Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering, MS

Committee Chair

Brehob, Ellen

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Rasipuram, Srinivasan

Committee Member

Rasipuram, Srinivasan

Committee Member

McGinley, William Mark

Committee Member

Druffel, Thad

Author's Keywords

water-from-air; atmospheric water generation; desiccants; sustainable water source; fast kinetics; solar thermal powered systems


Surging global water demand as well as changes to weather patterns and over exploitation of natural water sources, such as ground water, has made potable water a critical resource in many parts of the World already – one rapidly heading towards a crisis situation. Desalination has been adopted as a solution – this is however energy intensive and impractical for most of the developing countries - those most in need of water. A renewable source of energy is solar thermal and solar photovoltaic. A plentiful source of water is the humidity in the atmosphere. This research is to push the envelope in pairing these two facts in solving the ‘water problem’, in the use of existing humidification/dehumidification (HDH) systems using solid desiccants. Solar thermal, notably the simple & affordable systems, do not deliver the high temperature that current HDH systems need. Again, the design of the current HDH systems are better suited for steady state, or near steady state, conditions. Solar energy, as well as atmospheric temperature and humidity, are extremely dynamic and independently variable. The existing desiccants have been found to be the limiting factor in building affordable, simple & maintenance free solar thermal powered HDH systems. The result of this study identifies a promising new lithium oxide nano material that meets or exceeds the specifications for such a desiccant. Specifically, Lithium Aluminate (LiAlO2) nano powder, synthesized using a UofL patented process, was found to be have ultra-fast kinetics (of the order of 2-5 minutes for adsorption as well as desorption), low temperature desorption (60-80oC) and low cost ($20/kg). As a spin-off benefit, a validated system was also built that handles the dynamic environmental factors that such an HDH system will need to manage in real-world installations.