Heat Transfer Engineering, Vol.34, No.7, 543-561, 2013
Design of Flat-Plate Dehumidifiers for Humidification-Dehumidification Desalination Systems
Flat-plate heat exchangers are examined for use as dehumidifiers in humidificationdehumidification (HDH) desalination systems. The temperature and humidity ratio differences that drive mass transfer are considerably higher than in air-conditioning systems, making current air-conditioning dehumidifier designs and design software ill-suited to HDH desalination applications. In this work a numerical dehumidifier model is developed and validated against experimental data. The model uses a logarithmic mass transfer driving force and an accurate Lewis number. The heat exchanger is subdivided into many cells for high accuracy. The Ackermann correction takes into account the effect of noncondensable gases on heat transfer during condensation. The influence of various heat exchanger design parameters is thoroughly investigated and suitable geometries are identified. Among others, the relationship between heat flow, pressure drop, and heat transfer area is shown. The thermal resistance of the condensate layer is negligible for the investigated geometries and operating point. A particle-embedded polymer as a flat-plate heat exchanger material for seawater operation substantially improves the heat flux relative to pure polymers and approaches the performance of titanium alloys. Thus, the use of particle-embedded polymers is recommended. The dehumidifier model can be applied in design and optimization of HDH desalination systems.