Congratulations for BDRG’s first completed graduate research thesis

Congratulations to Denon Sheppard, who today successfully defended his graduate thesis, titled, “Integrating Membrane-Assisted Radiant Cooling Panels in Building Energy Simulation”

The world is in critical need of technologies that will make a significant and immediate impact in our fight against climate change. As global tempera- tures rise, heating demand in buildings could drop by 34% by 2100, however cooling demands could rise by 72%, meaning that the development of en- ergy efficient space cooling technologies is becoming increasingly important. Radiant cooling panels have shown a lot of potential as an energy efficient method of supplying space cooling. However, they need to operate along- side dehumidification in many environments so that air moisture does not condense on their chilled surfaces.

This thesis focuses on the development of the membrane assisted radiant cooling panel, a technology used to provide energy-efficient space cooling in hot and humid climates without the need for mechanical dehumidification. A heat balance model is developed that estimates the operational membrane temperature and cooling capacity of a membrane assisted panel. The model is then calibrated using data collected from a field experiment in Singapore. Additionally, a framework is developed that allows the heat transfer model to operate within a TRNSYS environment. This allows for the energy sim- ulation of buildings that utilize membrane assisted panels for sensible space cooling. The framework is then used to predict the potential energy savings that could be obtained by implementing this technology in both Singapore and Vancouver.

The calibrated heat transfer model is able to predict membrane tem- peratures with a sufficient degree of accuracy. However, concerns regarding the coefficients used do model natural convection, along with the data used for calibration, need to be addressed before the model can be applied to different panel geometries. While some aspects of the TRNSYS framework need to be further developed, it was found through simulation that mem- brane assisted radiant cooling can provide significant energy savings in both tropical and temperate climates.

The framework developed in this study will bring membrane assisted radiant cooling closer to widespread implementation, as modelers will be able to optimize the design of a radiant system before its construction in a building.

Sheppard, D., (accepted). Integrating Membrane-Assisted Radiant Cooling Panels in Building Energy Simulation. MASc Thesis, University of British Columbia