Direct evaporative cooling: Direct evaporative cooling is used to lower the temperature and increase the humidity of air by using latent heat of evaporation, changing liquid water to water vapor. In this process, the energy in the air does not change. Warm dry air is changed to cool moist air. The heat of the outside air is used to evaporate water.The RH increases to 70 to 90% which reduces the cooling effect of human perspiration. The moist air has to be continually released to outside or else the air becomes saturated and evaporation stops.
This type of cooler is also called as swamp cooler, It uses a blower to force air through a permeable water-soaked pad.
Fig: Basic direct evaporative cooler:
A normal direct evaporative cooler unit uses a fan to draw air through a wetted membrane, or pad, which provides a large surface area for the evaporation of water into the air. Water is sprayed at the top of the pad so it can drip down into the membrane and continually keep the membrane saturated. Any excess water that drips out from the bottom of the membrane is collected in a pan and recirculated to the top. Single-stage direct evaporative coolers are typically small in size as they only consist of the membrane, water pump, and centrifugal fan. The mineral content of the municipal water supply will cause scaling on the membrane, which will lead to clogging over the life of the membrane. Depending on this mineral content and the evaporation rate, regular cleaning and maintenance is required to ensure optimal performance. Generally, supply air from the single-stage evaporative cooler will need to be exhausted directly because the high humidity of the supply air.
Fig: Direct evaporative cooling process in chart:
Passive direct evaporative cooling: Passive direct evaporative cooling allows outside air to flow in through the top of a tower that is constructed within or next to the building. The outside air comes in contact with water inside the tower either through a wetted membrane or a mister. As water evaporates in the outside air, the air becomes cooler and less buoyant and creates a downward flow in the tower. At the bottom of the tower, an outlet allows the cooler air into the interior. Just like mechanical evaporative coolers, towers can be an attractive low-energy solution for hot and dry climate as they only require a water pump to raise water to the top of the tower. Energy savings from using a passive direct evaporating cooling strategy depends on the climate and heat load. For arid climates with a great wet-bulb depression, cooling towers can provide enough cooling during summer design conditions to be net zero.