P. Bourdoukan1, E. Wurtz2, P. Joubert1 and M. Sperandio1
1 LEPTIAB, Universite de La Rochelle La Rochelle, Avenue Marillac, 17000 La Rochelle, France
2 Universite de Savoie, Campus Scientifique, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
* Corresponding Author, paul. bourdoukan@univ-lr. fr
Desiccant cooling powered by solar energy and using water as a refrigerant has a low environmental impact and appears as an important technique to reduce energy consumption in buildings. The cooling potential of the system is based on the performance of the desiccant wheel that removes humidity from outside air to increase the potential of the humidifier. In this paper a sensitivity analysis of the desiccant wheel dehumidification is performed using the design of experiments. The impact of outside temperature, outside humidity ratio, the regeneration temperature and the regeneration humidity ratio is studied on the dehumidification rate of the wheel using experimental and numerical results.
Keywords: solar desiccant cooling, sensitivity, experiments, simulation
Solar desiccant cooling is a heat driven technique powered by solar collectors. It is based on evaporative cooling and utilizes a desiccant wheel to remove humidity from outside air. When adsorbing the humidity the desiccant needs to be regenerated by moderately hot air stream provided by solar collectors. This technology presents the advantages of being friendly environmental since its electrical consumption is limited to the auxiliaries (fans and pumps), beside it use water as a refrigerant in opposition to vapor compression technique using refrigerants with high environmental impact. The general scheme of a solar desiccant cooling plant is shown in the figure 1 below:
Fig. 1. Desiccant cooling installation and evolution of air properties in the psychometric chart
With reference to Fig. 1 the conventional cycle operates as follows: first, outside air (1) is dehumidified in a desiccant wheel (2); it is then cooled in the sensible regenerator (3) by the return cooled air before undergoing another cooling stage by an evaporative process (4), finally, it is
introduced into the building. The operating sequence for the return air (5) is as follows: it is first cooled to its saturation temperature by evaporative cooling (6) and then it cools the fresh air in the rotary heat exchanger (7). It is then heated in the regeneration heat exchanger (8) and finally regenerates the desiccant wheel (9) by removing the humidity before exiting the installation.
The task of the desiccant wheel is first to reduce the humidity of outside air in order to match indoor air standards and second to provide an extra dehumidification to increase the potential of supply humidifier. The desiccant wheel appears as a key component. The dehumidification performance of the desiccant wheel depends on the operating conditions  e. g. the wheel rotation speed, the air flow rate, the outside temperature and outside humidity, the regeneration temperature and regeneration humidity. Usually an optimum rotation speed and optimum air flow rate are recommended by the manufacturer thus these two parameters are constant during the operations but outside and regeneration conditions are not. So the performance of the desiccant wheel depends intrinsically on these parameters.
In this paper a sensitivity analysis is conducted on a desiccant wheel using the silica gel as an adsorbent to investigate the effect of outside and regeneration conditions on the performance of the desiccant wheel. The method used in this analysis is design of experiments (DOE) 
2.1. Design of experiments
In the DOE the response (y) of the studied phenomena influenced by different parameters or factors (xi) is expressed using a polynomial form :
N N N •
the lower limit is the minimum required for the silica gel. For the regeneration humidity ratio range it is taken with the consideration of the outlet conditions of the return humidifier.
2.2. Experimental setup
The experimental installation of La Rochelle  is used for the measurements of the performance of the desiccant wheel. This experimental installation consists of a silica gel desiccant wheel and aluminum sensible regenerator and two rotating humidifiers. At the inlet and outlet of each component a psychrometer is used to measure the dry and wet bulb temperature. The local atmospheric pressure is measured too thus using the dry and wet blub temperature the humidity ratio is then measured accurately. At the desiccant wheel outlet, the dry bulb temperature and the humidity ratio are not uniform. In order to have an accurate measurement of the mean outlet temperature and humidity, three humidity measurements and 6 temperature measurements are performed simultaneously.
The major parts of the dehumidification rates (wi-w2) used in the sensitivity analyses are experimental measurements but when a combination of parameters is not possible experimentally numerical results of the desiccant wheel model are used to complete the required combinations.
The model used will be introduced in the following section.