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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) Article 14010004. ISSN 1996-1073 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

DOI: doi:10.3390/en14010004


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:water vapor resistivity, hygrothermal modeling, condensation, mold, hygrothermal properties, energy efficiency, moisture transport, inter-laboratory testing
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural science and technology
Objective Division:Construction
Objective Group:Building management and services
Objective Field:Residential building management and services
UTAS Author:Olaoye, TS (Mr Toba Olaoye)
UTAS Author:Dewsbury, M (Dr Mark Dewsbury)
ID Code:142200
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2020-12-22
Last Modified:2021-11-16
Downloads:21 View Download Statistics

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