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FEBRUARY 2005 99

Heat and Moisture Transfer with Sorption and Phase Change
Through Clothing Assemblies
Part I: Experimental Investigation

Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Part I of this two-part series reports on an experimental investigation of heat and
moisture transfer through clothing assemblies consisting of porous fibrous battings sand-
wiched by inner and outer layers of a thin covering fabric. The experiments are conducted
on a novel sweating, guarded hot plate at ⫺20 °C. The temperature and water content
distribution within the porous fibrous battings are obtained for four combinations of two
kinds of fibrous battings (polyester and viscose) and two kinds of covering fabrics (one
highly permeable nylon and the other a less permeable laminate. Most of the changes in
temperature distribution take place within 30 minutes of the tests, and moisture absorption
by the hygroscopic viscose fibers affects the temperature distribution. The water content
accumulates with time, and water content is higher at the outer regions than at the inner
regions of the battings. The accumulation and distribution of water content is a combined
result of moisture absorption, condensation, and liquid water movement. The experimental
findings form a basis for the development of a theoretical model to be reported in Part II
of the series.

In a cold environment, perspiration from a human ical model. For the first time, our new model considers
body may condense within clothing, and the re-evapora- moisture movement induced by partial water vapor pres-
tion of condensates can cause serious “after-chill” dis- sure, a super saturation state in the condensing region, as
comfort [8, 15]. To prevent the detrimental effects of well as the dynamic moisture absorption of fibrous ma-
condensation, heat and moisture transfer within clothing terials and the movement of liquid condensates. We
assemblies should be better understood. compare the results of the new model and find good
Coupled heat and moisture transfer with phase agreement with experimental results. Our work is now
changes in fibrous insulation was first considered by presented in this two-part series. Part I reports the ex-
Henry in his theoretical model in 1940s [9]. However, perimental investigation, and Part II discusses the theo-
little further progress was made until 1980s, when a retical model, a comparison with experimental results,
number of theoretical models were proposed [1, 2, 4 – 8, and the results of a computational simulation of the new
11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20] due to growing interest in model.
textile science and other engineering fields such as civil
engineering and energy conservation. These recent the- Review of Past Experimental Work
oretical models have not been fully validated, however,
due to the lack of experimental data. Past experimental work on coupled heat and moisture
In this series, we conduct experiments of heat and transfer with phase change involved some very specific
moisture transfer through clothing assemblies consisting conditions. Thomas et al. [18] monitored the temperature
of porous fibrous battings sandwiched by inner and outer change and moisture migration in an initially wet glass-
layers of thin covering fabrics on a novel sweating, fiber insulation slab with impermeable boundaries sub-
guarded hot plate in freezing conditions (⫺20 °C). Based jected to one-dimensional temperature gradients on a
on the experimental findings, we develop a new theoret- guarded hot plate. Farnworth [8] reported the use of a
sweating hot plate, where water was fed to the hot side of
the fibrous insulation with a syringe pump. Shapiro and
Corresponding author: tel. ⫹852-2766 6472, fax ⫹852-2773 1432, Motakef [14] reported an experiment in which liquid
email: water was introduced close to the “hot” side of the

Textile Res. J. 75(2), 99 –105 (2005) 0040-5175/$15.00

sample, evaporated there, and re-condensed toward the situations where the fibrous insulation is sandwiched by
“cold” impermeable side of the slab. Wijeysundera et al. two layers of moisture retarders, such as the case with
[21] reported two series of experiments. In the first clothing and building insulation. Recently, we (Fan et al.
series, water was sprayed on the hot face of the slab and, [3]) used a sweating, guarded hot plate to investigate
in the second series, the hot face of the insulation was coupled heat and moisture transfer through fibrous insu-
directly exposed to a moist airflow. Transient tempera- lation sandwiched by two covering fabrics under low
ture changes were monitored, and the total amount of temperature conditions. However, we did not compare
moisture absorption/condensation after a period of time the effects of the fibrous insulation and covering fabrics
was measured. An experiment similar to Wijeysundera’s or analyze them in view of clothing comfort.
second series was conducted by Tao et al. [17], except
that the cold side was subjected to the temperature below
the triple point of water. Murata [12] conducted an Experimental
experiment in which the hot side of a fibrous insulation INSTRUMENTATION
slab was exposed to hot, moist air with a temperature
close to 100°C and the cold side was in contact with an The device for the experiments is shown schematically
impermeable glass plate. The falling of condensate under in Figure 1, modified from the one specified in ISO
gravity and convective heat transfer was an important 11092:1993(E) to be used in freezing conditions. It has a
phenomenon. shallow water container (1) with a porous plate (3) at the
In these past experimental investigations, moisture top. The container is covered by a manmade skin (2)
was introduced to the system by either spraying liquid made of a waterproof but moisture permeable breathable
water [14, 17, 18] onto the fibrous insulation or exposing fabric. The edge of the breathable fabric is sealed within
the hot side of the insulation directly to moist airflow [8, the container so that there is no water leakage. Water is
12, 17]. This, however, does not resemble many practical supplied to the container from a water tank (16) through

FIGURE 1. Schematic design of the instrument.
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an insulated pipe (14). The water in the tank is pre-heated TABLE II. Properties of inner fibrous batting.
to 35°C, and the water level is checked frequently to Composition Viscose Polyester
ensure it is higher than the manmade skin, so that water
is in full contact with the manmade skin at the top of the Weight, kg/m 0.145 0.051
Thickness, m 1.94E-03 4.92E-03
container. The water temperature in the container (1) is Fiber density, kg/m3 1.53E⫹03 1.39E⫹03
controlled at 33°C, simulating human skin temperature. Porosity 0.951 0.993
To prevent heat loss from directions other than the upper Resistance to air penetration, kPa.s/m 0.062 0.0061
Air permeability, m2/Pa.s 3.11E-05 8.06E-04
right, the water container is surrounded by a guard with
a heating element (13). The temperature of the guard is
controlled so that its difference from that of the bottom
of the container is less than 0.2°C. In order to prevent the resistance of a single layer of the covering fabric. Sim-
air trapped underneath the manmade skin and the infla- ilarly, the water vapor resistance was determined by
tion of the manmade skin due to the water pressure measuring the total water vapor resistance by placing
underneath, the device is fitted with a ventilation tube one, two, three, four, and five layers of a covering fabric
(22) to ensure there is no air underneath the manmade on the guarded hot plate containing water in an air-
skin, and an upper porous plate (23) above the manmade conditioned room, then plotting the total water vapor
skin to keep it flat. The whole device is further covered resistance against the number of layers of the covering
by thick insulation foam. fabric, and obtaining the slope of the linear regression
line of the plot, which was the water vapor resistance of
SAMPLES a single layer of the covering fabric. Since the thickness
of a single layer of polyester batting is very different
The samples tested in the experiments consisted of
from a single layer of viscose batting, in order to make
several thin layers of fibrous battings sandwiched by top
the total thickness of the plies of polyester battings close
and under layers of a covering fabric, simulating the
to the total thickness of the viscose batting plies for
construction of a “down” jacket. During testing, the
comparative reasons, six plies of polyester batting or
samples were placed on top of the manmade skin, as
fifteen plies of viscose batting (making a total thickness
shown in Figure 1. Two kinds of covering fabrics, vary-
equal to 29 mm) were plied together for testing.
ing in permeability and construction, were used in the
investigation, and their specifications and properties are
listed in Table I. Two fibrous battings, one hygroscopic
viscose and one nonhygroscopic polyester, were used,
Experimental Procedure
the details of which are given in Table II. The resistance
When measuring moisture absorption and condensa-
to air penetration was tested on a KES -F8-AP1 air
tion under cold conditions, we used the following pro-
permeability tester [10]. The thermal resistances of the
covering fabrics were determined first by measuring the
1. Condition the top and bottom layer of the covering
total thermal resistances when placing one, two, three,
fabric and the fibrous battings in an air-conditioned room
four, and five layers of a covering fabric on the guarded
with the temperature at 20.0 ⫾ 0.5°C and humidity at 65
hot plate containing no water in an air-conditioned room,
⫾ 5% for at least 24 hours.
second by plotting the total thermal resistance against the
2. Place the sweating, guarded hot plate in the air-
number of layers, and finally by obtaining the slope of
conditioned room with the temperature at 20.0 ⫾ 0.5°C
the linear regression line. The slope was then the thermal
and humidity at 65 ⫾ 5%. Start the temperature control
and measurement system and wait until the temperature
TABLE I. Properties of the covering fabric. and power supply are stabilized.
3. Weigh and record the weights of each layer of
Nylon fabric laminated fabric fibrous batting.
4. Sandwich multiple layers of fibrous battings with
Construction woven woven ⫹ membrane
⫹ warp knit the top and bottom layers of covering fabric and place
Weight, kg/m 2
0.108 0.22 the ensemble on top of the manmade skin of the instru-
Thickness, m 2.73E-04 5.15E-04 ment.
Thermal resistance, Km2/W 3.15E-02 3.16E-02
Water vapor resistance, s/m 64.99 143.79 5. Place the sweating, guarded hot plate in a cold
Resistance to air penetration, 0.524 145.1 chamber with the temperature controlled at ⫺20 ⫾ 1°C.
kPa.s/m 6. Record the temperatures and power supply with
Air permeability, m2/Pa.s 5.21E-07 3.55E-9

7. After a pre-set time (i.e., 8, 16, or 24 hours), take
out each layer of fibrous batting and weigh immediately
on an electronic balance.
8. Calculate the percentage of moisture or water ac-
cumulation due to absorption or condensation on each
layer of fibrous battings by
W ai ⫺ W oi
Wc i ⫽ ⫻ 100% , (1)
W oi
where Wai is the weight of the ith layer of fibrous batting
after testing on the sweating, guarded hot plate for a
pre-set period of time, Woi is the weight of the ith layer
of fibrous batting before testing on the sweating, guarded
hot plate, and Wci is the increased percent water content.

Results and Discussion
FIGURE 3. Temperature distribution for six plies of polyester batting
In Figures 2 to 5, 8, and 9, x⬘ is the dimensionless sandwiched by two layers of a laminated fabric.
distance from the inner layer of the covering fabric and
is calculated by
x⬘ ⫽ . (2)
total thickness of batting

The temperature distributions within the fibrous bat-
tings are plotted against the distance from the bottom
layer of the covering fabric in Figures 2 to 5 for two
kinds of fibrous battings and two covering fabrics. In
general, the temperature of the inner battings next to the
warm “skin” increases quickly in the first few minutes
and may even exceed the skin temperature of 35°C
before it drops to a stabilized value. The outer battings

FIGURE 4. Temperature distribution for fifteen plies of viscose batting
sandwiched by two layers of a nylon fabric.

close to the cold environment, on the other hand, de-
crease gradually. Most of the changes in temperature
distribution occurred within about 0.5 hour, regardless of
the batting and covering fabric types.
Comparing Figures 2 and 3, which are for the same
non-hygroscopic polyester batting but with differing
covering fabrics, there is no significant difference in the
stabilized temperature distribution, but the one with the
more permeable nylon covering fabric reaches stabiliza-
tion faster. As for the hygroscopic viscose battings cov-
ered with the highly permeable nylon fabric (see Figure
4) and the less permeable laminated fabric (see Figure 5),
FIGURE 2. Temperature distribution for six plies of polyester batting there is a significant temperature difference in the middle
sandwiched by two layers of a nylon fabric. of the battings. From the beginning to 0.5 hour, the
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FIGURE 5. Temperature distribution for fifteen plies of viscose batting
sandwiched by two layers of a laminated fabric. FIGURE 6. Power supply for six plies of polyester batting sandwiched
by two nylon and two laminated fabrics.

temperature in the middle of the viscose battings covered
with the highly permeable nylon fabric is significantly
higher than that covered with the less permeable lami-
nated fabric. At x⬘ ⫽ 0.6, the former is 5.0°C higher than
the latter at 0.1 hour and 2.0 °C higher than the latter at
0.5 hour. The temperature difference decreases with
time. At x⬘ ⫽ 0.6, there is virtually no difference in
temperature between the former and the latter after 4
hours. This is due to the differences in moisture absorp-
tion within the fibrous battings. When the covering is the
highly permeable nylon fabric, more moisture is trans-
mitted into the viscose battings within the same period,
and more moisture absorption takes place in the initial
period, thus releasing a greater amount of the heat of
moisture absorption and consequently causing a higher
temperature. After about 4 hours, the viscose battings
covered with either the nylon fabric or the laminated
fabric are almost saturated, resulting in a smaller tem- FIGURE 7. Power supply for fifteen plies of viscose batting
sandwiched by two nylon and two laminated fabrics.
perature difference.

HEAT LOSS loss in latent heat of moisture transmission. Figure 7
shows that heat losses through the viscose battings are
During “sweating” as simulated in our experiment,
similar regardless of the covering nylon or laminated
greater heat loss is preferable for thermal comfort. Fig-
fabric. Comparing Figures 6 and 7, we see that the
ures 6 and 7 show the changes of power supply or heat
clothing assemblies with hygroscopic viscose batting
loss with time for the two battings and covering fabrics,
have about 9% greater heat loss than those with non-
respectively. The initial fluctuation of the curves is un-
hygroscopic polyester batting after stabilization. When
derstandably due to the PID algorithm used for controlling
condensation takes place, hygroscopic batting may not
the temperature of the water within the shallow con-
be as warm as non-hygroscopic batting.
tainer. It is clear from Figure 6 that heat loss after
stabilization through the polyester battings covered with
the more permeable nylon fabric is about 5% greater than
that through the battings covered with the less permeable To prevent “after-chill” discomfort, the accumula-
laminated fabric, which may be attributed to the greater tion of water due to moisture absorption and conden-

sation within fibrous batting should be as low as As we can see, water content in the batting next to the
possible. Figures 8 and 9 show the distribution of “skin” is nearly zero for the non-hygroscopic polyester
water content within the fibrous battings after 8 and 24 and about 18% for the hygroscopic viscose. It remains
hours for the two battings and covering fabrics, re- almost unchanged from after 8 hours to after 24 hours for
spectively. Water content within the fibrous battings the polyester batting and only increases slightly for vis-
is a combination of moisture absorption and conden- cose batting. It is therefore reasonable to believe that
sation. there is no condensation in the batting next to the skin.
Water accumulation is the result of moisture absorption.
Polyester batting absorbs little moisture, and hence its
water content remains zero. Viscose batting absorbs most
of the moisture within 8 hours.
The water content increases from the inner region to
the outer region of the batting due to the increased
condensation, and water content also accumulates with
time. At the outer region, water content after 24 hours is
about four times that after 8 hours for the polyester
batting, and about two times that after 8 hours for viscose
batting. The difference in water content in the outer
region between the two batting types may be due to
differences in the density of the battings or to the nature
of the fibers or a combination of the two. The polyester
batting is more porous and permeable, thus allowing
more moist air to transmit or diffuse from its inner region
to the outer region, where condensation takes place.
Another possible reason is that viscose is hydrophilic and
polyester is hydrophobic. The condensed water on the
hydrophilic fiber surface tends to wick to regions where
water content is lower.
Comparing the two covering fabrics, we see that the
water content at the outer region of the polyester battings
covered by the permeable nylon fabric is about 10 –15%
FIGURE 8. Water content in the fibrous batting after 8 hours at ⫺20 °C.
higher than that covered by the laminated fabric, and
there is little difference in water content between the
viscose batting covered with nylon or the laminated
fabric. Considering the great differences in the air per-
meability of the two covering fabrics, the effect of the
covering fabrics permeability on condensation within the
battings is small.
We can also see from the graphs that although the
water content at the outer region is greater, the greatest
water content may not occur at the outer most layer of the
battings (i.e. x⬘ ⫽ 1.0). This may be due to the complex
interaction of heat and moisture transfer in the battings.
Condensation within the fibrous battings is a result of the
moisture content within the air space exceeding the sat-
urated moisture content, which is a function of temper-
ature. As the temperature decreases from the inner region
to the outer regions, the saturated moisture content ini-
tially reduces sharply and then more gradually from the
inner region to the outer region (because the effect of
temperature on the saturated moisture content is less
pronounced at lower temperatures). On the other hand,
FIGURE 9. Water content in the fibrous batting after 24 hours at ⫺20 °C. from the inner region to the outer region, the moisture
FEBRUARY 2005 105

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 16. Tao, Y. X., Besant, R. W., and Rezkallah, K. S., Unsteady
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of the Hong Kong University Grant Council for funding 1593–1603 (1991).
the project (PolyU 5142/00E). 17. Tao, Y. X., Besant, R. W., and Rezkallah, K. S., The
Transient Thermal Response of a Glass-fiber Insulation
Slab with Hygroscopic Effects, Int. J. Heat Mass Trans. 35
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