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Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 2

Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 2

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DESICCANT WHEEL DEHUMIDIFICATION

Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
2
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
Contents
1 Introduction...........................................................................................................................................................4
1.1 Dehumidification - using desiccant................................................................................................................5
1.2 Desiccant Life...............................................................................................................................................6
2 Analyzing the desiccant wheel dehumidifiers........................................................................................................7
2.1 Performance.................................................................................................................................................7
2.2 Wheel Designing...........................................................................................................................................8
2.3 Selection of desiccant wheels.....................................................................................................................11
2.4 Hybrid Cycles..............................................................................................................................................12
3 Energy Savings Mechanism................................................................................................................................13
4 Purge Sections/Carryover ..................................................................................................................................17
5 References..........................................................................................................................................................19
3
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
1 Introduction
The term “dehumidification” applies to all types of processes in which water vapor is
removed from a gas.
Sorbents are materials which attract and hold certain vapor or liquid substances. The
process is referred to absorption if a chemical change takes place and as adsorption if no
chemical change occurs. Desiccants, in both liquid and solid forms, are a subset of
sorbents that have a high affinity to water molecules.
Liquid desiccants absorb water molecules,chemical process, while solid desiccants
adsorb water molecules, physical process, and hold them on their vast surfaces (specific
surface areas are typically hundreds of square meters per gram).
Dry desiccant systems operate in a manner similar to liquid desiccant systems, but use a
desiccant coating on a rotary enthalpy heat exchanger. Dry desiccant systems do not
require energy for desiccant regeneration.
Desiccant Cooling:
The use of desiccant dehumidification systems for latent heat (humidity) removal in air
conditioning systems in
conjunction with sensible heat exchange and/or evaporative cooling equipment to
perform cooling. This process may use vapor compression equipment to provide the final
stage of cooling. Desiccant cooling equipment is used to treat outdoor air by reducing
both the sensible and latent (temperature and humidity) loads during cooling seasons.
Some systems also include winter heating and humidification components for all season
service.
Desiccant Dehumidification
Static:
The removal of moisture from humid air by exposing the air to a desiccant without the
use of an air-moving device. Once the desiccant achieves moisture equilibrium with the
ambient air, the dehumidification process stops and the desiccant must be replaced with
regenerated desiccant
Active
The removal of moisture from the air by exposing the humid air to a desiccant using an
air-moving device and a concurrent reactivation (regeneration) process such as by
applying thermal heat. The reactivation process is concurrent and continuous for rotary
dehumidifiers.
Passive Dehumidification:
The removal of moisture from the air by exposing the humid air to a desiccant with the
use of an air-moving device and a temperature/humidity sink (i.e., difference in the
partial vapor pressure of moisture between the ventilation (outdoor) air and exhaust air
streams). For example, enthalpy wheels that are used to reduce the impact of ambient
temperature and humidity of ventilation air on cooling and heating systems.
Desiccant air-conditioning is a promising emerging technology to supplement
electrically driven vapor compression systems that rely almost exclusively on
4
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
refrigerants that causes depletion of the ozone layer. Desiccant-based air-conditioning
can be used as stand-alone systems or in combination with conventional systems.
Desiccant systems can provide both temperature and humidity control and in some
applications use less energy than conventional vapor compression systems.
The wet part of wheel rotates through a regeneration zone where heat releases the water
vapor into the second air flow, an exhaust flow.
The following benefits have emerged by using desiccant wheel dehumidifiers:
• Ability to control temperature and humidity independently
• Improved indoor air quality
• Reduced amount of airborne bacteria and fungus. Desiccant-based systems can
improve indoor air quality because of precise humidity control. Where
conventional systems are used in humid climates, there is potential for microbial
growth in the ducts and condensate drain pans because of inadequate moisture
removal. This is not a problem for a desiccant-based system because there is
typically very little water on a post-desiccant cooling coil or, subsequently, in the
drain pan and the air distribution ducts.
• Lowers utility bills, due to a reduction in the moisture portion of the cooling load,
leading to less use of electricity for cooling, and increases in profits. Desiccant
systems often permit reductions in the size of the conventional system (vapor
compression unit), because part of the cooling load (dehumidification load) is
shifted to the desiccant system. Size reduction not only saves energy, but it also
decreases electrical demand and may reduce initial capital investment.
• Increases comfort
• Expands facility's life span
The prime applications for desiccants are:
• Supermarkets, where the latent heat loads are very high
• Ice Arenas
• Archival storage facilities, that require very dry air
• Pharmaceutical facilities and hospitals, where maximum clean air is required
1.1 Dehumidification - using desiccant.
In most modern, atmospheric-pressure industrial dehumidifiers, the desiccant is held in a
lightweight, wheel-shaped matrix that rotates between two separate airstreams (Fig.).
The desiccant is contained in the walls of thin air channels that extend through the depth
of the wheel. Channel diameters vary, but typically are about 2 mm. Wheel diameter
depends on how much air must pass through it. Large airflow volumes require a larger
diameter wheel.
Process air passes through a portion of the rotating desiccant wheel, giving off its water
vapor to the desiccant in the air passage walls. Dry air leaves the wheel and is carried to
the point of use by fans or blowers.
Simultaneously, the rotating wheel passes through a second, smaller airstream carrying
heated reactivation air. The hot air drives the water vapor from the desiccant. As the
wheel rotates from the reactivation air into the process airstream, it can once again
remove moisture.
5
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
As the air dries, its temperature rises in proportion to the amount of water removed. Drier
air means warmer air. This process is the reverse of evaporative cooling. When water is
evaporated into air, the heat needed for evaporation comes from that same air and the
sensible temperature falls. Conversely, when air is dehumidified, the heat needed to
evaporate the water originally is liberated and the temperature of the airstream rises.
Because a desiccant dehumidifier removes water vapor rather than condensed liquid
from the air, there is no risk of freezing. This type of equipment is most often used for
applications requiring dewpoints below 50 F.
Energy transfer
The mass of the molecular sieve heat wheel is a coated desiccant matrix. The wheel
rotates slowly, typically at about 20 rpm, between the building exhaust and supply air
streams. The desiccant medium transfers heat with an efficiency of 75 percent to 90
percent by adsorbing and transferring vapor from one air stream to the other. Because
moisture is transferred in vapor form, there are no wet surfaces to support microbial
growth or chemical byproducts associated with boiler steam humidification.
1.2 Desiccant Life
The desired desiccant properties for optimum dehumidification performance are a
suitable isotherm shape and a large moisture sorption capacity. The isotherms of silica
gel are almost linear. The moisture sorption capacity is high; the desiccant is reactivated
at relatively low temperatures and is suitable for moderate dehumidification. Molecular
sieves have very steep isotherms at low relative humidity. The desiccant is reactivated at
relatively high temperatures and is used for deep dehumidification.
Usefulness of the desiccant material depends largely on the quantity and type of
contamination in the air streams. In a commercial air-conditioning environment,
desiccants last between 10,000 hours and 100,000 hours before they need replacement
(ASHRAE 1993, Chapter 19). Adsorbents (solid desiccants used in TWDS) tend to be
6
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
less reactive chemically and more sensitive to clogging, a function of the type and
particulate material in the air stream. They may also be sensitive to hydrothermal stress,
which results from thermal expansion and contraction of the desiccant material due to
rapid changes in desiccant moisture content (ASHRAE 1993). Because the application of
TWDS in commercial air-conditioning is new, the long-term performance (over 10
years) of the desiccant wheel is not clear. According to the manufacturers, a well-
maintained desiccant wheel will last for approximately 100,000 hours of operation (10 to
15 years).
2 Analyzing the desiccant wheel dehumidifiers
2.1 Performance
(Reference [3])
For comparing desiccant wheel performance there are two parameters, Moisture
Removal Capacity (MRC) or performance, and Regeneration Specific Heat Input (RSHI)
or energy efficiency.
MRC is the mass of moisture removed per hour, (kg/hr), and RSHI as hourly
regeneration energy supplied to the device, normalized by MRC, (kJ/kg).
GPP Q MRC
d s
∆ ·
7000
1
* 60 *
tan
ρ
(1)
MRC
E
RSHI
regen
.
·
(2)
where:
MRC = moisture removal capacity, (kg/hr
d s tan
ρ
= standard density of air
Q = process air volume flow rate
ΔGPP = absolute humidity depression of the process
RSHI = regeneration specific heat input
regen E
.
= thermal energy input rate
Moisture Mass Balance, defined as:
Moisture Balance Mass = MRC / MRR (3)
where MRR, Moisture Removal Regeneration, is analogous to MRC
GPP Q MRR
regen d s
∆ ·
7000
1
* 60 *
tan
ρ
Q = regeneration air volume flow rate
7
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
2.2 Wheel Designing
Residence time and the basic mass transfer parameters are critical. Residence time
combines the effects of face velocity, open area, and wheel depth.
Overall mass transfer is governed by driving potential, airside transfer coefficient,
diffusion within the desiccant, and surface area.
The driving potential is the difference in partial pressure of water vapor between the air
and the surface of the desiccant.
Water vapor pressures in terrestrial dehumidification
applications are on the order of two to five kilopascals (kPa) at the wheel inlet. Vapor
pressures of a few hundred pascals exist locally at the wheel outlet. Vapor pressure at the
desiccant surface varies with desiccant type and temperature and is on the order of
hundreds of Pascal’s.
Airside transfer coefficient is governed by fluid dynamic phenomena and is typically
correlated for both heat and mass transfer to Reynolds number, Prandtl number, and
geometry, including number of transfer units (NTU). NTU relates rotor surface area
exposed to the thermal loads embodied in the airstreams.
Prandtl number is a function of air thermophysical properties.
Reynolds number is a ratio of momentum to viscous forces. Air velocity enters the
correlations in the momentum term. The correlations change to reflect the flow regime
present in the flutes. Flute velocity determines the regime, which may be roughly
categorized as laminar or turbulent. In laminar flow,
viscous forces dominate, so that nearly all air motion is in the direction of the bulk flow,
along the axis of the flute. In turbulent flow, momentum is strong enough to produce
substantial eddies within the bulk flow that continuously mix the air as it passes through
the flute. This mixing generally means turbulent flow produces higher heat/mass transfer,
but in doing so, also generates higher-pressure drops. The pressure drops incurred by
turbulent airflow put an unacceptable load on the face and circumferential seals and
drastically increase seal wear and fan power requirements. Laminar flow keeps pressure
drops within HVAC application ranges and has the added benefit of keeping the internal
surfaces of the matrix relatively clean because airflow moving parallel to the flute walls
tends not to deposit dirt there.
NTU is a parameter commonly applied to heat exchangers that can also be applied to
rotary mass exchangers. It is typically defined for the thermal component as the ratio of
convective heat transfer at a given matrix-to-air temperature potential to the thermal
capacity of the air over that potential:
j
p air
j
p
air
j
c m
hA
T c m
T hA
NTU

,
`

.
|
·

,
`

.
|


·
. . (4)
where:
NTU = number of transfer units
ΔT = temperature
j = hot or cold side of the wheel
m = mass flow rate of air
8
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
h = convective heat transfer coefficient
c
p
= specific heat of air
A = convective transfer surface area.
This calculation must be performed on the hot and cold sides of the wheel (j) separately.
The resulting values can be combined with the use of the parameter C*:
hot cold total thermal
NTU
C
NTU NTU
*
,
1 1
+ ·
(5)
where C* is the ratio of minimum to maximum air heat capacity rates:
max
.
min
.
*

,
`

.
|

,
`

.
|
·
p air
p air
c m
c m
C
(6)
Heat exchange effectiveness for a direct counterflow heat exchanger is then calculated
with total NTU:
1
,
,
+
·
total thermal
total thermal
cf
NTU
NTU
ε
(7)
where:
ε
cf
= heat exchange effectiveness.
Heat exchange effectiveness (and thereby outlet temperatures) for a rotary exchanger is
then correlated using a parameter tailored to rotary devices that represents the thermal
capacitance of the matrix:
( )
PI RI
RO RI
p
R
p
PI RI
PI PO
p
p
p
r
cf
T T
T T
c m
c m
T T
T T
c m
c m
C −

,
`

.
|

,
`

.
|
·

,
`

.
|

,
`

.
|
·

,
`

.
|
− ·
min
.
.
min
.
.
93 . 1
9
1
1 ε ε
(8)
( )
min
.

,
`

.
|
Φ
·
p
matrix
p
R
c m
Mc
C
where:
M = the mass of the matrix
Φ = its rotational frequency.
These correlations are valid for values of Cr over 0.4 (high wheel speed; temperature
does not vary with rotational angle but with distance through the wheel only). This is the
case for enthalpy exchangers; dehumidifiers might have a heat capacitance one-tenth this
value.
NTU for mass transfer is similarly defined:
9
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
j
j j m
j mass
m
A h
NTU
.
,
,
·
(9)
where:
h
m
= the mass transfer analog to thermal convection coefficient h.
Mass transfer parameters are modeled analytically by heat transfer analogy or computed
numerically.
Diffusion and surface area are closely related in wheel dynamics. Given the restrictions
of residence time, the limitations of the former require a lot of the latter to achieve
acceptable grain depression. Air is in contact with the desiccant only for a few
hundredths of a second, making mass transfer for a given flute primarily a surface
phenomenon. When performance depends on a single pass, surface area is critical in
inherently slower processes like mass diffusion in solids.
Diffusion comes into play as the desiccant/matrix slowly rotates within the same airflow;
mass diffusion within the desiccant must keep the surface as dry as possible (on the
adsorption side) until it can be regenerated and vice-versa during desorption.
Maximizing surface area means packing a lot of matrix into as small an area as possible,
which leads to flutes with small cross sections. This is convenient because laminar flow
is best achieved in small flow channels. This also means matrix walls should be as thin
as possible to maximize open area and keep flute velocities as low and residence time as
long as possible. This too is convenient because thin walls are less likely to waste
unexposed desiccant by relying on slower solid-side diffusion to utilize drying potential.
Surface area as a function of matrix design is complimented by the effect chemistry can
produce with desiccant pore structure. Silica gels typically have on the order of 100
million square feet of surface area within their pores for each cubic foot of material.
Activated carbon has several times that volumetric surface area but has lower water
vapor uptake because its pore void space is too small to hold much water.
Residence time is the result of a number of important parameters.
d
V
GPP
d
V
Q
MRC
GPP
fl fl
d s
n
60 3600
7000
tan
∆ · · ∆
ρ
(10)
where:
ΔGPP = absolute humidity depression per second of residence time, grains/lbair/s
MRC = moisture removal capacity, lb/hr
V
fl
= flute velocity, ft/min
Q = process air volume flow rate, ft3/min
d = wheel depth, ft.
RSHI is an indicator of energy consumed by the regeneration heater. RSHI does not
include the effect of a heat exchanger that can be employed at the process air outlet to
recover heat of adsorption and preheat regeneration air. This configuration is commonly
found in ventilation air conditioning applications. To include the effect of heat recovery,
we use the term RSHI
HX
:
10
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
( )
]
]
]



− ·
PI RI
PI PO HX
HX
T T
T T
RSHI RSHI
ε
1
(11)
where:
ε
HX
= the heat exchanger effectiveness.
This formulation assumes the PI and the heater receive air from the same source, and the
heat exchanger is operated with balanced airflows, as is the case with many ventilation
air pre-conditioners.
Regeneration specific heat drop (RSHD) is an indicator of the energy consumed by the
wheel.
( )
MRC
T T c m
MRC
E
RSHD
RO RI p RO drop
. .

· ·
(12)
RSHD focuses on the energy performance of the matrix itself by focusing on sensible
energy drop in the regeneration air as it passes through the wheel rather than the energy
supplied to the regeneration air. It is very nearly independent of face velocity for many
wheel configurations, although there are exceptions. RSHD is also much less sensitive to
mass-flow ratio than RSHI, again for many wheels but not all, and trends in the opposite
direction as RSHI in some instances. Unlike high RSHI, high RSHD does not necessarily
indicate reduced efficiency. High RSHD may indicate poor grain depression, as might
RSHI, or it may show that the wheel is able to utilize lower temperature air for
regeneration, or that the matrix is picking up a lot of heat. RSHI does not register these
and other phenomena on it own. RSHD is a distinct parameter that adds to the
understanding of a wheel’s energy consumption characteristics.
Heat dump-back is another feature of dehumidifier wheels that becomes important when
process outlet temperature is a design requirement. Some processes benefit from the
sensible energy evolved from the desiccation process; for others, this represents a load
that must be removed. In quantifying heat dump-back, we calculate adsorption heat ratio:
PI PO
PI adiabatic PO
T T
T T
AHR


·
,
(13)
where:
AHR = adsorption heat ratio
T
PO
= temperature achieved upon reaching measured grain depression.
T
PO,adiabatic
= is the temperature achieved upon reaching the measured grain depression
with no change in enthalpy-essentially evaporative cooling in reverse. If AHR = 1.0, the
process is adiabatic. Fractional AHR indicates the degree of heat dump-back.
2.3 Selection of desiccant wheels
Some considerations for selection of desiccant wheels are:
11
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
• Appropriate desiccant materials
• Large desiccant content
• Wheel depth and flute size (for large contact surface area and low pressure drop)
• Size and cost
The actual performance depends on several additional factors. These include:
• Inlet process air temperature and humidity
• Desired exit process air humidity
• Inlet reactivating air temperature and hurnidity
• Face velocity of the two air streams
• Size of reactivation segment
• Higher inlet process air humidity results in higher exit humidity and temperature
(more heat of sorption is released).
• Lower face velocity of the process stream results in lower exit humidity and
highher temperature.
• Higher regeneration temperatures result in deeper drying, hence lower exit
process air humidity and higher temperature.
When lower exit air temperature is required, the exit process air should be cooled by a
heat exchanger. The following is a range of typical parameters for rotary desiccant
wheels:
Rotation speed: 4 to 20 rpm
Desiccant fraction: 70 to 80%
Flute size: I to 2 mm
Reactivation segment: 25 to 30% of wheel
Face velocity: 300 to 700 fpm
Reactivating temperature: 100 to 300gradF
2.4 Hybrid Cycles
A limited number of hybrid systems consisting of desiccant dehumidifiers and
electrically driven vapor compression air-conditioners are presently in use in
supermarkets. This application is uniquely suited for this purpose since the latent heat
loads are high due to tile large number of people and frequent traffic through doors.
Also, low relative humidity air is advantageous for open-case displays.
Vapor compression systems are inefficient below a dew point of 45 to 50gradF. When
used in supermarkets, they require high airflow rates, the air must be reheated for
comfort, and the evaporator coils must be defrosted frequently. Hybrid systems offer
improved performance and lower energy cost in these cases.
The figure shows a typical hybrid air-conditioning system for supermarkets. A mixture
of outdoor and recirculated air is first passed through the desiccant and sensible heat
exchanger wheels, where it is dehumidified and precooled. It then enters the
12
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
conventional chiller before it is introduced to the interior of the supermarket. The
sensible heat exchanger wheel is cooled by outdoor air and the desiccant wheel is
regenerated by air heated with natural gas. Energy cost can be further reduced by
preheating the reactivating air stream with waste heat rejected from the condenser of the
refrigeration and/or air-conditioning systems.
The advantages of these hybrid systems are
• Air-conditioning requirement is reduced by up to 20%.
• The vapor compression system operates at a higher coefficient of performance
(COP) since the evaporator coils are at a higher temperature.
• Airflow requirements are reduced; electric fan energy is saved and duct sizes are
reduced.
• The refrigeration cases run more efficiently since the frequency of defrost cycles
is greatly reduced.
3 Energy Savings Mechanism
Ref [5]
The energy saving mechanism is presented using a Two Wheel Desiccant System.
As shown in the figure , a TWDS consists of a desiccant wheel, a rotary heat exchanger
(sometimes referred to as a sensible heat wheel), a supply fan, an exhaust fan, and a heat
source for regenerating the desiccant. The desiccant wheel is made of finely divided
desiccant material, usually silica gel, titanium silicates, or some type of zeolite (a mineral
containing hydrous silicates). The desiccant material is impregnated into a fibrous
support structure, which looks like corrugated cardboard that has been rolled into the
shape of a wheel or into a wheel-shaped rotor with a lightweight structural honeycomb
core of man-made, fire-retardant material.
The rotary heat exchanger, which exchanges (recovers) heat rather than moisture,
resembles the desiccant wheel in appearance and design.
Any form of thermal energy stream can be used to dry and regenerate the desiccant,
including electric - resistance heaters, solar hot water coils, heat reclaim coils, hot water
13
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
or steam from boilers, or natural gas burners. Most commercial applications use either
direct- or indirect-fired natural gas burners.
Fig. Schematic of the Two-Wheel Desiccant System
The TWDS can control or lower humidity, but has a low ability to lower sensible heat.
Therefore, in most commercial applications the TWDS is supplemented with either a
vapor compression or an evaporative cooling system.
The energy-saving mechanism of a TWDS is explained by comparing the
dehumidification and cooling process of the conventional and the desiccant-based
systems. Both systems can be operated in various modes (recirculation, pure ventilation,
and mixed). It is assumed that both systems take in 100% outdoor air.
The following steps describe the psychometric process for a hybrid desiccant
dehumidification and supplemental cooling system.
14
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
Fig.
(a) Comparison of a Hybrid Desiccant-Based Dehumidification and Supplemental
Cooling Process with a Conventional Dehumidification and Cooling Process
(b) Desiccant Reactivation Process
Dehumidification
A: Intake--hot and humid outdoor air enters the desiccant wheel at point A on the
psychrometric chart (Figure (a)).
A-B: Dehumidification--as the moisture from the outdoor air is removed by sorption, the
heat generated when the water is sorbed remains in the air stream, increasing the air
stream's sensible load. There is a slight increase in the enthalpy (i.e., the energy content
of the air stream increases), when latent heat is being converted into sensible heat. At
state B, the air is hot and dry and cannot be directly used to cool the conditioned area.
Cooling
B-C: Heat loss or post-cooling--the dehumidified outdoor air enters the rotary heat
wheel, where it exchanges heat with the exhaust (return) air stream from the conditioned
space. In this process, the hot and dry outdoor air cools down, and the cold exhaust air is
pre-heated for reactivating the desiccant wheel.
C-D: Supplemental cooling--the air leaving the rotary heat wheel is colder than the air
leaving the desiccant wheel, but further cooling is often required before it can enter the
conditioned space. This can be achieved by using a conventional direct-expansion vapor
compression cooling system.
D-E: Space cooling load--the exhaust air leaving the conditioned space is at state E.
Regeneration
E-H: Heat recovery--the exhaust air stream enters the rotary heat wheel where it
exchanges heat with the hot and dry air leaving the desiccant wheel. Part of the heat lost
in step B-C is recovered by this process (Figure (b)).
H-I: Heat addition--the hot exhaust air is further heated to increase the vapor pressure at
the desiccant.
I-J: Reactivation--the hot exhaust air stream dries and reactivates the saturated desiccant.
For comparing the above process with that of a conventional system, the following steps
for cooling and dehumidification with a conventional vapor compression system are
shown on the psychrometric chart (Figure (a)):
15
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
Sensible cooling
A: Intake--hot and humid outdoor air enters the evaporator coil of a conventional vapor
compression system at point A on the psychrometric chart (Figure (a)).
A-F: Sensible cooling--the hot and humid outdoor air stream is cooled until it reaches
saturation. At this point, the air is cold enough to be used in the conditioned space, but
cannot be circulated because it is saturated with moisture. To remove moisture, the air
must be cooled to below its dew-point temperature.
Latent cooling (dehumidification) and reheat
F-G: Dehumidification--the evaporator continues to cool the saturated air stream and
condenses the moisture, further reducing the dry-bulb and the humidity. If the humidity
requirement is low (less than 40 grains/lb of dry air), the air must be cooled to less than
43°F in order to condense enough moisture. In this state, it is too cold to be circulated to
conditioned space.
G-D: Reheat--the cold, dry air stream is mixed with hot air or reheated to the desired
circulation temperature (state D).
D-E: Cooling load--the exhaust air leaves the conditioned space (state E).
The amount of energy saved depends primarily on the ability of the hybrid system to
shift part of the cooling load (dehumidification load) to a low-grade thermal source and
to eliminate reheat (step G-D). The fan power is slightly increased because of increased
air pressure drop through the desiccant and sensible wheels. The amount of energy saved
and the reduction in electric demand depend on several factors.
16
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
4 Purge Sections/Carryover
Figure 2. Purge section forces a PI to RI leak to prevent RI to PO carryover
contamination inherent in wheel rotation.
(Ref [3])
As the matrix rotates out of the regeneration airflow, it carries with it both regeneration
air trapped in the flutes and heat, contained in the air and in the matrix itself. This
amounts to a small, constant rotation leak or carryover from RI to PO, which is
acceptable in most instances. Purging purposely misaligns one of the seals on the RI/PO
face of the wheel to eliminate this leak by forcing a purge leak from PI to RI. Figure 2
diagrams the purge concept. Purge sections are commonly used in industrial applications
when very low PO dew points are required.
Purges can also be necessary in applications that demand minimal carryover of
regeneration air into the supply air.
In the case of carryover, the purge prevents regeneration air trapped in the flutes from
carrying contaminants into the supply air. This could be a concern if the unit is
directfired and if there are combustion products in the regeneration air, or if the
regeneration air comes from an indoor or outdoor source that may have high levels of
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other pollutants.
Seal leakage and rotation carryover combined are not large enough to be a concern.
17
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
Another potential concern is co-sorption. Co-sorption is the potential for desiccants to
adsorb other chemicals with the water vapor. If the desiccant were able to pick up
considerable amounts of undesirable chemicals from an exhaust flow and dump them
back into the supply air, this would create a much more powerful carryover effect than
wheel rotation could produce, and essentially concentrate the pollutants in the required
space.
This is very unlikely for several reasons.
First of all, in actively regenerated systems, the pollutants would have to be picked up by
the desiccant at elevated temperatures and released at low temperature, the opposite
sense in which sorbents work.
In passive systems, this reasoning does not apply because the regeneration air is not
heated.
There are two lines of reasoning for these enthalpy exchange systems.
One is size exclusion. Pollutant molecules larger than the desiccant pores are physically
excluded from adsorption, making carryover impossible. Three angstroms is sometimes
cited as a practical pore size in which water vapor fits, but many pollutants cannot.
The other is that co-sorption does not happen in the presence of water vapor. Sorption on
the molecular level is a very electrically influenced phenomenon. Water vapor is a highly
polar molecule; that is, it has strongly positive and negative ends. Analyses predict that
desiccants will always adsorb the most polar molecules first. Experience shows this to be
true. Even ammonia, which is moderately polar, is not picked up in appreciable
quantities when water vapor is present. Carryover does not currently appear to be an
issue for rotary desiccant equipment.
18
Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification
5 References
[1] Shan K. Wang, Zalman Lavan, Paul Norton, 2000,
“Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering”,
CRC Press
[2] W. P. Jones, 1994,
“Air Conditioning Engineering”,
Edward Arnold
[3] S.J. Slayzak and J.P. Ryan, 2000,
“Desiccant Dehumidification Wheel Test Guide”
NREL, U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory
[4] Yunus A. Cengel, Michael A. Boles, 1998,
„Thermodynamics-An Engineering Approach“
Mc Graw-Hill Higher Education
[5] Thomas H. Kuehn, James W. Ramsey, James L. Threlked, 1998,
“Thermal Environmental Engineering”
Prentice Hall Inc.
[6] http://www.pnl.gov/fta/8_tdd.htm - The U.S. Department of Energy: Federal
Technology Alerts
[7] http://www.advancedbuildings.org/_frames/fr_t_heat_desiccant_cooling.htm
19

Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 2 .

.............using desiccant...................................................................................1 Performance.............................................................................7 2....................................Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification Contents 1 Introduction.................................................19 3 .................................................................................4 1.................17 5 References.....................................1 Dehumidification ...............................................................................8 2................................................................................................11 2.............................................................................................6 2 Analyzing the desiccant wheel dehumidifiers......................2 Wheel Designing................................................................................................................................................................................................................3 Selection of desiccant wheels...............................2 Desiccant Life.......................................................5 1..................13 4 Purge Sections/Carryover ....................................................................................................4 Hybrid Cycles................................................................................................................................................................................................7 2..............................12 3 Energy Savings Mechanism................................................................................................................................................................

Some systems also include winter heating and humidification components for all season service. Desiccant Cooling: The use of desiccant dehumidification systems for latent heat (humidity) removal in air conditioning systems in conjunction with sensible heat exchange and/or evaporative cooling equipment to perform cooling. are a subset of sorbents that have a high affinity to water molecules. Sorbents are materials which attract and hold certain vapor or liquid substances.. difference in the partial vapor pressure of moisture between the ventilation (outdoor) air and exhaust air streams). Desiccant cooling equipment is used to treat outdoor air by reducing both the sensible and latent (temperature and humidity) loads during cooling seasons. The reactivation process is concurrent and continuous for rotary dehumidifiers. the dehumidification process stops and the desiccant must be replaced with regenerated desiccant Active The removal of moisture from the air by exposing the humid air to a desiccant using an air-moving device and a concurrent reactivation (regeneration) process such as by applying thermal heat. Desiccant air-conditioning is a promising emerging technology to supplement electrically driven vapor compression systems that rely almost exclusively on 4 . Once the desiccant achieves moisture equilibrium with the ambient air. For example. in both liquid and solid forms. Liquid desiccants absorb water molecules. enthalpy wheels that are used to reduce the impact of ambient temperature and humidity of ventilation air on cooling and heating systems. but use a desiccant coating on a rotary enthalpy heat exchanger. physical process. Passive Dehumidification: The removal of moisture from the air by exposing the humid air to a desiccant with the use of an air-moving device and a temperature/humidity sink (i. and hold them on their vast surfaces (specific surface areas are typically hundreds of square meters per gram). This process may use vapor compression equipment to provide the final stage of cooling. The process is referred to absorption if a chemical change takes place and as adsorption if no chemical change occurs.e.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 1 Introduction The term “dehumidification” applies to all types of processes in which water vapor is removed from a gas. Dry desiccant systems do not require energy for desiccant regeneration. Dry desiccant systems operate in a manner similar to liquid desiccant systems.chemical process. Desiccant Dehumidification Static: The removal of moisture from humid air by exposing the air to a desiccant without the use of an air-moving device. while solid desiccants adsorb water molecules. Desiccants.

where the latent heat loads are very high • Ice Arenas • Archival storage facilities. Size reduction not only saves energy. where maximum clean air is required 1.). and increases in profits. leading to less use of electricity for cooling. wheel-shaped matrix that rotates between two separate airstreams (Fig. This is not a problem for a desiccant-based system because there is typically very little water on a post-desiccant cooling coil or. because part of the cooling load (dehumidification load) is shifted to the desiccant system. giving off its water vapor to the desiccant in the air passage walls. As the wheel rotates from the reactivation air into the process airstream. but typically are about 2 mm. there is potential for microbial growth in the ducts and condensate drain pans because of inadequate moisture removal.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification refrigerants that causes depletion of the ozone layer. 5 . Channel diameters vary. in the drain pan and the air distribution ducts. Wheel diameter depends on how much air must pass through it. the desiccant is held in a lightweight. Desiccant-based air-conditioning can be used as stand-alone systems or in combination with conventional systems. Where conventional systems are used in humid climates. Desiccant systems often permit reductions in the size of the conventional system (vapor compression unit). • Lowers utility bills. The hot air drives the water vapor from the desiccant. In most modern. Large airflow volumes require a larger diameter wheel. Process air passes through a portion of the rotating desiccant wheel. due to a reduction in the moisture portion of the cooling load. it can once again remove moisture. an exhaust flow. Desiccant systems can provide both temperature and humidity control and in some applications use less energy than conventional vapor compression systems. The wet part of wheel rotates through a regeneration zone where heat releases the water vapor into the second air flow. smaller airstream carrying heated reactivation air. The desiccant is contained in the walls of thin air channels that extend through the depth of the wheel. Desiccant-based systems can improve indoor air quality because of precise humidity control. but it also decreases electrical demand and may reduce initial capital investment. that require very dry air • Pharmaceutical facilities and hospitals. The following benefits have emerged by using desiccant wheel dehumidifiers: • Ability to control temperature and humidity independently • Improved indoor air quality • Reduced amount of airborne bacteria and fungus. the rotating wheel passes through a second. Simultaneously. • Increases comfort • Expands facility's life span The prime applications for desiccants are: • Supermarkets. atmospheric-pressure industrial dehumidifiers.1 Dehumidification . subsequently.using desiccant. Dry air leaves the wheel and is carried to the point of use by fans or blowers.

when air is dehumidified. The isotherms of silica gel are almost linear. there is no risk of freezing. Because a desiccant dehumidifier removes water vapor rather than condensed liquid from the air. the desiccant is reactivated at relatively low temperatures and is suitable for moderate dehumidification. 1. The wheel rotates slowly.000 hours before they need replacement (ASHRAE 1993. Energy transfer The mass of the molecular sieve heat wheel is a coated desiccant matrix. its temperature rises in proportion to the amount of water removed. Adsorbents (solid desiccants used in TWDS) tend to be 6 . Because moisture is transferred in vapor form. desiccants last between 10. The desiccant is reactivated at relatively high temperatures and is used for deep dehumidification. Usefulness of the desiccant material depends largely on the quantity and type of contamination in the air streams. This process is the reverse of evaporative cooling.000 hours and 100. there are no wet surfaces to support microbial growth or chemical byproducts associated with boiler steam humidification. Molecular sieves have very steep isotherms at low relative humidity. Drier air means warmer air. The moisture sorption capacity is high. the heat needed to evaporate the water originally is liberated and the temperature of the airstream rises. typically at about 20 rpm. This type of equipment is most often used for applications requiring dewpoints below 50 F.2 Desiccant Life The desired desiccant properties for optimum dehumidification performance are a suitable isotherm shape and a large moisture sorption capacity. between the building exhaust and supply air streams. Conversely. the heat needed for evaporation comes from that same air and the sensible temperature falls. Chapter 19). In a commercial air-conditioning environment. When water is evaporated into air.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification As the air dries. The desiccant medium transfers heat with an efficiency of 75 percent to 90 percent by adsorbing and transferring vapor from one air stream to the other.

a function of the type and particulate material in the air stream. where: MRC = moisture removal capacity. is analogous to MRC MRR = ρs tan d * 60 Qregen * 1 ∆GPP 7000 . a wellmaintained desiccant wheel will last for approximately 100. (kg/hr ρs tan d = standard density of air Q = process air volume flow rate ΔGPP = absolute humidity depression of the process RSHI = regeneration specific heat input E regen = thermal energy input rate Moisture Mass Balance.000 hours of operation (10 to 15 years). Moisture Removal Capacity (MRC) or performance. defined as: Moisture Balance Mass = MRC / MRR where MRR. Because the application of TWDS in commercial air-conditioning is new. and RSHI as hourly regeneration energy supplied to the device. (3) Q = regeneration air volume flow rate 7 . the long-term performance (over 10 years) of the desiccant wheel is not clear. According to the manufacturers. They may also be sensitive to hydrothermal stress. Moisture Removal Regeneration. 2 Analyzing the desiccant wheel dehumidifiers 2. and Regeneration Specific Heat Input (RSHI) or energy efficiency. (kg/hr). which results from thermal expansion and contraction of the desiccant material due to rapid changes in desiccant moisture content (ASHRAE 1993). normalized by MRC. MRC is the mass of moisture removed per hour. MRC = ρs tan d * 60 Q * 1 ∆GPP 7000 (1) (2) RSHI = Eregen MRC . (kJ/kg).Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification less reactive chemically and more sensitive to clogging.1 Performance (Reference [3]) For comparing desiccant wheel performance there are two parameters.

which may be roughly categorized as laminar or turbulent.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 2. Prandtl number. In laminar flow. including number of transfer units (NTU). and wheel depth.     j  mair c p     j j (4) where: NTU = number of transfer units ΔT = temperature j = hot or cold side of the wheel m = mass flow rate of air 8 . It is typically defined for the thermal component as the ratio of convective heat transfer at a given matrix-to-air temperature potential to the thermal capacity of the air over that potential: NTU   hA ∆T = . Laminar flow keeps pressure drops within HVAC application ranges and has the added benefit of keeping the internal surfaces of the matrix relatively clean because airflow moving parallel to the flute walls tends not to deposit dirt there. along the axis of the flute. so that nearly all air motion is in the direction of the bulk flow. NTU is a parameter commonly applied to heat exchangers that can also be applied to rotary mass exchangers. The correlations change to reflect the flow regime present in the flutes. NTU relates rotor surface area exposed to the thermal loads embodied in the airstreams.  m air c ∆T p      hA = . airside transfer coefficient.2 Wheel Designing Residence time and the basic mass transfer parameters are critical. momentum is strong enough to produce substantial eddies within the bulk flow that continuously mix the air as it passes through the flute. diffusion within the desiccant. Air velocity enters the correlations in the momentum term. and geometry. The driving potential is the difference in partial pressure of water vapor between the air and the surface of the desiccant. Airside transfer coefficient is governed by fluid dynamic phenomena and is typically correlated for both heat and mass transfer to Reynolds number. Vapor pressures of a few hundred pascals exist locally at the wheel outlet. Water vapor pressures in terrestrial dehumidification applications are on the order of two to five kilopascals (kPa) at the wheel inlet. Vapor pressure at the desiccant surface varies with desiccant type and temperature and is on the order of hundreds of Pascal’s. Prandtl number is a function of air thermophysical properties. but in doing so. Flute velocity determines the regime. also generates higher-pressure drops. Overall mass transfer is governed by driving potential. open area. Residence time combines the effects of face velocity. This mixing generally means turbulent flow produces higher heat/mass transfer. Reynolds number is a ratio of momentum to viscous forces. and surface area. The pressure drops incurred by turbulent airflow put an unacceptable load on the face and circumferential seals and drastically increase seal wear and fan power requirements. In turbulent flow. viscous forces dominate.

total = 1 C* + NTU cold NTU hot (5) where C* is the ratio of minimum to maximum air heat capacity rates:  .Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification h = convective heat transfer coefficient cp = specific heat of air A = convective transfer surface area. The resulting values can be combined with the use of the parameter C*: 1 NTU thermal . Heat exchange effectiveness (and thereby outlet temperatures) for a rotary exchanger is then correlated using a parameter tailored to rotary devices that represents the thermal capacitance of the matrix:   .  m c p   min where: M = the mass of the matrix Φ = its rotational frequency.  .  m c p  m c p     p TPO −TPI  R TRI −TRO = = .4 (high wheel speed.  . These correlations are valid for values of Cr over 0. TRI −TPI TRI −TPI    m c p   m c p   min  min ε = εcf 1 −  1 1.total +1 (7) where: εcf = heat exchange effectiveness. NTU for mass transfer is similarly defined: 9 . temperature does not vary with rotational angle but with distance through the wheel only).93 9( Cr ) (8) CR = ( Mc p Φ) matrix . This calculation must be performed on the hot and cold sides of the wheel (j) separately. dehumidifiers might have a heat capacitance one-tenth this value.   mair c p   min * C = .    mair c p   max (6) Heat exchange effectiveness for a direct counterflow heat exchanger is then calculated with total NTU: εcf = NTU thermal . This is the case for enthalpy exchangers.total NTU thermal .

mass diffusion within the desiccant must keep the surface as dry as possible (on the adsorption side) until it can be regenerated and vice-versa during desorption. Surface area as a function of matrix design is complimented by the effect chemistry can produce with desiccant pore structure. grains/lbair/s MRC = moisture removal capacity. surface area is critical in inherently slower processes like mass diffusion in solids. This too is convenient because thin walls are less likely to waste unexposed desiccant by relying on slower solid-side diffusion to utilize drying potential. lb/hr Vfl = flute velocity. ft3/min d = wheel depth. Air is in contact with the desiccant only for a few hundredths of a second. This configuration is commonly found in ventilation air conditioning applications. the limitations of the former require a lot of the latter to achieve acceptable grain depression. RSHI does not include the effect of a heat exchanger that can be employed at the process air outlet to recover heat of adsorption and preheat regeneration air.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification NTU mass . When performance depends on a single pass. Silica gels typically have on the order of 100 million square feet of surface area within their pores for each cubic foot of material. Diffusion comes into play as the desiccant/matrix slowly rotates within the same airflow. Maximizing surface area means packing a lot of matrix into as small an area as possible. ft/min Q = process air volume flow rate. This also means matrix walls should be as thin as possible to maximize open area and keep flute velocities as low and residence time as long as possible. we use the term RSHIHX: 10 . Mass transfer parameters are modeled analytically by heat transfer analogy or computed numerically. (9) where: hm = the mass transfer analog to thermal convection coefficient h. making mass transfer for a given flute primarily a surface phenomenon. ∆GPPn = V 7000 MRC V fl = ∆GPP fl 3600 ρs tan d Q d 60 d (10) where: ΔGPP = absolute humidity depression per second of residence time. Diffusion and surface area are closely related in wheel dynamics. Activated carbon has several times that volumetric surface area but has lower water vapor uptake because its pore void space is too small to hold much water. j = hm . ft. To include the effect of heat recovery. Given the restrictions of residence time. j A j mj . This is convenient because laminar flow is best achieved in small flow channels. RSHI is an indicator of energy consumed by the regeneration heater. which leads to flutes with small cross sections. Residence time is the result of a number of important parameters.

high RSHD does not necessarily indicate reduced efficiency. Regeneration specific heat drop (RSHD) is an indicator of the energy consumed by the wheel. and the heat exchanger is operated with balanced airflows. Heat dump-back is another feature of dehumidifier wheels that becomes important when process outlet temperature is a design requirement. High RSHD may indicate poor grain depression. Unlike high RSHI. the process is adiabatic.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification  ε ( T − TPI )  RSHI HX = RSHI 1 − HX PO  TRI − TPI   where: εHX = the heat exchanger effectiveness. In quantifying heat dump-back.adiabatic = is the temperature achieved upon reaching the measured grain depression with no change in enthalpy-essentially evaporative cooling in reverse. although there are exceptions. If AHR = 1.0. this represents a load that must be removed.3 Selection of desiccant wheels Some considerations for selection of desiccant wheels are: 11 . or that the matrix is picking up a lot of heat. we calculate adsorption heat ratio: AHR = TPO . TPO. and trends in the opposite direction as RSHI in some instances. for others. again for many wheels but not all. = mRO c p ( TRI − TRO ) MRC . RSHI does not register these and other phenomena on it own. RSHD = Edrop MRC . (12) RSHD focuses on the energy performance of the matrix itself by focusing on sensible energy drop in the regeneration air as it passes through the wheel rather than the energy supplied to the regeneration air. Some processes benefit from the sensible energy evolved from the desiccation process. as might RSHI. RSHD is also much less sensitive to mass-flow ratio than RSHI.adiabatic − TPI TPO − TPI (13) where: AHR = adsorption heat ratio TPO = temperature achieved upon reaching measured grain depression. Fractional AHR indicates the degree of heat dump-back. RSHD is a distinct parameter that adds to the understanding of a wheel’s energy consumption characteristics. 2. (11) This formulation assumes the PI and the heater receive air from the same source. It is very nearly independent of face velocity for many wheel configurations. or it may show that the wheel is able to utilize lower temperature air for regeneration. as is the case with many ventilation air pre-conditioners.

the air must be reheated for comfort.4 Hybrid Cycles A limited number of hybrid systems consisting of desiccant dehumidifiers and electrically driven vapor compression air-conditioners are presently in use in supermarkets. hence lower exit process air humidity and higher temperature.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification • • • • Appropriate desiccant materials Large desiccant content Wheel depth and flute size (for large contact surface area and low pressure drop) Size and cost The actual performance depends on several additional factors. The figure shows a typical hybrid air-conditioning system for supermarkets. Lower face velocity of the process stream results in lower exit humidity and highher temperature. Vapor compression systems are inefficient below a dew point of 45 to 50gradF. Hybrid systems offer improved performance and lower energy cost in these cases. The following is a range of typical parameters for rotary desiccant wheels: Rotation speed: 4 to 20 rpm Desiccant fraction: 70 to 80% Flute size: I to 2 mm Reactivation segment: 25 to 30% of wheel Face velocity: 300 to 700 fpm Reactivating temperature: 100 to 300gradF 2. low relative humidity air is advantageous for open-case displays. When used in supermarkets. and the evaporator coils must be defrosted frequently. These include: • • • • • • • • Inlet process air temperature and humidity Desired exit process air humidity Inlet reactivating air temperature and hurnidity Face velocity of the two air streams Size of reactivation segment Higher inlet process air humidity results in higher exit humidity and temperature (more heat of sorption is released). where it is dehumidified and precooled. It then enters the 12 . the exit process air should be cooled by a heat exchanger. Also. A mixture of outdoor and recirculated air is first passed through the desiccant and sensible heat exchanger wheels. When lower exit air temperature is required. This application is uniquely suited for this purpose since the latent heat loads are high due to tile large number of people and frequent traffic through doors. Higher regeneration temperatures result in deeper drying. they require high airflow rates.

electric fan energy is saved and duct sizes are reduced. • The vapor compression system operates at a higher coefficient of performance (COP) since the evaporator coils are at a higher temperature. • The refrigeration cases run more efficiently since the frequency of defrost cycles is greatly reduced. solar hot water coils. Any form of thermal energy stream can be used to dry and regenerate the desiccant. including electric . which exchanges (recovers) heat rather than moisture. heat reclaim coils. an exhaust fan. The desiccant material is impregnated into a fibrous support structure. The rotary heat exchanger. The advantages of these hybrid systems are • Air-conditioning requirement is reduced by up to 20%. hot water 13 . or some type of zeolite (a mineral containing hydrous silicates). The desiccant wheel is made of finely divided desiccant material. As shown in the figure . resembles the desiccant wheel in appearance and design. a rotary heat exchanger (sometimes referred to as a sensible heat wheel). a TWDS consists of a desiccant wheel. Energy cost can be further reduced by preheating the reactivating air stream with waste heat rejected from the condenser of the refrigeration and/or air-conditioning systems. titanium silicates. • Airflow requirements are reduced. 3 Energy Savings Mechanism Ref [5] The energy saving mechanism is presented using a Two Wheel Desiccant System. and a heat source for regenerating the desiccant.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification conventional chiller before it is introduced to the interior of the supermarket. a supply fan. which looks like corrugated cardboard that has been rolled into the shape of a wheel or into a wheel-shaped rotor with a lightweight structural honeycomb core of man-made.resistance heaters. usually silica gel. fire-retardant material. The sensible heat exchanger wheel is cooled by outdoor air and the desiccant wheel is regenerated by air heated with natural gas.

or indirect-fired natural gas burners. and mixed). Schematic of the Two-Wheel Desiccant System The TWDS can control or lower humidity. The energy-saving mechanism of a TWDS is explained by comparing the dehumidification and cooling process of the conventional and the desiccant-based systems. or natural gas burners. pure ventilation. The following steps describe the psychometric process for a hybrid desiccant dehumidification and supplemental cooling system.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification or steam from boilers. Both systems can be operated in various modes (recirculation. Most commercial applications use either direct. Therefore. but has a low ability to lower sensible heat. in most commercial applications the TWDS is supplemented with either a vapor compression or an evaporative cooling system. Fig. It is assumed that both systems take in 100% outdoor air. 14 .

At state B. For comparing the above process with that of a conventional system. and the cold exhaust air is pre-heated for reactivating the desiccant wheel. A-B: Dehumidification--as the moisture from the outdoor air is removed by sorption. This can be achieved by using a conventional direct-expansion vapor compression cooling system. (a) Comparison of a Hybrid Desiccant-Based Dehumidification and Supplemental Cooling Process with a Conventional Dehumidification and Cooling Process (b) Desiccant Reactivation Process Dehumidification A: Intake--hot and humid outdoor air enters the desiccant wheel at point A on the psychrometric chart (Figure (a)).e. In this process. There is a slight increase in the enthalpy (i. when latent heat is being converted into sensible heat.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification Fig. C-D: Supplemental cooling--the air leaving the rotary heat wheel is colder than the air leaving the desiccant wheel. D-E: Space cooling load--the exhaust air leaving the conditioned space is at state E. Part of the heat lost in step B-C is recovered by this process (Figure (b)). I-J: Reactivation--the hot exhaust air stream dries and reactivates the saturated desiccant. where it exchanges heat with the exhaust (return) air stream from the conditioned space. H-I: Heat addition--the hot exhaust air is further heated to increase the vapor pressure at the desiccant.. the energy content of the air stream increases). increasing the air stream's sensible load. Cooling B-C: Heat loss or post-cooling--the dehumidified outdoor air enters the rotary heat wheel. Regeneration E-H: Heat recovery--the exhaust air stream enters the rotary heat wheel where it exchanges heat with the hot and dry air leaving the desiccant wheel. but further cooling is often required before it can enter the conditioned space. the air is hot and dry and cannot be directly used to cool the conditioned area. the hot and dry outdoor air cools down. the following steps for cooling and dehumidification with a conventional vapor compression system are shown on the psychrometric chart (Figure (a)): 15 . the heat generated when the water is sorbed remains in the air stream.

the air is cold enough to be used in the conditioned space. The amount of energy saved and the reduction in electric demand depend on several factors. but cannot be circulated because it is saturated with moisture. To remove moisture. 16 . it is too cold to be circulated to conditioned space. If the humidity requirement is low (less than 40 grains/lb of dry air). Latent cooling (dehumidification) and reheat F-G: Dehumidification--the evaporator continues to cool the saturated air stream and condenses the moisture. The fan power is slightly increased because of increased air pressure drop through the desiccant and sensible wheels. the air must be cooled to less than 43°F in order to condense enough moisture. G-D: Reheat--the cold. A-F: Sensible cooling--the hot and humid outdoor air stream is cooled until it reaches saturation. In this state. The amount of energy saved depends primarily on the ability of the hybrid system to shift part of the cooling load (dehumidification load) to a low-grade thermal source and to eliminate reheat (step G-D). further reducing the dry-bulb and the humidity. the air must be cooled to below its dew-point temperature. D-E: Cooling load--the exhaust air leaves the conditioned space (state E). At this point.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification Sensible cooling A: Intake--hot and humid outdoor air enters the evaporator coil of a conventional vapor compression system at point A on the psychrometric chart (Figure (a)). dry air stream is mixed with hot air or reheated to the desired circulation temperature (state D).

Purges can also be necessary in applications that demand minimal carryover of regeneration air into the supply air.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 4 Purge Sections/Carryover Figure 2. This amounts to a small. Figure 2 diagrams the purge concept. it carries with it both regeneration air trapped in the flutes and heat. (Ref [3]) As the matrix rotates out of the regeneration airflow. Seal leakage and rotation carryover combined are not large enough to be a concern. Purge section forces a PI to RI leak to prevent RI to PO carryover contamination inherent in wheel rotation. or if the regeneration air comes from an indoor or outdoor source that may have high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other pollutants. In the case of carryover. the purge prevents regeneration air trapped in the flutes from carrying contaminants into the supply air. This could be a concern if the unit is directfired and if there are combustion products in the regeneration air. Purge sections are commonly used in industrial applications when very low PO dew points are required. which is acceptable in most instances. contained in the air and in the matrix itself. 17 . constant rotation leak or carryover from RI to PO. Purging purposely misaligns one of the seals on the RI/PO face of the wheel to eliminate this leak by forcing a purge leak from PI to RI.

the opposite sense in which sorbents work. that is. in actively regenerated systems. Even ammonia. Experience shows this to be true. Carryover does not currently appear to be an issue for rotary desiccant equipment. it has strongly positive and negative ends. which is moderately polar. this reasoning does not apply because the regeneration air is not heated. Water vapor is a highly polar molecule. but many pollutants cannot.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification Another potential concern is co-sorption. and essentially concentrate the pollutants in the required space. Analyses predict that desiccants will always adsorb the most polar molecules first. First of all. is not picked up in appreciable quantities when water vapor is present. Pollutant molecules larger than the desiccant pores are physically excluded from adsorption. If the desiccant were able to pick up considerable amounts of undesirable chemicals from an exhaust flow and dump them back into the supply air. Sorption on the molecular level is a very electrically influenced phenomenon. this would create a much more powerful carryover effect than wheel rotation could produce. This is very unlikely for several reasons. In passive systems. The other is that co-sorption does not happen in the presence of water vapor. the pollutants would have to be picked up by the desiccant at elevated temperatures and released at low temperature. 18 . Co-sorption is the potential for desiccants to adsorb other chemicals with the water vapor. making carryover impossible. There are two lines of reasoning for these enthalpy exchange systems. Three angstroms is sometimes cited as a practical pore size in which water vapor fits. One is size exclusion.

advancedbuildings. James L. Ramsey.htm http://www.gov/fta/8_tdd. Zalman Lavan. Cengel. U. 2000.Desiccant Wheel Dehumidification 5 References [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Shan K. “Thermal Environmental Engineering” Prentice Hall Inc. „Thermodynamics-An Engineering Approach“ Mc Graw-Hill Higher Education Thomas H. Paul Norton. Edward Arnold S. 2000.The U. Ryan. Boles. .S. Wang. “Desiccant Dehumidification Wheel Test Guide” NREL. Jones. Department of Energy Laboratory Yunus A. “Air Conditioning Engineering”. P. 1998.J. Michael A. Department of Energy: Federal Technology Alerts http://www. 1998.S. “Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering”.P. Kuehn. CRC Press W. Slayzak and J.htm [6] [7] 19 . Threlked. 1994.org/_frames/fr_t_heat_desiccant_cooling.pnl. James W.

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