Study of Liquid Desiccant Air-Conditioning for High Performance Greenhouses
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Greenhouses have become an invaluable source of year-round food production. Further development of viable and efficient high performance greenhouses is important for future food security. Closing the greenhouse envelope from the environment can provide benefits in space heating energy savings, pest control, and CO2 enrichment. This requires the application of a novel air conditioning system to handle the high cooling loads experienced by a greenhouse. Liquid desiccant air-conditioning (LDAC) have been found to provide high latent cooling capacities, which is perfect for the application of a humid greenhouse microclimate. TRNSYS simulations were undertaken to study the feasibility of two liquid desiccant dehumidification systems based on their capacity to control the greenhouse microclimate, and their cooling performance. The base model (B-LDAC) included a natural gas boiler, and two cooling systems for seasonal operation. The second model (HP-LDAC) was a hybrid liquid desiccant-heat pump dehumidification system. The average tCOPdehum and tCOPtotal of the B-LDAC system increased from 0.40 and 0.56 in January to 0.94 and 1.09 in June. Increased load and performance during a sample summer day improved these values to 3.5 and 3.0, respectively. The average eCOPdehum and eCOPtotal values were 1.0 and 1.8 in winter, and 1.7 and 2.1 in summer. The HP-LDAC system produced similar daily performance trends where the annual average eCOPdehum and eCOPtotal values were 1.3 and 1.2, but the sample day saw peaks of 2.4 and 3.2, respectively. The B-LDAC and HP-LDAC results predicted greenhouse temperatures exceeding 30°C for 34% and 17% of the month of July, respectively. Similarly, humidity levels increased in summer months, with a maximum of 14% of the time spent over 80% in May for both models. The percentage of annual savings in space heating energy associated with closing the greenhouse to ventilation was 34%. The additional annual regeneration energy input was reduced by 26% to 526 kWhm-2, with the implementation of a heat recovery ventilator on the regeneration exhaust air. The models also predicted an electrical energy input of 245 kWhm-2 and 305 kWhm-2 for the B-LDAC and HP-LDAC simulations, respectively.