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Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504

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Applied Energy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apenergy

Development of a novel two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification


system assisted by CaCl2 solution using exergy analysis method
Z.Q. Xiong, Y.J. Dai *, R.Z. Wang
Institute of Refrigeration and Cryogenics, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai 200240, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Air conditioning system based on liquid desiccant has been recognized as an efficient independent air
Received 12 March 2009 humidity control HVAC system. To improve thermal coefficient of performance, a novel two-stage liquid
Received in revised form 27 August 2009 desiccant dehumidification system assisted by calcium chloride (CaCl2) solution is developed through
Accepted 27 August 2009
exergy analysis based on the second thermodynamic law. Compared with the basic liquid desiccant
Available online 7 October 2009
dehumidification system, the proposed system is improved by two ways, i.e. increasing the concentration
variance and the pre-dehumidification of CaCl2. The exergy loss in the desiccant–desiccant heat recovery
Keywords:
process can be significantly reduced by increasing desiccant concentration variance between strong des-
Exergy analysis
Liquid desiccant
iccant solution after regeneration and weak desiccant solution after dehumidification. Meanwhile, the
Two-stage dehumidification pre-dehumidification of CaCl2 solution can reduce the irreversibility in the regeneration/dehumidifica-
tion process. Compared to the basic system, the thermal coefficient performance and exergy efficiency
of the proposed system are increased from 0.24 to 0.73 and from 6.8% to 23.0%, respectively, under the
given conditions. Useful energy storage capacity of CaCl2 solution and LiCl solution at concentration of
40% reach 237.8 and 395.1 MJ/m3, respectively. The effects of desiccant regeneration temperature, air
mass flux, desiccant mass flux, etc., on the performance of the proposed system are also analyzed.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction desiccant temperature and concentration on dehumidification


and regeneration process are analyzed. Xiong et al. found that it
In recent years, more and more attention of researchers has was more efficient to run the system in a high desiccant variance
been attracted to the alternatives of the conventional vapor com- mode [15]. However, few studies on the effect of the liquid desic-
pression system due to depleting energy resources and serious cant concentration variance on the performance of dehumidifica-
environmental pollution. As one of the alternatives, air condition- tion/regeneration cycles are reported to date.
ing system based on liquid desiccant is an efficient independent Exergy analysis based on the second thermodynamic law has
humidity control HVAC system and is attractive for utilizing waste been recognized as an effective way to improve the system perfor-
energy from industrial processes, geothermal energy, solar energy, mance. Reports are limit about exergy analysis on liquid desiccant
etc. [1–4]. Moreover, liquid desiccant dehumidification system dehumidification system, and most of the reported studies to im-
uses natural substance water as working fluid, which is environ- prove the liquid desiccant dehumidification systems are based on
ment-friendly and does not cause ozone depletion. the first thermodynamic law. Assouad [16] pinpointed and quanti-
Research on the design, development and analysis of dehumid- fied the exergy consumption of a solar powered liquid desiccant
ifier/regenerator which are the prominent components in liquid system using solar collector/regenerator by carrying out an exergy
desiccant dehumidification system is very active. The fundamental analysis. It was found that exergy was mainly consumed in the pre-
heat and mass transfer processes was broadly investigated by heater, the regenerator and the absorber. Ahmed et al. [17] did
experimental method [5–9], as well as numerical simulation meth- exergy investigation on a hybrid system incorporating absorber
od which is a good complementary to the experimental study. Bulk and dehumidifier based on liquid desiccant, calculated the irrevers-
flow model [8,10] and finite differential model [11–14] are com- ible losses of the hybrid cycle and attempted to optimize the desic-
monly used to simulate the heat and mass transfer between liquid cant flow rate of the partly closed solar regenerator. Li [18] analyzed
desiccant and air. By these methods, effects of variables including the operating condition for the reversible dehumidification process.
air and desiccant flow rates, air temperature and humidity, and Nevertheless, no work is reported on the optimization of the liquid
desiccant dehumidification system by exergy analysis method.
The objective of this paper is to improve the liquid desiccant
* Corresponding author. Fax: +86 021 34204358.
E-mail address: yjdai@sjtu.edu.cn (Y.J. Dai).
dehumidification system in the view of exergy analysis. Especially,

0306-2619/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2009.08.048
1496 Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504

Nomenclature

b1–7 constants for calculating desiccant’s exergy q density (kg m3)


cp specific heat capacity (kJ kg1 k1) c latent heat (kJ kg1)
C desiccant mass concentration
d air humidity ratio (g kg1) Subscripts
E exergy (kW) 0 dead state
h enthalpy (kJ kg1) a air
m_ mass flow rate (kg s1) cw cooling water
p water vapor partial pressure (Pa) g gas
p0 atmospheric pressure (Pa) hw hot water
q evaporating heat (kJ kg1) in inlet
R gas constant out outlet
s entropy (kJ kg1 k1) pa process air
T temperature (K) pure pure desiccant
t temperature (°C) ra regeneration air
COPt thermal coefficient of performance ref reference state
USC used storage energy (kW) s desiccant solution
x desiccant mole concentration v vapor
w water
Greek letters
g efficiency
W exergy (kW kg1)

   
investigation on a novel design – two-stage liquid desiccant dehu- d Ta
Wa ¼ cp;a þ cp;v T a  T 0  T 0 ln
midification system assisted by CaCl2 solution will be carried out. 1000 T0
   
d p
þ Rg;a þ Rg;v T 0 ln
1000 p0
2. Basic liquid desiccant dehumidification cycle and exergy "  !
d0
d Rg;a þ 1000 Rg;v
analysis methodology þ T 0 Rg;a þ Rg;v ln
1000 d
Rg;a þ 1000 Rg;v
 
2.1. Basic liquid desiccant dehumidification d0 d
þ Rg;v ln ð2Þ
1000 d0
A basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system is depicted in
Fig. 1, as well as its desiccant solution cycle. The system is com- Exergy of liquid desiccant solution is calculated by
posed of a dehumidifier, regenerator, and several heat exchangers. Ws ¼ qðC s Þ þ ð1  C s Þhw ð298:15Þ þ C s hpure ð298:15Þ
Its working principle was well described in the Refs. [19,20] and is Z "  
T
x 4:53 x
explained through its desiccant solution cycle here. As shown in þ C p dt  T 0 Ss;ref þ 1
298:15 xref 298:15 xref
Fig. 1b, the process 1–2 is a dehumidification process followed #
  X 7
by the process 2–3 which is a heat recovery process. Then in the x bi i1 i1
process 3–4, the liquid desiccant solution is further heated to the þ Rpure xðb1 ln þ ðx  xref ÞÞ
xref i¼2
i1
desired regeneration temperature by the hot water in hot water- 
desiccant HE (heat exchanger). The process 4–5 is a regeneration 1
þ qðxÞ þ ð1  C s Þhw ð298:15Þ þ C s hpure ð298:15Þ
process. The heat released in the process 5–6 is recovered by the 298:15
Z T 
process 2–3. At last, in process 6–1, which is a cooling process, x
þ cp;s dT  hs;ref  ðhw;0  T 0 sw;0 Þ
the warm regenerated liquid desiccant is further cooled by the T0 xref
cooling water in the cooling water-desiccant HE. Thus liquid desic-  C s ðhpure;0  T 0 spure;0 Þ ð3Þ
cant solution cycle is formed. Almost all the liquid desiccant based
systems are developed from this basic system. where the constants b1–b7 and the reference state (represented by
ref) are given in Ref. [16]. q(Cs), the mixing heat, is a function of
the concentration, as shown by Eq. (4) for LiCl solution and Eq.
2.2. Exergy analysis model (5) for CaCl2 solution.

Exergy is defined as the maximum work that can be withdrawn q ¼ 0:60903 þ 184:54Cs þ 67:701C2s  510:16C3s ð4Þ
from the system when it is allowed to reach the dead state. The q ¼ 0:0099426 þ 167:23Cs þ 3:7007C2s  167C3s ð5Þ
dead state is set at the saturate air of the ambient pressure and
temperature, and the desiccant solution in equilibrium with the To better understand the exergy destruction in the liquid desic-
saturate air. The exergy can be calculated by cant dehumidification cycle, we construct exergy destruction mod-
el for dehumidifier, regenerator and the various heat exchangers.
W ¼ h  T 0 s  ðh0  T 0 s0 Þ ð1Þ Detailed explanation of the calculation of basic liquid desiccant
dehumidification system is given below.
where subscript ‘0’ represents the dead state.
The humid air is treated as an ideal gas and its exergy is com- (1) Dehumidifier: Dehumidifier is the most important part of
prised of three parts, temperature exergy, pressure exergy and liquid desiccant dehumidification system. As shown in
chemical exergy, as shown by [21] Fig. 1b, water vapor is transferred from air to liquid desiccant,
Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504 1497

cooling water similar to desiccant–desiccant HE. Temperature exergy is


-desiccant HE rejected from hot water. Part of the exergy goes to liquid
1 desiccant solution, and the rest is destructed to axergy
which is calculated by
  Z T3 
T0
_ s;3
Eloss ¼ m 1 qðT 4 Þ  qðT 3 Þ þ cp;s dT
DEH 298:15 T4
 Z T in 
6 _ hw cp;w ðT in  T out Þ þ
þm cp;w dT
T out
2
Process air ð8Þ
Regeneration air 3 (2) Regenerator: The situation in the regenerator is similar to
Water that in the dehumidifier except that exergy is transferred
LiCl hot water
-desiccant HE from desiccant solution to air. The amount of exergy des-
desiccant- 4 tructed in this process is
desiccant HE
_ ra ðWra;in  Wra;out Þ þ ðm
Eloss ¼ m _ s;4 Ws;4  m
_ s;5 Ws;5 Þ ð9Þ
REG
(5) Cooling water-desiccant HE: In cooling water-desiccant HE,
temperature exergy is rejected from hot regenerated liquid
desiccant. Part of the exergy goes into cooling water, while
5 the rest of it is destructed to axergy calculated by
air-air HE
Pump
  Z T5 
(a) Schematic T0
_ s;5
Eloss ¼ m 1 qðT 6 Þ  qðT 5 Þ þ cp;s dT
298:15 T6
 Z T in 
_ hw cp;w ðT in  T out Þ þ
þm cp;w dT
T out

ð10Þ
2.3. Exergy performance of the basic liquid desiccant dehumidifier

The above exergy analysis model is adopted to analyze the per-


formance of the liquid desiccant dehumidification system with the
assistance of energy and mass balance mathematical model de-
tailed in Ref. [14] and validated in Ref. [22]. It is assumed that ther-
mal insulation is perfect and the exergy losses along pipes, pumps
and fans are neglected. The effectiveness of different heat exchang-
ers is given in Table 1. Ambient air is set at the state of 30 °C,
18.7 g/kg. Process air is designed to be dehumidified to 9.0 g/kg
according to the ARI indoor condition.
Exergy efficiency is defined to evaluate the exergy performance
of the liquid desiccant dehumidification system
_ pa ðWa;out  Wa;in Þ
m
gE ð11Þ
(b) Liquid desiccant cycle Ehw þ Ecw
Fig. 1. The basic liquid desiccant cooling system (DEH: dehumidifier; HE: heat In addition, thermal coefficient of performance (COPt) and use-
exchanger; REG: regenerator). ful energy storage capacity (USC) are included to show the energy
performance of the system, as defined by Eqs. (12) and (13). Useful
accompanied by heat transfer. So both chemical and temper- energy storage capacity reflects the energy storage capacity ex-
ature exergy is changed. Due to the irreversibility, part of the plored in the real application, which is dependent on the actual
exergy is consumed and degraded to axergy, calculated by concentration variance of the desiccant solution in operation.
_ pa ðWpa;in  Wpa;out Þ þ m
Eloss ¼ m _ s;1 ðWs;1  m
_ s;1 Ws;1 Þ ð6Þ m _ pa ðha;out  ha;in Þ
COPt ¼ ð12Þ
(2) Desiccant–desiccant HE: For desiccant–desiccant HE, concen- _ hw cp;w ðT in  T out Þ
m
 
tration and pressure are kept constant, and only the temper- Csout
USC ¼ qs 1 c ð13Þ
ature varies. Temperature exergy is transferred from hot Csin
strong liquid desiccant after regeneration and cool dilute
liquid desiccant before regeneration. The amount of exergy The performance of the basic liquid desiccant dehumidification
destructed in this process is cycle is shown in Table 2 (the 4th column). The COPt and exergy
  Z T2  efficiency of the basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system
T0
_ s;2
Eloss ¼ m 1 qðT 3 Þ  qðT 2 Þ þ cp dT
298:15 T3
  Z T5  Table 1
T0
_ s;5
þm 1 qðT 6 Þ  qðT 5 Þ þ cp dT Assigned parameters of heat exchangers.
298:15 T6
Desiccant–desiccant HE effectiveness 0.7
ð7Þ Hot water-desiccant HE effectiveness 0.6
Cooling water-desiccant HE effectiveness 0.6
(3) Hot water-desiccant HE: In hot water-desiccant HE, only heat
Air–air HE effectiveness 0.5
is transferred from hot water to liquid desiccant, which is
1498 Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504

Table 2
Comparison of two liquid desiccant dehumidification units.

Two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification Two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system Basic liquid
system assisted by CaCl2 solution assisted by CaCl2 solution (CaCl2 cycle is off) desiccant system
Dehumidifier size 0.30 m (length of CaCl2) 0.45 m (length) 0.45 m (length)
0.35 m (length of LiCl) 0.30 m (width) 0.30 m (width)
0.30 m (width) 0.30 m (height) 0.30 m (height)
0.30 m (height)
Regenerator size 0.25 m (length of LiCl) 0.45 m (length) 0.45 m (length)
0.25 m (length of CaCl2) 0.30 m (width) 0.30 m (width)
0.30 m (width) 0.30 m (height) 0.30 m (height)
0.30 m (height)
Desiccant solution LiCl solution + CaCl2 solution LiCl solution LiCl solution
Air mass flux (kg m2 s1) Dehumidifier: 1.86 Dehumidifier: 1.86 Dehumidifier: 1.86
Regenerator: 1.16 Regenerator: 1.16 Regenerator: 1.16
Desiccant mass flux (kg m2 s1) 3.0 3.0 3.0
Desiccant temperature at the 68 68 68
inlet of regenerator (°C)
Concentration variance CaCl2: 40–37.2% LiCl: 40–35.8% LiCl: 40–39.8%
LiCl: 40–35.5%
Exergy gained by process 0.153 0.153 0.153
air (kW)
Exergy input by hot water (kW) 0.659 0.798 2.06
Exergy input by cooling 0.006 0.019 0.197
water (kW)
USC (MJ/m3) 237.8 – CaCl2 385.5 12.6
395.1 – LiCl
Exergy efficiency 23.0% 18.7% 6.8%
COPt 0.73 0.58 0.24

are 0.24% and 6.8%, respectively. The exergy efficiency is much contact with the CaCl2 solution. Moisture in the process air is ab-
lower than that of the conventional vapor compression air condi- sorbed by the CaCl2 solution accompanied by heat rejection. After
tioning system [23]. Thus a large space exists to improve the per- dehumidification process, CaCl2 solution is at the state point 70 , at
formance of the basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system. which state its concentration decreases a little bit and its temper-
The energy storage capacity of LiCl solution is reported very high ature increases compared with state point 6. However, the CaCl2
in an ideal iso-thermal dehumidification process in Ref. [24]. The solution still has strong ability to absorb water if it is cooled. So
energy storage capacity of LiCl solution at concentration of 40% is it is pumped through the ‘‘f” channel of the three-way valve at
as high as 3220.1 MJ/m3 if the LiCl solution is allowed to reach the outlet of the first stage dehumidifier back to the cooling
the state in equilibrium with ambient air. In such case, the concen- water–CaCl2 HE. Then it goes into dehumidifier again. By this
tration of LiCl solution is decreased from 40% to 19.7% which is in way, the CaCl2 solution is used to dehumidify process air again
equilibrium with the ambient air. However, the desiccant concen- and again until its concentration is lower than a certain value
tration is decreased from 40% to 39.8% in the basic liquid desiccant which is designed according to the requirement. After dehumidifi-
dehumidification system which results in the small useful energy cation processes, the CaCl2 solution is at state point 7. Then it is
storage capacity, only 12.6 MJ/m3. pumped to CaCl2–CaCl2 HE to recover heat from the CaCl2 solution
after regeneration. Thereafter, the CaCl2 solution at state point 8 is
further heated by hot water–CaCl2 HE to state point 9 at the regen-
3. Two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system assisted eration temperature and then goes into the second stage regener-
by CaCl2 ator. In regenerator, water in CaCl2 solution evaporates into the air
and CaCl2 solution reaches the state point 100 . Since the concentra-
To increase the performance of liquid desiccant dehumidifica- tion of CaCl2 solution out of regenerator is still lower than its ori-
tion system, a two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system ginal value (40%), it needs to be regenerated again. So CaCl2
assisted by CaCl2 solution is proposed, as shown in Fig. 2a. Process solution is pumped through ‘‘h” channel of the three-way valve lo-
air is first dehumidified by CaCl2 solution and then further dehu- cated at the outlet of the second stage regenerator. Then it goes
midified by LiCl solution to the desired air humidity. On the con- through cooling water–CaCl2 HE to the regenerator again. By this
trary, in regeneration process, air is first used to regenerate LiCl way, it reaches the state point 10 with high concentration. Then
solution and then to regenerate CaCl2 solution. This arrangement it goes to CaCl2–CaCl2 HE and is cooled to state point 11. So the
is made according to the property of LiCl and CaCl2 solution. LiCl CaCl2 cycle is formed. The three-way valves are coarsely controlled
solution shows better dehumidification ability, but is harder to by time signal. For comparison, the states of desiccant in basic li-
be regenerated. On the other hand, CaCl2 solution is easier to be quid desiccant dehumidification system are also given, i.e. A–B–
regenerated with poor dehumidification ability. Thus, two sets of C–D–D0 –A cycle. Compared with the basic system, the proposed
liquid desiccant cycles are combined in this proposed system. system has larger concentration variance between the strong des-
One is LiCl cycle, the other is CaCl2 cycle. They are similar to each iccant solution after regeneration and the weak desiccant solution
other. To better explain the working principle of the system, the after dehumidification. The regenerators/dehumidifiers considered
desiccant states of CaCl2 solution are shown in Fig. 2b, i.e. 6–7– are cross-flow type and filled with celdek packing material.
8–9–10–11–6 cycle. Strong CaCl2 solution at state point 11 is In this proposed system, corrosion problem is relieved due to
cooled in cooling water–CaCl2 HE to state point 6. Then it flows two reasons. First, most of the components in this system
to the first stage dehumidifier where the process air is in direct (including desiccant solution pipes, wind pipes, dehumidifiers,
Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504 1499

Fig. 2. Two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system with big desiccant concentration variance.

and regenerators) are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic 0.24 to 0.58. By adding the pre-dehumidification of CaCl2 solution,
material which is anti-corrosion. Second, the regeneration temper- the COPt and exergy efficiency of the two-stage liquid desiccant
ature of desiccant solution, which is closely related to the corrosion dehumidification system assisted by CaCl2 solution reach 0.73%
problem, is reduced by using two-stage design. and 23.0%, respectively. Useful energy storage capacity of CaCl2
and LiCl solution at the concentration 40% are 237.8 and
395.1 MJ/m3, respectively. The improvement is contributed by
4. Results and discussion the two measures, namely, the high desiccant concentration vari-
ance method and CaCl2 pre-dehumidification method.
4.1. Performance of the two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification The exergy destruction details for basic liquid desiccant dehu-
system assisted by CaCl2 midification system and the two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidi-
fication system assisted by CaCl2 solution are depicted in Fig. 3. In
The performance of the two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidifi- the basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system, the highest
cation system assisted by CaCl2 solution is shown in Table 2 (the amount of exergy destruction occurs in hot water-desiccant HE
2nd column) in accompany with that of the basic liquid desiccant among all the components, 32.3%, i.e. 785.0 W. The cooling
dehumidification cycle (the 4th column). Besides, the 3rd column water-desiccant HE consumes the second highest amount of exer-
in Table 2 shows the performance of the new system with CaCl2 cy- gy losses, 25.4%, i.e. 616.5 W. The next one is in desiccant–desic-
cle off, which reflects the effect of the high desiccant concentration cant HE, accounting for 22.5%, i.e. 547 W. The reason for the high
variance method. The improvement is obvious. The exergy effi- exergy losses on heat exchangers is the high temperature differ-
ciency is increased from 6.8% to 18.7% ant COPt is increased from ence between hot strong desiccant solution after regeneration
1500 Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504

Desiccant-desiccant HE Hot water -desiccant HE 32.3%


22.5%

Dehumidifier 8.2%

Re generator 5.3%
Cooling water-desiccant HE
25.3%
Air -air HE 3.2%
Exhausted air
3.1%

(a) The basic dehumidification system

(b) Two-stage dehumidification system

Fig. 3. Exergy destructions in different systems.

and cool dilute desiccant solution after dehumidification. The hot tal destructed exergy, i.e. 115.6 W, which is 11.1% lower than that
strong desiccant solution needs to be cooled before being used to of the basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system.
dehumidify the process air again. On the other hand, cool dilute
desiccant solution needs to be heated to a higher temperature for 4.2. Effect of heat exchangers on system performance
regeneration. Irreversibility exists in the energy transfer process
since there is the temperature difference and incomplete heat Since large amount of exergy is lost in heat exchangers, how
recovery between hot strong desiccant solution and cool dilute heat exchangers affects the system performance is studied here.
desiccant solution. So exergy is destructed. Besides the above three The results are shown in Fig. 4 with the other operating parameters
heat exchangers, regenerator and dehumidifier as the most impor- shown in Table 2. Among the four types of heat exchangers, the
tant components in the dehumidification system, occupy 8.2% exergy efficiency of the system is affected the most by hot
(199.5 W) and 5.4% (130 W) of total exergy loss, respectively. It is water-desiccant HE. The reason is that the performance of hot
mainly lost in the form of chemical exergy, due to the water vapor water-desiccant HE determines the temperature of the hot water
pressure difference between desiccant solution and air. at the inlet of the hot water-desiccant HE which is closely related
In the two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system as- to the main exergy consumption, the exergy input by the hot
sisted by CaCl2 solution, LiCl solution’s concentration variance is water. Higher effectiveness of the hot water-desiccant HE yields
increased to 4.5%, and CaCl2 solution’s concentration variance is a lower hot water temperature requirement, resulting in the less
2.8%. By this way, the heat needs to be recovered between hot exergy input by the hot water and the higher exergy efficiency. If
strong liquid desiccant solution and cool dilute liquid desiccant the effectiveness of hot water-desiccant HE increases from 30% to
solution is decreased. So the exergy loss in the heat recovery pro- 90%, the exergy efficiency can be improved from 17.3% to 25.2%.
cess is reduced significantly. Exergy destructed in LiCl–LiCl HE and However, air–air HE holds a leading position in the COPt of the sys-
CaCl2–CaCl2 HE is 16.4 W, only accounting for 3.3% of the total tem. Energy provided by hot water is mainly consumed in the
exergy loss. Exergy loss due to incomplete heat recovery between regeneration process in liquid desiccant dehumidification system.
hot regenerated liquid desiccant solution and cool dilute liquid Input energy is allocated between regenerated air and hot desic-
desiccant solution (desiccant–desiccant HE + hot water-desiccant cant solution after regeneration process. The heat absorbed by
HE + cooling water-desiccant HE) is decreased to 28.6%, i.e. the hot desiccant solution is not wasted and useful since the hot
141.9 W, about 7.3% of the total exergy loss in the basic liquid des- desiccant solution is regenerated repeatedly for several times.
iccant dehumidification system. CaCl2 pre-dehumidification meth- The heat taken away by regeneration air out of the air–air HE is
od also improves the performance of the two-stage liquid desiccant wasted and its amount is determined by the performance of the
dehumidification system. Exergy destructed in LiCl dehumidifier air–air HE. The COPt is increased from 0.69 to 0.84 when the effec-
and CaCl2 dehumidifier is decreased to 119.8 W, which is only tiveness of air–air HE increases from 30% to 90%. Thus, improving
60.1% of that of the basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system. the performance of air–air HE is significant to decrease the input
LiCl regenerator and CaCl2 regenerator account for 23.3% of the to- energy, which decides the area of the solar collector. Meanwhile
Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504 1501

Fig. 4. The impact of different heat exchangers’ effectiveness on system perfor-


mance: (a) exergy efficiency and (b) COPt. Fig. 5. The impact of regeneration temperature on the performance of the two-
stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system. (a) Exergy efficiency and (b) COPt.

increasing the effectiveness of hot water-desiccant HE is vital to re-


duce the temperature requirement of the heat source, which is ture from CaCl2 solution in CaCl2 regenerator. Since the regenera-
very important in selecting the type of solar collector. tion temperature of CaCl2 is kept constant, the temperature of
the exhausted air at the outlet of the second regenerator is almost
a constant. Meanwhile, water evaporating from solution to regen-
5. Optimization of the two-stage liquid desiccant eration air is increased significantly. Thus, the COPt is higher at
dehumidification system high LiCl regeneration temperature. The influence of CaCl2 regener-
ation temperature on COPt is more complicate. In general, COPt
Important parameters such as the regeneration temperature shows the similar trend as that in various LiCl regeneration tem-
(desiccant temperature at the inlet of the regenerators), air mass peratures. Higher CaCl2 regeneration temperature yields a higher
flux and desiccant mass flux are studied in this section. The oper- COPt. It is worth to note that there exists a local highest COPt at
ating parameters shown in Table 2 are adopted. Regeneration tem- a given LiCl regeneration temperature. The local highest COPt
perature is a prominent parameter to liquid desiccant points represent the cases that LiCl cycle and CaCl2 cycle match
dehumidification system. In the two-stage liquid desiccant dehu- best with each other. If the CaCl2 regeneration temperature is high-
midification system, LiCl and CaCl2 could be regenerated at differ- er than that of the local highest point, CaCl2 regeneration process is
ent temperatures. The effect of the regeneration temperature on finished earlier than LiCl regeneration process. On the contrary,
the performance of the two-stage system is shown in Fig. 5. As ex- LiCl regeneration process ends earlier that CaCl2 regeneration pro-
pected, exergy efficiency increases with the decreasing of the cess when CaCl2 regeneration temperature is lower than that of the
regeneration temperature of CaCl2 solution or LiCl solution. High- local highest point. The CaCl2 regeneration temperature corre-
est exergy efficiency appears at the lowest regeneration tempera- sponding to the local highest COPt is reduced with the decreasing
ture. The reason is that temperature difference and water vapor of LiCl regeneration temperature. Thus, CaCl2 solution is suggested
pressure difference is on average lower at lowest regeneration to be regenerated at 58 °C, 56 °C, 52 °C and 47 °C when LiCl solu-
temperature. COPt increases when the LiCl regeneration tempera- tion is regenerated at 72 °C, 68 °C, 64 °C and 60 °C, respectively.
ture increases at a given regeneration temperature of CaCl2 solu- The effect of the air mass flux in regenerator on the system per-
tion. Increasing LiCl regeneration temperature results in more formance is also considered. As shown in Fig. 6, both exergy effi-
water evaporation and larger air temperature increment in LiCl ciency and COPt decreases with the increasing of the mass flux of
regenerator. The regeneration air is further used to extract mois- regeneration air, and levels off when air mass flux is more than
1502 Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504

Fig. 6. The impact of the mass flux of air in regeneration process.

3 kg m s1. Air humidity ratio increment in regeneration process


2

is increased by decreasing the air velocity. So the difference be-


tween the humidity ratio of air and the equivalent humidity ratio
of desiccant solution is increased with the increase of the air veloc-
ity, which results in higher exergy efficiency at low air velocity. The
reason for higher COPt at low air velocity is that less sensible heat
is taken away by regeneration air for the same amount of evapora-
tion water. Both air humidity ratio and temperature are decreased
with the increase of the air velocity. The humidity ratio decrement
holds a leading position, which results in less regeneration heat
consumed by one gram evaporation water when the air velocity
is low.
The impact of the mass flux of desiccant in the regeneration
process is depicted in Figs. 7 and 8. The mass fluxes of LiCl and
CaCl2 are the same in Fig. 7. Exergy efficiency increases with the
increasing desiccant mass flux, which is caused by improved mass
Fig. 8. The impact of the desiccant mass flux of the regenerator: (a) Changing LiCl
transfer between air and desiccant solution. Higher desiccant mass
mass flux and (b) Changing CaCl2 mass flux.
flux also benefits the increase of COPt, due to less sensible heat
consumed by regeneration air per gram of evaporated water. In to LiCl mass flux, i.e. 0.8 in our case. The cycle of CaCl2 matches
Fig. 8a, effect of the mass flux ratio of LiCl to CaCl2 is shown the gi- with the cycle of LiCl best at this point.
ven CaCl2 mass flux. Higher LiCl to CaCl2 mass flux ratio produces The regenerators’ volume distribution between LiCl regenerator
high exergy efficiency and COPt due to the reason described above. and CaCl2 regenerator is also considered. As shown in Fig. 9, x-coor-
However the increment is not obvious when the mass flux ratio is dinate, the fraction of the volume of the regenerator for LiCl is the
higher than 1.3. Fig. 8b depicts the effect of the mass flux ratio of ratio of the volume of the regenerator for LiCl to the total volume of
CaCl2 to LiCl with a given LiCl mass flux. The exergy efficiency in- regenerators for LiCl and CaCl2. Both the exergy efficiency and COPt
creases with increasing CaCl2 mass flux in regenerator and levels is increased with the increasing fraction of the volume of the
off when CaCl2 to LiCl mass flux ratio is higher than 0.9. Its effect regenerator for LiCl when the fraction is less than 55%. The perfor-
on COPt is not obvious. There exists a best ratio of CaCl2 mass flux mance of the system reaches the best when LiCl solution consumes

Fig. 7. The impact of the mass flux of the desiccant in the regeneration process. Fig. 9. The impact of the distribution of regenerator volume.
Z.Q. Xiong et al. / Applied Energy 87 (2010) 1495–1504 1503

Table 3
Comparison between the experiment results and simulation results.

Experimental results Simulation results


Dehumidifier/regenerator size 0.25 m (length) 0.25 m (length)
0.30 m (width) 0.30 m (width)
0.30 m (height) 0.30 m (height)
Desiccant solution LiCl solution LiCl solution
Ambient air 28.2–29.5 °C 28.8 °C
16.3–17.2 g/kg 16.7 g/kg
Desiccant temperature at the inlet of dehumidifier (°C) 28.7–29.6 29.1
Air mass flux in dehumidifier/regenerator (kg m2 s1) 2.3–2.6 2.4
Desiccant mass flux (kg m2 s1) 1.86 1.86
Desiccant temperature at the inlet of regenerator (°C) 66.7–68.5 67.6
Concentration variance 41.2–38.2% 41.2–38.2%
Exergy gained by process air (kW) 0.074 0.080
Exergy input by hot water (kW) 0.621 0.677
Exergy efficiency 11.9% 12.4%
COPt 0.42 0.45

(1) It is found that the exergy efficiency of basic liquid desiccant


Table 4
Instruments for the tests. dehumidification system is very low, only 6.8% due to the high
temperature difference between hot strong liquid desiccant
Parameters Test instruments Accuracy Range
solution after regeneration and cool dilute liquid desiccant
Air flow rate EY3-2A thermocouple 2% 0.05– solution after dehumidification, and the incomplete heat
anemometer 1 m/s
recovery. Desiccant–desiccant HE, hot water-desiccant HE
1–30 m/
s and cooling water-desiccant HE consume 80.1% of the total
Dry/wet bulb Pt100 RTD 0.2 °C 0– exergy loss.
temperature 100 °C (2) The two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system
Desiccant flow rate Glass rotor flow meter 2% 0– assisted by CaCl2 is improved in terms of COPt and exergy
1000 L/h
Desiccant Pt100 RTD 0.2 °C 0–
efficiency, 0.73 and 23.0%, respectively compared with the
temperature 100 °C basic liquid desiccant dehumidification system. High desic-
Density Measuring cylinder 1 ml 0– cant concentration variance method efficiently explores des-
200 ml iccant solution’s energy storage ability. Useful energy
Sartoious electrical balance 0.01 g 500 g
storage capacity of CaCl2 and LiCl solution at the concentra-
(3s2202s)
tion 40% is increased to 237.8 and 395.1 MJ/m3, respectively.
(3) Regeneration temperature affects the performance of the
about 55% of the total regenerator volume, which means that LiCl system significantly. As expect, highest exergy efficiency
cycle and CaCl2 cycle match with each other best. In this case, if the appears at low regeneration temperature. On the contrary,
volume fraction of LiCl is less than 55%, LiCl regeneration process is high regeneration temperature results in high COPt in gen-
finished later than CaCl2 regeneration process. Regeneration air is eral trend due to the more significant increase in water
only used to regenerate LiCl solution when CaCl2 solution regener- evaporation compared with the regeneration air tempera-
ation is finished, which causes higher regeneration heat and seri- ture. Besides, it is worth to note that a local highest COPt
ous irreversibility. Similarly, if the volume fraction of LiCl is at a specific LiCl regeneration temperature could be achieved
higher than 55%, CaCl2 regeneration process is finished quicker when the CaCl2 cycle matches well with the LiCl cycle. Thus,
than LiCl regeneration process which results in lower COPt and CaCl2 solution is recommended to be regenerated at 58 °C,
exergy efficiency. 56 °C, 52 °C and 47 °C when LiCl solution is regenerated at
72 °C, 68 °C, 64 °C and 60 °C, respectively.
(4) High COPt and exergy efficiency are obtained for small air
6. Validation of the simulation results
velocity and large desiccant mass flux in regenerators since
less regeneration heat is consumed for the same amount of
A single stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system has
evaporation water. The distribution of the regenerators’ vol-
been built and tested. It is operated in a mode similar to that of
ume between LiCl and CaCl2 caused significant variance in
the two-stage liquid desiccant dehumidification system assisted
the system performance. The highest COPt and exergy effi-
by CaCl2 solution when CaCl2 cycle is off. In the experiment, dehu-
ciency are achieved when 55% of the volume is assigned to
midification process and regeneration process are separated. By
the LiCl regenerator.
this way the concentration variance of the desiccant solution can
be tested and calculated. The results are shown in Table 3 with
the test instruments shown in Table 4. The simulation results show Acknowledgement
good agreement with the experimental results.
This work was supported by National Key Technologies R&D
Program under the contract No. 2006BAA04B03 and the State High
7. Conclusion Technologies R&D Program under the contract No. 2008AA05Z420.

The second law of thermodynamics is applied to the liquid des-


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