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.
Keywords: thermal mass; passive solar heating; thermal conductivity; thermal diffusivity; Trombe wall; water wall; sunspace; adobe; granite; mirabilite
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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.
Rempel AR, Rempel AW. Rocks, Clays, Water, and Salts: Highly Durable, Infinitely Rechargeable, Eminently Controllable Thermal Batteries for Buildings. Geosciences. 2013; 3(1):63-101.
Rempel, Alexandra R.; Rempel, Alan W. 2013. "Rocks, Clays, Water, and Salts: Highly Durable, Infinitely Rechargeable, Eminently Controllable Thermal Batteries for Buildings." Geosciences 3, no. 1: 63-101.