Beneath the ship, in a visually astonishing feat, the belt-driven fan installed as part of the original dry dock dehumidifier has been replaced with the latest technology; a fangrid ‘wall’ of smaller direct-drive fans. The new fans, which deliver air keeping the Dry Dock as arid as the Arizona Desert, will use up to 30% less electricity. This equates to an annual energy saving equivalent to boiling water for 1.3million cups of tea, or driving an electric car around the world 5 times, and is a significant step in reducing the Trust’s CO2 emissions.
The ship’s iron hull is extremely vulnerable to corrosion and is the most fragile part of the ship. At the time of her rescue, the SS Great Britain was in such a poor state, and her hull so corroded, it was feared she would not survive. This upgrade is vital to her conservation and to the Trust’s pioneering efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Nicola Grahamslaw, Ship’s Conservation Engineer, says:
“It is essential that we continue to carefully control the environment around the SS Great Britain’s iron hull, which would otherwise deteriorate by corroding in Bristol’s climate. But, thanks to the new fans which are more energy-efficient and require less maintenance, by circulating very dry air beneath a ‘glass sea’ we can ensure her fragile hull will remain intact for generations.
The digital controls on the new fans also integrate seamlessly with our recently upgraded software and sensors, made possible thanks to the support of our Members, enabling the Trust to respond to the climate emergency by optimising the equipment to minimise our energy needs. This is also particularly important under the current circumstances, as the Trust has lost an enormous amount of income throughout the pandemic.”
Replacing the fans, Munters, an indoor climate control specialist, worked across two days to tear out the old machinery and install the new fans. Greg Frazer, Service Sales at Munters, said:
“We have been working closely with the SS Great Britain Trust for many years. Through the retrofit of these EC fans, we will ensure cutting edge technology is installed into the original dehumidifier. This brings the system totally up-to-date with minimal disruption to the customer, as well as ensuring optimal performance and projected energy savings of 30%.”
As of 17 May, every corner of the Victorian dockyard, two museums, dry dock and historic ship will be open to explore, with new sounds, smells and surprises ready to be discovered.
Tickets to visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain, which include free revisits for a year, can be booked here.