Having seen the composition of air, now let us see some important psychrometric properties of air:
Atmospheric Pressure or Barometric Pressure (P):
The total pressure exerted by the air is called as atmospheric pressure or barometric pressure, denoted by P. It is the air pressure measured by the ordinary barometer.
Partial Pressure of Dry Air (Pd)
The pressure exerted by the dry air in the mixture of air is called as partial pressure of dry air, denoted by Pd.
Partial Pressure of Water Vapor (Pw)
As we have seen previously, the air contains moisture or water vapor. As per the Dalton’s law of partial pressure, this water vapor exerts certain pressure independent of the other gases in the air. The pressure exerted by the water vapor within the air is called as partial pressure of water vapor (Pw). The more is the content of water vapor within the air, more is the partial pressure of the water vapor within the air. In the saturated air, the partial pressure of water vapor is maximum.
As per the Dalton’s law of partial pressure: P = Pd + Pw
The air consists of the water vapor or moisture at all times no matter what its temperature and pressure is. When we add more moisture to the air in an enclosed space at certain temperature, the air tends to keep on absorbing the moisture. However, after reaching certain stage, the air is no more able to absorb the moisture and all the extra moisture is converted into dew or fog. The air that contains maximum amount of moisture that it can hold at particular temperature is called as saturated air.
The quantity of the moisture that the air can hold depends on its temperature. The more is the temperature of the air, the more quantity of the moisture it can absorb.
Let us suppose that the partial pressure of water vapor when the air is saturated is Pws, then as per the Dalton’s law of partial pressure:
P = Pd + Pws
Absolute Humidity of Air:
The absolute humidity of the air is defined as the total mass of water vapor present in the unit volume of air at any given condition of temperature.
Relative Humidity of Air (RH)
The term relative humidity is more widely used in the field of HVAC or air conditioning. It is defined as the ratio of the mass of water vapor present in the unit volume of the air at certain temperature to the maximum mass of the water vapor that can be accommodated in the unit volume of air when it is saturated. We have seen that the partial pressure of the water vapor depends on the mass of the water vapor in the air. Hence we can also define relative humidity as the ratio of the partial pressure of the water vapor at a given temperature to the partial pressure of water vapor when the air is saturated at the same temperature. Let us say
Relative Humidity RH = Amount of water vapor in unit volume of unsaturated air/ Amount of water vapor in unit volume of saturated air
RH = Partial Pressure of water vapor in unsaturated air/ Partial pressure of water vapor in saturated air
RH = Pw/Pws *100
Relative humidity is expressed in percentage. It indicates the actual humidity present in the air at the prevalent temperature conditions and widely used by the air conditioning engineers.
This post is part of the series: Psychrometric Properties of Air
Psychrometry is the science of air. This is series of articles that involves study of psychrometric properties of air like: dry bulb temperature, wet bulb temperature, relative humidity, dew point temperature, sensible heat of the air, latent heat of the air, Dalton’s law of partial pressure etc.