Organic material holds promise for HVAC technology

A new study by researchers at Texas A&M University has found an organic material called polyimide that could bring down the cost of cooling air.

Traditional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems use a large amount of energy, and cost thousands of dollars to run – particularly in commercial buildings.

However, the researchers believe polyimide-based dehumidifiers can lower the price of running HVAC systems.

McFerrin Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Hae-Kwon Jeong, told Science Daily the team took a polymer and improved its dehumidification efficiency.

He believes it will help the next generation of HVAC and dehumidifier technologies to become more efficient and create a smaller carbon footprint.

Conventional dehumidifiers cool the air using refrigerants, which contribute to the greenhouse effect. The research team at Texas A&M University have been investigating a cost-effective organic material that was known for its high rigidity and tolerance for heat and chemicals.

According to the Texas A&M website, when Jeong’s team was testing the material for dehumidification, they found that their polyimide membrane was very permeable to water molecules. The membrane was capable of extracting excess moisture from the air by trapping it in percolation channels. 

Jeong says lot more work needs to be done in order to further enhance the performance of the membrane.

“[A] key factor for engineering applications is it has to be cheap, especially if you want the technology to be reasonably affordable for homeowners,” he says.

The research paper is available to read here.

Photo shows a dehumidifiers with enhanced polyimide membrane (white disc). Image credit: Dharmesh Patel/Texas A&M Engineering

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