Experimental Evaluation and Modeling of a Solar Liquid Desiccant Air Conditioner
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Air-conditioning systems driven by solar energy have can save primary energy and reduce peak power consumption, which is particularly important for utility providers in the summer months. Additionally solar cooling is a promising application of solar thermal technology since the cooling load is well correlated to the overall solar availability. Liquid desiccant air-conditioning, which uses a salt solution to dehumidify air, can be used in a thermally driven air-conditioning system and offers many benefits for solar applications including the ability to store solar energy in the form of concentrated liquid desiccant. The current work focuses on the Queen’s University Solar Liquid Desiccant Cooling Demonstration Project. In previous work, a pre-commercial Liquid Desiccant Air Conditioner (LDAC) was installed and experimentally characterized using a gas-fired boiler to provide heat. As part of the current study a 95m2 solar array was added as a heat source. The Solar LDAC was tested for 20 days in the summer of 2012 to evaluate performance. The solar LDAC was found to provide between 9.2kW and 17.2kW of cooling power with an overall thermal Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 0.40 and electrical COP of 2.43. The collector efficiency was 53%, and 40% of the required thermal energy was provided by the solar array. A model was developed in TRNSYS to predict the performance of the solar LDAC and simulation results were compared to the experimental results with reasonable accuracy. The validated model was then used to simulate the annual performance of the solar LDAC in Toronto, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Miami, Florida. The highest performance was achieved in Miami, where an overall thermal COP of 0.48 was predicted. It is proposed that additional improvements be made to the system by replacing inefficient pumps and fans, adding desiccant storage, and improving the control scheme.