Silica gel-water vapor is commonly suggested as a working media for solar-powered desiccant cooling systems since the system can be regenerated at relatively low temperatures. In the present study the sorption rates of water vapor by regular density silica gel particles were measured in the pressure range of 1–25 torr using a constant volume/variable pressure apparatus. The sorption rate was determined from recorded time variation of water vapor pressure in a test unit of known volume during the sorption process. The mass transfer film resistance was eliminated by evacuating the system and by introducing pure water vapor into the test unit. The apparent solid-side diffusivity was obtained by matching the analytical solution of the simultaneous heat and mass transfer governing equations to the experimental data. The uptake measurements had been performed for three particle sizes of silica gel (150 μm, 1 mm, and 3 mm). The tests were performed sequentially in small steps over a range of initial silica gel moisture content ranging from near zero up to 0.25 kg H2O per kg dry silica gel. The effect of moisture content and particle size on the sorption rate and apparent diffusivity were determined. The effect of charging on time variation of pressure was evaluated and used for correction on all sorption data.

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