The revival of an old technology which made its debut during the first half of the 20th century could have a revolutionary impact upon modern air conditioning systems.
Liquid desiccants are essentially brine solutions, such as lithium chloride and calcium chloride, which possess a strong affinity for water vapor. This property enables them to dehumidify the air without cooling it excessively.
While these brine solutions were first employed as early as the 1930s in industrial dehumidifiers, today’s air conditioning manufacturer are now turning to them as a means of cooling the air while also reducing its humidity – an area in which conventional air conditioning systems lag.
Advantix Systems is one of the companies reviving the usage of this antiquated technology. The company, which was originally founded in Israel, first used liquid desiccant air conditioners for the cooling of ice skating rinks. The company has since migrated to Miami, where it has made its air conditioners commercially available for the American market.
The chief virtue of the brine solution air conditioner is its ability to reduce humidity levels with heightened efficiency.
While traditional air conditioners must first over-cool the air in order to extract moisture, which entails the consumption of far greater energy, liquid desiccants are capable of absorbing humidity without first dragging down temperature.
“We can remove moisture from the air for a lot less energy,” said Advantix Systems president Hannah Choi Granade.
The company estimates its dehumidifying function requires 20 to 60 per cent less energy than conventional systems.
This is of immense importance in today’s global air conditioner market due to the number of population centres both in the US and abroad where humidity and high temperatures go hand in hand.
According to Granade, half a century ago, the chief function of the air conditioner was temperature control, with only 10 per cent of their efforts directed towards dehumidifying. As a result of sharp population increases in the more torrid parts of the United States, however, this function profile is now approaching 50/50.
Emerging economies also present an area of huge potential growth for brine solution air conditioners as so many of them are situated in hot, humid climates close to the equator.
“Most of the economic growth globally is in places that are phenomenally humid,” Granade said.