Evaluation of hybrid evaporative-vapor compression air conditioners for different global climates
Currently, a majority of global residential air-conditioning requirements are met using cooling systems based on the vapor compression cycle (VCC). To meet the future demand for space cooling and to reduce the corresponding environmental impact, there is a need for alternative cooling systems which require less resources and exhibit a higher coefficient of performance (COP). One of proposed alternatives is called the hybrid evaporative-vapor compression (HEVC) cycle, which utilizes adiabatic latent cooling in combination with the VCC. In this paper, we conducted a feasibility analysis of a HEVC system by comparing its performance to that of VCC for various global climates. To accomplish this, we developed and validated models to simulate the performance of residential VCC and HEVC systems. ASHRAE weather data and design conditions were then used to compare the performance of the two systems. In general, HEVC systems are best suited for hot arid climates with energy reduction greater than 20%. Conversely, humid climates are not suitable for HEVC adoption due to degraded performance of evaporative coolers in these climates. In addition to comparing the energy savings from HEVC systems, it is also critical to analyze their water consumption. Generally, climates that benefit the most from HEVC technology tend to also experience water scarcity issues. Thus, both the energy savings and water consumption of HEVC systems must be analyzed to guide the discussion on their adoption.