Experimental analysis of the humidification of air in bubble columns for thermal water treatment systems
Highlights•Experimental study of the humidification of air in bubble columns.•An optically accessible bubble column is used for characterizing the flow.•The impact of operational parameters on the system productivity is evaluated.•The impacts on the performances of humidifier and dehumidifier are quantified.•Cross-influences are eliminated by a modified test setup and calculations.AbstractThe humidification-dehumidification process (HDH) for desalination is a promising technology to address water scarcity issues in rural regions. However, a low humidifier efficiency is a weakness of the process. Bubble column humidifiers (BCH) are promising for HDH, as they provide enhanced heat and mass transfer and have low maintenance requirements. Previous studies of HDH-systems with BCHs draw different conclusions regarding the impact of superficial air velocity and liquid height on the humidification. Furthermore, the impact of flow characteristics has never been investigated systematically at all. In this study, an optimized BCH test setup that allows for optical analysis of the humidifier is used and evaluated. Our test setup is validated, since the influence of water temperature on the humidification, which is exponential, is reproduced. Measurements with seawater show that the normalised system productivity is increased by about 56% with an increase in superficial air velocity from 0.5cm/s to 5cm/s. Furthermore, the system productivity is increased by around 29% with an increase in liquid height from 60mm to 378mm. While the impact of superficial air velocity can be traced back to temperature changes at the humidifier and dehumidifier outlets, the impact of liquid height is shown to be caused by a smaller heat loss surface in the humidifier with an increase in liquid height. For the impact of sieve plate orifice diameter, a clear influence on the humidification is not apparent, this parameter needs to be investigated further. Finally, our new test setup allows for analysing the humidification of air (1) in a systematic way, (2) in relevant measurement ranges and (3) in comparison with optical analyses of the flow characteristics.
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