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Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

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Simultaneous heat and moisture transfer in soils combined


with building simulation
Gerson H. dos Santos, Nathan Mendes *
Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, PUCPR/CCET, Thermal Systems Laboratory—LST, Rua Imaculada Conceição,
1155 Curitiba, PR 80215-901, Brazil

Received 10 February 2005; received in revised form 25 May 2005; accepted 22 June 2005

Abstract

In order to precisely predict ground heat transfer, room air temperature and humidity, a combined model has been developed and conceived
to calculate both the coupled heat and moisture transfer in soil and floor and the psychrometrics condition of indoor air. The present
methodology for the soil is based on the theory of Philip and De Vries, using variable thermophysical properties for different materials. The
governing equations were discretized using the finite-volume method and a three-dimensional model for describing the physical phenomena
of heat and mass transfer in unsaturated moist porous soils and floor. Additionally, a lumped transient approach for a building room and a
finite-volume multi-layer model for the building envelope have been developed to integrate with the soil model. Results are presented in terms
of temperature, humidity and heat flux at the interface between room air and the floor, showing the importance of the approach presented and
the model robustness for long-term simulations with a high time step.
# 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Coupled heat and moisture transfer; Soil simulation; Building hygrothermal performance

1. Introduction Actually, some studies have been carried out to model the
moisture storage and transport mechanisms and their effects
Since the 1970s, due to the worldwide energy crisis, some on heat transport through walls and roofs of buildings [1–3].
countries have adopted a severe legislation aiming to However, these works present some simplifications on their
promote energy efficiency of equipment and buildings. In calculation routines by not considering the three-dimen-
Brazil, in 2001, a committee to develop regulations for sional aspects of heat and moisture transfer and have not
energy efficiency in buildings, such as national standards focused these effects on highly capillary soils.
and building codes, was created so that rational policies of Some building physics studies involving the pure
energy conservation could be applied all over the country. In conduction heat transfer through the ground can be found
this context, to evaluate the building performance with in the literature. The first experimental study concluded that
thermal parameters, several codes have been developed. the heat loss through the ground is proportional to the size of
However, most of those codes do not take into account the its perimeter. However, Bahnfleth [4] observed that the area
moisture presence within building envelopes. The moisture and shape must be taken into account as well.
in the furniture and envelope of buildings implies an Davies et al. [5], using the finite-volume approach,
additional mechanism of transport absorbing or releasing compared multidimensional models and observed that the
latent heat of vaporization, affecting the hygrothermal use of three-dimensional simulation provides better predic-
building performance or causing mold growth. tion of building temperature and heating loads than two-
dimensional simulation, when these results are compared
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +55 41 3271 1322; fax: +55 41 3271 1349.
with experimental data.
E-mail addresses: gerson.santos@pucpr.br (G.H. dos Santos), Computer programs for transient and steady-state pure
nathan.mendes@pucpr.br (N. Mendes). conduction heat transfer in two and three dimensions have

0378-7788/$ – see front matter # 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2005.06.011
304 G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

Nomenclature qr solar radiation (W/m2)


R universal gas constant (J/(kmol K))
Ai area of the i-th surface (m2) Rlw long-wave radiation (W/m2)
Aj,f area of j-th control volumes of the floor sur- T temperature (8C)
face discretized by using the finite-volume T0 temperature calculated at the previous time
method (m2) step (8C)
c specific heat (J/(kg K)) Ti temperature of each surface of the building
cm mean specific heat (J/(kg K)) envelope (8C)
cw wall specific heat (J/(kg K)) Tint room air temperature (8C)
cair air specific heat (J/(kg K)) Text external air temperature (8C)
DTl liquid phase transport coefficient associated to Ty=H temperature of the ground or floor surfaces
a temperature gradient (m2/(s K)) (8C)
DTv vapor phase transport coefficient associated to Tx=0 temperature on the external surfaces (8C)
a temperature gradient (m2/(s K)) Tx=e temperature on the internal surfaces (8C)
Dul liquid phase transport coefficient associated to Tprev temperature calculated at the previous itera-
a moisture content gradient (m2/s) tion (8C)
Duv vapor phase transport coefficient associated to Tsur temperature of internal surfaces of surround-
a moisture content gradient (m2/s) ing walls (8C)
DT mass transport coefficient associated to a t time (s)
temperature gradient (m2/(s K)) Vair room volume (m3)
Du mass transport coefficient associated to a W0 humidity ratio calculated at the previous time
moisture content gradient (m2/s) step and (kg water/kg dry air)
Ėt energy flow that crosses the room control Wext external humidity ratio (kg water/kg dry air)
surface (W) Wint internal humidity ratio (kg water/kg dry air)
Ėg internal energy generation rate (W) Wv,f the humidity ratio of each control volume (kg
hm mass convection coefficient (m/s) water/kg dry air)
hmf floor mass convection coefficient (m/s) as soil solar absorptivity
hms soil mass convection coefficient (m/s) aw wall solar absorptivity
h convection coefficient (W/(m2 K)) es soil emissivity
hint internal convection heat transfer coefficient ef floor emissivity
between internal surfaces and room air ew wall emissivity
(W/(m2 K)) eroof roof emissivity
hext external convection heat transfer coefficient fv view factor
between external surfaces and external air f relative humidity
(W/(m2 K)) fext external relative humidity
hroof external convection heat transfer coefficient l thermal conductivity (W/(m2 K))
for the rooftop (W/(m2 K)) lf floor (concrete) thermal conductivity
hD the floor mass transfer coefficient (kg/m2 s), (W/(m K))
H depth of the ground (m) ls soil thermal conductivity (W/(m K))
jv vapor flow (kg/(m2 K)) lw wall thermal conductivity (W/(m K))
jl liquid flow (kg/(m2 K)) lroof roof thermal conductivity (W/(m K))
j total flow (kg/(m2 K)) r density (kg/m3)
L latent heat of vaporization (J/kg) r0 solid matrix density (kg/m3)
ṁinf mass flow by infiltration (kg/s) rl water density (kg/m3)
ṁvent mass flow by ventilation (kg/s) pv,1 vapor density in the surrounding air far from
ṁb water vapor flow from the breath of occupants the soil surface (kg/m3)
(kg/s) Pv,y=H vapor density at the upper surface of the soil
ṁger internal water-vapor generation rate (kg/s), domain (kg/m3)
M molecular mass (kg/kmol) rair air density (kg/m3)
m number of surfaces u volume basis moisture content (m3/m3)
n number of control volumes of the floor surface uprev volume basis moisture content calculated at
discretized by using the finite-volume method the previous iteration (m3/m3)
Ps saturated pressure (Pa) s Stefan–Boltzmann constant (W/(m2 K4))
prev previous iteration
G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314 305

been developed by Blomberg [6]. These codes can be used presented a numerical method based on an algorithm that
for analyses of thermal bridge effects, heat transfer through combines an explicit model with relaxation schemes. In this
the corners of a window and heat loss from a house to the model, a criterion for time step determination is developed
ground. However, the moisture presence has been ignored. to improve numerical stability.
Matsumoto et al. [7] described a program for ground For ensuring numerical stability in the present model, the
temperature data generation, using the finite-element linearized set of equations was obtained by using the finite-
method. Latent heat losses by evaporation at the ground volume method and the MultiTriDiagonal-Matrix Algorithm
surface and snow cover on the surface are considered in their [16] to solve a three-dimensional model to describe the
program. physical phenomena of heat and mass transfer in sandy-silt
Krarti [8] discussed the effect of spatial variation of soil and sandy porous soils. In this way, the code has been
thermal properties on slab-on-ground heat transfer by using conceived to be numerically robust with a fast-simulating
the Interzone Temperature Profile Estimation (ITPE) procedure. The heat and moisture transfer in soils was based
technique. on the theory of Philip and De Vries [17], which is one of the
In the works mentioned above, the conductivity and the most disseminated and accepted mathematical formulation
thermal capacity are considered constant and the moisture for studying heat and moisture transfer through porous soils,
effect is ignored. However, the presence of moisture in the considering both vapor diffusion and capillary migration.
ground implies an additional mechanism of transport: in the Janssen et al. [18] elaborated an analysis of heat loss
pores of unsaturated soil, liquid water evaporates at the through a basement and presented as false a generally
warm side, absorbing latent heat of vaporization, while, due accepted postulate in building simulation: the combined heat
to the vapor-pressure gradient, vapor condenses on the and mass transfer in ground can be ignored for the heat flow
coldest side of the pore, releasing latent heat of vaporization calculation through the building foundation. In this context,
[9]. This added or removed latent heat can cause great Onmura et al. [19] investigated the evaporative cooling
discrepancies on the prediction of room air temperature and effect of roofs lawn gardens and observed a reduction of up
relative humidity, when compared to values obtained by pure to 50% on the heat flux through the ceiling.
conduction heat transfer [2]. In soil simulation, some parameters such as the boundary
Moreover, Brink and Hoogendoorn [10] analyzed conditions, initial conditions, simulation time period
groundwater losses due to conduction and natural convec- (including warm-up), simulation time step and grid
tion heat transfer modes and verified that convection heat refinement have to be carefully chosen and combined in
losses are mainly dependent on soil permeability. order to reach accuracy without using excessive computa-
Freitas and Prata [11] elaborated a numerical methodol- tional processing.
ogy for thermal performance analysis of power cables under In this way, it is presented a mathematical model in order to
the presence of moisture migration in the surrounding soil. test the hygrothermal performance of buildings by consider-
They utilized a two-dimensional finite-volume approach to ing the combined three-dimensional heat and moisture
solve the governing equations and the boundary conditions transport through the ground for capillary unsaturated porous
did not take any phase-change effect into account. soils. Heat diffusion through building envelope (walls and
Ogura et al. [12] analyzed the heat and moisture behavior roof) was calculated by using the Fourier’s law. The
in underground space in a two-dimensional model using the importance of considering a three-dimensional approach
quasi-linearized method. The outdoor temperature, relative for the soil domain for low-rise buildings was verified by
humidity, solar radiation and precipitation were investigated Santos and Mendes [20], using a simply conductive model for
as outdoor conditions. ground heat transfer calculation.
Some simplified models can be also found in the The room can be submitted to loads of solar radiation,
literature such as the model utilized by the MOHID program inter-surface long wave radiation, convection, infiltration and
[13]. This code, using the Richards’s equation, is utilized for internal gains from light, equipment and people. A lumped
simulating marine processes, quality processes in reservoirs approach for energy and water vapor balances is used to
and water flow in unsaturated media. calculate the room air temperature and relative humidity.
Combined heat and moisture transfer in soils may require
the use of very short time steps, especially at highly
permeable surfaces, which may prohibit the use of long time 2. Mathematical model
step for long-term simulations. Galbraith [14] noticed the
influence of the spatial discretization on the accuracy of the The physical problem is divided into three domains:
numerical simulation on the heat and mass transport in ground, building envelope (walls and roof) and room air. At
porous media. It was observed that in one-dimensional the external surfaces, the heat transfer due to short wave
discretization, the two-way model, based on the technique of radiation and convection were considered as boundary
control volume, can be used to avoid refined meshes. conditions and the long-wave radiation losses were taken
Due to the numerical instabilities caused by the effect of into account only at horizontal surfaces, i.e., ground and
latent heat at the boundaries, Wang and Hagentoft [15] roof. At the internal surfaces, besides the convection heat
306 G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

transfer, long-wave radiation exchange between the surfaces


was considered and for the ground and floor a combined heat
and mass transfer model was used.

2.1. Soil and floor domain

The governing equations, based on the theory of Philip


and De Vries [17], to model heat and mass transfer through
porous media, are given by Eqs. (1) and (2). The energy
conservation equation is written in the form:
@T Fig. 1. Physical domain for ground and floor.
r0 cm ðT; uÞ ¼ r  ðlðT; uÞrTÞ  LðTÞðr  jv Þ (1)
@t
and the mass conservation equation as:
  Surface 2 (in contact with external air):
@u j
¼ r  ; (2)  
@t rl @T
ls ðT; uÞ þ ðLðTÞ jv Þy¼H
@y y¼H
where r0 is the solid matrix density (m3/kg); cm, the mean
specific heat (J/(kg K)); T, temperature (8C); l, thermal ¼ hs ðText  Ty¼H Þ þ as qr
conductivity (W/(m K)); L, latent heat of vaporization (J/ þ LðTÞhms ðrv;ext  rv;y¼H Þ  es Rlw ; (5)
kg); u, volumetric moisture content (m3/m3); jv, vapor flow
(kg/(m2 K)); j, total flow (kg/(m2 K)); rl is the water density where h(T1  Ty=H) represents the heat exchanged by con-
(kg/m3). vection with the external air, described by the surface
The total three-dimensional vapor flow (j) – given by conductance h, asqr is the absorbed short-wave radiation
summing the vapor flow (jv) and the liquid flow (jl) – can be and LðTÞhm ðrv;1  rv;y¼H Þ, the phase-change energy term.
described as: The long-wave radiation loss is defined as Rlw (W/m2) and e
  is the surface emissivity. The solar absorptivity is repre-
j @T @u sented by a and the mass convection coefficient by hm,
¼  DT ðT; uÞ þ Du ðT; uÞ i
rl @x @x which is related to h by the Lewis’ relation.
 
@T @u Similarly, the mass balance at the upper surface is written
 DT ðT; uÞ þ Du ðT; uÞ j as:
@y @y
   
@T @u @Kg @u @T hmf
 DT ðT; uÞ þ Du ðT; uÞ þ k; (3) Duf ðT; uÞ þ DTf ðT; uÞ ¼ ðr  ry¼H Þ;
@z @z @z @y @y y¼H rl v;int
with DT = DTl + DTv and Du = Dul + Duv, where DTl is the (6)
liquid phase transport coefficient associated to a temperature
gradient (m2/(s K)), DTv, vapor phase transport coefficient for surface 1 (in contact with internal air), and as:
associated to a temperature gradient (m2/(s K)), Dul, liquid  
@u @T hms
phase transport coefficient associated to a moisture content Dus ðT; uÞ þ DTs ðT; uÞ ¼ ðr  ry¼H Þ;
@y @y y¼H rl v;ext
gradient (m2/s), Duv, vapor phase transport coefficient asso-
ciated to a moisture content gradient (m2/s), DT, mass (7)
transport coefficient associated to a temperature gradient
for surface 2 (in contact with external air).
(m2/s K) and Du is the mass transport coefficient associated
The other soil domain surfaces were all considered
to a moisture content gradient (m2/s).
adiabatic and impermeable.
Fig. 1 shows the physical domain. According to Fig. 1,
Eqs. (6) and (7) show a vapor concentration difference,
the boundary conditions, for the most generic case (three-
Drv, on their right-hand side. This difference is between the
dimensional), can be mathematically expressed as:
porous surface and air and is normally determined by using
Surface 1 (in contact with internal air):
the values of previous iterations for temperature and
 
@T moisture content, generating additional numerical instabil-
lf ðT; uÞ þ ðLðTÞ jv Þy¼H ity. Due to the instability created by this source term, the
@y y¼H
solution of the linear set of discretized equations normally
X
m
requires the use of very small time steps, which can be
4 4
¼ hf ðTint  Ty¼H Þ þ fv ef sðTsur  Ty¼H Þ
i¼1 exceedingly time consuming especially in long-term soil
simulations; in some research cases, a time period of several
þ LðTÞhmf ðrv;int  rv;y¼H Þ (4) decades has to be simulated, taking into account the three-
G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314 307

dimensional heat and moisture transfer through a very convection heat transfer. In this way, the external boundary
refined grid. condition (x = 0) can be mathematically expressed as:
In order to raise the simulation time step, Mendes et al.  
[16] presented a procedure to calculate the vapor flow, @T
 lw ¼ hext ðText  Tx¼0 Þ þ aw qr : (10)
independently of previous values of temperature and @x x¼0
moisture content. In this way, the term (Drv) was linearized
as a linear combination of temperature and moisture content, On the internal side (x = L), the inter-surface long-wave
viz., radiation was included as:
  X
m
ðrv;1  rv ðsÞÞ ¼ M1 ðT1  TðsÞÞ þ M2 ðu1  uðsÞÞ þ M3 ; @T 4 4
lw ¼ hint ðTint  Tx¼e Þ þ fv ew sðTsur  Tx¼e Þ:
(8) @x x¼e i1

where (11)
M On the other hand, for the roof, long-wave radiation
M1 ¼ A f;
R losses were considered (Rlw) so that Eq. (10) has assumed
   
M Ps ðsÞ prev @f prev the following form:
M2 ¼ ;
R TðsÞ @uðsÞ  
   @T
M Ps ðsÞ prev  lroof ¼ hroof ðText  Tx¼0 Þ þ aroof qr  eroof Rlw ;
M3 ¼ Rðuprev ðsÞÞþf1 ðRðT1 ÞRðT prev ðsÞÞÞ : @x x¼0
R TðsÞ
(12)
In the equations above, the index(s) represents the surface
on contact with air and (1) where the term eroof represents the roof emissivity at the
 the air far from that surface, R is surface.
a residual function of PTs ; Ps, saturated pressure (Pa); R,
universal gas constant (J/(kmol K)); M, molecular mass (kg/ It has been assumed that surrounding surfaces that face
kmol); f, relative humidity, prev, previous iteration; A is the the building envelope and the building envelope surfaces are
nearly at the same temperature. In this way, the long-wave
straight-line
Ps
 coefficient from the approximation
radiation term was only considered in Eq. (12).
T ¼ AT þ B.
The solar radiation (direct, reflected and diffuse) came
2.2. Building envelope domain from models presented by ASHRAE [21] and are
conveniently projected to each surface considered in both
As the scope of this work is to analyze the coupled three- envelope and soil domains. In this way, the numerical value
dimensional heat and moisture transfer through the ground, a of ‘‘qr’’, shown in Eqs. (1)–(12), is modified according to the
simple one-dimensional conductive heat transfer model was projection of the solar beam at each simulation time step.
considered for the building envelope including walls and
roof (Fig. 2). In this way, the internal surface temperature is 2.3. Internal air domain
calculated by an energy balance equation, in an elemental
control volume, using the Fourier’s law: The present work uses a dynamic model for analysis of
hygrothermal behavior of a room without HVAC system.
@T @2 T Thus, a lumped formulation for both temperature and water
rc ¼l 2: (9)
@t @x vapor is adopted. Eq. (13) describes the energy conservation
equation applied to a control volume that involves the room
On the external side of the room, the walls, roof, doors
air, which is submitted to loads of conduction, convection,
and windows are exposed to solar radiation and to
short-wave solar radiation, inter-surface long-wave radia-
tion and infiltration:

dTint
Ėt þ Ėg ¼ rair cair Vair ; (13)
dt
where Ėt is the energy flow that crosses the room (W), Ėg the
internal energy generation rate (W), rair the air density (kg/
m3), cair the specific heat of air (J/(kg K)), Vair the room
volume (m3) and Tint is the room air temperature (8C).
The term Ėt , on the energy conservation equation,
includes loads associated to the building envelope (sensible
heat) and latent conduction from floor, fenestration
(conduction and solar radiation), and openings (ventilation
Fig. 2. Building envelope schematic representation. and infiltration).
308 G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

The sensible heat released by the building envelope and extremely time consuming. A third method used was the one
floor is calculated as: obtained by the Matlab program, which provides analytical
X
m expressions to be solved in a real simultaneous way.
Qs ðtÞ ¼ hint Ai ½Tx¼e ðtÞ  Tint ðtÞ (14) However, these expressions are time consuming due to their
i¼1 great size, even though they require less iterations due to the
numerical robustness.
for the sensible conduction load and as:
In order to avoid limitations such as the requirement of
X
n
small time steps and high computer run time, it was shown
Qfloor ðtÞ ¼ LðTy¼H ðtÞÞhmf A j;f ½rv;int ðtÞ  rv;f ðtÞ (15) that the use of a semi-analytical method could be a good
j¼1
strategy to solve the differential governing equations for the
for the latent load from floor. room air, as it combines robustness and rapidness, which are
In Eq. (14) Ai represents the area of the i-th surface (m2), important criteria in whole-building simulation programs.
hint the convection heat transfer coefficients (W/(m2 K)), This last method solves analytically each equation (mass and
Tx=e(t) the temperature at the i-th internal surface of the energy balances), but with numerical coupling between each
building (8C) and Tint(t) the room air temperature (8C). In other. In this way, for the proposed problem, Eqs. (13) and
Eq. (15), n is the number of control volumes of the floor (16) can be written as:
surface discretized by using the finite-volume method; L, the dTint
vaporization latent heat (J/kg); hmf, the floor mass A  BTint ¼ rcV (17)
dt
convection coefficient (m/s); Aj,f, the area of j-th control
volumes of the floor surface discretized by using the finite- and
volume method (m2); rv,int, internal water vapor density (kg/ dWint
m3); rv,f the water vapor density of each control volume (kg/ C þ DWint ¼ rV ; (18)
dt
m3). The temperature and vapor density are calculated by the
combined heat and moisture transfer model described in which gives
Section 2.1 by using the values of temperature, moisture B
ercV Dt ðA þ BT0 Þ  A
content and sorption isotherm. Tint ¼ (19)
B
In terms of water vapor mass balance, different
contributions were considered: ventilation, infiltration, and
internal generation, people breath and floor surface. In this D

way, the lumped formulation becomes: erV Dt ðC þ DW0 Þ  C


Wint ¼ ; (20)
D
ðṁinf þ ṁvent ÞðWext  Wint Þ þ ṁb þ ṁger
  where T0 and W0 are the temperature and the humidity ratio
Xn
dWint calculated at the previous time step and
þ hD A j;f Wv;f  Wint ¼ rair Vair ; (16)
j¼1
dt X
m
A¼ hAi Ti þ Ėgs þ Ėgl ðWprev Þ;
where ṁint is the mass flow by infiltration (kg/s); ṁvent , the i¼1
mass flow by ventilation (kg/s); Wext the external humidity X
m

ratio (kg water/kg dry air); Wint, the internal humidity ratio B¼ hAi ;
i¼1
(kg water/kg dry air); ṁb , the water vapor flow from the X
n
breath of occupants (kg/s); ṁger , the internal water-vapor C ¼ ṁinf Wext þ ṁresp ðTprev Þ þ ṁger þ hD A j;f Wv;f and
generation rate (kg/s); hD, the mass transfer coefficient (kg/ ! j¼1
m2 s); Aj,f represents the area of j-th control volumes of the X m

floor surface (m2); Wv,f, the humidity ratio of each control D ¼  ṁinf þ ṁvent þ hD A j;f ;
i¼1
volume (kg water/kg dry air); rair, the air density (kg dry air/
m3); Vair is the room volume (m3). with Ėgs as the sensible energy (infiltration + generation) (W),
The water-vapor mass flow from the people breath is Ėgl , the latent energy (infiltration + generation) (W), Ti, the
calculated as shown in ASHRAE [21], which takes into temperature of each surface of the building envelope (8C).
account the room air temperature, humidity ratio and
physical activity as well.
Santos and Mendes [22] presented and discussed 3. Simulation procedure
different numerical methods used to integrate the differential
governing equations in the air domain (Eqs. (13) and (16)), A C-code was elaborated for the prediction of the
showing the results in terms of accuracy and computer run building hygrothermal performance. For the simulation, a
time. In their analysis, it was shown that the use of explicit 25-m2 single-zone building with two windows (single glass
methods such as Euler and Modified Euler requires layer) and one door, distributed as shown in Fig. 3 was
imperatively very small time steps, making simulations considered. For the conduction load calculation, 0.19-m
G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314 309

Fig. 4. Dimensions of the soil and floor domain used in the simulation.

Fig. 3. Dimensions of the single-zone building studied (units are in meters).


In this work, the properties of soil (sandy silt soil and
sand) strongly affected by temperature and moisture content
thick walls composed of three layers were used: mortar were taken from Oliveira et al. [25]. The basic dry-basis
(2 cm), brick (15 cm) and mortar (2 cm). In those typical material properties are shown in Table 2.
Brazilian walls, the contact resistance between two different In this work, internal generation of both energy and mass
layers was not considered. was not considered and an infiltration rate of 1 L/s was
The differential equations of energy conservation for adopted. The Sun effect (short-wave radiation) on the
each node of the building envelope (walls and roof) were ground was considered on East side until noon, and on West
discretized by using the finite-volume method [23], with a side, from noon until 6:00 p.m. On North side, solar
central difference scheme, a uniform grid and a fully implicit radiation was considered during all day and at no moment on
approach. The solution of the set of algebraic equations was the South side as the building is located in the city of
obtained by using the TriDiagonal-Matrix Algorithm Curitiba (south of Brazil at a latitude of 25.48).
(TDMA). The external climate was represented by Eqs. (21)–(23)
For the building envelope, a one-dimensional model was for temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation,
considered since the temperature gradients are much higher respectively. It was considered a yearly average temperature
on the normal direction. The thermophysical properties of of 20 8C with a daily variation of 5 8C. A yearly variation of
the building envelope materials were gathered from 5 8C was considered for the peak values. For the external
Incropera [24] and considered constant as shown in Table 1. relative humidity, a daily variation between 50 and 70% was
For the presented single-zone building, a 0.35-m concrete considered. A yearly variation on the peak values is not used
floor was considered within the soil domain as it can be seen in this case.
in Fig. 4. The governing partial differential equations were The value for total solar radiation (direct + diffuse) is
discretized by using the control-volume formulation method valid between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., with a peak value at
[23]. The spatial interpolation method used is the control- noon, and, elsewhere, it is equal to zero.
difference scheme (CDS) and the time derivatives are    
integrated using a fully implicit approach. In the three- pt pt
Text ¼ 20 þ 5 sin p þ þ 5 sin p þ
dimensional model for the ground and floor, an amount of 31536000 43200
9261 nodes were used. (21)
The MultiTriDiagonal-Matrix Algorithm (MTDMA;
[16]) was used to solve a three-dimensional model to  
pt
describe the physical phenomena of the strongly coupled fext ¼ 0:60  0:10 sin p þ (22)
43200
heat and mass transfer in porous soils. In this algorithm, the
dependent variables are obtained simultaneously, avoiding    
pt 3p pt
numerical divergence caused by the evaluation of coupled qrad ¼ 300 þ 100 sin p þ sin þ
terms from previous iteration values. 31536000 2 43200
(23)
Table 1
Thermophysical properties [24]
Material l (W/(m K)) r (kg/m3) cp (J/(kg K)) Table 2
Dry-basis properties of soils
Mortar 0.72 1860 780
Brick 0.72 1920 835 Soil r0 (m3/kg) cm (J/(kg K)) Porosity
Wood 0.16 720 1255 Sandy silt 1280 880 0.517
Glass 1.4 2500 750 Sand 1650 800 0.380
310 G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

Fig. 8. Moisture content profiles of the sandy silt soil for different node
numbers.

Fig. 5. Temperature profiles of the sandy silt soil for different time steps. In the sensitivity analysis, the results presented in Figs. 5–
10 were obtained by carrying out simulations for the sandy
silt soil only. In Section 4.4, the comparison results shown
4. Results in Figs. 11–17 were obtained for both sandy silt and sand
soils.
The boundary conditions, the pre-simulation time period In all cases, sinusoidal functions (Eqs. (21)–(23)) have
(warm-up), the size of the physical domain, the simulation been considered to represent the weather. In the soil domain
time step, the grid refinement, the convergence errors and the of the building located in the city of Curitiba-Brazil (south
required computer run time are important simulation latitude of 25.48), a constant convection heat transfer
parameters, which have to be chosen very carefully in coefficient of 10 W/(m2 K), an absorptivity of 0.5 and a
order to accurately predict temperature and moisture content constant long-wave radiation loss of 30 W/m2 were
profiles in soils under different sort of weather data. considered as a boundary condition at the upper surface.

Fig. 6. Moisture content profiles of the sandy silt soil for different time Fig. 9. Temperature profiles in a soil physical domain with a 5-m depth.
steps.

Fig. 7. Temperature profiles of the sandy silt soil for different node Fig. 10. Moisture content profiles in a soil physical domain with a 5-m
numbers. depth.
G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314 311

Fig. 11. Variation of the internal temperature after two years of pre- Fig. 14. Internal temperature after two years of pre-simulation period with
simulation. an infiltration rate of 10 L/s.

Fig. 12. Internal humidity ratio after two years of pre-simulation period. Fig. 15. Internal temperature considering soil and floor as sand.

The other surfaces were considered adiabatic and imperme- 4.1. Time step sensitivity
able.
In the analysis of moisture effects on indoor air (Section For the time step sensitivity analysis, the temperature and
4.4), three different boundary conditions were considered moisture content profiles presented in Figs. 5 and 6 cor-
for the external ground upper surface: (i) solar radiation; (ii) respond to the one obtained on December 31st at 12:00 p.m. of
rain with no solar radiation effect; (iii) rain followed by solar the fifth year of simulation period. In this comparison, time
radiation. For the purely conductive model, rain was not step of 1, 10, 30 and 60 min were considered.
considered. A maximum temperature difference of approximately
0.3 8C on the ground surface was noticed in Fig. 5, by
comparing the different time steps. However, the moisture
content did not present any plausible difference, as it can be

Fig. 13. Heat transfer rate from floor (25 m2) in the simulation period of one
month. Fig. 16. Internal humidity ratio considering soil and floor as sand.
312 G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

and moisture content profiles are mainly attributed to the


high thermal and hygric soil capacities.

4.4. Moisture effects on indoor air

A warm-up period of two years was employed for the


analysis of the moisture effects on the heat and mass transfer
calculation through the floor and ground. In Figs. 11–14, for
the soil a sandy-silt type was considered, which properties
were gathered from Oliveira et al. [25] and for the floor,
properties from mortar [28] were used. Those strongly
moisture-content-dependent properties include specific heat,
density, thermal conductivity and liquid and vapor transport
Fig. 17. Heat transfer rate from floor considering soil and floor as sand in
coefficients associated to temperature and moisture content
the simulation period of one month.
gradients.
Three different boundary conditions were considered for
seen in Fig. 6. The low sensitivity to the time step was due to the external ground upper soil surface: (i) solar radiation; (ii)
the use of a robust numerical method [26]. rain with no solar radiation effect; (iii) rain followed by solar
radiation. For the purely conductive model, rain was not
4.2. Grid size refinement considered.
Convection heat transfer has been taken into account in
In a similar way, in the analysis of sensitivity to the grid all cases. For all external surfaces, a constant convection
size refinement, the values of temperature and moisture heat transfer coefficient of 12 W/(m2 K) was adopted and,
content correspond to the one attained at 12:00 p.m. on for all internal surfaces, 3 W/(m2 K) was considered. A
December 31st of the fifth year of simulation period. The constant long-wave radiation loss of 100 W/m2 was
number of nodes (300, 500 and 1000) was varied on the attributed for the ground and roof as well as an absorptivity
vertical direction only, since this is the direction where the of 0.5 for the ground and 0.3 for other surfaces. In the soil
temperature and moisture content gradients are predomi- domain, the laterals and lower surface were considered
nant, when no solar shading effect is considered. A time step adiabatic and impermeable.
of 10 min was used in this case. In Figs. 11–17, a temperature of 20 8C and a volumetric
Increasing the number of nodes on the gravity direction moisture content of 4% were considered as initial conditions.
axis from 300 to 1000, a maximum temperature difference of Fig. 11 shows the variation of the room air temperature.
1.8 8C (Fig. 7) is noticed. On the other hand, according to the During the simulation period, it was not verified a significant
results presented in Fig. 8, the moisture content profile variation between the purely conductive model and the
showed a highest absolute difference of nearly 0.1 (vol.%) at model that takes moisture transport through the ground and
the soil top surface. floor into account. The decrease of the internal temperature
The simulation performed showed a higher sensitivity to in the rain case is mainly due to the absence of solar radiation
the grid refinement than to the time step, which has to be during the 1-month period for the first case and 3 days, for
carefully done as the required computer run time is much the second case. Therefore, it can be clearly noticeable that
more sensitive to the grid size than to the time step. solar radiation, in this case, is the uppermost thermal load
source considered in the room air energy balance.
4.3. Depth sensitivity A higher difference of approximately 15% on the internal
humidity ratio was verified in Fig. 12, when the purely
Santos and Mendes [27] have presented results compar- conductive model for the ground and floor is considered. It
ing soil domains with different depth, showing that a 5-m was also noticed a low daily variation of humidity ratio when
depth soil domain could provide reasonable results, moisture is not neglected, i.e., a lower buffer effect of
especially near the upper surface. In this way, for the humidity in air occurs when moisture buffer capacity
weather functions presented in Eqs. (21)–(23), the tem- materials are employed.
perature and moisture content distributions vary with time In the case moisture is disregarded, water vapor is only
according to the results presented in Figs. 9 and 10, for a 1-h exchanged by ex- or infiltration. Nevertheless, when
time step and a grid of 4961 nodes. moisture is considered, the vapor flow exchanged with the
It is possible to notice in Figs. 9 and 10 that the floor can be a significant counterpoise on the room air
temperature and moisture content values remain constant, in moisture balance, providing different results in terms of
essence, at the upper surface. A very slow evolution room air relative humidity.
especially in the moisture content distribution was In this context, some research [29,30] has also been
remarked. The time evolution differences in the temperature conducted to aware about the importance of indoor relative
G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314 313

humidity, which significantly affects: (i) thermal and 5. Conclusion


respiratory comfort; (ii) perception of indoor air quality;
(iii) occupant health; (iv) durability of building materials (v) Building simulation codes present some simplifications
energy consumption. For example, there will be twice as on their calculation routines of heat transfer through the
many occupants dissatisfied with the indoor comfort ground. Regarding the ground heat transfer some aspects
conditions at 24 8C and 70% relative humidity than at should be clarified: the multidimensional phenomenon; the
24 8C and 40% [30]. At the same time, the occupants will transient behavior; the great number of involved parameters,
perceive the indoor air quality (IAQ) to be better at lower mainly when moisture is considered.
humidity (in fact enthalpy) and recent research results show A review in the literature showed divergences about
that ventilation rates could be decreased notably by moisture effects on the ground heat transfer. In addition,
maintaining a moderate enthalpy in spaces. Humidity also most of programs do not consider the three-dimensional
influences the growth of dust mites and fungi and the asymmetrical effect in the soil.
occurrence of respiratory infections, with values between 30 In this way, some comparison exercises were carried out
and 55% relative humidity recommended [30]. to show how important moisture in soils can be in different
In addition, Salonvaara and Ojanen [31] showed also that scenarios, taking into account a coupled three-dimensional
materials with hygroscopic capacity have the ability to heat and moisture transfer model integrated to a single-zone
improve the performance of building envelope structures building model.
even to such level that condensation and mold growth Simulations carried out for sensitivity analyses of time step
conditions are eliminated. and grid size shown the importance of refinement at the upper
Furthermore, there is a need to improve the indoor air surface, which is in contact with air. On the other hand, the
relative humidity prediction by incorporating accurate results were not so sensitive to time step, allowing the
moisture models in building thermal simulation programs adoption of high values of time step with no loss of accuracy
[32]. The realization of this need led to formation of an thanks to the robust algorithm and to the linearization of vapor
International Research Project, in the framework of the concentration difference at soil top surface.
International Energy agency, which started in late 2003 and We also noticed the importance of a pre-simulation
comprising as many as 19 countries [30]. period of several years for the correct estimation of
In Fig. 13, the heat exchanged with the floor can be temperature and moisture content profiles. As computer
observed for the same three scenarios presented for the run time plays an important role in long-term soil
relative humidity results (Fig. 12). The absence of solar simulations, a depth of 5 m was suggested whereas the
radiation during the rain period, causes the decrease of the main temperature and moisture content gradients are close to
internal temperature of the building, increasing the heat flux the upper surface, affecting somewhat the thermal behavior
from the floor. In this case, difference of up to 100% was of low-rise buildings.
observed in Fig. 13, for the heat flux between the model that Concerning the moisture effects on indoor air analysis, it
does not consider moisture and the one that considers is showed a very slight difference in terms of room air
moisture with boundary condition of rain. temperature between the purely conductive model for the
Fig. 14 shows the evolution of room air temperature when ground and the moisture model, due to the importance of
an infiltration rate of 10 L/s is applied. In this case, a solar gains compared to ground heat transfer in the room
maximum difference of 0.5 8C was verified between the energy balance and due to the different time scales between
peak values, attributed to the increase of vapor concentration room air and soil. However, a significant difference of 15%
difference between internal air and floor surface, caused by was noticed on the room air humidity ratio, even for the high
an increase of the infiltration flow. infiltration rate case. Therefore, higher energy consumption
In Figs. 15–17, a sand floor was considered in order to could be expected when an air conditioning system is used
observe a higher evaporation rate potential. In this case, the due to the augmentation of building latent loads.
effect of solar radiation was also ignored and an infiltration Besides the energy related aspects, moisture models shall
rate of 20 L/s was adopted. be incorporated to building simulation codes due to other
Fig. 15 shows a small difference between the temperature indoor relative humidity effects such as perception of indoor
peaks for the two models. air quality, occupant’s health and durability of building
Fig. 16 illustrates a difference of 10% on the internal materials.
humidity ratio for the two first days of simulation. Although Regarding the heat flux through building floor, it was
the values of heat transfer rate does not present a significant noted a small thermal load contribution in both models.
variation on the internal temperature, it is observed, in However, the absence of solar radiation during the rain
Fig. 17, a great difference of up to 110% between the results. period caused a room temperature reduction, occasioning an
In this way, the heat transfer rate at the floor surface can increase of ground heat transfer of approximately 100%.
be very important on the calculation of sensible heat factor In order to increase the evaporative flux, the floor surface
for the building, depending on the direction of the latent and was considered composed uniquely of sand. In this case, no
sensible heat flux exchanged with the floor. significant variations on the room temperature values were
314 G.H. dos Santos, N. Mendes / Energy and Buildings 38 (2006) 303–314

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