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Title: Novel retrofit technologies incorporating silica aerogel for lower energy buildings
Authors: Dowson, Mark
Advisors: Harrison, DJ
Keywords: Dwellings;Insulation;Life cycle assessment;Refurbishment;Solar heating
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University School of Engineering and Design Theses
Abstract: The aim of this Engineering Doctorate is to design, build and test novel environmental retrofit technologies to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings. Three contributions to knowledge are documented. The first contribution is the technical verification of a novel proof-of-principle prototype incorporating translucent silica aerogel granules to improve the thermal performance of existing windows without blocking out all of the useful natural light. The study demonstrates that a 10 mm thick prototype panel can reduce heat loss by 80 %, without detrimental reductions in light transmission. Payback periods of 3.5-9.5 years are predicted if applied as openable shutters or removable secondary glazing. The second contribution is a streamlined life cycle assessment of silica aerogel following the ISO 14000 standards. The study assesses the raw materials and electricity use associated with two of the three known methods of aerogel production. Despite being produced in a laboratory that had not been refined for mass manufacture, the production energy and CO2 burden from aerogel production can be recovered within 0-2 years when applied in a glazing application. The third contribution is the development and verification of a novel solar air heater incorporating granular aerogel, retrofitted to an external south facing wall, preheating the air in a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery on a hard-to-treat domestic property. During the 7-day in-situ test, peak outlet temperatures up to 45 °C were observed and validated to within 5 % of predictions, preheating the dwelling’s fresh air supply up to 30 °C, facilitating internal temperatures of 21-22 °C without auxiliary heating. The predicted financial and CO2 payback for a range of cover thicknesses is 7-13 years and 0-1 years, respectively. Efficiency up to 60 % and a financial payback of 4.5 years is predicted with an optimised design incorporating a 10 mm thick granular aerogel cover.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Engineering and was awarded by Brunel University.
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Dept of Design Theses

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