A Psychrometric Chart is an important tool for HVAC engineers to carry out heat load or cooling load calculations and find solutions to various air condition related problems. Read an overview of the components included in a psychrometric chart.

### What is Psychrometric Chart?

Psychrometric charts are graphic representations of the psychrometric properties of air. By using psychrometric charts HVAC engineers can graphically analyze different types of psychrometric processes and find solution to many practical problems without having to carry out long and tedious mathematical calculations.

The psychrometric chart looks complicated with vast numbers of lines and curves in it, but is very easy to understand if you know the basic properties of air. You will also understand its worth when you actually use it considering the fact that you won’t have to use any formulae to find the properties of air in different conditions, all you will have to know is two parameters of air and the rest are easily found on the chart.

Psychrometric charts – Terminology

A psychrometric chart is a graph of the thermodynamic parameters of moist air at a constant pressure, often equated to an elevation relative to sea level. The ASHRAE-style psychrometric chart, shown here, was pioneered by Willis Carrier in 1904. It depicts these parameters and is thus a graphical equation of state. The parameters are:

Dry-bulb temperature (DBT) is that of an air sample, as determined by an ordinary thermometer. It is typically plotted as the abscissa (horizontal axis) of the graph. The SI units for temperature are kelvins or degrees Celsius; other units are degrees Fahrenheit and degrees Rankine.

Wet-bulb temperature (WBT) is that of an air sample after it has passed through a constant-pressure, ideal, adiabatic saturation process, that is, after the air has passed over a large surface of liquid water in an insulated channel. In practice this is the reading of a thermometer whose sensing bulb is covered with a wet sock evaporating into a rapid stream of the sample air (see Hygrometer). When the air sample is pre-saturated with water, the WBT will read the same as the DBT. The slope of the line of constant WBT reflects the heat of vaporization of the water required to saturate the air of a given relative humidity.

Dew point temperature (DPT) is the temperature at which a moist air sample at the same pressure would reach water vapor “saturation.” At this point further removal of heat would result in water vapor condensing into liquid water fog or, if below freezing point, solid hoarfrost. The dew point temperature is measured easily and provides useful information, but is normally not considered an independent property of the air sample as it duplicates information available via other humidity properties and the saturation curve.

Relative humidity (RH) is the ratio of the mole fraction of water vapor to the mole fraction of saturated moist air at the same temperature and pressure. RH is dimensionless, and is usually expressed as a percentage. Lines of constant RH reflect the physics of air and water: they are determined via experimental measurement. The concept that air “holds” moisture, or that moisture “dissolves” in dry air and saturates the solution at some proportion, is erroneous (albeit widespread); see relative humidity for further details.

Humidity ratio is the proportion of mass of water vapor per unit mass of dry air at the given conditions (DBT, WBT, DPT, RH, etc.). It is also known as the moisture content or mixing ratio. It is typically plotted as the ordinate (vertical axis) of the graph. For a given DBT there will be a particular humidity ratio for which the air sample is at 100% relative humidity: the relationship reflects the physics of water and air and must be determined by measurement. The dimensionless humidity ratio is typically expressed as grams of water per kilogram of dry air, or grains of water per pound of air (7000 grains equal 1 pound).

Specific enthalpy, symbolized by h, is the sum of the internal (heat) energy of the moist air in question, including the heat of the air and water vapor within. Also called heat content per unit mass. In the approximation of ideal gases, lines of constant enthalpy are parallel to lines of constant WBT. Enthalpy is given in (SI) joules per kilogram of air, or BTU per pound of dry air.

Specific volume is the volume of the mixture (dry air plus the water vapor) containing one unit of mass of “dry air”. The SI units are cubic meters per kilogram of dry air; other units are cubic feet per pound of dry air.

Psychometric Chart Application :

Although the principles of psychrometry apply to any physical system consisting of gas-vapor mixtures, the most common system of interest is the mixture of water vapor and air, because of its application in heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning and meteorology. In human terms, our thermal comfort is in large part a consequence of not just the temperature of the surrounding air, but (because we cool ourselves via perspiration) the extent to which that air is saturated with water vapor.

Many substances are hygroscopic, meaning they attract water, usually in proportion to the relative humidity or above a critical relative humidity. Such substances include cotton, paper, cellulose, other wood products, sugar, calcium oxide (burned lime) and many chemicals and fertilizers. Industries that use these materials are concerned with relative humidity control in production and storage of such materials.

In industrial drying applications, such as drying paper, manufacturers usually try to achieve an optimum between low relative humidity, which increases the drying rate, and energy usage, which decreases as exhaust relative humidity increases. In many industrial applications it is important to avoid condensation that would ruin product or cause corrosion.