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Desiccants: Benefits for the Second Century of Air-Conditioning
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Desiccant technology now stands where mechanical cooling stood in the 1930's. Desiccant systems have been used by industrial engineers to achieve productivity and energy benefits which far outweigh their installed cost. Now, with lower cost desiccant components, commercial buildings are using desiccant systems because they provide benefits beyond those of air cooling technology alone. In many ways, the rise of desiccant systems is parallel to the 80-year-old transition from fan-only cooling to mechanical cooling. Mechanical cooling did not reduce the need for fans and blowers. Likewise, desiccant technology may not reduce the need for mechanical cooling. And just as mechanical cooling adds cost to a fan-only system, desiccant equipment can sometimes cost more than mechanical cooling. But just as cooling coils add functionality to a ventilation system, desiccant systems provide benefits which are beyond the reach of mechanical cooling systems. Specifically, desiccant systems can provide: Total control of humidity, independent of temperature. Dew points below the practical limits of cooling technology. Humidity control in cold environments and cold air streams. Lower operating cost Lower peak electrical demand. Ability to use low-cost thermal energy to control both humidity and temperature. Dry duct systems in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 62, avoiding microbial and fungal growth associated with sick building syndrome.
McGahey, K.; Harriman, L. (1996). Desiccants: Benefits for the Second Century of Air-Conditioning. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu); Texas A&M University (http://www.tamu.edu). Available electronically from