Energy use for space cooling has increased by 156% from 1990 to 2010 in the Canadian residential sector. In many parts of the country, the increasing use of electrically driven air-conditioners has begun to shift the peak load on the electricity grid from the coldest days of winter to the hottest days of summer. Many of Canada’s major electric utilities providers rely on fossil fuels to generate the additional capacity needed to meet the peak demand, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions. Solar-driven sorption chillers remain one of the possible solutions for shaving the peak loads experienced by the electricity grid.
This paper presents a review of the recent developments in the research of adsorption and absorption chillers, as well as a comparison of the two technologies based on the latest published experimental results found in the literature. Adsorption chillers continue to evolve in their design, including the use of new consolidated and composite adsorbents, the integration of coated adsorbers into internal heat exchangers, and newly developed advanced cycles for heat and mass recovery. While the physical design of adsorption chillers continues to be advanced, the development of absorption chillers for solar cooling applications has largely been focused on optimizing the system as a whole through improved control strategies and the implementation of newly developed high performance solar collectors.
Finally, the paper aims to assess the current state of development of solar-driven sorption chillers to provide insight into their applicability in the Canadian residential sector, as well as the remaining challenges facing this technology.