Desiccant and solar cooling

Desiccant cooling can be used to condition the internal environment of buildings and operates without the use of traditional refrigerants.

It is an open heat-driven cycle which utilises a desiccant wheel and thermal wheel in tandem to achieve cooling and dehumidification. Because it is a heat-driven cycle, there is the potential to use any low-temperature source: gas, hot water, waste heat, including solar thermal energy.

A research project involved analysing the energy performance and control strategies of two systems (in Lincoln and Edinburgh) over a period of one year, assessing the potential energy savings and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to other cooling options. In addition, an assessment was made of what could be achieved if solar or gas/solar hybrid energy was used to drive the cycle based on real meteorological data and the actual performance of the two case study systems.

A desiccant cooling model was developed and validated with data from the two systems. A solar heating coil was modelled prior to the regeneration coil, and it was possible to show a 76% reduction in primary energy consumed and CO2 produced, demonstrating that there is potential in the UK for using solar energy to drive the desiccant cooling cycle.

Photo Permission: University of Lincoln
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