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[en] Highlights: •Thermodynamic principles are applied to systematically compare three technologies. •Merits and limits of standalone versus integrated designs are identified. •Effect of climate conditions on performance and technology selection is evaluated. •Integrated desiccant/membrane technologies outperform current state-of-the-art VCS. -- Abstract: Recently, next-generation HVAC technologies have gained attention as potential alternatives to the conventional vapor-compression system (VCS) for dehumidification and cooling. Previous studies have primarily focused on analyzing a specific technology or its application to a particular climate. A comparison of these technologies is necessary to elucidate the reasons and conditions under which one technology might outperform the rest. In this study, we apply a uniform framework based on fundamental thermodynamic principles to assess and compare different HVAC technologies from an energy conversion standpoint. The thermodynamic least work of dehumidification and cooling is formally defined as a thermodynamic benchmark, while VCS performance is chosen as the industry benchmark against which other technologies, namely desiccant-based cooling system (DCS) and membrane-based cooling system (MCS), are compared. The effect of outdoor temperature and humidity on device performance is investigated, and key insights underlying the dehumidification and cooling process are elucidated. In spite of the great potential of DCS and MCS technologies, our results underscore the need for improved system-level design and integration if DCS or MCS are to compete with VCS. Our findings have significant implications for the design and operation of next-generation HVAC technologies and shed light on potential avenues to achieve higher efficiencies in dehumidification and cooling applications.
[en] A second law analysis of a reverse osmosis desalination plant is carried out using reliable seawater exergy formulation instead of a common model in literature that represents seawater as an ideal mixture of liquid water and solid sodium chloride. The analysis is performed using reverse osmosis desalination plant data and compared with results previously published using the ideal mixture model. It is demonstrated that the previous model has serious shortcomings, particularly with regard to calculation of the seawater flow exergy, the minimum work of separation, and the second law efficiency. The most up-to-date thermodynamic properties of seawater, as needed to conduct an exergy analysis, are given as correlations in this paper. From this new analysis, it is found that the studied reverse osmosis desalination plant has very low second law efficiency (<2%) even when using the available energy recovery systems. Therefore, an energy recovery system is proposed using the (PRO) pressure retarded osmotic method. The proposed alternative design has a second law efficiency of 20%, and the input power is reduced by 38% relative to original reverse osmosis system. -- Highlights: ► A previously proposed model for the calculation of seawater flow exergy gives incorrect values. ► Reverse osmosis desalination plants have very low second law efficiency (<2%) even when using the available energy recovery systems. ► A PRO energy recovery device increases the RO plant’s second law efficiency to 20% and reduces the input power.