Membrane distillation regeneration of liquid desiccant solution for air-conditioning: Insights into polarisation effects and mass transfer
© 2020 Membrane distillation (MD) embodies ideal attributes for the regeneration of liquid desiccant solutions used in air-conditioning systems. The MD process has been experimentally proven technically viable for the regeneration of liquid desiccant solutions; however, it suffers severely from temperature and concentration polarisation effects. In this study, for the first time a descriptive mass and heat transfer (DMHT) model is developed to quantitatively describe the mass transfer and the negative impacts of temperature and concentration polarisation during the MD regeneration of the LiCl desiccant solution. The simulation results demonstrate significant reduction in water flux along the membrane due to decreasing mass transfer coefficient (Cm) and transmembrane water vapour pressure gradient (ΔPm). Over the length of the membrane leaf of 0.145 m, water flux reduces by 31% from 11.0 to 7.6 L/m2⋅h. The temperature and concentration polarisation effects cause a substantial decline in the process driving force - ΔPm is only two thirds of the water vapour pressure difference between the bulk feed and distillate (ΔPb). Temperature polarisation is the predominant cause of the reduction in ΔPm compared with ΔPb; however, the negative impact of concentration polarisation is also notable. Finally, amongst the key operating conditions, the inlet feed temperature and concentration exert the most profound influence on the temperature and concentration polarisation during the DCMD regeneration of the hyper saline LiCl solution.