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Maximum Moisture Carrying Capacity of Air

Maximum water content in humid air depends on temperature

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The maximum moisture content possible in air - at saturation - varies with temperature. The table below indicates maximum moisture content in a cubic metre of air at various temperatures:

TemperatureMax.
Water Content
(oC)(oF)(10-3 kg/m3)(10-3 lb/ft3)
-25 -13 0.64 0.040
-20 -4 1.05 0.066
-15 5 1.58 0.099
-10 14 2.31 0.14
-5 23 3.37 0.21
0 32 4.89 0.31
5 41 6.82 0.43
10 50 9.39 0.59
15 59 12.8 0.8
20 68 17.3 1.07
30 86 30.4 1.9
40 104 51.1 3.2
50 122 83.0 5.2
60 140 130 8.1
  • 10-3 kg/m3 = g/m3

Example - Moisture Carrying Capacity in Heated Air

Air is heated from 20oC to 50oC.

  • from the table above the maximum moisture content in air at 20oC is 17.3 g/m3, and
  • the maximum moisture content in air with temperature 50oC is 83 g/m3

The increased ability to carry moisture can be calculated as

100 % ((83 g/m3) - (17.3 g/m3)) / (17.3 g/m3)

= 380 %

This dramatic change is important to explain why heated air is so much more effective than cold air in drying processes.

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