Sophisticated Experiment (Thermal Conductivity of Housing Materials)

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Hi everyone, I am currently a third year University Student in the UK and I'm in the midst of doing my dissertation.

My dissertation topic (Effective methods of decreasing the thermal Conductivity of Housing Materials) requires that I produce several experiments to test and analyse a certain range of housing Materials. However, my dissertation supervisor stated that if these experiments can be done by a high-schooler then they are not sophisticated enough to achieve a decent mark.

So what I'm asking is if you guys have any ideas on what experiments I could employ to accurately test the level of conductivity/insulation for a variety of materials used for housing structures and building envelopes. Also, experiments which may test other factors with regards to housing structures (such as susceptibility to water damage, durability and resistance to other environmental phenomena and disasters).
 

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  • #2
anorlunda
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:welcome:

Who are the testing laboratories in the UK that certify insulation materials for their "R rating"? I would contact them and ask if you can visit them as a field trip and talk to their engineers about testing methods. It would be a highly educational field trip. Your dissertation supervisor may be able to assist setting it up.
 
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:welcome:

Who are the testing laboratories in the UK that certify insulation materials for their "R rating"? I would contact them and ask if you can visit them as a field trip and talk to their engineers about testing methods. It would be a highly educational field trip. Your dissertation supervisor may be able to assist setting it up.
Thank you for the great advice, I've already booked two appointments with two architectural engineering firms. I hope the visits will be quite illuminating. I decided to post on here just to expand my options in terms of potential experiments I could pursue, I was hoping someone on these boards would have experience with this type of research.
 
  • #4
jrmichler
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You could investigate the actual performance of a real building, and compare to the theoretical performance based on the material properties. You would need to compare how the materials are tested in the testing laboratory vs how they are supposed to be used in a building vs how they are actually used.

Some things to look into:
1) Do the test conditions accurately model how the materials are really used?
2) Does the actual performance of the finished building match the calculated performance? Why or why not?

You may find useful information from the people that are real serious about energy efficiency of buildings. Start by searching passive house, passivehaus, and pretty good house. The experiment(s) would be analyzing the energy consumption of some recently built buildings for which you have good information on the insulation systems.
 
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  • #5
berkeman
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Welcome to the PF. :smile:
My dissertation topic (Effective methods of decreasing the thermal Conductivity of Housing Materials) requires that I produce several experiments to test and analyse a certain range of housing Materials. However, my dissertation supervisor stated that if these experiments can be done by a high-schooler then they are not sophisticated enough to achieve a decent mark.
In addition to the great responses so far, I would suggest that you can get some of the extra credit implied by your advisor by looking into sick building syndrome and similar issues. You can seal up a building really tightly to hold in the heat, but if you aren't careful, you reduce airflow too much and cause health-related issues for the occupants. So an efficient building design involves great insulation and carefully designed HVAC systems that keep the heat in but still keep fresh air flowing...

Also paging another one of our experts in this field @russ_watters for more input and hints... :smile:
 
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  • #6
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Welcome to the PF. :smile:

In addition to the great responses so far, I would suggest that you can get some of the extra credit implied by your advisor by looking into sick building syndrom and similar issues. You can seal up a building really tightly to hold in the heat, but if you aren't careful, you reduce airflow too much and cause health-related issues for the occupants. So an efficient building design involves great insulation and carefully designed HVAC systems that keep the heat in but still keep fresh air flowing...

Also paging another one of our experts in this field @russ_watters for more input and hints... :smile:

Thank you so much for your elucidating input, I hadn't even considered the negative effects of excessive sealing.
 
  • #7
5
4
You could investigate the actual performance of a real building, and compare to the theoretical performance based on the material properties. You would need to compare how the materials are tested in the testing laboratory vs how they are supposed to be used in a building vs how they are actually used.

Some things to look into:
1) Do the test conditions accurately model how the materials are really used?
2) Does the actual performance of the finished building match the calculated performance? Why or why not?

You may find useful information from the people that are real serious about energy efficiency of buildings. Start by searching passive house, passivehaus, and pretty good house. The experiment(s) would be analyzing the energy consumption of some recently built buildings for which you have good information on the insulation systems.

This advice is golden, thank you so much. Your suggested research into these various energy standards has yielded incredibly useful information for me.
 
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  • #8
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Hi everyone, I am currently a third year University Student in the UK and I'm in the midst of doing my dissertation.

My dissertation topic (Effective methods of decreasing the thermal Conductivity of Housing Materials) requires that I produce several experiments to test and analyse a certain range of housing Materials. However, my dissertation supervisor stated that if these experiments can be done by a high-schooler then they are not sophisticated enough to achieve a decent mark.

So what I'm asking is if you guys have any ideas on what experiments I could employ to accurately test the level of conductivity/insulation for a variety of materials used for housing structures and building envelopes. Also, experiments which may test other factors with regards to housing structures (such as susceptibility to water damage, durability and resistance to other environmental phenomena and disasters).

I'm not sure how much sophistication is required, but unfortunately measuring thermal conductivity is a fairly simple experiment, I wouldn't even call it that, its not experimental, its well defined and done quite often.

Apply a known heatflux and measure resulting temperature difference.

However your thesis is on how to reduce thermal conductivity, not how to measure thermal conductivity, so I would have thought the measurement part is no different than using a ruler to measure a distance, ie not the critical part of the thesis, whats important is that the measurement system is capable and repeatable then the bulk of it would be the how and why on changes you can make to improve the performance of the materials.
 

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