In order to provide a comfortable living and working environment indoors in tropical countries, the outdoor air often needs to be cooled and dehumidified before it enters the rooms. Membrane separation is an emerging technology for air dehumidification and it is based on the solution diffusion mechanism. Water molecules are preferentially permeating through the membranes due to its smaller kinetic diameter and higher condensability than the other gases. Compared to other dehumidification technologies such as direct cooling or desiccation, there is no phase transition involved in membrane dehumidification, neither the contact between the fresh air stream and the desiccants. Hence, membrane dehumidification would not only require less energy consumption but also avoid cross-contamination problems. A pilot scale air dehumidification system is built in this study which comprises nine pieces of one-inch PAN/PDMS hollow fiber membrane modules. A 150 h long-term test shows that the membrane modules has good water vapor transport properties by using a low vacuum force of only 0.78 bar absolute pressure at the lumen side. The water vapor concentration of the feed humid air decreases dramatically from a range of 18–22 g/m3
to a range of 13.5–18.3 g/m3
. Most importantly, the total energy saving is up to 26.2% compared with the conventional air conditioning process.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited