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Development of a Transient Heat and Mass Transfer Model of Residential Attics to Predict Energy Savings Produced by the Use of Radiant Barriers
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A transient heat and mass transfer model was developed to predict ceiling heat gain/loss through the attic space in residences and to accurately estimate savings in cooling and heating loads produced by the use of radiant barriers. The model accounted for transient conduction, convection and radiation and incorporated moisture and air transport across the attic. Environmental variables such as solar loads on outer attic surfaces and sky temperatures were also estimated. The model was driven by hourly weather data which included: time, outdoor air temperature, horizontal sun and sky radiation, wind speed and direction, relative humidity (dew point), and cloud cover data. The outputs of the model were ceiling heat fluxes, inner and outer heat fluxes from all surfaces, inner and outer surface temperatures and attic air temperatures. Transient conduction was modeled using response factors. Response factors were calculated for each attic component based on construction type. Convective heat transfer was modeled using “flat plate” correlations found in the literature and radiative heat transfer was modeled using radiation enclosure theory. Moisture was incorporated via a condensation/evaporation model. A new procedure was developed to account for attic air stratification. Both forced and natural attic ventilation patterns were added to the model for three types of louver combination arrangements. An iterative technique was used to solve a set of simultaneous heat balance equations. The model predictions were compared to experimental data gathered throughout a three year experimental effort of side-by-side testing of attics retrofit with radiant barriers. The model was compared to the experimental data for a variety of situations which included: different attic insulation levels, various attic airflow rates, cooling and heating seasons, and different radiant barrier orientations. The model predicted ceiling heat flows within 10% for most cases. The model was used to run simulations and parametric studies under a diversity of climates, insulation levels and attic airflow patterns. Model predictions and results were presented on the basis of savings produced by the use of radiant barriers. Hourly, daily, and seasonal predictions by the model were in excellent agreement with observed experimental data and with literature.
Medina, M. A. (1992). Development of a Transient Heat and Mass Transfer Model of Residential Attics to Predict Energy Savings Produced by the Use of Radiant Barriers. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from