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Proposal and Analysis of a High-efficiency Combined Desalination and Refrigeration Systemrt Part 1 System Published)

Proposal and Analysis of a High-efficiency Combined Desalination and Refrigeration Systemrt Part 1 System Published)

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Proposal and analysis of a high-efficiency combined desalination andrefrigeration system based on the LiBr–H
O absorption cycle—Part 1: Systemconfiguration and mathematical model
Yongqing Wang
, Noam Lior
Cleaning Combustion and Energy Utilization Research Center of Fujian Province, Jimei University, Xiamen 361021, PR China
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6315, USA
a r t i c l e i n f o
 Article history:
Available online 27 July 2010
Integrated refrigeration and desalinationsystemRefrigerationWater desalinationCombined cyclesAbsorption refrigeration/heat pumpMulti-effect evaporation water desalinationCogeneration
a b s t r a c t
Simultaneous production of freshwater andrefrigeration are oftenrequired, e.g. inwarm-climate water-deficient regions, and this study is a proposal and analysis of an efficient way of producing both of themby consuming mainly low-grade heat. After introducing the configuration choice methodology, a com-bined refrigeration and water system, ARHP–MEE (absorption refrigeration heat pump and multi-effectevaporation desalter), which is the integration of a LiBr–H
O refrigeration unit, a LiBr–H
O heat pump,and a low-temperature multi-effect evaporation desalination unit, is proposed, and the mathematicalmodel is presented and validated. The model serves for conducting a performance analysis of the com-bined system, reported in Part 2 of this two-part paper.
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Poly-generation systems, i.e. those that simultaneously gener-ate more than a single product, are often more energy-efficientthan those making the same products by separate single-productsystems, with the significant advantages having been verified byboth theoretical analyses and practical running results from anincreasing number of installed poly-generation plants, of whichpower/heat cogeneration, power/water cogeneration and power/heat/refrigeration tri-generation are the most representative[1–3]. Well-understood from thermodynamic Second-Law consider-ations, the synergy is created mainly by proper driving force andexergy cascading of streams within the system.A typical situation exists, e.g. in warm-climate water-deficientregions, where the simultaneous production of fresh water andrefrigeration are required, and here we propose and analyze apoly-generation system that would produce both at a higher en-ergy efficiencythantwoseparatesystems, one beinga water desa-lination system that produces fresh water only and the other arefrigeration system that produces cooling only.Only few past studies have addressed the concept of refrigera-tionanddesalinationcogenerationsystems[4–8]. Aly[4]proposed asystemcomposedof aLiBr–H
Oabsorptionmachineanda20-ef-fect multi-effect evaporation (MEE) water desalination unit wherethe MEE replaces the condenser and evaporator of the single-pur-pose absorption refrigeration machine. It was predicted to have anevaporation temperature range of 6–63
C, and to produce freshwater at a performance ratio (mass ratio of produced fresh waterto consumed motive steam) of 14.2, plus a by-product of coolingcapacity derived from the last-effect rejected brine with tempera-ture of 6.5
C. A recent paper by Gude and Nirmalakhandan[5]proposed a somewhat similar system where the heat for a single-effect distillation unit was that rejected from an absorption refrig-eration condenser at a desalination efficiency of up to 90%, andproducing refrigeration at the same time, but an overall energyor commercial feasibility index was not offered. Hou et al.[6]pro-posed a systemintegrating an air–vapor compression refrigerationsystem, a humid-air dehumidification process, and a flash desali-nation process. Shen et al.[7]and Hu et al.[8]discussed the feasi- bility of providing the heat for a desalination process from an air-conditioning unit exhaust heat, to produce cold energy alongsidewith fresh water. In present study, we proposed a combined desa-lination and refrigeration system with good thermodynamicperformance and potential economic benefits. Different from themechanically-driven systems in[6], the proposed system con-sumes mainly low-grade heat as those discussed in[4,5,7,8], andis suitable to be combined with the industrial processes that canprovide that kind of heat, to improve the total energy efficiency.Although integrated also by an absorption unit and a MEE, the
0196-8904/$ - see front matter
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2010.06.071
Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 592 6180597; fax: +86 592 6183523.
E-mail address:
Contents lists available atScienceDirect
Energy Conversion and Management
proposed system differs from that discussed in[4]by applying aconventional MEE unit with evaporation temperatures of 40–70
C instead of an unconventional MEE containing nine evapora-tors working at 6–30
C[4]. Owing to the high vacuum and lowheat transfer coefficients caused by the low evaporation tempera-tures, the value of the MEE proposed in[4]remains doubtful. Dif-ferentfromthesystemdescribedin[5]thatfocusedonaone-effectevaporation desalination process coupled with an absorption airconditioning process, and from the systems in[7,8]that providedonly general ideas of running desalination processes with air con-ditioner exhaust heat, our study illustrates the system integrationlogic and presents detailed thermal performance predictionsincluding a parametric sensitivity analysis, a rough economic eval-uation, and thorough discussions, of the proposed system.The proposed system is based on the synergetic opportunitythat absorption refrigeration (AR), absorption heat pump (AHP)and thermal desalination systems are all run by thermal energywith overlapping operating temperature regions, as shown inFig. 1. Driven by low-grade heat, say, 0.13–0.9MPa steam[9], a LiBr–H
OARunitproducesrefrigerationbyevaporatingrefrigerantwater at around 5
C, and releases waste heat to the ambient. Alsodriven by such low-grade heat, a LiBr–H
O AHP absorbs heat fromthe ambient (air or water), and produce heat with temperaturesabove ambient and below that of the driving heat source. At thesame time, the top brine temperature of MEE typical water desali-nation systems is limited to a maximum of 70
C to reduce scalingandcorrosion[10],anditsdrivingsteamtopcondensationtemper-ature is thus about 72
C, just within the temperature range of theAHP output. Examining AR and AHP, we note that: (1) an AR out-puts refrigeration, as well as heat at a temperature close to theambient (to maintain a high efficiency of refrigeration production[9]) and thus too low to run an MEE; (2) an AHP can supply heatwith the temperature high enough to run MEE, but produces norefrigeration; and (3) the proposed combination of AR and AHP,called ARHP (absorption refrigeration heat pump), can produceboth refrigeration and desalination heat, and good synergy is ex-pectedbecausethatARandAHPworkonthesamethermodynamicprinciples (both work on reversed cycle and transfer heat from alow-temperaturemediumtoahigh-temperatureone),havesimilar
salinity of saline water (ppm, g/kg)
specific heat capacity at constant pressure (kJ/kg K)
coefficient of performance
specific exergy (kJ/kg)
exergy (kW)
energy (kW)
specific enthalpy (kJ/kg)
enthalpy (kW)
latent heat of vaporization (kJ/kg)
mass flow rate (kg/s)
pressure (kPa, MPa)
performance ratio
thermal energy; heat load (kW)
relative error
gas constant (kJ/kg K)
refrigeration-water ratio (kJ/kg)
specific entropy (kJ/kg K)
entropy (kW/K)
temperature (
C, K)
specific volume (m
work (kW)
mass concentration of LiBr–H
O solution (%)
mass fraction
molar fraction
exergy efficiency (%)
adiabatic efficiency (%)
non-dimensional exergy destruction (%)
 Abbreviations and subscripts
A absorberAHP absorption heat pumpAR absorption refrigerationARHP Absorption Refrigeration Heat Pump
condensateCD condenser for desalination
destructionED evaporator for desalinationER evaporator for refrigeration
feed seawater; formation
flashing box
seawater preheater
inputmax maximum
subcoolerSH solution heat exchanger
thermalTVC thermal vapor compression
throttling valve
water0 dead state for exergy analysis; ambient1, 2,
. . .
states on the system flow sheet
0 standard reference state
Fig. 1.
Schematics of AR, AHP and ARHP.
Y. Wang, N. Lior/Energy Conversion and Management 52 (2011) 220–227 
configurations (both are composed of generator, absorber, evapo-rator,condenser,etc.), usethesameworkingfluids(LiBr–H
Osolu-tion and water/steam), and operate in overlapping temperatureregions (as mentioned above and shown inFig. 1), providing greatopportunities and convenience of cascade utilization of energy/exergy streams within the system.Followingthis logic, acombinedrefrigerationandwater systemintegrated by AR, AHP and MEE and driven by low-grade heat, wasconfiguredandmodeledinthispaper, whichisPart1ofatwo-partpaper. Part 2 (a separate paper), contains the thermal performanceanalysis including a parametric sensitivity analysis, a rough eco-nomic evaluation, and their conclusions.
2. System configuration
The proposed combined desalination and refrigeration system,ARHP–MEEsystem,iscomposedoftwosubsystems:asingle-effectLiBr–H
O ARHP and an MEE desalter, with the configuration sche-maticallyshowninFig.2. Thedrivingsteam(1)heatstheLiBr–H
Omixture in the generator G and boils off the water in it. This steam(9)generatedinGis routedintotheevaporator, ED
, of thefirst ef-fect of MEE, providingthe heat for seawater evaporationbyreleas-ing its sensible and latent heat. Its condensate(10)is subcooled bytheambientseawater,throttledandthenintroducedintotheARHPevaporator ER to produce refrigeration. The refrigerant vapor(13)from ER enters the absorber A, and the absorption heat is takenaway by the cooling seawater(16). It is clear that the two subsys-tems are linked by ED
, which is both the condenser of the ARHPandtheevaporatorof theMEE. Detaileddescriptionof theworkingprocess of MEE can be found in[11].In a typical refrigeration-only AR unit (Fig. 3), the condensationtemperature (at 10) is usually around 40
C, while in our proposedconfigurationitisraisedtoabove60
Cbyregulatingtheoperatingparameters of the absorber A and the generator G, to produce thetemperature required for MEE desalination. Producing refrigera-tion(in ER) andheat (inED
) simultaneously, the ARHPunit worksas both a refrigeration unit and a heat pump.In an AHP-driven MEE water-only system as shown inFig. 4,part of the vapor(10)produced in the last effect of MEE is en-trained by the absorber A and the absorption heat is used to heatand vaporize part of the condensate(11)from ED
. The vapor(9)formed in the generator together with that(12)from A serves as
Fig. 2.
Schematic diagram of the ARHP–MEE cogeneration system.
Fig. 3.
Schematic diagram of the AR refrigeration-only system.
Fig. 4.
Schematic diagram of the AHP–MEE water-only system.222
Y. Wang, N. Lior/Energy Conversion and Management 52 (2011) 220–227 

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