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# 2nd International Engineering Mechanics and Materials Specialty Conference è le 2 Congrès international de mécanique et des matériaux Ottawa, Ontario

June 14-17, 2011 / 14 au 17 juin 2011

**Improving the Energy Efficiency of Buildings with Hollow Core Slabs: A Numerical Investigation
**

H.B. Gunay , O.B. Isgor , A.G. Razaqur , and Simon Foo (1) Carleton University, Dept. of Civil and Env. Eng. Ottawa, ON, Canada (2) McMaster University, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Hamilton, ON, Canada (3) Public Works and Government Services Canada, Gatineau, QC, Canada

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Abstract: Thermal mass is the capacity of a material to store heat. Concrete or masonry has a higher heat storage capacity than air; therefore, there is significant potential in using the natural thermal mass of buildings to reduce and to shift peak load energy demands. Most residential and commercial buildings have adequate thermal mass that can be utilized to reduce and shift peak energy load. In particular, hollow core slabs that utilize air passing through the slabs to transfer heat in and out of concrete, have the potential to reduce and to shift peak load requirements. This paper presents a numerical investigation that aims to investigate design parameters of hollow core slabs for the maximum energy efficiency, particularly with respect to peak energy demand reduction and shifting. Results reveal that hollow core slab system can be actively used to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. The use of phase change materials (PCM) along with the thermal mass of hollow core slabs enhances both peak load reduction and phase shift; therefore, composite systems that combine the thermal mass of concrete with PCMs emerge as feasible design alternatives to commonly used flat slab systems. 1. Introduction Today’s economic and environmental challenges have compelled building owners, developers, engineers, architects and policy makers to reflect on these figures more carefully than before and to come up with less energy consumption alternatives. One such alternative that has emerged is the concept of the net-zero energy building – a commercially viable building that uses zero net energy and is carbon neutral. In a typical commercial building, over 80% of total energy consumption can be attributed to heating, cooling and lighting (Buildings Energy Data Book 2009). Therefore, th “net-zero energy building” concept implies that the energy demand for heating, cooling and lighting is reduced by active and passive methods, and this reduced demand is met on an annual basis from a renewable energy supply that is typically integrated into the building design. An area that has been receiving renewed attention in recent years is the use of thermal mass of buildings to reduce and shift peak energy loads/demand of buildings. Thermal mass is the capacity of a material to store heat. Concrete or masonry has a higher heat storage capacity than air; therefore, there is significant potential in using the natural thermal mass of buildings to reduce and to shift peak load energy demands. For example, in winter, due to their mass buildings can absorb heat from sunlight either directly or by means of heat pumps; at night the process is reversed as heated mass gives up its stored heat, warming the building by radiation, convection and conduction. During summer months, the part of the mass that is properly shaded can absorb the heat from air in the building and reduce the active HVAC requirements. Most residential and commercial buildings have adequate thermal mass (e.g. as concrete slabs or masonry walls) that can be utilized to reduce and shift peak energy load. In particular, hollow core slabs that utilize air passing through the slabs to transfer heat in and out of concrete, have significant potential to reduce and shift peak load requirements (Barton et al. 2002). In the winter months, for example, the air that is heated using natural sun light through solar panels can be circulated through the ducts of the hollow concrete slab to transfers energy to the thermal mass of concrete for storage and its subsequent release to reduce the heating requirements during evenings.

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T air (K) is the function of temperature along the duct of the hollow core slab. 2002). 2° hnat (W/m K) is coefficient of natural convection. PCM is a material with a high heat of fusion which is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy through melting and solidifying at a specific and narrow temperature range. they can be considdered as latent heat storage units. which has unique properties with respect to thermal efficiency. the PCMs can be added relatively homogeneously into the concrete mix in capsules. To prevent interference with the hydration process and the aggregate-cement bond reactions. Barton et al. σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann Constant for radiation heat transfer and. The heat transfer on the core surface is governed by forced convection. Banu et al. T (K) is the temperature. 4 4 [3] n (kbrick∇T)=εσ(T -Tamb )+hnat(T-Tamb) on Г2 . The effect of convection inside the room air domain is reflected by magnifying the thermal conductivity coefficient by Nusselt Number (Cengel 2007). This paper presents a numerical investigation that aims to investigate design parameters of hollow core slabs. Winwood et al. The boundary conditions in the domain of the analysis are given by equations [2] – [6]: [2] n (kcomp∇T)=hforced(T-Tair) on Г1 . . (1998) also demonstrated that the use of phase change materials (PCMs) in combination with the thermal mass of concrete has the potential to produce further energy efficiency. [4] n (kcomp∇T-kair∇T)=0 on Г3 . 1996. (1990) showed that PCMs can be introduced in concrete in different ways. Heat is absorbed (or released) when PCM experiences phase changes (e. and t (s) is time. for the maximum energy efficiency with respect to peak energy demand reduction and shifting. On the façade of the room. either during dry mixing of the concrete mix or after pouring. kair (W/K-m) is the thermal conductivity of air. therefore. (kg/m ) and Cp (J/K-kg) are the density and the specific heat of the material of domain . 2 . 2. The final product can be considered as a homogeneous composite material. The heat transfer in the domain of analysis is assumed to be governed by the conduction equation: [1] ∇ (k∇T)+Q=ρCp T in Ω t 3 3 where k (W/K-m) is thermal conductivity.Previous studies showed that buildings with hollow core slabs are better in reducing and shifting peak energy requirements than buildings with conventional slab systems (Sodha et al. Hawes et al.g. [6] n (k∇T)=0 otherwise where n is the unit vector perpendicular to the boundary surface. in particular the effects of hollow core geometry and the use of PCMs. ε is the emissivity of concrete. T amb (K) is the ambient temperature. k brick (W/K-m) is the thermal conductivity of the brick wall. from solid to liquid). hforced (W/m K) is coefficient of forced convection. Q (W/m ) is a sink or source. 1980.kbrick∇T)=0 on Г4 . [5] n ( kair∇T. the heat transfer is due to natural convection and radiation. Numerical Model The numerical investigation is carried out within a domain representing a room in a typical building as illustrated in Figure 1. k comp (W/K-m) is the thermal conductivity of 2° PCM and concrete composite structure inside the slab.

Figure 1: Domain of analysis In this study. their thermal properties are incorporated in the analysis through equations [2] and [4]. The thermal properties of PCMs as a function of temperature are defined in detail by Alawadhi and Amon (2003). Since PCMs are assumed to be homogeneously distributed in the concrete. the PCM application is assumed to be carried out by mixing the encapsulated PCM micropackages into the concrete pore solution during the casting process in the plant at 10% of the total concrete dry weight. Equations [7] – [9] provide the composite thermal properties of concrete and PCMs as used in the current numerical model: [7] Ccomp=(1-PCMratio)Cconc+PCMratioCpcm C p L [8] Cpcm= Δ T C p TT lt <m e T lt<<mt+T m TT l Δ e e T lt< m T e [9] kcomp=(1-PCMratio)kconc+PCMratiokpcm 3 .

k W/K-m 0. represented as duct diameter. g is the gravitational acceleration constant. Table 1: Properties of the materials used in the numerical investigation Density. ρ 3 kg/m 1. The properties of the PCM used in this numerical investigation are presented in Table 2. as shown in Table 3.2 PCM Type PCM1 Temperature differentials in the room air domain create different densities and enhance air circultion.0257 Nu 1. (2) thermal mass of concrete. υ is the kinematic viscosity. The properties of materials that are used in the numerical model. brick and air. Cp J/(K-kg) 1005 840 900 Material Air Concrete Brick Table 2: Material properties of the PCM used in the numerical investigation Specific Heat. Nu. which is a function of the gradient of the field variable.1 Specific Heat.15 Thermal Conductivity. respectively. Numerical Analysis The numerical investigation presented in this paper is focused on three design parameters: (1) geometry of the hollow core slab. Li is the dimensions of the room air domain in the corresponding direction. of concrete. L kJ/kg 134 Melting Temperature Tmelt. Cp J/(K-kg) 1500 Latent Heat of Fusion. and C1 and C2 are constants which are given as 0. 3 4 .K 294. ΔT (K) is the range of temperature at which the PCM experiences phase change.171. and (3) the use of PCM. β is the coefficient of thermal expansion.. In this study. Cconc (J/(K-kg) is the specific heat of concrete.where Ccomp (J/(K-kg) is the specific heat of the PCM and concrete composite material inside the slab. T melt is the onset temperature of PCM melting. i. the core diameter of the slab is changed while keeping thermal mass of concrete constant. k W/(K-m) 0. L (J/kg) is the latent heat of fusion of PCM. Finally. and Lc is the characteristic length.8 0.205 2300 375 Thermal Conductivity. To investigate the effect of slab geometry. The relationship between the Nusselt Number and the Rayleigh Number is defined by Warrington and Powe (1984) via: [11] Ra=GrPr=gβ υ -1∇(T)LiLc Pr where Gr is the Grashof Number. are presented in Table 1. 3.479 and 0. as shown in Table 4. Cpcm (J/(K-kg) is the specific heat of PCM. convection of air in the room is defined by magnifying the thermal conductivity of the air by Nusselt Number.e. T: [10] Nu=C1Ra C2 where Ra is the Rayleigh Number. The effect of thermal mass of concrete is studied by changing the cross sectional area of the slab while the core diameter is kept constant. PCMratio is the mass participation ratio of the PCMs into the hollow core slab domain and. the thermal mass of the hollow core slab system is modified by applying PCM and the corresponding effects are numerically investigated. Pr is the Prandtl Number.

Results and Discussion 4. The increase is 30% for a 25 mm diameter duct.07 2° Table 4: Analysis cases for effect of thermal mass analysis Thickness mm 150 200 250 300 1000 Width mm 133 133 133 133 133 Core Diameter mm 100 100 100 100 100 Core Area mm 2 Thermal Mass kJ/K 46 72 98 123 482 3925 3925 3925 3925 3925 4. the air is only running in the hollow core slab duct when the ambient is lower than 294.07 6. The velocity of the air in the hollow core slab duct is constant at 1 m/s. The summer season is analyzed to figure out the effect of a PCM having a PCM melting/freezing range at 294. 60% for a 50 mm diameter duct.15 K. June extreme daily data and August average data are selected for effect of diameter analysis and for the effect of thermal mass analysis.5 Hforced W/(m K) 0 5. daily temperature fluctuations reach the largest of the summer season.34 6. designing the slab core diameter as large as the local structural requirements permit improves the peak load reduction capacity of the room. Table 3: Analysis cases for varying slab core diameter Diameter mm Flat Slab 25 50 75 100 Width mm 133 133 133 133 133 Thickness mm 90 94 106 124 150 Core Area 2 mm 0 245 981 2208 3925 Thermal Mass kJ/°K 46.15K. summer temperature has the highest temperature values and in August.15 K.5 46. Hence.15 K.5 46. The data is then fitted into a sinusoidal function of time.1.15 K. Air intake section of hollow core slabs are closed when the ambient air temperature is above 294.5 46. August average temperature is fluctuating between 287. In June. The function brings the ambient temperature to the lowest at 5 AM in the morning.15 K and 305. This step function brings the forced convection heat transfer coefficient to zero when there is no air flow inside the duct. However. Effect of core diameter size Results shown in Table 5 and Figure 2 reveal that increase in the diameter enhances the damping effect of hollow core slabs on peak temperature cycles. 5 .5 46. respectively. 70% for a 75 mm diameter duct. An increase in the surface of active heating and cooling at the times of air flow are in favour of energy efficiency. Hence.The ambient temperature is taken from National Climate Data and Information Archive for Ottawa. effect of diameter change on phase shift is negligible.49 6. The June extreme temperature data is fluctuating between 293.15 K and 301. A Heaviside step function is utilized for this purpose. The peak load reduction increases 77% when a hollow core having a diameter of 100 mm is utilized instead of a flat slab.

79 9.Temp.01 24.62 Max.26 10.453 46.21 22.41 21.Table 5: The summary of the core diameter analysis Slab Thickness mm 90 94 106 124 150 Core Area mm 0 245 981 2208 3925 2 Diameter mm Flat Slab 25 50 75 100 Width mm 133 133 133 133 133 Thermal Mass kJ/K 46.74 21.99 7.453 46.453 46.453 46.59 10.in the Room Air K 26.453 Peak Load Reduction K 5.38 11 10 Peak Load Reduction/K 9 8 7 6 5 0 25 50 Core Diameter Size/mm 75 100 Figure 1: Core diameter size versus peak load reduction 6 .

4. The results in Table 7 show that PCM utilisation improves the thermal mass of the hollow core slab substantially.9 hours when it is 123 kJ/K. and.5 hours when it is 72 kJ/K.7 K and 5.3 K and 4.4 K and 13.5 2 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 Thermal Mass/ (kJ/K) 12 13 14 Figure 3: Temperature behaviour at various thermal masses Figure 4: Thermal mass versus peak load reduction & phase-shift properties The results in Table 6 indicate that peak load reduction follows a curve converging to the amplitude of the daily temperature fluctuations.1 K and 5. As the ambient temperature follows a sinusoidal function. The peak load reduction and phase shift values become 3. 300 mm thick slab without PCM utilization shows the similar thermal responses with 150 mm thick slab with PCM utilisation. PCM utilisation is tested as a possible solution to decrease the slab thickness.5 4 3.3 hours for 482 kJ/K. Effect of thermal mass and PCM utilisation The results for the effect of thermal mass analysis are illustrated in Figures 3 and 4 indicate that an increase in thermal mass improves both peak load reduction and phase shift.5 Peak Load Reduction/K 3 Peak Load Reduction Phase Shift 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Phase Shift/ hours 23 Temperature/K 5 4. it is economically and aesthetically unfeasible to use massive concrete slabs just for thermal efficiency. An unrealistically thick slab (1000 mm thick) is analysed to show an extreme case of the effect of thermal mass of slab. 6. This way thermal mass of the slabs are increased without changing the dimensions of the slab. However.2. The peak load reduction for 46 kJ/K thermal mass with respect to ambient temperature is 2.2 hours when it is 98 kJ/K.5 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 0 3 6 9 12 15 Time/hours Thermal Mass 46kJ/K Thermal Mass 72kJ/K Thermal Mass 98kJ/K Thermal Mass 123kJ/K Thermal Mass 482kJ/K 18 21 24 11 3 2. temperature behaviour in the domain is that way also.4. therefore. In Figure 4.1 K and the phase shift is 3.4 hours. 7 . they will become 4. For example. the peak temperatures reached in higher thermal mass is damped to a lower temperature and shifts to further time of the day.5 6 5. phase shift increases linearly with the increasing thermal mass. 26 25 24 6. Though. a relationship between thermal mass and peak load reduction and phase shift is illustrated. However.

98 Peak Load Phase Reduction Shift K 4. 6.09 18. Thermochimica Acta. Feldman.. E.88 6. 1998. References Alawadhi.00 Hours 5. Amon. and.Temp. D.65 5.36 Peak Load Reduction K 2.Table 6: Summary of thermal mass analysis without PCM use Diameter mm 100 100 100 100 100 Width mm 133 133 133 133 133 Thickness mm 150 200 250 300 1000 Thermal Mass kJ/K 46 72 98 123 482 Min. PCMs can be utilized effectively to increase the thermal mass of the slab without significantly changing the structure and architecture of the strcutral units.M. Since it is unfeasible to provide massive slabs to improve the thermal performance of buildings. Components and Packaging Technologies.63 19. IEEE. The thermal responses of the hollow core slabs at various design-stage parameters are compared with respect to peak load reduction and phase shift capacity. Analyses also reveal that increase in thermal mass yields phase shift and peak load reduction.9 13.1 4. and.86 19.5 5. Banu.7 6. Evaluation of thermal storage as latent heat in phase change material wallboard by differential scanning calorimetry and large scale thermal testing. 2003. C.3 4.6 Effective Thermal Mass kJ/K 121 181 217 240 Diameter mm 100 100 100 100 Width mm 133 133 133 133 Thickness mm 150 200 250 300 5.96 19.3 Table 7: Summary of thermal mass analysis with PCM use Min.4 4. D. the design-stage parameters that affect the thermal performance of the hollow core slabs are investigated.2 5.25 18.98 5. PCM thermal control unit for portable electronic devices: experimental and numerical studies. Hence.H. in Room K 18.4 Phase Shift Hours 3.2 5. 317: 39-45.1 3.. 8 .07 17. the core diameter of the hollow core slab ducts should be maximized as much as the structural requirements permit. Conclusions In this study. D.67 20.3 6.9 6. Hawes..Temp in Room K 16. Increase in the slab core diameter at a given thermal mass is found to increase peak load reduction. 26: 116-125.

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