18 May 2017
To meet the growing energy consumption and mitigate climate concerns, novel energy efficient technologies need to be developed. Water heating, dehumidification and space cooling form a significant percentage (~24%) of a typical U.S. household energy consumption and a total of 2.6 quad of primary energy consumption. In this paper, we present a novel system for combined water heating, dehumidification, and space cooling. The three processes can be achieved by one device using a novel semi-open absorption based system combined with evaporative cooling. The absorption based system absorbs water vapor from its ambient. The latent heat of absorption, released into the absorbent, is transferred into the process water that cools the absorbent. The water absorbed is later released in the desorber through heating, and the water vapor generated in the desorber is condensed and its heat of phase change is transferred to the process water in the condenser. The condensed water vapor can either be drained if dehumidification is desired or be used in an evaporative cooling process for space cooling. The major innovations that enable such an absorption-based device are demonstrated in this study through an experimental test setup. First, a membrane based absorption system in a compact and scalable platform is used to alleviate the liquid entrainment issue encountered in the conventional packed bed absorbers. Second, architecture reconfigurations, like novel fluid circuits and semi-open absorption system are deployed to enhance performance and lower system cost. Finally, an ionic liquid is implemented to minimize corrosion and eliminate crystallization risks, a major concern with conventional salts. The water heating and dehumidification component of the device are experimentally evaluated and the device is characterized for various system parameters. A water heating COP of 1.4 is achieved in this first generation prototype. These innovations pave the way for a compact, efficient, and low cost absorption based system for residential scale applications.