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.
|Number of pages
|Building Services Engineering Research and Technology
|Early online date
|4 Jul 2012
|Published - Nov 2013