On the thermal buffering of naturally ventilated buildings through internal thermal mass

Holford, J. M. and Woods, A. W. andy; BPI; (2007) On the thermal buffering of naturally ventilated buildings through internal thermal mass. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 580. pp. 3-30. DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022112007005320


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In this paper we examine the role of thermal mass in buffering the interior temperature of a naturally ventilated building from the diurnal fluctuations in the environment. First, we show that the effective thermal mass which is in good thermal contact with the air is limited by the diffusion distance into the thermal mass over one diurnal temperature cycle. We also show that this effective thermal mass may be modelled as an isothermal mass. Temperature fluctuations in the effective thermal mass are attenuated and phase-shifted from those of the interior air, and therefore heat is exchanged with the interior air. The evolution of the interior air temperature is then controlled by the relative magnitudes of (i) the time for the heat exchange between the effective thermal mass and the air; (ii) the time for the natural ventilation to replace the air in the space with air from the environment; and (iii) the period of the diurnal oscillations of the environment. Through analysis and numerical solution of the governing equations, we characterize a number of different limiting cases. If the ventilation rate is very small, then the thermal mass buffers the interior air temperature from fluctuations in the environment, creating a near-isothermal interior. If the ventilation rate increases, so that there are many air changes over the course of a day, but if there is little heat exchange between the thermal mass and interior air, then the interior air temperature locks on to the environment temperature. If there is rapid thermal equilibration of the thermal mass and interior air, and a high ventilation rate, then both the thermal mass and the interior air temperatures lock on to the environment temperature. However, in many buildings, the more usual case is that in which the time for thermal equilibration is comparable to the period of diurnal fluctuations, and in which ventilation rates are moderate. In this case, the fluctuations of the temperature of the thermal mass lag those of the interior air, which in turn lag those of the environment. We consider the implications of these results for the use of thermal mass in naturally ventilated buildings.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2007 AREP BPI 2007 P IA54
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
99 - Other
02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Divisions: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume: 580
Page Range: pp. 3-30
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022112007005320
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2009 13:02
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:07
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/388

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