Hollow fibre membrane-based liquid desiccant humidity control for controlled environment agriculture

Ryan Lefers, N.M. Srivatsa Bettahalli, Nina V. Fedoroff, NorEddine Ghaffour, Philip A. Davies, Suzana Pereira Nunes, TorOve Leiknes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Humidity control is an important factor affecting the overall sustainability, productivity, and energy efficiency of controlled environment agriculture. Liquid desiccants offer the potential for pinpoint control of humidity levels in controlled environments. In the present work, a dehumidification processes utilizing liquid desiccants pumped through the lumens of triple-bore PVDF hollow fibre membranes is implemented in a bench scale controlled environment agriculture system. Hydrophobic hollow fibre membranes were combined into an array and placed near the crops. Concentrated magnesium chloride liquid desiccant solution with a low vapour pressure was pumped through the hollow fibre lumens. The dehumidification permeance rate responded dynamically to the changing transpiration rate of the plants, as influenced by changes in environmental factors such as light, temperature, and vapour pressure. The dehumidification permeance rate increased from an average of 0.26–0.31 g m−2 h−1 Pa−1 as the velocity of the liquid desiccant through the hollow fibres increased from 0.023 to 0.081 m s−1. Humidity levels were targeted to be maintained within a range of 70–90% relative humidity at 23 °C. The membrane-based liquid desiccant system was demonstrated to successfully control humidity within a bench-scale controlled environment agricultural setup.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalBiosystems Engineering
StatePublished - May 8 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this publication was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The authors thank colleagues from Nanostructured Polymeric Membrane (NPM) group, as well as Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC), and KAUST's Core Labs for their help on equipment and analysis. The graphical abstract and Fig. 1 were produced by Xavier Pita, scientific illustrator at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Philip Davies acknowledges granting of a Visiting Researcher position by KAUST.


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