Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

Numerical and experimental study of conjugate heat transfer in a horizontal air cavity


horizontal air cavity, conjugate heat transfer, Rayleigh–Bénard convection, numerical models, insulation fibreboard, reflective foil


The demand for general reduction of the energy consumption in civil engineering leads to more frequent use of insulating materials with air gaps or cavities. Heat transfer through a constructional part can be decreased by adding an air gap and low emissivity reflective foils to the structure. In the first part of this paper, the impacts of cavity thickness and inner surface emissivity on combined conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer was experimentally explored in the case of constructional part with a horizontal cavity subjected to constant downward heat flux. The heat flow meter Netzsch HFM 436 Lambda was used for steady-state measurements. Results suggest that the studied parameters seriously affect the combined heat transfer in the composed structure. In the second part the paper reports the numerical study of two-dimensional conjugate heat transfer in closed horizontal cavity having air as the intervening medium. Numerical models validated by related experimental results were performed to further investigate the effect of radiation heat transfer. It was found that in general, the total heat flux through the composed structure decreases with increasing air cavity thickness, which is significant especially when low emissivity inner surfaces are taking into account. The direction of heat flow (downward or upward heat flow) has a significant impact on the convection heat transfer. An important contribution from the present work is the analysis of the optimal thickness of the cavity at different boundary conditions. The optimal thickness of the enclosure with low emissivity surfaces is 16 mm when subjected to upward heat flux.


Tsinghua University Press