maintenance requirements, and improve reliability and resilience 
  • Sustainable conservation project supports carbon neutral goals