Watching Those Filters

Desiccants: Their Role In Air Conditioning And What Happens When There Is Too Little

When you have a home air conditioning system, you expect to hear terms like refrigerant, condenser, and evaporator. What you may be surprised to hear during typical air conditioning services is the word desiccants. If you do not already know what a desiccant is, it is a chemical agent that absorbs moisture and makes moist, wet areas dry.

You have probably seen desiccant packets inside shoes, purses, and various other clothing goods after you have purchased these items. Well, dessicants are also used in some air conditioning systems. Here is more about three common desiccants used in air conditioners, what the desiccants do, and what happens when the desiccant levels drop.

Lithium Bromide

Lithium bromide is a desiccant used in asborption chilling. Absorption chilling is a strange process in which the refrigerant vapor is not compressed prior to evaporation. Instead, the refrigerant vapor is absorbed by a chemical; in this case, it is lithium bromide.

Because of the equipment typically needed to complete this process, lithium bromide is often restricted to industrial air conditioning systems. The lithium bromide regularly has to be restored, as it is in constant use and constantly being reduced during the cycles of these industrial air conditioners. An HVAC technician knows how much to add, how to check the levels, and the safety precautions needed when handling this potentially fatal chemical.

Water and Lithium Chloride

Lithium bromide systems rely on a solid desiccant for proper operation. Water and lithium chloride systems use the latest liquid desiccant technology. This technology is even more effective at removing humidity from the air within a building than the solid desiccant technology.

It is fast becoming the most popular option for apartment buildings as well as business buildings because of how efficiently the air conditioners cool and dry the air and make the environment in these buildings much more comfortable. While the water is renewed via hoses or pipes in these air conditioning systems, the lithium chloride liquid needs to be adjusted and refilled by a licensed HVAC technician.

Silica Gel and Activated Alumina

Because gels and powders are easier to maintain, manipulate, and control as desiccants, these are the types of desiccants you will find in some home air conditioning systems. Like the above desiccants, they make air conditioners much more efficient than other systems on the market. The gel/powder is injected into the system, and it continues to cycle for a long time. Still, your HVAC technician should check the levels of these desiccants during semi-annual maintenance services. 

For more information, contact local air conditioning services