Silica aerogels are often deployed as solid desiccants in enthalpy wheels used for dehumidifying ventilation air in air-conditioning systems. These materials have good adsorption and desorption characteristics, but microstructure affects their moisture diffusivity. As the performance of desiccant systems depends on diffusivity, it is important to select a preparation method providing the desired aerogel microstructure for enhanced dehumidification performance. A study is described in which the structure of silica aerogels prepared by the Sol-Gel process is analyzed. The same precipitator (TMOS-Tetra methyl orthosilicate) and solvent (Methanol) are used to prepare all samples. It is found that density and microstructure are highly dependent on the catalyst used in the Sol-Gel process. Dynamic vapor sorption experiments are conducted to determine diffusivity. Microscopic images are analyzed to discern the structure and to relate it to corresponding adsorption or desorption performance parameters.

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