Truly, Britain did once rule the waves, owning the oceans with elegant ships such as the SS Great Britain. Designed by Brunel and constructed in Bristol’s Great Western Dockyard, the SS Great Britain was launched in 1843. She was the world’s first ocean liner, and the largest wrought iron, screw-propelled steam ship ever to set sail. It was a glorious life – serving as a troop ship during the Crimean War… ferrying emigrants to Australia – but a life that would end in less than glamorous circumstances, as a storage hulk in the Falklands.
But… the SS Great Britain will soon look glorious again – ship shape and Bristol fashion – and partly down to the help of Danfoss. Let us explain. The ship is now back home in Bristol, undergoing an £11 million makeover, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The ship is in dry dock, but an extremely clever idea has led to the construction of a huge glass shelf, running right around the ship at water level, which will be covered in a thin layer of water to give the impression that the SS GB at least appears to be floating on water.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. They always say the water surface masks the reality of what’s going on beneath, and the same is true here. The glass shelf will also create an airtight ceiling, creating a dry chamber around the rest of the hull of the ship. This is where Danfoss comes in. As well as looking rather fabulous, whilst all appears smooth above water, a Danfosss VLT 6000 air-handling unit will be running 24/7 to remove moisture, stablise the iron hull of the ship and protect it from the further effects of corrosion.
There are two, distinct aspects to this process. Firstly, air is passed through a hydroscopic wheel to remove excess moisture. Gas heaters then dry the air, which is subsequently moved through the heat recovery system to the exhaust port. The ultimate aim is to reduce the air humidity within the dock to RH 20%. In layman’s terms that’s about the same as the Arizona desert so yes, rather different to usual circumstances underwater.
Secondly, another unit is installed into the boiler room. This unit, slightly bigger than the first, will control the temperature within the ship itself, along with the humidity, and thereby protect the hull from corrosion, both internally and externally. Readings are transmitted to the plant room of SS Great Britain every 30 seconds. These are then relayed on to the Ship’s Management System which will, in turn, average out the humidity readings and control the dryer burner.
From July of this year the efforts to restore the SS Great Britain should be complete and the SS Great Britain will then be returned to her Victorian pomp. Visitors can step back onto this glorious vessel for the first time in many years, enjoying access to all the various parts of the world’s first ocean liner… even those previously denied the most “V” of VIPs. It is a great credit to British shipbuilding, and the desire in this country to breathe new life into our great industrial, and engineering past.
Danfoss is proud to be part of that story. Literally (well… almost literally!) keeping the good ship GB afloat.