Feasibility of a solar panel-powered liquid desiccant cooling system for greenhouses

  • George Lychnos

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


To investigate the technical feasibility of a novel cooling system for commercial greenhouses, knowledge of the state of the art in greenhouse cooling is required. An extensive literature review was carried out that highlighted the physical processes of greenhouse cooling and showed the limitations of the conventional technology. The proposed cooling system utilises liquid desiccant technology; hence knowledge of liquid desiccant cooling is also a prerequisite before designing such a system. Extensive literature reviews on solar liquid desiccant regenerators and desiccators, which are essential parts of liquid desiccant cooling systems, were carried out to identify their advantages and disadvantages. In response to the findings, a regenerator and a desiccator were designed and constructed in lab. An important factor of liquid desiccant cooling is the choice of liquid desiccant itself. The hygroscopicity of the liquid desiccant affects the performance of the system. Bitterns, which are magnesium-rich brines derived from seawater, are proposed as an alternative liquid desiccant for cooling greenhouses. A thorough experimental and theoretical study was carried out in order to determine the properties of concentrated bitterns. It was concluded that their properties resemble pure magnesium chloride solutions. Therefore, magnesium chloride solution was used in laboratory experiments to assess the performance of the regenerator and the desiccator. To predict the whole system performance, the physical processes of heat and mass transfer were modelled using gPROMS® advanced process modelling software. The model was validated against the experimental results. Consequently it was used to model a commercials-scale greenhouse in several hot coastal areas in the tropics and sub-tropics. These case studies show that the system, when compared to evaporative cooling, achieves 3oC-5.6oC temperature drop inside the greenhouse in hot and humid places (RH>70%) and 2oC-4oC temperature drop in hot and dry places (50%<RH< 65%).
Date of AwardJun 2010
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPhilip A Davies (Supervisor) & John P Fletcher (Supervisor)


  • bitterns
  • solar liquid desiccant regenerator
  • desiccator
  • hot coastal areas
  • evaporative cooling

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