Evaluation of the thermal performance of an innovative prefabricated natural plant fibre building system

Andrew D Shea, Katharine Wall, Pete Walker

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Abstract

Energy efficient new and retrofit building construction relies heavily on the use of thermal insulation. A focus on the environmental performance of current construction materials with regards to both embodied energy and energy in-use has resulted in a growing interest in the use of natural fibre insulation materials. The results of heat flow meter thermal conductivity tests on a range of straw samples of different densities are presented. The innovative use of straw in the development of a prefabricated straw-bale panel and the results of guarded hot-box testing are presented. In common with most building materials, there is a degree of uncertainty in the thermal conductivity due to the influences of temperature, moisture content and density; however, from evaluation of a range of the literature and experimental data, a value of 0.064W/mK is proposed as a representative design value for straw bales at the densities used in building construction. Computer simulation and experimental testing suggest that the overall heat transfer coefficient (U-value) for the complete prefabricated panel is approximately 0.178W/m2K. This article also briefly discusses the use of this innovative unit in a highly instrumented test building constructed at the University of Bath.
LanguageEnglish
Pages369-380
Number of pages22
JournalBuilding Services Engineering Research and Technology
Volume34
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jul 2012
DOIs
StatusPublished - Nov 2013

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Straw
Fibers
Thermal conductivity
Natural fibers
Thermal insulation
Testing
Moisture
Heat transfer
Computer simulation
Hot Temperature
Temperature

Cite this

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abstract = "Energy efficient new and retrofit building construction relies heavily on the use of thermal insulation. A focus on the environmental performance of current construction materials with regards to both embodied energy and energy in-use has resulted in a growing interest in the use of natural fibre insulation materials. The results of heat flow meter thermal conductivity tests on a range of straw samples of different densities are presented. The innovative use of straw in the development of a prefabricated straw-bale panel and the results of guarded hot-box testing are presented. In common with most building materials, there is a degree of uncertainty in the thermal conductivity due to the influences of temperature, moisture content and density; however, from evaluation of a range of the literature and experimental data, a value of 0.064W/mK is proposed as a representative design value for straw bales at the densities used in building construction. Computer simulation and experimental testing suggest that the overall heat transfer coefficient (U-value) for the complete prefabricated panel is approximately 0.178W/m2K. This article also briefly discusses the use of this innovative unit in a highly instrumented test building constructed at the University of Bath.",
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