NET ZERO DESICCANT ASSISTED EVAPORATIVE COOLING FOR DATA CENTERS
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Evaporative cooling is a highly energy efficient alternative to conventional vapor compression cooling system. The sensible cooling effect of evaporative cooling systems is well documented in the literature. Direct evaporative cooling however increases the relative humidity of the air as it cools it. This has made it unsuitable for data centers and other applications where humidity control is important. Desiccant-based dehumidifiers (liquid, solid or composites) absorb moisture from the cooled air to control humidity and is regenerated using waste heat from the data center. This work is an experimental and theoretical investigation of the use of desiccant assisted evaporative cooling for data center cooling according to ASHRAE thermal guidelines, TC 9.9. The thickness (depth) of the cooling pad was varied to study its effect on sensible heat loss and latent heat gain. The velocity of air through the pad was measured to determine its effect on sensible cooling. The flow rate of water over the pad was also varied to find the optimal flow for rate for dry bulb depression. The configuration was such that the rotary desiccant wheel (impregnated with silica gel) comes after the direct evaporative cooler. The rotary desiccant wheel was split in a 1:1 ratio for cooling and reactivation at lower temperatures. The dehumidification effectiveness of a fixed bed desiccant dehumidifier was compared with that of a rotary desiccant wheel and a thermoelectric dehumidifier. A novel condensate recovery system using the Peltier effect was proposed to recover moisture from the return air stream, (by cooling the return air stream below its dew point temperature) thereby optimizing the water consumption of evaporative cooling technology and providing suitable air quality for data center cooling. The moisture recovery unit was found to reduce the mass of water lost through evaporation by an average of fifty percent irrespective of the pad depth.