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Elizaveta Demidova

T 6613 KA

Desiccant cooling systems

Bachelor’s Thesis
Building Services Engineering

December 2013

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DESCRIPTION
Date of the bachelor's thesis

Author(s) Degree programme and option


Double Degree Programme in Building Services
Elizaveta Demidova Engineering
Name of the bachelor's thesis

Desiccant cooling systems

Abstract

Desiccant cooling systems are a new way in cooling of buildings. One of the main point of applying
these systems is that they use renewable sources of energy such as solar energy or geothermal energy.
It means that there is reduction of CO2 emission, which is very important for nowadays. Another
point of using of these systems is that they do not use any refrigerants, which also can be harmful for
the environment. Thereby desiccant systems are good for environment.

This work describes the principle of work of desiccant cooling systems, different types of these sys-
tems such as liquid and solid desiccant cooling systems, different types of liquid and solid desiccant
carriers, energy sources for these systems, sanitizing effect of desiccant systems, DesiCool system by
Munters and payback time in Russia and in Finland.

In order to develop the theme some methods were used such as literature review, comparing of dif-
ferent systems, analyzing of existing desiccant system such as DesiCool by Munters and calculation of
payback time of these systems for Russia and Finland.

Subject headings, (keywords)

Desiccant cooling system, liquid desiccant, solid desiccant

Pages Language URN

40 English
Remarks, notes on appendices

Tutor Employer of the bachelor's thesis


Martti Veuro

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CONTENTS

1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................2
1.1 General overview .........................................................................................2
1.2 Aims .............................................................................................................3
1.3 Methods ........................................................................................................3

2 DESICCANT SYSTEMS ......................................................................................5

3 SOLID DESICCANTS ..........................................................................................6


3.1 Desiccant wheel ............................................................................................9
3.2 Solid desiccant bed .......................................................................................9
3.3 Desiccant wheel or desiccant bed ...............................................................10

4 SOLID DESICCANT SYSTEM COMBINED WITH CHILLED BEAM ...........11

5 LIQUID DESICCANTS ......................................................................................13


5.1 How liquid desiccant systems dehumidify ..................................................15
5.2 Liquid Desiccant Carriers ...........................................................................15
5.3 Benefits of liquid desiccant cooling systems ..............................................19
5.4 Liquid Desiccant Hybrid Cooling Systems .................................................19

6 ENERGY SOURCES FOR SOLID DESICCANT SYSTEMS ...........................21

7 THE SANITIZING EFFECTS OF DESICCANT COOLING SYSTEMS ..........25

8 RESULTS AND ANALYSING OF RESULTS...................................................27

9 CONCLUSION ...................................................................................................40

10 LIST OF REFERENCES .....................................................................................41

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1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 General overview

Nowadays, people pay a lot of attention to environmental problems. The temperature


on the Earth and the amount of greenhouse gases are increasing and especially the
amount of carbon dioxide. Mainly it happens because of production of energy. How-
ever, producing and consumption of energy is increasing every year.

A great part of energy, which people produce, goes to the heating and cooling of
buildings. Therefore, production of energy for heating, cooling, air conditioning sys-
tems also leads to increasing of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The requirements for cooling systems are increasing. That is why sustainable cooling
systems are becoming more and more popular. These systems are using renewable
energy sources such as solar energy and ground thermal sources. Desiccant cooling
systems take energy from renewable sources and make indoor air comfortable for
working and living. However, desiccant systems require fossil-fuel energy for some
purposes. These systems mainly consists of the desiccant dehumidifier, air-to-air heat
ex-changer and regenerator.

Desiccant cooling systems takes air from outside or from the building. Then the sys-
tem dehumidifies the air with a solid or liquid desiccant. After that, it cools the air by
heat exchange. Then evaporation cools the air to the desired state close to 80-90%
relative humidity in the inlet air stream. The desiccant must be recovered by heat. This
can be done by solar heat energy from solar collectors.

Thereby desiccant cooling systems are very good and useful technologies because
demand and supply of energy coincide: we need cooling of buildings especially in the
summer and solar radiation is abundantly available in the summer time. These systems
are reliable, effective and do not pollute the environment so much. Therefore, it is just
a question of time when people will start to use these systems for cooling of supply
the air during summer time.

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1.2 Aims

This thesis has several aims. The main aim of the thesis is to find out the possibility
of decreasing the energy consumption for cooling purpose. It can be done by applying
desiccant cooling systems, which uses renewable energy sources such as solar energy.

The second aim of this work is to describe the principle of work of desiccant cooling
systems.

The third aim is to review different types of desiccant cooling systems.

The fourth aim is to compare different types of desiccant cooling systems.

The fifth aim is to compare desiccant systems with traditional cooling systems.

1.3 Methods

This thesis has several methods. The first method is the literature review. Desiccant
systems are quite new systems. There is not much information about these systems.
The main source of the information of this thesis are different articles and brochures
from manufacturers.

The second method of this work is to describe the principle of work of desiccant cool-
ing systems. The principle of work of these systems differ from traditional cooling
systems.

The next method is to review different types of desiccant cooling systems. There are
two types of desiccants: liquid and solid. Because of it, there are also many types of
desiccant carriers.

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Another method is to compare different types of desiccant cooling systems. Different
types of these systems have their own advantages and disadvantages. In addition, I am
going to figure out in which case to use one or another type of any desiccant system.

The next method is to compare the desiccant systems with the traditional cooling sys-
tems. Both of these systems have their own advantages and disadvantages compared
to each other.

The last method is to overview the desiccant cooling system. How much energy and
money does it save per year and overview three different modes of work.

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2 DESICCANT SYSTEMS

The five main parts of the liquid desiccant cooling systems are a heat/mass exchanger,
a desiccant regenerator, a solar collector, a wind catcher and a cooling tower. The
parts of the system you can see on the figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Desiccant cooling system /1/

The solar collector is made for regeneration of the desiccant solution with hot water.
Wind catcher is made for natural ventilation. The cooling tower is made in order to
cool down the hot solution.

There are two air processes and one desiccant cycle in the dehumidifier and regenera-
tor units. There are desiccant regeneration, desiccant dehumidifier, a solar driven
heater, store system, desiccant cooling coil and desiccant-to-desiccant exchanger, des-
iccant sprayers, piping connections and solution sinks.

Desiccant-to-desiccant heat exchanger preheats the desiccant solution. Then, hot water
in the plate heat exchanger heats up the solution. The plate heat exchanger gets hot
water from solar collector. After that, hot solution is sprayed to the regenerator. The
solution goes down and contacts with air stream. The solution dries air stream. Then
solution with moisture from the air stream goes to desiccant-to-desiccant heat ex-
changer where the temperature decrease and after that, it goes to the dehumidifier.

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When the solution goes through the desiccant-to-water heat exchanger, it has a high
temperature drop. The solution goes to the solution sink and it is pumped to a fiber
paper. The fiber paper absorb the desiccant from the solution and then it absorb the
moisture from the air stream. After that the desiccant goes back to the store system.

3 SOLID DESICCANTS

The solid desiccant is a dehumidifier made of porous and hydrophilic materials and it
is adsorbing moisture from the air. Usually the solid desiccants are activated alumi-
num oxide, titanium silicate, silica gel, natural and synthetic zeolites, etc. Those ad-
sorbents have high regenerative temperature. For example, the regenerative tempera-
ture range for carbon-methanol is about 80-100 °C, the temperature range for Molecu-
lar Sieve DH-5 and DH-7 is about 100 °C and for Molecular Sieve X13, aluminum
oxide and silica gel it is about 200-300 °C.

Another characteristic, which the solid desiccant adsorbents have, is the adsorption
capacity. Molecular Sieve DH-5 and DH-7 have a higher adsorption capacity compar-
ing to the aluminum oxide and silica gel. The adsorption capacity of DH-5 and DH-7
reach the value of 0.7 kg/kg. They also have higher cooling capacity.

Comparing different adsorbents such as silica gel, activated aluminum oxide, 13X we
can conclude that the silica gel and the activated alumina are not very useful because
of their high regenerative temperature about 200 °C. It is very hard to get this tem-
perature from the solar energy or from any other renewable energy sources. However,
those two adsorbents has longer period of usage. Adsorbent 13X has a lower adsorp-
tion capacity but 13X makes the dehumidification more stable.

The main factors to choose the solid desiccant are the regenerative temperature, the
durability, the adsorption capacity and the stability. The comparisons of the adsor-
bent–adsorbate pairs are shown in the table below. From this table we can see that
DH-5 and DH-7 are better choice because they have the highest adsorption capacities
and low regenerative temperature. The solid desiccants 13X and 5A have a high ad-
sorption capacity but their very high regenerative temperature makes them not so use-
ful. /1/

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Table 1. Comparisons of adsorbent–adsorbate pairs./1/

Adsorbent–adsorbate Max. adsorption Capaci- Regenerator


ty (kg/kg) Temperature (°C)
(approximate value)
4A– water 0.22 350
13X– water 0.3 350
5A– water 0.33 350
Clinoptilolite (natural zeo- 0.12 240
lite) – water
Mordenite – water 0.11 250
Chabazite – water 0.17 250
Charcoal – water 0.4 250
Activated alumina – water 0.19 250
Silica gel – water 0.37 150
DH-5 0.72 100
DH-7 0.73 100

Example

On the Mollier chart below (figure 3), you can see the conditions of the air in a desic-
cant cooling system. In this case, system uses solar air collectors. The system situates
in the middle Europe. From 1 to 2 the air from outside is dried and heated by the de-
humidifier. From 2 to 3 air is cooled by the exhaust air. From 3 to 4 air is
evaporatively cooled and then the air goes to the building. From 5 to 6 the exhaust air
is evaporatively cooled near to the saturation point. From 6 to 7 the heat regenerator
heated the air. From 7 to 8 the air temperature is increased by solar energy till the lev-
el of the desiccant to regenerate the dehumidifier. At 9 the exhaust air goes outside. /2/

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Figure 2. Desiccant cooling system. /2/

Figure 3. Conditions of air in a desiccant cooling system

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Solid Desiccant Carriers

3.1 Desiccant wheel

The most common solid desiccant carrier is the desiccant wheel. It is almost like an
enthalpy wheel heat exchanger. The solid desiccant situates on fins of the wheel and
desiccants adsorbs moisture from outdoor air. Then in order to recover adsorbents hot
air is required. The main difference of the desiccant wheel and the enthalpy wheel is
that the enthalpy wheel carries the heat between indoor and outdoor air. The enthalpy
wheels do not require an additional regeneration energy.

Figure 4. Desiccant wheel. /3/

On the picture above(figure 4) , you can see the desiccant wheel. The process of oper-
ation has two steps: at first humid indoor air goes through the upper part of the wheel
and the solid desiccant adsorb moisture. Then adsorb moisture goes down where it
evaporates out to the hot and dry regenerator air. The speed of airflow does not really
effect on the dehumidification efficiency but the temperature of regenerative air does.
/3/

3.2 Solid desiccant bed

This type desiccant carrier can be used only in cases when cooling system is working
only for some hours per day. Solid desiccant bed cannot be used in continuous opera-

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tion system because in order to regenerate desiccant the dehumidification process
must be stopped. That is why the solid desiccant is not so popular. On the picture be-
low is shown the solid desiccant bed which is dehumidifying air in the night time and
has a regeneration in the day time.

Figure 5. Experimental solid desiccant bed. /4/

3.3 Desiccant wheel or desiccant bed

The desiccant wheel has more advantages when it is compared to the desiccant bed.
The advantages are the following:

1. The desiccant wheel can be easily installed with traditional HVAC systems.
2. Regeneration and dehumidification goes at the same time and the system
runs all the time.
3. The desiccant wheel require smaller installing place than the desiccant bed.
4. In the desiccant wheel, it is possible to control the regeneration and the dehu-
midification, which is difficult to do with the desiccant bed.

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4 SOLID DESICCANT SYSTEM COMBINED WITH CHILLED BEAM

There are two types of chilled beam systems: passive and active chilled beam systems.
Passive chilled beam have a fin and a tube heаt exchanger, which is in a casing or in a
housing. The cooling process takes place because the warm room air goes upwards
and the water is passing through the tubes and cools the room air down. For passive
chilled beam, there is no need for a fan. The active chilled beam system has an inte-
gral air supply. It means that supply air goes through the nozzles. Because of it, the
active chilled beam system has a bigger cooling capacity than the passive chilled
beam system. The chill beam system has a primary air system. It needs this system in
order to avoid condensation and to deliver the needed amount of the outdoor air. /21/

It is possible to use the desiccant cooling system as the prmary air system for the
chilled beam system. In this case the solid desiccant system is used. On the picture
below is shown the solid desiccant system with the chilled beam.

Figure 6. Active chilled beams with primary air system with a desiccant wheel /21/

The desiccant system, which is used in this system, are different from the usual ones
because the water is adsorbed in the down part of the desiccant wheel and the desic-
cant regeneration in the upper part of the desiccant wheel.

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Figure 7. Desiccant cooling system for chilled beams. /21/

The points on the figure 7 correspond to the point on the Mollier chart. Where OA is 1
the outdoor air. OA’ is 2 the air after heat exchanger wheel. RA is 3 exhaust air. MA
is 4. Mixed air. MA’ is 5 the air after desiccant wheel. CA is 6 the air after the cooling
coil. PA is 7 the supply air.

Figure 8. Air processes in the system with chilled beams

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The air processes in the system are shown on the Mollier chart (figure 8). The desic-
cant wheel adsorbs the water from the air. Then in the desiccant wheel, air after cool-
ing coil is dehumidified until the dew point. The exhaust air, which enters the system,
has a smaller level of humidity than the outdoor air. Therefore, the desiccant wheel
gives the water vapor to the mixed air, no additional heat for the regeneration is need-
ed. /21/

5 LIQUID DESICCANTS

Triethylene glycol, lithium bromide, lithium chloride are used as liquid desiccants
usually. Liquid desiccants have a lower regeneration temperature than solid desic-
cants.The regeneration temperature is usually below 80 °C. In cooling systems, it is
usually used a pre-cooled desiccant in order to achieve the dehumidification and the
cooling of the air because liquid desiccants also remove extra moisture and it leads to
the increasing of temperature.

The most stable liquid desiccant is lithium bromide (Libr+H2O). It also has low a va-
por pressure but the price of the lithium bromide is higher than the price of others.
However, the strong corrosive to metals, the high price and the high temperature of
the regeneration make it not so useful. There is another desiccant, which is lithium
chloride (LiCl). The lithium chloride has a lower temperature of regeneration and a
higher absorption capacity but it is also corrosive to metals.

Another liquid desiccant is Calcium chloride (CaCl2). Calcium chloride has the same
crystallization temperature about 11-12 °C as the lithium bromide. It has a lower price
and no corrosion to metals but it has a lower potential of the dehumidification.

It was found out that the seawater could be used as the desiccant source and can be
used in the solar green houses as it is shown in the Table 2. From the table we can see
that ZnCl2 has the biggest absorption capacity but the seawater content small amount
of ZnCl2. LiBr, CaCl2 and LiCl have smaller absorption capacity than ZnCl2 but it is
also quite high. CaCl2 has the biggest mass concentration in the seawater and it has the
lowest price. LiCl has a low concentration in the seawater but it has a higher level of
absorption capacity compare to CaCl2. CaCl2 is also more toxic for humans than LiCl.

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So lithium bromide, lithium chloride and calcium chloride are commonly used as liq-
uid desiccants. /1/

Table 2. Comparison of several aqueous solutions from seawater.


“Comparison of the properties of six liquid desiccants at 25℃, to allow a fair com-
parison, a concentration giving an equilibrium relative humidity of ERH=50% has
been chosen in each case, with the exception of sodium chloride where ERH=75%,
this being the minimum achievable.
a) Volume of desiccant solution that could theoretically be extracted from unit volume
of seawater, assuming 100% recovery speed.
b) Mass of water that, on absorption in the solution, will cause a 10% relative in-
crease in equilibrium relative humidity.
c) Estimated lethal dose in humans scaled from LD50 values for rats.
d) At 50℃.” /1,32/

Property Unit Aqueous solution of:


CaCl2 LiBr LiCl MgCl2 ZnCl2 NaCl
Concentration (mass - 0.36 0.39 0.26 0.31 0.52 0.26
solution)
Hygroscopicity(RH) % 50 50 50 50 50 75
Cost USD/m3 560 7300 4600 450 1400 180
Abundance in m3/m3 0.0023 4x10-6 3 x10-6 0.013 1 x10-6 0.09
a
seawater
Density kg/m3 1.35 1.38 1.40 1.29 1.58 1.20
Viscosity mPa s 4.6 1.8 2. 6.0 4.7 1.8
Specific heat capacity kJ/kg °C 2.6 2.6 3.0 2.1 2.3 3.4
Thermal conductivity W/m °C 0.56 0.48 0.56 0.52 0.46 0.58
Diffusivity of water in 10-9 m2/s 0.54 1.17 0.90 0.91 0.80 1.86
the solution
Differential heat of kJ/kg 80 No data 65 65d No data No data
dilution
Water absorption kg/m3 85 84 91 76 120 n.a.
capacityb
Human toxicityc L 0.14 0.23 0.10 0.49 0.03 0.66
Ecotoxicity ml/L 4.9(2) No data 0.06(2) 4.3(1) 0.001(6) 20(5)

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5.1 How liquid desiccant systems dehumidify

At the first solution of cold lithium, chloride goes down through the panels with a
honeycomb structure where it absorbs moisture and sensible heat from the air stream.
The air stream goes upwards. The solution of lithium chloride and moisture goes to
the secondary regeneration module. There the solution is getting cold again and then it
is transferred back to the primary module. Then the solution is heated a bit in order to
increase the level of moisture absorption. The heat for this purpose usually comes
from the renewable source of energy like solar energy. The system is usually placed
on the roof of the building. The system is connected to the cold water line and to the
outdoor air intake. /8/

Figure 9. Liquid desiccant system./8/


Where 96°F is 35°C and 89°F is 32°C

5.2 Liquid Desiccant Carriers

Wet Wall/ Falling Film

In this type of a desiccant carrier, a cold solution is sprayed from the top of the instal-
lation and the humid and hot air comes from the bottom. The installation consists of
two steel plates and water tunnel between those two plates. Water tunnel brings sensi-
ble and latent heat out of the humid and hot air. The effectiveness of the installation is
improved compare to the older solution by enhancing of the contacting surface of the
air stream and solution. The installation you can see on the picture below.
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Figure 10. Stainless steel internal dehumidifier/regenerator cores./1/

Another solution for the liquid desiccant carrier is CaCl2 film, which covers the bot-
tom of the solar collector and it contacts the air steam. There are factors that affects
the effectiveness of the system: the angle of the solar collector, the thickness of the
desiccant film and the flow speed. In order to increase the effectiveness of the installa-
tion a regenerator tower was added. The temperature of the solution and moisture con-
tent was decreased. To make the installation cheaper it was suggested to use polyeth-
ylene and polypropylene membranes as the wet wall/falling film. It endure change of
the temperature and the high pressure. /1/

Packed tower

There are two types of the packed towers: a tower with random packing and a tower
with regular (structured) packing. The packed towers are applied in order to improve
contact between two phases. As the packed materials can be used plastic or polypro-
pylene pall rings/spheres, sandy layer, ceramic saddles. The materials, which is used
as packing, must have a high-pressure resistance and a high liquid flow capacity. On
the picture below, you can see an example of the packed tower./5/,/6/

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Figure 11. Packed tower. /5/

There are also many types of the packing structure. The honeycomb structure for ex-
ample, the structure where the air stream contacts with the solution in the honeycombs
and paper fiber holds particulars of the solution. Kool-Cel structure was made in such
way that air comes in to the pad with 45-degree angle from both sides. Another struc-
ture is a modified Kool-Cel structure. It is a Celdek structure. In this structure, the air
comes from the steep pitch. It means that entrance of the air is fixed and because of it,
the airflow resistance is higher.

Spray Chamber

The spray chambers are also called spray towers. Spray chambers have a steel or plas-
tic vessel and nozzles which spray liquid. The air stream comes from the bottom of the
chamber and goes upwards and liquid sprays downwards. This mixture of air stream
and liquid is called countercurrent flow. On the picture below you can see typical
spray chamber.

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Figure 12. Spray chamber. /7/

The spray chamber is used in order to absorb moisture from the air. Usually spray
chambers are used with the packed towers. It improve the interfacе with airflow. In
some spray chambers, particles of the solution can be carried out by air steam. It hap-
pens because of the solution film directly contacts with the air stream. /7/

Comparing of the liquid desiccant carriers

All of these liquid desiccant carriers have advantages and disadvantages:

1. Wet wall/falling film has the best contacting surface of the solution and the
airflow of these three carriers. However, there is a possibility that particles can
be carried out by the air stream.
2. To use the packed tower we have to apply some additional equipment outside
the dehumidifier in order to cool the air. Wet wall/falling film has a cooling
pipe which increases the cooling capacity.
3. In the packed tower, there are no particles, which could be carried out.
4. In packed towers with structured structure, the air temperature, the concentra-
tion and the flow speed highly effects to the effectiveness. However, in the
tower with the random structure these factors slightly effect on the effective-
ness.

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5. The honeycomb structure of the packed tower has a worse contacting surface
than Celdek structure. However, the honeycomb structure has a lower flow re-
sistance.

5.3 Benefits of liquid desiccant cooling systems

1. Using liquid desiccant cooling systems take less room for cooling equipment
than the solid desiccant equipment.
2. It allows you to increase the temperature of set points and you will still have
occupant comfort.
3. The equipment need a smaller run time with a higher temperature.
4. Possibility of using renewable energy sources.
5. Air quality is better because lithium Chloride that is used as liquid desiccant
kills viruses and bacteria.
6. Decreased level of mold and bacteria in HVAC equipment.
7. It is simple to install liquid desiccant systems.

5.4 Liquid Desiccant Hybrid Cooling Systems

Liquid desiccant systems compared to solid desiccant system have different methods
of the operation than other cooling systems. That is why it is possible to combine liq-
uid cooling systems with renewable sources of energy in order to cool and dehumidi-
fy. These combined systems decrease air pollution and save energy because of using
renewable energy sources.

Liquid desiccant systems can be combined: with indirect or direct evaporative cooling,
with vapor compression cycle air conditioning system, with heat pump. /1/

The system combined with indirect or direct evaporative cooling

There are two tunnels in this system, which are used as a heat exchanger. In the first
tunnel, water goes from the upper part of the system and it absorbs latent heat. In the
second tunnel the solution goes from the upper part of the system and latent heat goes
to the first tunnel. In the experiments which was made by W.Y. Saman and S.

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Alizadeh were found out that the effectiveness of this system is about 75 % when the
angle between tunnels is 45 degrees and the air mass flow rate is about 0,3 kg/s. /1/

The advantages of liquid desiccant cooling systems, which are combined with indirect
or direct evaporative cooling:

1. The level of dehumidification is increased for 50% compared to the solid des-
iccant systems.
2. In the solid desiccant systems the temperature of the air increases when it ab-
sorbs the moisture but in this system it is not happening.
3. The effectiveness of the liquid system with indirect or direct evaporative cool-
ing is 30% higher than the effectiveness of only a liquid desiccant system.
4. The solution of LiCl, which is used in this system, has a higher level of dehu-
midification than the solution of CaCl2. /11/

The system combined with vapor compression air conditioning system

This system consists of evaporative cooling, dehumidifier and vapor compression air
cycle conditioning. The advantage of that kind of hybrid system is the state of the inlet
air is changed after dehumidificator and evaporator.

This kind of hybrid system decreases the level of the energy consumption for com-
pressor and increase COP. The system also has a smaller size. In the system without
vapor compression, the COP value is two times worse.

The system combined with a heat pump

In this type of a system it can be used the following refrigerants R407C, R417a, etc.
and LiCl solution. On the picture below(figure 13) you can see this kind of the system.
At first, the refrigerant cools the solution and air of the regenerator. After that, it
evaporates the solution in the evaporator. The COP value for the system with cooling
is only 4. The COP value for the system with cooling and dehumidification is 3. /12/

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Figure 13. The system combined with a heat pump /1/

6 ENERGY SOURCES FOR SOLID DESICCANT SYSTEMS

Solid desiccants require high temperature for regeneration. This temperature usually is
higher than 80 °C. That is why this type of the system has high level of energy con-
sumption. For this purpose is usually used gas, electric, low-level waste heat energy or
solar heat energy.

Electrical energy

In some cases, electrical energy can be used for regeneration of the solution. However,
by applying of the electrical energy we will increase the energy consumption of the
whole system. Energy consumption is high.

Gas energy

Another type of the energy for the regeneration of the solution is the gas energy. Us-
ing of the gas source in the system is shown on the picture below. Hot air with a small
humidity level is provided to the desiccant wheel and then it takes out the moisture.
The hot temperature of the air heats up the desiccant wheel. That is why there is rise
of supply air temperature. Therefore, in this case the desiccant system has to be used

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with the traditional HVAC system. COP value is also not as good as in the case with
the electrical energy.

Figure 14. Schema of desiccant dehumidification. /1/

Solar energy

Solar energy is a very popular source of energy, which is used for desiccant regenera-
tion. It can regenerate weak and strong desiccants. Weak desiccants can be regenerat-
ed in the daytime. Strong desiccants can be regenerated both in the daytime and in the
nighttime. If the system is big then there can be enough of solar energy for a couple of
days, in case of cloudy days. There are three types of regenerating desiccant source
from solar energy: solar water, solar air and solar desiccant.

The first type of regenerating desiccant source is a solar water collector. It supplies
hot water in order to heat the air regenerator. During the times when there is a lot of
solar energy some of energy goes to heat exchange of air regenerator and another part
of the solar energy goes to a tank where it stored for time when there is not enough
energy. The water solar collector you can see on the picture below.

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Figure 15. Solar water collector. /8/

Another type of solar energy collectors is an air solar energy collector. It can be done
as a tight roof of the building. This system is cheaper than mid temperature collectors.
The temperature, which can be achieved on this installation, is more than 94 °C inter-
nal temperature of the air and greater than 72 °C ambient temperature. In the summer,
there is a big range of air temperatures. Because of it, there is a big amount of the air
for the regeneration of the desiccant. However, in order to transfer the hot air to the
regenerator it needs pipe system and good insulation.

Figure 16. Air solar collector. /9/

The last type of solar energy collectors is a desiccant solar energy collector. The des-
iccant in the collector is in the saturated form. The desiccant is absorb solar energy
and moisture. It recover also weak desiccants in the daytime and strong desiccant dur-
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ing the nighttime. The principle of work of this method are following: the desiccant,
which is on the top of solar collector, goes down and stays in the solution tank. In or-
der to hold the desiccant the down part of the solar collector has a porous material.
The air stream goes to the top part while desiccant goes to the bottom. /9/

The most popular of these three methods is the solar water collectors. Here are some
reasons why it is so:

1. It is easier to transfer solar water than to transfer solar desiccant.


2. The solar water is not dangerous for humans. It is neither corrosive.
3. The solar water solution has the same level of the effectiveness as solar desic-
cant solution.
4. Water tanks can store the solar heat energy.

When comparing solar energy with the other sources of energy we can find out some
advantages and disadvantages:

1. Solar energy is renewable source of energy; there is no air pollution when


people use solar energy.
2. In Finland the Sun allows to get additional energy from March to November.
3. The solar water is more efficient than the solar air or the solar desiccant.
4. Using of the solar energy is cheaper than gas or electric.
5. Using of the gas or electric heater is handier.
6. Solar energy has a smaller regenerative efficiency.

Geothermal energy

Desiccant cooling system can be combined with a geothermal energy source. In this
case borehole heat exchangers are used as a chiller. Heat pump is used for heating of
the desiccant until its regenerative temperature. It decreases the energy consumption
for about 30 %.

On picture below you can see a desiccant cooling system with the geothermal energy
source. There are 5 piles of energy and 3 boreholes. In the summer and in the winter it

24
has different functions. In the summer it is used as a heat sink. In the winter, it is used
as a heat source. In this case, the depth of boreholes is 75 meters and the depth of the
piles is 14 meters. The solution which system uses is ethylene glycol and water.

Figure 17. Desiccant cooling system with geothermal source of energy and a heat
pump. /10/

The system with the geothermal source of energy has its advantages and disad-
vantages. One of the advantages is that the heat sink can have the same level of tem-
perature in order to control the temperature of the supply air. The disadvantage is the
air must be prepared for utilization of it by the geothermal heat sink. /10/

7 THE SANITIZING EFFECTS OF DESICCANT COOLING SYSTEMS

Fresh air from the outside can cause problems of the indoor air quality. Also the fresh
air from the outside increase the level of humidity, which can provide the growth of
the mold and the fungi. In order to control it people use HVAC system, which regulate
the level of moisture, the temperature and the bio aerosols, which maintain the level of
humidity in indoor air less than 60%.

Desiccant cooling systems has a sanitizing effect, which does not allow the appear-
ance of airborne microorganisms. These systems also improve the indoor air quality
25
and reduce the amount of microorganisms. The question is how exactly the system
prevents airborne microbe, by passing of microorganisms through the system or by
field operating of the system.

In order to prove that desiccant cooling systems has a sanitizing effect there was an
experiment in 1997 in America. For this purpose, there was installed four desiccant
cooling systems. Two systems was installed in room for patient in hospitals. One sys-
tem was installed in the common room of a nursing room. The last system was in-
stalled in the laboratory of the university in the controlled isolation chamber. The sys-
tems was tested for seven microorganisms. The microorganisms are staphylococcus
aureus, pseudoudomonus aeruginosa, escherichia coli, staphylococcus epidermidis,
entherococcus faecalis, candida albicans. /13/

The graph 1 bellow shows the reduction in percent of the bacteria and the fungi for 3
installations. At the graph for the first system, we can see the average reduction of the
bacteria is 39 % and the average reduction of the fungi is 32 %. At the graph for the
second system, we can see the average reduction of bacteria is 64 % and the average
reduction of fungi is 55 %. At the graph for the third system we can see the average
reduction of the bacteria is 64 % and the average reduction of the fungi is 72 %. /13/

Graph 1. Reduction in percent in bacteria and in fungus counts(mold) Where 1 – the


first system, 2 – the second system, 3 – the third system. /13/

26
On the graph 2 bellow, we can see the reduction in percent of the selected microbes.
The system was tested for seven microbes. The reduction of the microorganisms in
average is about 38 %.

Graph 2. Reduction in selected microbes. Where 1 - staphylococcus aureus,2 -


pseudoudomonus aeruginosa, 3 - escherichia coli,4 - staphylococ-cus epidermidis, 5 -
entherococcus faecalis, 6 - candida albicans. /13/

Thereby cooling systems, which are based on the desiccant cooling, reduce the
amount of the air-borne bacteria. The reason of it is the desiccant wheel. The system
reduce the amount of bacteria in two ways. The first way is directly by the desicca-
tion. The second way is indirectly by the dehumidification. We can conclude that the-
se systems can prevent building-related illnesses, so it is wise to install these systems
to building where the indoor air quality is very important such as health care centers,
hospitals and so on. /13/

8 RESULTS AND ANALYSING OF RESULTS

Nowadays there are not many manufactures, which are producing desiccant cooling
systems because these systems are not very common yet. One of those manufactures is
Munters. Munters has a good information about their systems that is why there is a
review their desiccant cooling system, which is called DesiCool as an example of the
desiccant cooling system. DesiCool is a solid desiccant system.
27
The cooling systems, which is made by Munters using evaporative cooling and heat
recovery instead of refrigerants and compressors. Desiccant wheel makes heat recov-
ery and dehumidification.

In order to understand how much money can be saved by applying the desiccant cool-
ing system there is a table which shows power demands, costs and amount of money
which you can save by using the desiccant cooling system compared to usage of a
traditional cooling system.

Table 3. Profitability calculation for the DesiCool system. /15/


Air conditioning unit with
Munters
compressor cooling and
DesiCool
heat recovery 60%
Operating hours per year h 8400 8400
Supply air kWh 12,8 13,6
Fan
Discharge air kWh 13 11,9
Rotor + 1 evaporative cooler kWh/a 206 -
Heat recovery kWh/a 167 -
Rotor + 2 evaporative coolers kWh/a 251 -
Cooling Compression cooling kWh/a - 84566
Secondary pumps kWh/a - 2216
Regeneration heat for cooling kWh/a 3343 -
Water m3/a 109 -
Heat recovery rotor kWh 2188 -
Electricity
Dehumidifi cation rotor kWh 2188 -
Heating Re-heater kWh 85217 315754
Electricity €/kWh 0,11 0,11
Prices Heat €/kWh 0,06 0,006
Water €/m3 2 2
Ventilation per year 23612 23591
Costs Cooling* per year 486 9546
Heating per year 5594 18945
Yearly running costs € 29855 52084
Difference per year € 22 390
Saving per year 43%
*These costs include all uses listed under “cooling”

This table also shows power demands and costs for ventilation and heating. Therefore
we can calculate that when we use this system only for the cooling purpose the energy
demand is 4076 kWh. Energy demand for traditional cooling system is 86782 kWh.
The cost for cooling for DesiCool is 486 € per year. The cost for cooling per year for
traditional cooling system is 9546 €. The difference per year is 9060 €. So the saving
per year for cooling purpose is 94.9%. /15/

28
The cooling by the DesiCool system can be made by three different mode. It means
that there are three cycles. On the picture below (figure 18) is shown where in the
system different points are situated.

Figure 18. Characteristic points of the system. /14/

Where 1 – outdoor air, 2 – air after desiccant wheel, 3 – air after heat exchanger, 4 –
air after dehumidifier, 5 – supply air, 6 – exhaust air, 7 – air after dehumidifier, 8 –
air after heat exchanger, 9 – air after heating coil, 10 – extract air.

Direct Evaporative Cooling

The first mode is the mode with the direct evaporative cooling. You can use this mode
when the temperature and the relative humidity of the outdoor air is not that high.
Therefore, in this case we use evaporating cooling. In the dehumidifier, the relative
humidity increases and the air temperature decreases. The heat from the air evaporates
the water. The conversion of the sensible heat to latent heat decrease the temperature.

29
Figure 19. The first mode of the DesiCool system.

The process of evaporation has a constant wet bulb temperature. The relative humidity
is higher if the supply air temperature is lower. For this case, there must be a limita-
tion for relative humidity of the exhaust air. After this level of humidity it is not al-
lowed to dehumidify air and you must use another mode. /14/

Indirect Evaporative Cooling

In the case when it is not possible, to achieve the indoor air-conditions by direct evap-
orative cooling it is applied the mode with the indirect evaporative cooling.

In this case, the air is cooled in the heat exchanger and after that the air is dehumidi-
fied and the temperature decreases to the design value. In the heat exchanger, the heat
from the incoming air goes to the exhaust air. However, the supply air temperature
must be higher than the exhaust air temperature. In order to meet this condition the
30
dehumidifier cool down the exhaust air. The process can be seen on the Mollier chart
(figure 20).

Figure 20. The second mode of the DesiCool system.

The line of the process 2 – 3 is vertical as well as line 7 – 8. These processes are in the
heat exchanger. The specific humidity is the constant in these processes. It means that
there is no humidity exchange in the heat exchanger between the exhaust and the sup-
ply air.

According to this chart, we can calculate the temperаture efficiency of thе heat
exchаnger:

31
Where t2 is the temperature in the point 2 (See points in the figure 16)
t3 is the temperature in the point 3
t7 is the temperature in the point 7

The line 3 – 4 and the line 6 – 7 are processes in the dehumidifier. The wet bulb tem-
perature of these processes are constant. /14/

Desiccant & Evaporative Cooling

The supply air temperature must be higher than the exhaust air temperature. The tem-
perature difference between the supply and the exhaust air in the heat exchanger is
determined by the efficiency of the heat exchanger.

In this case like in the previous case the exhaust air is cooled in dehumidifier. When
the air reaches the near the saturation conditions the amount of the moisture in the air
cannot be increased. If the air will be cooled more it will condensate. When the satu-
rated limit is achieved, there is the adsorption-cooling mode. In this case, the tempera-
ture of the supply air is increased in order to system works.

The supply air temperature is heated in the desiccant wheel. Also in the desiccant
wheel, the humidity from the supply air goes to the exhaust air. This process is almost
adiabatic. The adiabatic efficiency can be calculated by the equation bellow. Adiabatic
process is the process where there is no heat exchange with environment. Adiabatic
efficiency shows the relation between the adiabatic and the real power. (Adiabatic
power is the power, which compress and then expand the air that makes the experi-
mental mass-flow rate) /14/

Where h1 is enthalpy, kJ/kg in the point 1


h2 is enthalpy, kJ/kg in the point 2

32
Figure 21. The second mode of the DesiCool system.

The temperature efficiency of the heat exchanger can show us the amount of the hu-
midity that must be gotten. The temperature efficiency of the heat exchanger is calcu-
lated by the equation below. The temperature efficiency in this case is higher than in
the previous case.

33
Where t2 is the temperature in the point 2 (See points in the figure 16)
t3 is the temperature in the point 3
t7 is the temperature in the point 7

After passing through the heat exchanger air is dehumidified. Therefore air can be
cooled and humidified to the design value. The wet-bulb temperature is constant dur-
ing this process.

After the heat exchanger the air goes to the reactivation heater. In order to the desic-
cant wheel works properly the relative humidity of the supply air mush be higher than
the relative humidity of the exhaust air. Otherwise, it will not work because it needs to
transfer extracted moisture from one airflow to another. That is why the air is heated
in the reactivation heater where during the heating process the amount of the moisture
in the air is constant and the relative humidity drops.

The regeneration efficiency of the desiccant wheel in this case we can calculate by the
equation below:

Where hg is the latent vaporization heat of water


W1 is the specific humidity, kg/kg in the point 1
W2 is the specific humidity, kg/kg in the point 2
h8 is enthalpy, kJ/kg in the point 8
h9 is enthalpy, kJ/kg in the point 9

34
The amount of moisture, which exhaust air, will have after passing through the desic-
cant wheel we can calculate by the following equation. From Mollier chart we got
almost the same value which equals to W10 = 13.6 g/kg

g/kg

Where W1 is the specific humidity, g/kg in the point 1


W2 is the specific humidity, g/kg in the point 2
W9 is the specific humidity, g/kg in the point 9
W10 is the specific humidity, g/kg in the point 10

When the exhaust air passes through the desiccant wheel the processes, which goes
there goes in almost the adiabatic way. Therefore, we can calculate the adiabatic effi-
ciency. The adiabatic efficiency of the exhaust air is equal to the adiabatic efficiency
of the supply air./14/

Where h9 is enthalpy, kJ/kg in the point 9


h10 is enthalpy, kJ/kg in the point 10

35
Compressor cooling

In order to compare desiccant cooling system DesiCool and traditional cooling system
there was a simulation made by Juan Artieda Urrutia in his thesis work. As traditional
cooling system he also took DesiCool system but with changes. The process of the
cooling in this system is made by the compressor’s cooling coil. This system does not
have reactivation heat. The compressor uses electricity. One of the most important
difference is that DesiCool has two heat exchangers but traditional systems have only
one. That is why in this simulation the efficiency of the desiccant wheel was set as
zero percent. On the picture below, you can see a scheme of this system.

8 7

5
4 6
1 2 3

Figure 22. Schema of the system used for comparing. /15/

On the Mollier chart below you can see the conditions of the air in this system. The air
conditions are the same with the previous case.

36
Figure 23. Conditions of air in a system for comparing.

The data of temperatures and humidity for all these three modes of DesiCool system
and the compressor system were taken from the thesis work “Desiccant Cooling Anal-
ysis” and then air processes were drawn on the Mollier chart by program Mollier
Sketcher.

Payback time calculation

In this case, the cooling system is situated in the office building. The system work 8
hours per day during 3 summer months. The total cost of the desiccant cooling system
is 861 € higher than the total cost of the traditional system. The maintenance cost is 59
€ higher for desiccant cooling system. However, the desiccant cooling system saves
about 2692.8 kWh of the gas energy and 824.4 kWh of the electric energy per year.

37
The payback time was calculated for two cases: for Finland and for Russia. The total
cost of the whole system and the maintenance cost was taken the same but cost for gas
and electric energy is different. The costs for equipment and maintenance were in
British pounds but it was converted into euros. 1 British pound was taken as 1,21 Eu-
ro. Prices for electricity and gas for Russia were taken in rubles and then converted
into Euro. 1 Euro is 45 rubles. In the case for Finland (Table 4) the desiccant cooling
system saves 207 € and it means the payback time for the desiccant cooling system is
about 4.16 years. In the case for Russia (Table 5) the desiccant cooling system saves
42.5 € and it means the payback time for the desiccant cooling system is about 20.1
years. /19/ /20/

Prices for equipment and maintenance were taken from websites of manufactories and
some prices were taken from the thesis work “A Novel Heat Recovery/Desiccant
Cooling System”. /1/, /16/, /17/

Therefore, as we can see that in Russia it is not very effective to use these systems as
in Finland. It is cheaper to use the traditional system in Russia but we also must do not
forget about the CO2 emissions. Thereby we should think about the environment and
apply the desiccant systems in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

38
Table 4. Equipment capital and running cost for Finland. /1/
Traditional HVAC system Heat recovery/desiccant cooling system
Dehumidifier +Regenerator unit 1262
Solar collector (collector area
3.58m2) 432 /17/
Capital cost 3004 /16/
Cooling tower 1510 /18/
Working solution (60kg) 661
sum 3865
Dehumidifier +Regenerator
fibre core 300
Maintain cost 300 Solar collector free /17/
Cooling tower 59
sum 359
Cooling capacity 4,11 kW Cooling capacity 1,197 kW
Cooling capacity
Heating capacity 2,99 kW Heating capacity 0,6 kW
Cooling COP 3
COP Gas boiler 8
effectiveness 80%
Electricity 1,37 kW
Total Input energy Electricity 0,225 kW
Gas 3,74 kW
Electricity 0,16 €/kW
Energy price /19/ Electricity 0,16 €/kW
Gas 0,05 €/kW
Annual running hours 8 hours per day for 3 months (720hrs) 8 hours per day for 3 months (720hrs)
Annual running cost 292,44 € 25,92 €
Pay back year 4,16

Table 5. Equipment capital and running cost for Russia. /1/


Traditional HVAC system Heat recovery/desiccant cooling system
Dehumidifier +Regenerator unit 1262
Solar collector (collector area
432 /17/
3.58m2)
Capital cost 3004 /16/
Cooling tower 1510 /18/
Working solution (60kg) 661
sum 3865
Dehumidifier +Regenerator
300
fibre core
Maintain cost 300 Solar collector free /17/
Cooling tower 59
sum 359
Cooling capacity 4,11 kW Cooling capacity 1,197 kW
Cooling capacity
Heating capacity 2,99 kW Heating capacity 0,6 kW
Cooling COP 3
COP Gas boiler 8
80%
effectiveness
Electricity 1,37 kW
Total Input energy Electricity 0,225 kW
Gas 3,74 kW
Electricity 3,39 RUB/kW
Energy price /20/ Electricity 3,39 RUB/kW
Gas 0,62 RUB/kW
Annual running hours 8 hours per day for 3 months (720hrs) 8 hours per day for 3 months (720hrs)
Annual running cost 5013 RUB=114 € 549 RUB =12,5 €
Pay back year 20,1

39
9 CONCLUSION

The desiccant cooling systems are new way in cooling of buildings. One of the main
point of applying these systems is that they use renewable sources of energy such as
solar energy or geothermal energy. It means that there is reduction of a CO2 emission,
which is very important for nowadays. Another point of using these systems is that
they do not use any refrigerants, which also can be harmful for environment. Thereby
desiccant systems are better for environment.

There are two types of desiccant cooling systems: solid desiccant systems and liquid
desiccant systems. Liquid desiccant systems can be standard and hybrid. Hybrid liquid
desiccant systems can be combined with direct, indirect evaporating cooling and with
a heat pump.

Liquid desiccant systems are more effective than solid desiccant systems. They re-
quire a smaller regenerative temperature for desiccant. It means that they need less
energy. Solid desiccant systems usually use additional energy such as electric or gas
energy for regeneration.

These systems have a sanitizing effect on air. Airborne microorganisms are killed by
passing through the system. Because of the possibility to regulate the level of the rela-
tive humidity in the indoor air. There is no dew, so no mold and mildew. Therefore,
these systems can prevent building-related illnesses.

Desiccant cooling systems can be applied in different climates. So these are systems
also efficient in the northern climate. Applying of these systems in Finland is also
quite efficient and payback time is not that long. The payback time for Finland is a bit
more than 4 years. For Russia, it is not that efficient as in Finland if we look at it in
the way of saving money. The payback period for Russia is a bit more than 20 years.
It is so because of the lower prices of energy in Russia.

40
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13. Kovac Brian, The sanitizing effects of desiccant-based cooling. ASHRAE
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