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A Comparative Study of the effect of Thermal Bridging and Moisture on the Thermal Performance of Straw Bale and Cavity Wall Construction

A Comparative Study of the effect of Thermal Bridging and Moisture on the Thermal Performance of Straw Bale and Cavity Wall Construction

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Tuireann O Neill. Originally submitted for Architectural Technology at None, with lecturer Sima Rouholamin in the category of Engineering & Mechanical Sciences
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Tuireann O Neill. Originally submitted for Architectural Technology at None, with lecturer Sima Rouholamin in the category of Engineering & Mechanical Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
 
A Comparative Study of the effect of Thermal Bridging andMoisture on the Thermal Performance of Straw Bale and CavityWall Construction
Final Year Dissertation
 
 
 i
Abstract
This research dissertation analyses and compares the thermal performance of strawbale construction and cavity wall construction with consideration for additional heatloss due to thermal bridging and decreased thermal resistance as a result of thepresence of moisture. Straw bale dwellings constructed in North Kesteven, England,are used as a built example for the investigation while the Acceptable ConstructionDetails produced by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and LocalGovernment are used as a basis for the analysis of cavity wall construction. In theinvestigation of the thermal performance of both wall types, a three dimensional heattransfer software, AnTherm, and a one dimensional moisture transfer software,WUFI, are used as tools to analyse the potential heat loss of both forms of construction.The research has shown that when the effects of thermal bridging and moisture areconsidered, straw bale wall construction produces an average u-value of 0.199W/m
2
K, while cavity produces a u-value of 0.214 W/m
2
K. The increased u-valuesdiffer by 0.015 W/m
2
K, which is in stark contrast to the original dry u-values of thewall types which differ by 0.073 W/m
2
K in favour of straw bale. This demonstratesthe dramatic effect that thermal bridging and, in particular, the presence of moisturecan have on the thermal performance of a straw bale wall, while the effect on cavitywall construction is minimal by comparison. These results show that straw baleconstruction will offer a superior thermal envelope to cavity wall construction.However the susceptibility of straw bale construction to moisture ingress requiresadequate consideration due to its dramatic effect on thermal conductivity.
 
 
 ii
Declaration
 I hereby declare that the work described in this dissertation is, except where otherwisestated, entirely my own work and has not been submitted as an exercise for a degree atthis or any other university._________________________2012

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