Dehumidification, Ionic Liquid, Membrane Contactors
Air dehumidification is essential since excess moisture in the buildings causes discomfort to the occupants, encourages the production of air pathogens such as mold or mildew, and causes corrosion and rotting that degrade building materials. Existing moisture removal processes are mainly focused on condensation and desiccant (liquid or solid) techniques with direct contact between air and desiccant. However, these methods are energy-intensive, or desiccant might be lost or cause corrosion in the process. The main objective of this study is to investigate an ionic liquid-based liquid desiccant absorber based on a membrane fiber bundle. A novel membrane contactor system was fabricated with a bundle of 10,000 polypropylene fibers. Each fiber has 0.3 micron outer diameter, with ionic liquid flowing inside, and air flowing outside. The fibers provide a high contact area among phases: 1.4 m2 contact surface area in a 0.00015 m3 volume (9,333 m2/m3 ratio of surface area to volume). The ionic liquid as a sorbent has selectivity for water vapor (i.e., the ionic liquid has higher affinity for water vapor) prevents the loss of solvent in the operation due to negligible volatility, provides fast diffusion due to low viscosity compared to common ionic liquids, and has high affinity and solubility in water. The dehumidification capacity of the prototype membrane system was experimentally investigated using six modules with 10,000 fibers each. The experimental results show that the ionic-liquid based membrane system can effectively remove excess moisture from the air. The novel fiber bundle dehumidification system has a total system volume of 0.00798 m3 (7.98 L) and active heat and mass transfer surface area of 8.4 m2. It achieved an average dehumidification of 320 ± 25 W with a volumetric air flowrate of 3.1 m3/min (108 ft3/min).