Experimental and Theoretical Investigation of Integrated Engine Generator - Liquid Desiccant System

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Combined heat and power (CHP) involves on-site generation of electricity by using gas-fired equipment along with utilization of waste heat available from the power generation process. This research focuses on the design, installation and analysis of integration options of a modular CHP system involving the integration of a natural gas fired reciprocating engine generator with a liquid desiccant dehumidification system in a medium sized commercial office building. The engine generator provides 75 kW of electrical power fed parallel to the grid while the combined waste heat from the exhaust gases and jacket water from the engine is used to regenerate the liquid desiccant. The liquid desiccant unit dehumidifies the outdoor air and supplies it to the mixed air section of the roof top unit of the building. The experimental part of the research discusses the various aspects involved in the design and installation of the system such as the mechanical design of the structure, the heat recovery loop design and the electrical interconnection with the grid. Extensive testing and data analysis was conducted to characterize the performance of the integrated system and compare the performance with a traditional power plant as well as conventional HVAC systems.

A comprehensive steady state thermodynamic model of the integrated CHP system was coded in Visual Basic .Net. After validation with experimental results, an economic and climate model was integrated into the thermodynamic model with actual electricity and gas prices as well as the climate data for different representative states in the United States to demonstrate the feasibility of the system under different scenarios. This research addresses and assesses the different integration opportunities and issues encountered during the integration of the engine generator - liquid desiccant system with the existing electrical grid and the roof top unit. Based on the hands-on experience gained during the design, installation, operation and maintenance of the integrated system as well as the results obtained from extensive simulation of the system, this research develops valuable design guidelines on the integration and operation of the packaged engine generator-liquid desiccant system in commercial office buildings for future designers and system integrators.