Modelling and optimization of an adsorption cooling system for automotive applications

  1. Verde Trindade, María
Supervised by:
  1. José Miguel Corberán Salvador Director

Defence university: Universitat Politècnica de València

Fecha de defensa: 28 July 2015

  1. Joan Carles Bruno Chair
  2. José Gonzálvez Macia Secretary
  3. José Ramón García Cascales Committee member

Type: Thesis


This PhD study deals with the modelling of an adsorption system designed to provide air conditioning for vehicles, and is driven by the waste heat available from the water/glycol cooling circuit of the engine. The system is based on the sequential heating/cooling of two sorption beds containing a solid sorption material which desorbs or adsorbs water vapour. The condensation of the vapour is carried out by a cooling circuit while the subsequent evaporation of the condensed liquid is employed to produce the cooling effect, generating chilled water, which is then employed to cool down the air of the cabin. The developed model is fully dynamic and is based on zero-dimensional lumped parameter models for all the necessary components of the overall system including the engine, the beds, the heating circuit, the cooling circuit, the chilled water circuit and the vehicle cabin. The sorption bed model takes into account the non-equilibrium of the adsorption and desorption processes and is able to work with any kind of adsorbent materials, but the study has been restricted to silica gel and zeolite which are among the most appropriate materials for this application. The model is employed to simulate a standard driving cycle of a vehicle, evaluating the instantaneous available heat from the engine cooling system and the dynamic behaviour of the described sorption A/C system, resulting in the estimation of the evolution of the cabin temperature along the cycle. The model of the overall system has been developed under the MATLAB Simulink programming environment. The model of the adsorption system has been first validated against experimental results, showing its excellent capabilities to predict the dynamic behaviour of the system. The model was then used to analyse the influence of the main design parameters of the bed and the main operation parameters on the system's performance: cooling capacity and coefficient of performance (COP). This was done in order to provide rules for the optimal design and operation of this kind of systems. Finally, the model has been employed to analyse the overall system (engine, adsorption system, heating and cooling circuits, chilled water circuit and cabin) performance along a standard driving cycle, under various operation strategies with regards to the initial state of the adsorbent material in the beds, and operation conditions both for a car and a truck. The results show the difficulties of activating the system at the initial periods of the cycle, when the engine is warming up, and the difficulties to synchronise the operation of the system with the availability of waste energy. They also highlight the limitation in capacity of the designed system, showing that it would not able to fulfil the comfort requirements inside the cabin in hot days or after soaking conditions. Part of this PhD study was carried out in the frame of an R&D project called "Thermally Operated Mobile Air Conditioning Systems - TOPMACS", financially supported by the EU under the FP6 program, which was devoted to the evaluation of the feasibility and performance of potential sorption system solutions for the air conditioning of vehicles.