Energy and exergy models for ideal adsorption cycles with isothermal beds and no mass recovery are developed to predict the limits to COP enhancement using thermal regeneration. The models are applied to compare the performance of zeolite-water and silica gel-water adsorbent-refrigerant pairs over a range of maximum bed temperatures. The thermodynamic consistencies of several alternate adsorption property assumptions are quantified. Differences in adsorption characteristics between zeolite-water and silica gel-water result in a significantly larger potential to enhance COP by implementing thermal regeneration for zeolite-water. Based on COP, the zeolite-water pair is preferred when both thermal regeneration and a high temperature thermal energy source (>150 degrees C) are used, while the silica gel-water pair is preferred when thermal regeneration is not used and/or a low temperature thermal energy source (<100 degrees C) is used. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.