Modern techniques for water desalination focus on large scale industrial plants. These plants often require a large amount of resources in capital and location for efficient operation. As a result, the worldwide toll on human deaths from poor access to clean water was estimated above 1.7 million. To provide a low cost and resource system for water production, this study aims to test the feasibility of a portable solar dehumidification system to produce enough daily drinking water for four adults (about 4 gallons). The system concept design consists of using a heat chamber (solar still) and polluted water to heat and increases the humidity of the air. A refrigeration cycle via a dehumidifier would then capture the water output from the humid air by condensing on the evaporator coil. A simulation study was conducted on the proposed idea through MATLAB and using ‘RefPropMini’ as a thermal database for fluid properties. Results of the study showed that the proposed system is technologically feasible and able to produce 3.6 gallons of water a day. The daily operation time of the system is within the 12 hours of solar activity on Earth. Additionally, the use a heat chamber greatly improves the energy factor of the refrigeration cycle to 1.5 L/kWh (0.40 gal/kWh) – a value less by 25% to average commercial dehumidifiers. The energy factor was matched to commercial products in a similar dimensional range for comparison. Although this study underlines good initial results for the system feasibility, there are still many more improvements that could be made to the model to better represent real world conditions and experimental designs that would validate the system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

MATLAB; Saline water conversion--Computer simulation; Water-supply--Computer simulation

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Manufacturing and Mechanical Systems Integration (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (CAST)


Larry A. Villasmil

Advisor/Committee Member

Robert J. Stevens

Advisor/Committee Member

James H. Lee


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TD479 .A77 2016


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