dehumidification, electrically-enhanced condensation, Dielectrophoresis
The removal of water vapor from the air to reduce relative humidity is a well-known indoor environmental comfort requirement. Common dehumidification approaches require a substantial amount of energy and usually involve the cooling of atmospheric humid air below its dew point or the use of absorbent/adsorbent materials to extract water vapor out of the air. More recently, researchers investigated the effect of electrostatic forces for enhancing water vapor condensation. However, the studies are limited, and there is a lack of correlations that can predict the dehumidification rate. Also, the findings from the literature focused mainly on small flow rates on the order of one to two cfm. Electrically-enhanced condensation consists of the use of highly charged particles, preferably highly charged water droplets, that attract polar water vapor molecules to their surfaces and promote condensation, a phenomenon known as dielectrophoresis. An effect of the electric charge is the reduction of the vapor pressure on the droplets' surface with respect to the saturated pressure predicted by the Kelvin equation. Consequently, the equilibrium between evaporation and condensation is shifted towards condensation. Following the application of the modified Kelvin-Thomson theory, we developed a preliminary physics-based model to predict an effective size range of the charged droplets for optimal dehumidification. The range resulted in about 2 to 4 μm in diameter, under few simplifying assumptions. The effect of the size and the charge of the electrosprayed droplets on the overall dehumidification rate was briefly discussed. The use of electrosprays to produce small but highly charged droplets was broadly discussed in this paper. The cone-jet mode was identified as the most suitable electrospray operational mode, and it generated droplets of small size and high electrical charge. The cone-jet stability was also analyzed in detail. The preliminary data of the present work and the model results indicated that several electrospray heads were required to achieve a 5% dehumidification rate for airflow rates of about 5 cfm.