Energy consumption for air conditioning purposes accounts for 60-80% of electricity used in Qatar. As District Cooling Plants (DCPs) has a potential to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, Qatar and GCC are continuously shifting paradigm towards adoption of DC plants to satisfy the rapidly growing demand in all sectors. However, DC plants usually rely on wet cooling towers for disposing the excess heat to the ambient. Hence the efficiency of DCPs is significantly influenced by the cooling tower effectiveness in heat disposal, which is dominated by latent heat or evaporation of water in a counter atmospheric current air stream. Operation district cooling plants (DCPs) under extremely high humidity in summer represents one of the major thermodynamic limitations in terms of maintain the outlet water temperature of cooling towers (i.e. chiller's condenser cooling water) as low as possible to guarantee higher efficiency of DCPs. The cooling tower efficiency degrades considerably at higher relative humidity of air, which approaches saturation limits in summer, where the cooling demand is high. The ambient wet-bulb (WB) temperature is a limiting factor for the capacity of cooling towers (CT), which determines the inlet cooling water temperature to the chiller's condenser (outlet water temperature from the CT). Due to prevailing weather conditions in Qatar and GCC, this temperature is designed based on 31 °C WB temperature in summer, which result in a 34 °C inlet condenser cooling water temperature. This represents a thermodynamic limitation to reduce the energy consumption of chillers, which lies under the focus of this study. Desiccant cooling is an environmentally attractive alternative to conventional mechanical air-conditioning, especially for air dehumidification purposes. It does not require ozone depleting refrigerants and it can be run off low temperature solar heat or waste heat. The electrical coefficient of performance of desiccant cooling can be above 20, making it over 6 times more efficient than conventional air cooled vapor compression system. This project seeks to develop new processes to reduce air humidity and WB temperature by around 6 °C prior to entering the CT to break the above mentioned thermodynamic limitation. Air dehumidification takes place using liquid to air membrane (3-fluid LAMEEs) for further dehumidification of air. A hybrid solar PV-Thermal system is used for regeneration of both desiccant systems. Lumped and numerical analysis has been conducted using COMSOL Multiphysics software to predict the outlet air temperature and humidity for 3-fluid LAMEEs when used for air cooling and dehumidifying. Results of the numerical and lumped analysis showed that the 3-fluid LAMEE alone can effectively decrease the humidity content of ambient air by up to 40%, while the outlet air temperature can be reduced by 6 °C. Accordingly, the inlet cooling water temperature to the chiller's condenser (outlet water temperature from the CT) can be reduced to 27-28 C, which provides a potential saving of around 25% in energy consumption of the Chiller in district cooling plants.


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