A global challenge is to develop environmentally friendly, affordable, compact and sustainable technologies to provide heating and cooling power. Adsorption cooling (AC) technology is one of the most promising ways to solve the environmental issues and cut down the energy consumption related to the traditional air conditioning and refrigeration systems. However, AC systems still suffer from poor heat and mass transfer inside the adsorption bed, which is the main obstacle to commercialization of adsorption cooling units. The main goal of this study is designing an efficient adsorption cooling cycle. In this research work, an in-depth scaling analysis of heat and mass transfer in an adsorption packed bed has been performed to identify and quantify how the effective thermal diffusivity of an adsorption bed and the surface diffusion rate of an adsorbate in a nanoporous adsorbent affect the specific cooling power of an adsorption cooling system. The main goal of this study is to derive new scaling parameters that can be used to specify the optimal bed dimensions and select the appropriate adsorbate/adsorbent pair to achieve the maximum cooling power. As the choice of a suitable working pair is critical for an adsorption cooling cycle, an experimental setup is designed and built to measure the adsorption kinetics and isotherms of any working pair accurately. This setup is also able to measure the dynamic performance of an adsorption bed. The equilibrium uptakes of Fuji silica-gels Type-RD and RD-2060 (manufactured by Fuji Silysia, Japan), which are commonly used in adsorption cooling systems, are measured experimentally. Based on the adsorption rate and the adsorbent temperature measured simultaneously, a new approach is proposed to measure the surface diffusivity in the temperature and pressure ranges typical of those during the operating conditions of adsorption cooling systems. In addition, the experimental measurements from the lab-scale adsorption bed are used to validate the numerical models that are commonly used for estimating the SCP of AC cycle. By using the scaling parameters driven from the scaling analysis, a newly designed packed bed for use in AC systems is proposed and evaluated in this research. The proposed design consists of repeated packed bed cells (modules). Each module is an open-cell aluminum foam packed with silica gel to enhance the overall thermal conductivity of the bed from 0.198 to 5.8 W/m.K. the experimental test rig is used to evaluate the performance on the new adsorption bed. The effect of pores per inch (PPI) of the foam, silica-gel particle size, bed height and adsorption isotherm of different types of silica gel on the bed performance are investigated.

Graduation Date





Chow, Louis


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering









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Length of Campus-only Access


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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)