Swedish innovation revolutionising dehumidification of water damage

Water damage is a major cause of damage in our properties. But there is hope. With Polygon’s Eco-Dry innovation, drying time is reduced by up to 60 percent, while energy costs are reduced by up to 80 percent.

Kent Bergström, Development Manager for Drying and Measurement Methods at Polygon in Sweden, has worked with technology development in the company for more than 20 years, including in the development of drying methods. Polygon and its teams have tested diverse new technologies and, in recent times, have been involved in various stages of the construction of the company’s machines. They have also combined different technological solutions in new ways. All in search of the most effective solution to meet customer requirements. It should be fast. It should cost as little as possible. And, ideally, not consume too much energy.

With the Eco-Dry solution, Polygon has succeeded in doing just that. Bergström remembers how it all began in the mid-2000s.

“We had started to charge per square metre in some projects. This meant we wanted to dry the surfaces as quickly as possible. Dehumidifiers could not be made more efficient than they already were, so we tested infrared heaters and other technologies to raise the temperature of the materials. For example, we built infrared chambers from ordinary patio heaters. We had a few other wild solutions at the time,” says Bergström, laughing.

He also recalls that Polygon in Sweden and Finland even tested microwaves in the late ’90s, which was essentially like aiming microwave ovens at the concrete so that the microwaves could heat and dry the surface. This technology was untenable, however, due to the costs involved and requirements for radiation control. The technology is still used now and again, but under rigorous oversight in limited projects.

“Then Finland developed a hot plate, a sheet that heated the concrete. But they were a bit expensive and heavy. So we started looking for another material and found heat mats, which we tested. The mat was actually a type of pipe insulation. It was not designed to dry concrete. We rebuilt them to 45 by 100 centimetres and tested them.

“With the heat mat drawing just 40 percent of the power required by, for example, infrared heating, we dried the same surface faster. The mat lay against the concrete, which made heat transfer more efficient. It was conductive heat instead of radiant heat.”

Polygon produces the heat mats in partnership with Swedish supplier Elite. Today, Polygon in Sweden has approximately 2,000 heat mats that are used to dry water damage in various properties. However, the secret behind Eco-Dry is the heat mat in combination with a custom-built dehumidifier. And the key to optimising the effect was to add a sensor that could measure the moisture in the concrete so that the machines could be switched off as soon as the material was sufficiently dry.

“We had to design and manufacture a proprietary dehumidifier able to remove the precise amount of moisture released by two heat mats on water damaged concrete. It’s called P6. By continuously measuring the moisture in the concrete, we could see that we cut energy consumption by 70-80 percent. But you have to use the small dehumidifier, two heat mats and the monitoring system, which makes it possible to switch off the equipment when it’s dry.

“The temperature against the concrete is around 100 degrees, so there can’t be any organic material on the surface. If there’s any adhesive residue it must be sanded off. Plastic materials also melt. So you have to have control over the whole process for it to work. The high temperature can be a complicating factor in different countries with different regulations.”

The innovation is being exported and the hope is that more markets will be reached.

“Sweden, Norway and Finland have similar control systems and liability for consequential damages, so the solution is already used to varying degrees. In some countries, they often have other agreements in which customers decide which dehumidifier to use, so it becomes a bit more complicated. Thus there are different conditions in different markets in Europe.”

Benefits of Eco-Dry

• Reduces drying time by 40-50 percent
• Properties can be restored faster for use by customers
• Energy costs are reduced by 60-80 percent.
• The low noise level: approximately 40 decibels (lower than a normal dial tone) compared to traditional dehumidifiers that generate approximately 55-70 decibels.

Polygon´s Eco-Dry concept comprises:
1. Ultra-efficient heat mats
2. A custom-built dehumidifier, P6
3. Remote monitoring that makes it possible to switch off as soon as it is sufficiently dry