Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play an important role to control indoor ambient conditions. For example, on sultry summer afternoons, HVAC systems provide the much-needed respite from the harsh heat and humidity associated with the weather. However, HVAC that are often equipped with dehumidifiers, are not energy efficient, eat up around 76% of electricity in commercial and residential establishments.
In a bid to develop energy-efficient HVAC systems, researchers at Texas A&M University have reported a class of material called polyimides, organic in nature that use less energy to dry air. These polyimide-based dehumidifiers can reduce the cost of HVAC systems, which are currently priced at thousands of dollars, added the research team.
“For the study, the researchers used an existing polymer, a robust one, and then improved its dehumidification.” The polymer-based membranes will help develop the next-gen HVAC systems and dehumidifier technologies featuring higher efficiency than current ones, and smaller carbon footprint too, opines the researchers.
The findings of the study are explained in the Journal of Membrane Science.
Function-wise, dehumidifier eliminate moisture from the air to provide a comfortable level of dryness, thus helping to improve air quality and remove dust mites, among a number of useful functions. Meanwhile, the most commonly used dehumidifiers use refrigerants that work by cooling the air and reduces its ability to carry water. However, on the downside, refrigerants account for greenhouse gas emissions translating into global warming, despite their popularity.
In the quest for an alternative to refrigerants, zeolites that are naturally occurring are being widely considered for their drying abilities. Zeolites are desiccants with the capability to absorb moisture within their hydrophilic pores, unlike refrigerants.