The conventional Pennington Cycle desiccant cooling system offers a clear opportunity for heat-actuated air conditioning. However, efforts to translate this opportunity into commercially viable hardware have not been successful. The performance of the hardware has been inadequate, resulting in excessive solar collector requirements or, in the case of gas-fired equipment, uneconomical use of natural gas. Two methods for improving the coefficient of performance (COP) of these systems are: (1) the addition of inert heat capacity to the desiccant matrix, and (2) “staging” the regeneration air stream. An analysis is presented in this paper which explains the benefits and drawbacks of these methods based upon the wave nature of the heat and mass transfer processes occurring within the desiccant bed. The results indicate that the best overall system performance is obtained by staging the regeneration process while minimizing the amount of inert heat capacity.

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