Development of a three-dimensional numerical model of indirect evaporative cooler incorporating with air dehumidification

Wenchao Shi, Yunran Min, Yi Chen, Hongxing Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Indirect evaporative cooler (IEC) is treated as an energy-efficient and low carbon-emission air conditioning solution without utilizing the mechanical compressor and chemical refrigerants for cooling production. Currently, the widely-used one-dimensional (1-D) and two-dimensional (2-D) numerical models of IEC can expose the temperature and humidity variations of the airflow direction for predicting the cooling performance. However, the air profile along the channel width direction is usually simplified as constant in those models, neglecting the effect of non-uniformity distribution in the normal direction of heat exchanger plates. In this paper, a novel 3-D IEC numerical model of a cross-flow IEC was developed based on the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method. The judgment on moist air condensation was incorporated in the model by a built-in generalized minimum residual iterative solver, which enables the performance prediction of IEC in hot and humid areas. Detailed air temperature and moisture content distributions along and perpendicular to the air channels were obtained with sufficient validations from published and experimental data. Parameter analysis was conducted on the primary air inlet properties and the channel gap distance. Results show that the prediction accuracies of temperature and humidity were improved by 5.8 and 6.7% compared with the 2-D model. The air dehumidification process started to appear from 27 ℃ given the 70% RHp,in. Under the circumstance of condensation state, the highest wet-bulb efficiency was 0.8 given the 0.5 m/s air velocity against 4 mm optimized gap distance, while the greatest dehumidification rate was 0.3 in the studied ranges. The maximum net energy saving was obtained as 4.7 kW under scorching and wet climate conditions. The proposed 3-D model can benefit future study on the heat and mass transfer mechanism of advanced plate materials by providing the non-uniformity of air profiles along the Y-axis, and thus contribute to the development of next-generation IEC technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122316
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Air conditioning
  • Dehumidification
  • Indirect evaporative cooler
  • Performance prediction
  • Three-dimensional model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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