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Geosciences 2013, 3(1), 63-101; doi:10.3390/geosciences3010063

Rocks, Clays, Water, and Salts: Highly Durable, Infinitely Rechargeable, Eminently Controllable Thermal Batteries for Buildings

1
Environmental Studies Program, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-5223, USA
2
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1272, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 December 2012 / Revised: 13 January 2013 / Accepted: 15 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
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Abstract

Materials that store the energy of warm days, to return that heat during cool nights, have been fundamental to vernacular building since ancient times. Although building with thermally rechargeable materials became a niche pursuit with the advent of fossil fuel-based heating and cooling, energy and climate change concerns have sparked new enthusiasm for these substances of high heat capacity and moderate thermal conductivity: stone, adobe, rammed earth, brick, water, concrete, and more recently, phase-change materials. While broadly similar, these substances absorb and release heat in unique patterns characteristic of their mineralogies, densities, fluidities, emissivities, and latent heats of fusion. Current architectural practice, however, shows little awareness of these differences and the resulting potential to match materials to desired thermal performance. This investigation explores that potential, illustrating the correspondence between physical parameters and thermal storage-and-release patterns in direct-, indirect-, and isolated-gain passive solar configurations. Focusing on heating applications, results demonstrate the superiority of water walls for daytime warmth, the tunability of granite and concrete for evening warmth, and the exceptional ability of phase-change materials to sustain near-constant heat delivery throughout the night. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermal mass; passive solar heating; thermal conductivity; thermal diffusivity; Trombe wall; water wall; sunspace; adobe; granite; mirabilite thermal mass; passive solar heating; thermal conductivity; thermal diffusivity; Trombe wall; water wall; sunspace; adobe; granite; mirabilite
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rempel, A.R.; Rempel, A.W. Rocks, Clays, Water, and Salts: Highly Durable, Infinitely Rechargeable, Eminently Controllable Thermal Batteries for Buildings. Geosciences 2013, 3, 63-101.

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