Conventional air conditioning systems remove moisture at the same time that they reduce the air temperature. Reducing the air temperature is called ‘sensible’ cooling load, and removing the moisture is called ‘latent’ cooling load. At any given time, at least 30% of the energy used for space cooling is actually removing the moisture.
There are times when the moisture is the real cause for discomfort (“…it’s not the heat it’s the humidity…”). Using conventional air conditioning systems the only way to remove more moisture is to also remove more temperature. This can result in cold, clammy air. In commercial applications, the air is sometimes ‘reheated’ to a more comfortable temperature before it is distributed to the space. This is VERY wasteful from an energy management perspective.
A desiccant system uses a chemical absorbent or adsorbent to remove the moisture without condensing it on a cold surface. Some sort of ‘regeneration’ is then accomplished to automatically dry the absorbent or drive off the moisture from the adsorbent and the process is repeated.
NovelAire is working on a small-scale desiccant dehumidification unit for use in large houses or small commercial applications – such as a chain-food restaurant. Watch their web site for more information.
10132 Mammoth Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70814-4420
Telephone: 800-762-1320 or 225-924-0427
Desiccant systems are common in certain industrial and large commercial applications. However, for residential applications NovelAire is the only known commercialized unit and there are a couple other companies with “experimental” equipment undergoing various lab and field testing.
More information on residential equipment will be provided when it becomes available.
See the Manufacturer’s section of Air to Air Exchanger for web site links to manufacturers who make residential sized equipment; some of these units will eventually include desiccant dehumidification options.