Energy-efficient sorption-based gas clothes dryer systems

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Standard electric resistance and fuel-driven dehydration technologies exhibit a maximum coefficient of performance of well below 1 mainly due to enthalpy losses associated with the air leaving the dehydration system. To improve energy efficiency, condensing dryer systems condense the moisture captured from a product in a closed-loop air circulation cycle. Existing condensing dehydration systems including heat pump dryers, however, need to significantly cool the air to achieve dehumidification. The added cooling and subsequent heating to return the air to a desired drying temperature consume substantial energy and thus reduce drying performance. Here, an innovative sorption-based gas dehydration system is proposed to overcome barriers deteriorating energy efficiency in existing gas, electric, or heat pump dryer systems. Decoupling latent and sensible loads, the system employs a liquid-desiccant solution to directly capture air humidity, thereby allowing circulation of the air in a closed loop to achieve high drying energy efficiency. In other words, the system captures waste latent heat from the moisture produced during the dehydration process and reuses it to improve energy efficiency. This study focuses on a comprehensive quasi-steady-state thermodynamic modeling of the proposed sorption-based dehydration concept employed for a gas clothes dryer application to predict transient response and overall drying performance (i.e., time and energy metrics). The analysis indicates the proposed sorption-based gas clothes dryer system can deliver a specific moisture extraction rate of 1.71 kg of water per kWh (i.e., a combined energy factor of 3.167 kg (6.98 lbm) of dry cloth per kWh) with a drying time of 44 min. This is a 112% energy improvement compared with state-of-the-art gas clothes dryers exhibiting a combined energy factor of 1.50 kg (3.3 lbm) of dry cloth per kWh. The technology pursued here can potentially be employed as a platform for many fuel-driven equipment to take advantage of available waste thermal energy in the environment instead of simply burning a fuel.

Publication Title

Energy Conversion and Management