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Proceedings of BS2015:

14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.



Maxime Perier-Muzet1, Boualem Sid1, Timea Bjat2; Monika Woloszyn1*,

Yannick-Ariel Kdowid1; Catherine Buh1; Etienne Wurtz2,
LOCIE, CNRS UMR 5271 Universit Savoie Mont Blanc, Polytech Annecy- Chambry,
Le Bourget du Lac, France.
CEA, LITEN, Laboratoire d'Energtique du Btiment, INES, Le Bourget Du Lac, France.
Corresponding author:

the frame of an important national project, called

ABSTRACT Hygro-bat.
Moisture transfer has an impact on the energy
performance and on the durability of the building MODEL DESCRIPTION
walls. The objective of this study is to assess these Governing equations and main assumptions
impacts on a light wall mainly composed of wooden
The model developed to describe the coupled heat
materials. To perform this study a coupled heat and
and mass transfers that take place inside walls is
moisture transfer model has been used and a
based on two governing equations, the energy and the
simulation tool has been developed. Yearly
mass balances. The mass transfers in a building wall
simulations have been carried out for the outdoor
can be due to transfer across the wall material of
climate of north-east of France considering different
liquid water, water vapour or air. The heat transfers
occupancy scenario for the indoors. The thermal flux
are due to the conduction and to the enthalpy flows
exchanged between the wall and the indoor air has
associated to the mass transfers. The model
been calculated by several ways (pure thermal
developed for this study does not take into account
simulation, sensible heat, total heat) and a
the air transfer. Moreover, the gases are considered
comparison of these fluxes has been performed.
as perfect.
INTRODUCTION With those assumptions, the mass balance of a wall
Moisture transfer has an impact on the energy element can be expressed by:
performance and on the durability of building walls. d w'
However usual evaluation of building envelope div( g v gl ) (1)
performances is done using only thermal dt
measurements and calculations, neglecting possible Where w' (kg.m-3) is the bulk density of the water
impacts of mass transfers. On the other hand,
advanced modeling of heat-air-moisture (HAM) (liquid and vapour), gv (kg.m-2.s-1) is the mass vapour
transfer in porous building materials has been largely diffusion flux and gl (kg.m-2.s-1) is the mass liquid
developed and successfully used in the assessment of diffusion flux.
wall durability, moisture buffering capacity of walls The driving potential used to govern the mass
as well as in the detailed studies of wall assemblies diffusion fluxes are: the partial vapour pressure (Pv)
(see for example Janssen et al., 2007, Derome and for the vapour flux and the capillary pressure (Pc) for
Carmeliet, 2012, Labat et al. 2015, Rouchier et al, the liquid flux. The capacity of the material to absorb
2014). One of the still pending questions is: is it or desorb water is taken into account considering the
necessary to use coupled HAM models to evaluate sorption isotherm. Mass of vapour phase is neglected,
the contribution of walls to building performance?. therefore it has been considered that the sorption
The main objective of this paper is to evaluate the isotherms give directly the water absorbed (in liquid
impact of moisture transfer on energy performance of phase) by the material.
a specific highly hygroscopic wall. Yearly Considering these definitions and by neglecting the
simulations are performed for different indoor gravity effect the equation (1) can be transformed as:
conditions and energy flows exchanges between the
indoor air and the wall are discussed as an indicator d l'
div v grad Pv kl grad Pc (2)
of the energy performance. The durability of the wall dt
is discussed by the analysis of relative humidity and Where l (kg.m-3) is the bulk density of the liquid
temperature distribution in the wall and by water, v (s) is the water vapour permeability and kl
comparing them to the conditions of spore (s) is the liquid water permeability.
germination. In order to get confidence in the Based on the assumptions previously introduced the
presented results, the model used in this study is first heat balance of a wall element gives:
described and validated. This study was done within

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

dU used in building simulations (Wetter et al. 2014). The

div q g v hv g l hl (3) spatial discretisation of the equations has been done
with the finite volume method and the time
Where U (J) is the internal energy, q (W) is the integration is performed with the Dassl algorithm
thermal conduction flux; hv and hl ( are implemented in DYMOLA. This software in based
respectively the enthalpy of the vapour and of the on the object-oriented Modelica language. This
liquid water. approach allows simulation of complex wall
Assuming that the specific heat of the material (Cm, (composed by several material) and easy changes of, the specific heat of the liquid water (Cl) the wall configuration. The main inlet parameters of
and the enthalpy of evaporation of the water (hlv) are the simulation tool are the internal and external
constant, the equation 3 can be developed as follow: conditions (temperature, relative humidity and solar
d radiation), the geometrical (thickness) and the
mCmT l' Cl T v' Cl T hlv material properties of the wall layers (thermal
dt (4)
conductivity, mass heat capacity, vapour diffusion
div m grad T g v Cl T hlv gl Cl T

resistance factor, sorption isotherm ). From these
Where T (C) is the temperature and m (W.m-1.K-1) data, the simulation tool calculates the temperature
is the thermal conductivity of the wall material. field and humidity in the wall and the mass and heat
flows exchanged within the wall and the
Boundary conditions environments.
The internal and external surface of the wall In order to validate this simulation tool, simulations
exchange heat and mass with their environment. been performed considering the wall configuration
These surfaces exchange heat by natural and forced and the operating conditions of an experimental setup
(in case of wind) convection and by infrared developed by a project partner. The experimental
radiation. In order to simplify the model a global heat bench is described in Rafidiarison et al. (2015). The
exchange coefficient (tot) is used to describe the studied wall is a timber-frame wall insulated by
convective and radiative heat transfer at the wall wood fibre, protected at the external surface by a
surfaces. The wall may also absorb solar irradiance. mineral coating. The simulation results (Fig 1 and 2)
Considering the convention defined in the following show a good agreement with the experimental
section, the mass outflow across the internal surface measurement in description of both temperatures and
(gint) can be expressed as follow: relative humidity behaviour.

g int int Pvint Pvsurf int (5)

Where Pvint and Pvsurf int (Pa) are respectively the

partial vapour pressure in the indoor air and at the
internal surface,int (kg.m-2.Pa-1.s-1) is the mass
transfer coefficient at the internal surface. The latter
is calculated from the global heat exchange
coefficient and the Chilton-Colburn equation.
The heat flow across the internal surface (qint) is
calculated by:
Figure 1. Temperature in the middle of the wall
q int tot
T int T surf int g int hv (6)

The liquid transfer (rain adsorption) is not taken into

account in this model. The mass outflow across the
external surface is thus calculated as the internal one:

g ext ext Pvext Pvsurf ext (5)

The heat flow across the external surface (qext) is

calculated by:
q ext tot

T ext T surf ext g ext hv I (6)

Where (-) is the wall absorptivity (in the solar Figure 2. Relative humidity in the middle of the wall
spectral band) and I is the solar irradiance on the SIMULATION CONDITIONS
vertical surface (W.m-2).
The presented simulation tool is used to investigate
Simulation tool and validation the impact of moisture transfer on thermal
Based on the equations introduced in the previous performance and on durability of a light wall,
sections, a 1 D-simulation tool has been developed strongly hygroscopic and vapour-permeable but
within the DYMOLA software, already successfully liquid-tight. The wall in located in north of France.

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

Configuration of the wall and material properties Internal and external conditions
The studied wall is mainly composed by wood-based The analyses presented in this study are based on
materials (Fig. 2). It is composed from the outside to annual simulations performed considering the
the inside by: a wood cladding, a ventilated air gap, a following internal and external solicitations.
rainscreen, 120 mm of wood fiber and 78 mm of The external conditions are the temperature and the
CLT (Cross-Laminated Timber) panel. The physical relative humidity of the city of Nancy (climate of the
properties of the CLT panel has been considered north-east of France).
equivalent to that of a massive panel of spruce. The For the internal conditions several temperature and
main properties of considered for this study are humidity scenario have been considered. For
summarized in the table 1. The behavior of this wall temperature, a heating period is considered (from
is analysis for both south and north orientations. October to April). For the rest of the year, the
temperature was pre-calculated by a project partner,
using a whole building performance simulation tool.
Free-floating temperature was calculated in a light-
weight detached house under Nancy climate file.
This temperature is used as indoor temperature from
May to September in both scenarios.
For all scenarios the indoor relative humidity is
determined by a method that correlates vapor content
of the indoor air with the external one and with the
level of moisture production(int = int + w/n). This
method, proposed by Abel et al. (2009), allows
describing different occupancy scenarios of a
building. For this study two internal scenarios
Figure 3 Schematic representation of the wall corresponding to residential building uses have been
configuration considered (Fig. 4):

The air gap is highly ventilated and it has been

assumed that in the north configuration there is no
solar radiation absorbed by the wall external surface.
- For north orientation the temperature and the
relative humidity of the air in the air gap are
considered equal to that of the external
- For south orientation a preliminary calculation
of heat balance in the air gap was performed by
a project partner, including solar radiation
absorbed by the cladding. The temperature and
relative humidity of the air in the air gap
obtained by these calculations are used as
boundary conditions on the external surface of
the rainscreen.
The thickness of the rainscreen is low compared to
those of the other material layers (the wood fiber and
the CLT). For this study the mass of this element has
been considered too low to impact the dynamic
behavior of the wall. The accumulation terms in the Figure 4 Indoor and outdoor conditions (temperature
energy and mass balances of the rainscreen are thus and relative humidity) during two days of the heating
neglected. period for the two internal scenarios and the two
wall orientations
Table 1. Main transfer properties of materials
Thermal Vapor diffusion For the first scenario the humidity production is
conductivity resistance factor (-) constant with the factor w/n = 3 g.m3 (corresponding
(W.m-1.K-1) dry humid to dwellings with medium level of occupation). The
temperature during the heating period (from October
CLT 0.082 45 17
to April) is constant and equal to 20 C.
Wood- 0.04 4.8 2.73
The second scenario considered a more realistic
occupancy behavior for a residential building with
rainscreen 0.2 200/mm
fluctuating humidity production and moving heating
temperature set-points during the days. The humidity

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

production is higher from 7 to 8 am and from 6 to 8 Where n = number of time steps. The figures 5 and 6
pm with a w/n = 4.5 than during the rest of the day
with a w/n = 2 (mean production is equal in both
show this criteria applied to the temperature T
scenarios). During the heating period the temperature
is equal to 20C from 7 am to 10 pm it decreases
and the relative humidity RH at different
thickness of the wall in function of the number of
linearly until 12 pm to reach 17C. Between 0 am to
nodes per layer. These figures show that the points
5 am the temperature is constant (17C) and it
that are the most impacted by the variation of the
increases linearly to reach 20C at 7 am.
number of nodes are located at the external surfaces
The external and internal global heat exchange
of the wall. They also indicate that for a number of
coefficient (tot) are considered constant and
nodes higher than approximately 20 the gain of
respectively equal to 12 and 7 W.m-2.K-1.
increasing the number of nodes is lower than the
Impact of the meshing typical measurement error encountered to
To perform the simulations the material layers are experimentally measure these parameters.
discretized in several control volumes. More the Due to this analysis the number of nodes per material
number of nodes is high and more the simulation layer has been fixed at 31 for all the simulations
results are accurate and the time to simulate is high. performed for this study.
The choice of the number of nodes is thus a Impact of the initial conditions
compromise between the accuracy of the results and
The simulation parameters are initialized considering
the simulation time. To ensure that the simulation
a linear evolution across the wall between outdoor
results are not significantly impacted by the meshing
and indoor conditions at the first iteration. Because of
a sensibility analysis of the number of nodes has been
the dynamic behavior of the wall the simulation
carried out.
result could be impacted by the initialization
conditions. The independence from the initialization
conditions is achieved when the wall reaches a
periodic quasi-steady state condition considering a
year period. To reach this quasi-steady state in this
study the month before the studied period have been
simulated considering the same indoor and outdoor
conditions as the studied year.

Figure 5 Impact of the meshing on the temperature in

the wall

Figure 7 Impact of the length of the initialization

period on the stabilization of the temperature in the

Figure 6 Impact of the meshing on the RH in the wall

To carry out this sensibility analysis, simulations

have been performed considering several numbers of
nodes per material layer (nbnod/mat) between 5 and
101. To analyze the impact of the meshing, the
simulation results obtained are compared to those
obtained with the maximal number of nodes
/ mat according to the following criteria:
Figure 8 Impact of the length of the initialization
1 n period on the stabilization of the RH in the wall
X X nbnod / mat X nbmax (7)
n 1 nod / mat
To analyze the impact of the length of the
initialization period, the state of the wall at the end of

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

the studied period is compared to that at the substrate (nutriment and salt content, the
beginning according to the following criteria: environment (ph), time and atmosphere (oxygen
content)). In order to simplify the analysis, the limit
X ini final X ini X final (8) of spore germination considered for this study is the
The figures 5 and 6 show this criteria applied to the Lowest Isopleth for Mould for the Optimal culture
medium (the most unfavorable case) given in
temperature (Tini-final) and the relative humidity
(Sedlbauer et al., 2003). The results obtained for the
(RHini-final) at different thickness of the wall in
first and the second scenario are introduced and
function of the number of month simulated for the
discussed in the followings sections.
initialization (nbmonth initialization).
These figures show that with an initialization period Scenario 1
of 7 months the wall reaches a periodic quasi-steady Monthly averages of the thermal fluxes are
state. Due to this analysis the initialization period introduced in the figure 9 for both north and south
used for this study the simulation have been carried wall orientations. In the north configuration the
out considering an initialization period of 7 months. indoor thermal fluxes are always negative (loss of
heat, both in winter and summer). Concerning the
south orientation, due to the absorbed solar radiation,
To investigate the impact of the moisture transfer on the heat losses are lower in winter than that observed
the thermal performance of the wall the fallowing for the north wall and there are heat gains from May
parameters are calculated and compared: to September. This figure shows that the thermal flux
- The monthly averaged thermal flux exchanged calculated from the thermal model (qth_th) under-
at the indoor wall surface without considering estimated heat exchanges during both losses and
the moisture transfer in the wall (pure thermal gains periods. This can be explained by two effects:
simulation) (qth_th). For this simulation the the impact of latent heat transported by moisture flow
material properties are considered at the relative and the impact of humidity on thermal conductivity
humidity of 50 % for each material. of the wall material. Once the impact of the humidity
1 n int int on the thermal conductivities of the materials is
qth _ th
n 1

tot T Tthsurf int (9) considered, that of the wood fiber evolves between
0.042 and 0.048 W.m-1.K-1 and that of the CLT
Where Tthsurf int is the internal surface between 0.09 and 0.12 W.m-1.K-1 over the simulating
period. For the north orientation the total heat losses
temperature considering pure thermal (qtot) are higher than the sensible losses (qth_HAM) from
simulations and n is the number of simulation December to September but are lower in October and
steps for a month. November. During the first part of the year the
- The monthly averaged sensible thermal flux internal wall surface adsorbed water vapor that
exchanged at the inlet wall surface considering increases the latent losses but reduces the sensible
both heat and moisture transfer in the wall ones due to the adsorption phenomenon (exothermic
(qth_HAM). process). However after the summer period the
1 n int int internal surfaces desorb water that increases the
qth _ HAM
n 1

surf int
tot T THAM (10) sensible losses (endothermic phenomenon). The
same analysis can be done for the south orientation.
surf int For example the total flux (qtot) is lower in summer
Where THAM is the internal surface
than the sensible one (qth_HAM) because of the inverse
temperature considering heat and moisture sign between the sensible fluxes (positive) and the
simulations. latent ones (negative). This phenomenon also
- The monthly averaged total thermal flux explains the higher variability of the sensible fluxes
(sensible + latent) exchanged at the inlet wall compared to the total ones (Fig. 10). This figure also
surface considering the heat and moisture shows that the variability is higher during the free-
transfer in the wall (qtot). floating period than during the rest of the year.
1 n int int Concerning the durability of the wall the isopleths
n 1
surf int
tot T THAM
g int hv

(11) plotted in the figure 11 show that in the wall the
relative humidity is slightly lower and the
To complete this analysis the standard deviation of temperature is a bit higher for the south-orientated
these fluxes are presented for each scenarios and wall than that with a north-orientation. These plots
each wall orientation. also indicate that there is no risk of spore germination
To investigate the impact of the moisture transfer on at the wood fiber and CLT interface for the two
the wall durability, relative humidity at the interface orientations with those operating conditions.
between the wood fiber and the CLT have been
plotted as the function of temperature for each Scenario 2
simulation. The risk of spore germination is function The behavior of the wall and the phenomenon that
of the temperature and the humidity but also of the take place in the wall are identical in the second

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

scenario than those described for the first one. The An isopleth curve from (Sedlbauer, 2003) is plotted
figure 12 shows that the thermal losses in winter are as well giving an indication of wall durability. On
slightly lower than those obtained with the scenario these curves the impact of the scenario was
1. This is probably due to the reduction of the negligible; however they depend on wall orientation.
temperature during nights. The fluctuation of the The comparison between these two scenarios
humidity production seems to have a negligible demonstrates that in this configuration the change of
impact on the heat fluxes and one the variability of the indoor conditions has a low impact on the long
those heat fluxes (fig. 13). Indeed the fluxes and term behavior of the wall. It is only partly in
there standard variations are similar for the first and agreement with (Kehrer et al, 2003) who suggested
the second scenario during the no heating period. that the impact of moisture related phenomena on
However during the heating period because of the heating load is negligible for cellulose insulation. In
change of temperature during days and nights the our work, the change of indoor temperature and
variability of the heat fluxes are higher in winter than indoor moisture profiles influences significantly the
in summer for the second scenario. variability of the internal heat fluxes.
The relative humidity plotted against temperature at
wood-fiber / CLT interface is presented in Fig. 14.

Figure 9 Internal thermal fluxes for the first scenario

Figure 10 Standard deviation of the internal thermal fluxes for the first scenario

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

Figure 11 Isopleth at the interface between wood fiber and CLT for the first scenario for the north orientation
(left) and for the south orientation (right)

Figure 12 Internal thermal fluxes for the second scenario

Figure 13 Standard deviation of the internal thermal fluxes for the second scenario

Figure 14 Isopleth at the interface between wood fiber and CLT for the second scenario for the north orientation
(left) and for the south orientation (right)

north-east of France considering different occupancy

CONCLUSION scenarios for the building.
A coupled heat and moisture model has been The simulation results show that with this wall
presented and a simulation tool has been developed configuration.
using the DYMOLA software and validated. This - Pure thermal simulations underestimate the
simulation tool has been used to investigate the exchanged internal fluxes.
impact of moisture transfer on the thermal - There is no risk of spore germination in the
performance and on the durability of a light-weight wall.
wall mainly composed by wood-based material. - The variation of the indoor vapor production
Simulations have been performed for a climate from has a negligible impact on the long term

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Proceedings of BS2015:
14th Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association, Hyderabad, India, Dec. 7-9, 2015.

behavior of the wall, however it increases the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

variability of the internal fluxes
This study was financially supported by HYGRO-
- The fluctuation of the indoor temperature
BAT project (ANR-10-HABI-0005), financed by the
(temperature lower during the night) slightly
reduces the heat loads and significantly National Agency of Research of France (ANR).
increases the variability of the internal fluxes. The authors would like to thank the project partners
Therefore precise simulations of energy performance for collaboration, and specifically for elaborating
at building level need to take into account moisture- different parameters and boundary conditions used in
related phenomena for highly hygroscopic walls. this work.
Although simulation tools that had been developed
for this study has been validated by comparison with REFERENCES
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