Desiccants enabling energy-efficient buildings: A review
[Review of ]. RENEWABLE & SUSTAINABLE ENERGY REVIEWS, 183.
Buildings account for about 39% of the total energy consumption in the United States. Developing highly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly systems that are either actively or passively integrated into buildings plays a crucial role in decarbonizing the building sector. Among various technologies, desiccant-based energy systems have received particular attention in recent years due to their unique advantages, such as being thermally driven using low-grade waste or solar energies and being reliable over a wide range of operating ranges. Extensive research efforts have been exerted on desiccant-enabled technologies at both material and system levels aiming to increase their performance and achieve high technological readiness levels. The present review paper comprehensively discusses research works made at the system level. It overviews desiccant-based air conditioning systems, desiccant-based humidity pumps, desiccant-based thermal energy storage systems, and desiccant-based appliances. The study identifies challenges and opportunities to accelerate the commercialization of desiccant-enabled technologies. It is found that desiccant materials offer great promise to improve energy efficiency and functionality of future buildings through decoupling the latent and sensible cooling loads in air conditioning systems, humidity pumps integrated into building facades, and next-generation appliances. However, commercial viability and widespread acceptance of desiccant-based systems have been hampered by several major obstacles, including liquid and air flow mal-distribution and inferior thermo-physical properties of desiccant materials resulting in low ab/adsorption and regeneration rates and bulky/costly systems.