Research Papers: Integrated Sustainable Equipment and Systems for Buildings

An Innovative Technology Development for Building Humidification and Energy Efficiency

[+] Author and Article Information
William Liss

Gas Technology Institute,
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING. Manuscript received January 24, 2013; final manuscript received August 26, 2013; published online October 16, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Moncef Krarti.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 135(4), 040903 (Oct 16, 2013) (7 pages) Paper No: SOL-13-1029; doi: 10.1115/1.4025426 History: Received January 24, 2013; Revised August 26, 2013

Currently, the most widely used residential humidification technologies are forced air furnace mounted bypass wetted media, spray mist, and steam humidifiers. They all use city water as a water source and require furnace heat or electricity to evaporate the water. Mineral deposition, white dust, and microbial growth problems are associated with these humidifiers. For commercial building humidification, demineralized water is typically used for humidification equipment like steam heat exchangers, fogging system, electric, and ultrasonic humidifiers. Therefore, in addition to the energy consumption for water evaporation, energy is also needed to produce the high quality demineralized water. An innovative technology called transport membrane humidifier (TMH) has been developed by the authors to humidify home air without external water and energy consumption, while simultaneously recovering waste heat from the home furnace flue gas to enhance furnace efficiency. The TMH technology is based on our previous extensive study on nanoporous membrane water vapor separation from combustion flue gas, and a design for residential home humidification application was first developed. It has been proved by both laboratory prototype testing for long term performance and by two occupied single family home demonstrations for two heating seasons. The technology can provide whole house humidification without any external water consumption, and at the same time, boost the furnace efficiency. Compared with conventional furnace mounted humidifiers, the TMH does not need additional furnace fuel for the water evaporation, does not introduce white dust to a home, and poses no microbial growth concerns since there is no standing water involved. This innovative technology can provide several benefits simultaneously, which include energy saving, water saving, and healthy building humidification.

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Fig. 1

ASHRAE indoor relative humidity recommendations

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Fig. 2

Membrane transport mode effect

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Fig. 3

Photomicrograph of a nanoporous ceramic membrane tube cross-section

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Fig. 4

TMH working concept for a gas-fired residential furnace

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Fig. 5

TMH laboratory test setup with a furnace

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Fig. 6

P&ID of the TMH test setup

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Fig. 7

Air flow rate effect on TMH moisture transport rate

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Fig. 8

TMH moisture transport rate and furnace efficiency at different flue gas O2 levels

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Fig. 9

Air dew point and RH change through TMH at different air inlet dew points

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Fig. 10

TMH moisture transport rate at different furnace operating cycles

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Fig. 11

Lab TMH long term performance

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Fig. 12

Two home demos, left for Home1 and right Home2

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Fig. 13

The TMH module installed for Home1

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Fig. 14

Room temperature and RH for Home1

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Fig. 15

Home 1 (top) and Home 2 (bottom) furnace instantaneous efficiency under TMH bypass mode and TMH mode for one heating cycle




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