Hi-tech commercial air conditioning solution could make its way to residential use

Feb. 27, 2013

Add the name DEVap to the list of energy-efficient heating and cooling options to consider in your next home.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed the DEVap (desiccant-enhanced evaporative air conditioner) in 2011 and estimates that it reduces air conditioning energy usage by between 40 and 90 percent.

The system combines desiccant-based dehumidification with indirect evaporative cooling to reduce cooling energy. According to NREL, the DEVAP air conditioner can provide superior comfort for commercial buildings in any climate at a fraction of the electricity costs of conventional air conditioning equipment, releasing far less carbon dioxide and cutting costly peak electrical demand.

Evaporative coolers are commonly used in for large buildings, primarily in dry climates. The DEVap system allows evaporative cooling to be used in any climate by using a liquid desiccant, or water absorbing material, to dry the air.

The system separates hot air into two streams. The liquid desiccant dries one air stream, while the other air stream is humidified. When DEVap combines the two streams, it creates cool, dry air, no coolant required.The National Renewable Energy Lab’s latest innovation, though, means that building residents won’t notice any stuffiness, stale air, or high humidity levels.

The system was tested in Phoenix, which is extremely hot and dry, and in Houston, which is hot and extremely humid. Compared to the current state of the art, DEVAP achieved estimated energy savings of 25 percent in Houston and 81 percent in Phoenix.

So far, DEVap is found primarily in commercial buildings, and the technology is so new that it’s difficult to find for residential use. But with further development to reduce the size of the components required, it could be more widely adopted in the residential market in a few years. 

Read more about energy-efficient heating and cooling.

Graphic courtesy NREL

[via ACHR News and LivingGreenMag.com]

Topics: Heating & Cooling

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