Grinham Research Group

Harvard University Graduate School of Design


Vacuum Dehumidification + Indirect Evaporative Cooling

Project Overview

Air conditioning (AC) systems represent a substantial portion of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to 4% of the global total. Within the approximately 2 gigatons of CO2 equivalent associated with building cooling, over two-thirds can be directly attributed to refrigerants and latent loads rather than setpoint temperatures. The proposed technology, Vesma, is a novel approach that integrates regenerative indirect evaporative cooling (IEC) and vacuum membrane dehumidification (VMD) to achieve refrigerant-free humidity control, high water use efficiency with water capture, energy-efficient cooling, and improved fresh air supply.

Project Journey

Exciting news to come.


Project Team

Jonathan Grinham
Jack Alvarenga
Peteris Lazovskis
Leonard Palmer
Joanna Aizenberg

Vesma combines IEC and VMD technologies to achieve unprecedented efficiency in cooling and dehumidification. The IEC component utilizes a superhydrophobic nano-architectured barrier layer for indirect evaporative cooling , while the VMD component employs a rationally designed membrane support assembly for highly selective and isothermal water vapor removal. System-level integration allows free cooling for condensation of the permeate stream and improves pumping efficiencies. Further, the modular configuration of these systems allows de-coupled latent and sensible load management for environment-specific targeted operating modes. The synergy of these technologies, offering dew-point cooling and humidity control, positions Vesma as a disruptive solution for the AC industry, especially in humid climates.

Overall shot of Vesma prototype
Detail shot of water tank of Vesma prototype
Top view of Vesma prototype installed into window at House Zero