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The Australian Plantbank Facilities Upgrade

Government / Institutional Project
Mission Critical Climate Control

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The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Plant Bank was first opened in 2013, and is an international centre for plant research and learning, incorporating the largest native plant conservation seed bank in Australia. The Australian Plant Bank forms a living reference collection for identification, research, and restoration.  

A key element of the Plant Bank is the seed bank, which allows the storage of millions of priceless native seeds, greatly contributing to the conservation, and restoration of threatened species.  

However, the mechanical services that were installed to serve the seed bank were inadequate and were under performing.   Sean Rapley was engaged to prepare the design of a new climate control system, and he liaised with the users and facility manager to identify the risks, and objectives, for the upgrade of the facility.   

The upgraded system had to maintain 15 degrees Celsius, 15% relative humidity, year round, and required system availability of 99.9%.  The unique micro climate around the facility also resulted in ambient temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.   

Sean Rapley assessed the system requirements, and developed a solution, based on a dessicant de-humidification system to maintain the extremely low absolute humidity, and a customised commercial refrigeration system to maintain the room temperatures. Adiabatic cooling systems were also installed on the new and existing heat rejection plant, significantly improving reliability, and reducing maintenance costs.   To ensure efficient system performance, the room walls, and ductwork were sealed for air & vapour tightness to prevent the ingress of moisture into the system.  

Rapley Consulting Engineers are thrilled to deliver a unique, and extremely critical infrastructure that will preserve Australian native flora for generations to come.   

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