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Moisture vapor transmission rate

Moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR), also water vapor transmission rate (WVTR), is a measure of the passage of water vapour through a substance.

There are many industries where this property is critical. Here are some examples. When packaging substances that are sensitive to moisture loss or gain, such as pharmaceutical preparations or foodstuffs, MVTR is critical in achieving the desired quality, safety, and shelf-life for the products. In clothing, MVTR as a measure of breathability has contributed to greater comfort for wearers of clothing for outdoor activity. The building materials industry also manages the moisture barrier properties in architectural components to ensure the correct moisture levels in the internal spaces of buildings.


There are various techniques to measure WVTR, ranging from gravimetric techniques that measure the gain or loss of moisture by mass, to highly sophisticated instrumental techniques that in some designs can measure extremely low transmission rates. Note that special care has to be taken in measuring porous substances such as fabrics as some techniques are not appropriate. Likewise for very low levels, many techniques would not have the resolution to provide a reliable result. There are numerous standard methods described in ISO, ASTM, BS, DIN etc, quite often industry specific. Instrument manufacturers will often be able to provide test methods developed to fully exploit the specific design which they are selling.

The conditions under which the measurement is made has a considerable influence on the result. Both the temperature of and humidity gradient across the sample need to be measured, controlled and recorded with the result. An MVTR result without specifying these conditions is almost meaningless. Certainly no two results should be compared unless the conditions are known. The most common international unit for the MVTR is g/m²/day. In the USA, g/100in²/day is also in use, which is 1/15 of the value of g/m²/day units. Typical rates in aluminium foil laminates may be as low as 0.001 g/m²/day and in fabrics may measure several thousand g/m²/day.

Often, testing is conducted on a sheet of material. Calculations based on that can be useful when designing completed structures (packages, clothing, etc). Seams and seals are also very important to end-use performance; performance verification of complete containers or irregular objects is often recommended.

Out of interest, there are similar rates for other gases in common use, for example: OTR "oxygen transmission rate", and COTR "carbon dioxide transmission rate".

See also


  • Bell, L.N., and Labuza, T.P. 2000. "Practical Aspects of Moisture Sorption Isotherm Measurement and Use". 2nd Edition AACC Egan Press, Egan, MN
  • ASTM F1249-06 Standard Test Method for Water Vapor Transmission Rate Through Plastic Film and Sheeting Using a Modulated Infrared Sensor
  • ASTM E398-03 Standard Test Method for Water Vapor Transmission Rate of Sheet Materials Using Dynamic Relative Humidity Measurement
  • ASTM F2298-03 Standard Test Methods for Water Vapor Diffusion Resistance and Air Flow Resistance of Clothing Materials Using the Dynamic Moisture Permeation Cell
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Moisture_vapor_transmission_rate". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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