This article describes a novel application of thermal anisotropy for improving the energy efficiency of building envelopes. The current work was inspired by existing research on improved heat dissipation in electronics using thermal anisotropy. Past work has shown that thermally anisotropic composites (TACs) can be created by the alternate layering of two dissimilar, isotropic materials. Here, a TAC consisting of alternate layers of rigid foam insulation and thin, high-conductivity aluminum foil was investigated. The TAC was coupled with copper tubes with circulating water that acted as a heat sink and source. The TAC system was applied to a conventional wood-framed wall assembly, and the energy benefits were investigated experimentally and numerically. For experimental testing, large scale test wall specimens were built with and without the TAC system and tested in an environmental chamber under simulated diurnal hot and cold weather conditions. Component-level and whole building numerical simulations were performed to investigate the energy benefits of applying the TAC system to the external walls of a typical, single-family residential building.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited