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

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

2nd International Engineering Mechanics and Materials Specialty Conference le 2 Congrès international de mécanique et des

Improving the Energy Efficiency of Buildings with Hollow Core Slabs:

A Numerical Investigation

H.B. Gunay 1 , O.B. Isgor 1 , A.G. Razaqur 2 , and Simon Foo 3 (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

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.

EM-024-

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. 1980; Winwood et al. 1996; Barton et al. 2002). Banu et al. (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. 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. Heat is absorbed (or released) when PCM experiences phase changes (e.g. from solid to liquid); therefore, they can be considdered as latent heat storage units.

Hawes et al. (1990) showed that PCMs can be introduced in concrete in different ways, either during dry mixing of the concrete mix or after pouring. To prevent interference with the hydration process and the aggregate-cement bond reactions, the PCMs can be added relatively homogeneously into the concrete mix in capsules. The final product can be considered as a homogeneous composite material, which has unique properties with respect to thermal efficiency.

This paper presents a numerical investigation that aims to investigate design parameters of hollow core slabs, in particular the effects of hollow core geometry and the use of PCMs, for the maximum energy efficiency with respect to peak energy demand reduction and shifting.

2. Numerical Model

The numerical investigation is carried out within a domain representing a room in a typical building as illustrated in Figure 1. The heat transfer in the domain of analysis is assumed to be governed by the conduction equation:

[1] (kT)+Q=ρC p

T

t

in Ω

where k (W/K-m) is thermal conductivity, T (K) is the temperature, Q (W/m 3 ) is a sink or source, (kg/m 3 ) and C p (J/K-kg) are the density and the specific heat of the material of domain , and t (s) is time.

The effect of convection inside the room air domain is reflected by magnifying the thermal conductivity coefficient by Nusselt Number (Cengel 2007). The heat transfer on the core surface is governed by forced convection. On the façade of the room, the heat transfer is due to natural convection and radiation. The boundary conditions in the domain of the analysis are given by equations [2] [6]:

[2] n . (k comp T)=h forced (T-T air ) on Г 1 [3] n . (k brick T)=εσ(T 4 -T amb 4 )+h nat (T-T amb ) on Г 2 [4] n . (k comp T-k air T)=0 on Г 3 [5] n . ( k air T- k brick T)=0 on Г 4 [6] n . (kT)=0 otherwise

where n is the unit vector perpendicular to the boundary surface, k brick (W/K-m) is the thermal conductivity

of the brick wall, k air (W/K-m) is the thermal conductivity of air, k comp (W/K-m) is the thermal conductivity of

PCM and concrete composite structure inside the slab, h forced (W/m

K) is coefficient of forced convection,

h nat (W/m 2° K) is coefficient of natural convection, T amb (K) is the ambient temperature, T air (K) is the

function of temperature along the duct of the hollow core slab, σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann Constant for radiation heat transfer and, ε is the emissivity of concrete.

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Figure 1: Domain of analysis In this study, the PCM application is assumed to be carried

Figure 1: Domain of analysis

In this study, the PCM application is assumed to be carried out by mixing the encapsulated PCM micro- packages into the concrete pore solution during the casting process in the plant at 10% of the total concrete dry weight. Since PCMs are assumed to be homogeneously distributed in the concrete, 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). Equations [7] [9] provide the composite thermal properties of concrete and PCMs as used in the current numerical model:

[7] C comp =(1-PCM ratio )C conc +PCM ratio C pcm

[8] C pcm =

C

  

p

L

ΔT

  C

p

T<T

melt

T<T<T +ΔT

melt

melt

T<T

melt

[9] k comp =(1-PCM ratio )k conc +PCM ratio k pcm

3

where C comp (J/(K-kg) is the specific heat of the PCM and concrete composite material inside the slab, C conc (J/(K-kg) is the specific heat of concrete, C pcm (J/(K-kg) is the specific heat of PCM, L (J/kg) is the latent heat of fusion of PCM, ΔT (K) is the range of temperature at which the PCM experiences phase change, PCM ratio is the mass participation ratio of the PCMs into the hollow core slab domain and, T melt is the onset temperature of PCM melting. The properties of materials that are used in the numerical model, i.e., of concrete, brick and air, are presented in Table 1. The properties of the PCM used in this numerical investigation are presented in Table 2.

Table 1: Properties of the materials used in the numerical investigation

Density,

ρ

kg/m 3

Thermal Conductivity, k W/(K-m) 0.0257 Nu

Specific Heat,

C

p

J/(K-kg)

Material

Air

1.205

1005

Concrete

2300

1.8

840

Brick

375

0.1

900

Table 2: Material properties of the PCM used in the numerical investigation

Specific Heat,

Latent Heat

Melting

Thermal

PCM Type

C

p

J/(K-kg)

of Fusion, L kJ/kg

Temperature

T melt ,K

Conductivity, k

W/K-m

PCM1

1500

134

294.15

0.2

Temperature differentials in the room air domain create different densities and enhance air circultion. In this study, convection of air in the room is defined by magnifying the thermal conductivity of the air by Nusselt Number, Nu, which is a function of the gradient of the field variable, T:

[10] Nu=C 1 Ra C 2

where Ra is the Rayleigh Number, and C 1 and C 2 are constants which are given as 0.479 and 0.171, respectively. 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)L i L c 3 Pr

where Gr is the Grashof Number, Pr is the Prandtl Number, g is the gravitational acceleration constant, β is the coefficient of thermal expansion, υ is the kinematic viscosity, L i is the dimensions of the room air domain in the corresponding direction, and L c is the characteristic length.

3. Numerical Analysis

The numerical investigation presented in this paper is focused on three design parameters: (1) geometry of the hollow core slab, represented as duct diameter, (2) thermal mass of concrete, and (3) the use of PCM. To investigate the effect of slab geometry, the core diameter of the slab is changed while keeping thermal mass of concrete constant, as shown in Table 3. 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, as shown in Table 4. Finally, the thermal mass of the hollow core slab system is modified by applying PCM and the corresponding effects are numerically investigated.

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The ambient temperature is taken from National Climate Data and Information Archive for Ottawa. June extreme daily data and August average data are selected for effect of diameter analysis and for the effect of thermal mass analysis, respectively. The summer season is analyzed to figure out the effect of a PCM having a PCM melting/freezing range at 294.15 K. In June, summer temperature has the highest temperature values and in August, daily temperature fluctuations reach the largest of the summer season. The June extreme temperature data is fluctuating between 293.15 K and 305.15 K, August average temperature is fluctuating between 287.15 K and 301.15 K. The data is then fitted into a sinusoidal function of time. The function brings the ambient temperature to the lowest at 5 AM in the morning. The velocity of the air in the hollow core slab duct is constant at 1 m/s. Air intake section of hollow core slabs are closed when the ambient air temperature is above 294.15 K. Hence, the air is only running in the hollow core slab duct when the ambient is lower than 294.15K. A Heaviside step function is utilized for this purpose. This step function brings the forced convection heat transfer coefficient to zero when there is no air flow inside the duct.

Table 3: Analysis cases for varying slab core diameter

Diameter

Width

Thickness

Core

Area

Thermal

Mass

H forced

mm

mm

mm

mm 2

kJ/°K

W/(m 2° K)

Flat Slab

133

90

0

46.5

0

25

133

94

245

46.5

5.07

50

133

106

981

46.5

6.49

75

133

124

2208

46.5

6.34

100

133

150

3925

46.5

6.07

Table 4: Analysis cases for effect of thermal mass analysis

 

Core

Core

Thermal

Thickness

Width

 

Diameter

Area

Mass

mm

mm

mm

mm 2

kJ/K

150

133

100

3925

46

200

133

100

3925

72

250

133

100

3925

98

300

133

100

3925

123

1000

133

100

3925

482

4. Results and Discussion

4.1. 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. However, effect of diameter change on phase shift is negligible. The peak load reduction increases 77% when a hollow core having a diameter of 100 mm is utilized instead of a flat slab. The increase is 30% for a 25 mm diameter duct, 60% for a 50 mm diameter duct, 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, designing the slab core diameter as large as the local structural requirements permit improves the peak load reduction capacity of the room.

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Table 5: The summary of the core diameter analysis

Max.Temp.in Slab Core Thermal Peak Load Diameter Width the Room Thickness Area Mass Reduction Air mm
Max.Temp.in
Slab
Core
Thermal
Peak Load
Diameter
Width
the Room
Thickness
Area
Mass
Reduction
Air
mm
mm
mm
mm 2
kJ/K
K
K
46.453
Flat Slab
133
90
0
5.99
26.01
46.453
25
133
94
245
7.79
24.21
46.453
50
133
106
981
9.59
22.41
46.453
75
133
124
2208
10.26
21.74
46.453
100
133
150
3925
10.62
21.38
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
0
25
50
75
100
Peak Load Reduction/K

Core Diameter Size/mm

Figure 1: Core diameter size versus peak load reduction

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4.2. 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. As the ambient temperature follows a sinusoidal function, temperature behaviour in the domain is that way also. Though, the peak temperatures reached in higher thermal mass is damped to a lower temperature and shifts to further time of the day. The peak load reduction for 46 kJ/K thermal mass with respect to ambient temperature is 2.1 K and the phase shift is 3.4 hours. The peak load reduction and phase shift values become 3.3 K and 4.5

hours when it is 72 kJ/K, they will become 4.1 K and 5.2 hours when it is 98 kJ/K, 4.7 K and 5.9 hours

when it is 123 kJ/K, and, 6.4 K and 13.3 hours for 482 kJ/K.

However, it is economically and

aesthetically unfeasible to use massive concrete slabs just for thermal efficiency; therefore, PCM utilisation is tested as a possible solution to decrease the slab thickness. This way thermal mass of the

slabs are increased without changing the dimensions of the slab. In Figure 4, a relationship between thermal mass and peak load reduction and phase shift is illustrated.

26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 Thermal Mass 46kJ/K 18 Thermal Mass 72kJ/K Thermal
26
25
24
23
22
21
20
19
Thermal Mass 46kJ/K
18
Thermal Mass 72kJ/K
Thermal Mass 98kJ/K
17
Thermal Mass 123kJ/K
Thermal Mass 482kJ/K
16
0
3
6
9
12
15
18
21
24
Time/hours
Te mp era tu re /K
Pe ak Lo ad Re du ctio n/K
3 6.5 Peak Load Reducti on 4 Phase Shift 6 5 5.5 6 5 7 8
3
6.5
Peak Load Reducti on
4
Phase Shift
6
5
5.5
6
5
7
8
4.5
9
4
10
3.5
11
3
12
2.5
13
14
2
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
Thermal Mass/ (kJ/K)
Ph as e Sh ift/ ho urs

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. However, phase shift increases linearly with the increasing thermal mass. An unrealistically thick slab (1000 mm thick) is analysed to show an extreme case of the effect of thermal mass of slab. The results in Table 7 show that PCM utilisation improves the thermal mass of the hollow core slab substantially. For example, 300 mm thick slab without PCM utilization shows the similar thermal responses with 150 mm thick slab with PCM utilisation.

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Table 6: Summary of thermal mass analysis without PCM use

Diameter

Width

Thickness

Thermal

Mass

Min.Temp

in Room

Peak Load

Reduction

Phase

Shift

mm

mm

mm

kJ/K

K

K

Hours

100

133

150

46

16.07

2.1

3.4

100

133

200

72

17.25

3.3

4.5

100

133

250

98

18.09

4.1

5.2

100

133

300

123

18.67

4.7

5.9

100

133

1000

482

20.36

6.4

13.3

Table 7: Summary of thermal mass analysis with PCM use

Diameter

Width

Thickness

Min.Temp.

in Room

Peak Load

Reduction

Phase

Shift

Effective

Thermal

Mass

mm

mm

mm

K

K

Hours

kJ/K

100

133

150

18.96

4.98

5.2

121

100

133

200

19.63

5.65

5.9

181

100

133

250

19.86

5.88

6.3

217

100

133

300

19.98

6.00

6.6

240

  • 5. Conclusions

In this study, the design-stage parameters that affect the thermal performance of the hollow core slabs are investigated. 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. Increase in the slab core diameter at a given thermal mass is found to increase peak load reduction. Hence, the core diameter of the hollow core slab ducts should be maximized as much as the structural requirements permit. Analyses also reveal that increase in thermal mass yields phase shift and peak load reduction. Since it is unfeasible to provide massive slabs to improve the thermal performance of buildings, PCMs can be utilized effectively to increase the thermal mass of the slab without significantly changing the structure and architecture of the strcutral units.

  • 6. References

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Buildings Energy Data Book. 2009. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Cengel, Y.A. 2002. Heat transfer: a practical approach. McGraw-Hill, N.Y. Corgnati, S.P., and Kindinis, A. 2007. Thermal mass activation by hollow core slab coupled with night ventilation to reduce summer cooling loads. Building and Environment, 42: 3285-3297. Halford, C.K., and Boehm, R.F. 2007. Modeling of phase change material peak load shifting, Energy and Buildings, 39: 298-305. Hawes, D.W., Banu. D., and Feldman D. 1990. Latent heat storage in concrete II, Solar energy Materials, 21: 61-80. Kakac, S., Shah, R.K., and, Aung, W. 1987. Handbook of single-phase convective heat transfer. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd., N.Y. Lewis, R.W., Morgan, K., and, Zienkiewicz, O.C. 1981. Numerical methods in heat transfer. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd., N.Y. New Practice Final Report 106, The Elizabeth Fry Building, University of East Anglia Ð feedback for designers and clients, Best Practice Program, BRESCU,1998. PROBE 14: Elizabeth Fry Building, Building Services Journal (1998) 3-42. Sinha, S.L., Arora, R.C., and, Roy, S. 2000. Numerical simulation of two-dimensional room air flow with and without buoyancy. Energy and Buildings, 32: 121-129. Spiegel, E.A., and Veronis, G. 1959. On the Boussinesq approximation for a compressible fluid, American Astronomical Society, 131: 442-447. Sodha, M.S., Seth A.K., and Kaushik S.C. 1980. Periodic heat transfer through a hollow concrete slab:

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Vallejos, P.A., and, Duston, C. 2005. Carbon foam filled with phase change materials for passive temperature management. In Proceedings of the COMSOL Multiphysic User’s Conference, Boston, MA. Warrington, R.O., and, Powe, R.E. 1984. The transfer of heat by natural convection between bodies and their enclosures. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 28: 319-330. Winwood, R., Benstead, R., and, Edwards, R. 1997. Advanced fabric energy storage II- computational fluid dynamics modeling. Chartered Institutions of Building Services Engineers, 18: 7-16. Zmerenue, and, R., Fazio, P. 1988. Thermal performance of a hollow core concrete floor system for passive cooling. Building and Environment, 23: 243-252

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