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Review of liquid desiccant air dehumidification systems coupled with heat pump: System configurations, component design, and ...

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Energy and Buildings
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Vapor Compression Systems (VCS) are the most common air conditioning technology. VCS cool the air to its dew point temperature (overcooling) to remove water vapor in the air through condensation and then reheats the air back to the comfort temperature for direct use. The VCS process is inefficient due to overcooling and reheating. Liquid Desiccant Dehumidification (LDD) is a potentially energy-efficient air conditioning. LDD removes water vapor in the process air using liquid desiccant’s high-water affinity. It hybrids with sensible cooling to control temperature and humidity separately. The LD in the LDD becomes weak after dehumidification. The LDD needs additional heating to regenerate the weak Liquid Desiccant (LD) to a high concentration for dehumidification.

Earlier versions of the LDD systems use highly concentrated liquid desiccant (large water removal capability) to dehumidify the air by only dealing with latent load. It leads to highly elevated temperatures above 60 °C of heat sources (combustion or electric resistance-based heating) for regeneration. The energy needed for the elevated temperature heat resource significantly reduces or demolishes the benefit of LDD systems. In the recent two decades, researchers have investigated a new configured LDD system that couples an LDD with a heat pump at both dehumidification and regeneration sides for better efficiency.

The heat pump provides cooling (from the evaporator) for both dehumidification and sensible cooling and simultaneous heating from the condenser for regeneration. The highly integrated system (HP-LDD) with improved efficiency enables the LDD to operate at lower concentrations and temperatures in dehumidification and regeneration.

This paper depicts the working principle behind HP-LDD and its heating and cooling requirements. It reviews the comparison between the HP-LDD systems and the conventional LDD systems regarding system configurations, component design, energy efficiency, and dehumidification performance characteristics. The main findings from the review include the preferred use of packed bed over membrane-based dehumidifiers, the use of internally cooled dehumidifiers enabled by the HP cooling capacity, the high dispersion of HP operation conditions, and the dependence of dehumidification performance on various dehumidifiers. An outlook for future research on HP-LDD strategies is presented based on the reviewed works and their limitations.