A method for establishing a hygrothermally controlled test room for measuring the water vapor resistivity characteristics of construction materials
Olaoye, TS and Dewsbury, M and Kunzel, H, A method for establishing a hygrothermally controlled test room for measuring the water vapor resistivity characteristics of construction materials, Energies, 14, (4) pp. 1-19. ISSN 1996-1073 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Hygrothermal assessment is essential to the production of healthy and energy efficient buildings. This has given rise to the demand for the development of a hygrothermal laboratory, as input data to hygrothermal modeling tools can only be sourced and validated through appropriate empirical measurements in a laboratory. These data are then used to quantify a building’s dynamic characteristic moisture transport vis-a-vis a much more comprehensive energy performance analysis through simulation. This paper discusses the methods used to establish Australia’s first hygrothermal laboratory for testing the water vapor resistivity properties of construction materials. The approach included establishing a climatically controlled hygrothermal test room with an automatic integrated system which controls heating, cooling, humidifying, and de-humidifying as required. The data acquisition for this hygrothermal test room operates with the installation of environmental sensors connected to specific and responsive programming codes. The room was successfully controlled to deliver a relative humidity of 50% with ±1%RH deviation and at 23 °C temperature with ±1 °C fluctuation during the testing of the water vapor diffusion properties of a pliable membrane common in Australian residential construction. To validate the potential of this testing facility, an independent measurement was also conducted at the Fraunhofer Institute of Building Physics laboratory (IBP) Holzkirchen, Germany for the diffusion properties of the same pliable membrane. The inter-laboratory testing results were subjected to statistical analysis of variance, this indicates that there is no significant difference between the result obtained in both laboratories. In conclusion, this paper demonstrates that a low-cost hygrothermally controlled test room can successfully replace the more expensive climatic chamber.
water vapor resistivity, hygrothermal modeling, condensation, mold, hygrothermal properties, energy efficiency, moisture transport, inter-laboratory testing