Investigation of Performance Enhancements for a Liquid-Desiccant Solar Air-Conditioner
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Thermally driven liquid-desiccant air-conditioners (LDAC) are a proven but still developing technology. LDACs can use a solar thermal system to reduce the operational cost and environmental impact of the system by reducing the amount of fuel (e.g. natural gas, propane, etc.) used to drive the system. LDACs also have a key benefit of being able to store energy in the form of concentrated desiccant storage. TRNSYS simulations were used to evaluate several different methods of improving the thermal and electrical coefficients of performance (COPt and COPe) and the solar fraction (SF) of a LDAC. The study analyzed a typical June to August cooling season in Toronto, Ontario. Utilizing properly sized, high-efficiency pumps increased the COPe to 3.67, an improvement of 55%. A new design, featuring a heat recovery ventilator on the scavenging-airstream and an energy recovery ventilator on the process-airstream, increased the COPt to 0.58, an improvement of 32%. This also improved the SF slightly to 54%, an increase of 8%. A new TRNSYS TYPE was created to model a stratified desiccant storage tank. Different volumes of desiccant were tested with a range of solar array system sizes. The largest storage tank coupled with the largest solar thermal array showed improvements of 64% in SF, increasing the value to 82%. The COPe was also improved by 17% and the COPt by 9%. When combining the heat recovery systems and the desiccant storage systems, the simulation results showed a 78% increase in COPe and 30% increase in COPt. A 77% improvement in SF and a 17% increase in total cooling rate were also predicted by the simulation. The total thermal energy consumed was 10% lower and the electrical consumption was 34% lower. The amount of non-renewable energy needed from the natural gas boiler was 77% lower. Comparisons were also made between LDACs and vapour-compression (VC) systems. Dependent on set-up, LDACs provided higher latent cooling rates and reduced electrical power consumption. Negatively, a thermal input was required for the LDAC systems but not for the VC systems.