• National Renewable Energy Laboratory
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the United States is developing a new approach for liquid desiccant dehumidification to lower energy use by half, compared to state-of-the-art desiccant-wheel dehumidifiers.

It accomplishes this isothermally, without heating or cooling the dehumidified airstream.

NREL senior research engineer, Jason Woods, said it can also provide load flexibility for the grid by decoupling energy consumption from air dehumidification.

“Removing moisture from the air is energy intensive, and controlling humidity is an important part of keeping people comfortable in buildings,” Woods said.

The NREL has received $US250,000 in funding from the US Department of Energy to undertake the research project in partnership with the Palo Alto Research Centre and Blue Frontier.

“Through the TCF funding, we will work to de-risk this technology by producing experimental data that can prove the energy performance of this technology. From there, we will be able to engage with potential HVAC industry partners,” Woods said.

The funding has been made through the department’s Technology Commercialisation Fund (TCF) which was established to accelerate emerging technologies from lab to market.

Another project that received $595,557 in funding is the development of an energy-storing efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Partnering with Blue Frontier, NREL senior mechanical engineer Eric Kozubal said the systems 80 per cent energy savings by leveraging indirect evaporative air conditioning with separate humidity control.

The low-cost, high-density energy storage in the form of liquid desiccant and distilled water also enables more than 12 hours of low-power operation and an all-electric system using NREL’s patented heat-pump-driven desiccant regenerator.

“Existing air conditioning systems need improvements to support a low-carbon future,” Kozubal said.

“The world needs an alternative that takes advantage of the emerging growth in renewable energy, has energy storage capabilities, and uses less energy.”


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