Simulation of membrane heat pump system performance for space cooling

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  • Membrane based heat pumps systems have attracted the attention of many research groups as a potentially more environmentally friendly alternative to vapor compression systems for space cooling. Several prototype systems have been developed, with reported claims of Energy Efficiency Ratios (EER) approaching 26. At present, no detailed analysis is publicly available which simulates the capability of these systems in different climate zones. In this work, a thermodynamic cycle model of a representative membrane heat pump system is developed and heat and mass transfer components are sized to provide 3 t of cooling at nominal rating conditions. The performance of the 3 t system is then simulated in various climate regions using representative cooling loads calculated from a building energy modeling software. The simulated membrane heat pump system had an EER of 16–20. Compared with the performance of a commercial vapor compression system, the membrane system performs better at higher dry-bulb temperature and shows energy saving potential in all climate regions examined. While the membrane system shows potential from a thermodynamic perspective, there are many practical challenges that must be addressed prior to commercialization including the design of an efficient vacuum pump, mitigating membrane fouling and reliability issues, and developing advanced controls to maintain desired sensible and latent heating capacities.
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  • 99
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