Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Experimental assessment and thermal characterisation of ETFE foil

Abstract

Co-polymer facade materials have been an exceedingly popular option over the past few decades in the building industry as part of an attempt to replace glazing and some of the disadvantages that accompany its use. ETFE mambrane, the material whose initials stand for Ethylene TetraFluoroEthylene, seems to be the most promising case in this category. ETFE has been successfully used so far in high-profile projects as an innovative solution to issues that are related to energy-saving design challenges. In addition, it has presented significant savings on cost and structural support needs in comparison to conventional glazing due to its light weight and high light transition ability.

There is a lack of detailed published investigation on the thermal behaviour of ETFE. This study focuses on the examination of heat transfer through ETFE membrane via on-site experimentation and simulation modelling. Primarily, the heat transfer through ETFE is compared with the equivalent occuring through a glazed roof subject to the same environmental conditions. The research explores the heat transmission due to long-wave radiation through the material via scaled modeling of both ETFE and glazing under real weather conditions. The model experimentation measures surface, air and operative termperatures, heat losses and solar gains, which are necessary to examine the material's impact on the overall energy consumption of a building.

On the second part of the research, the variations in the internal air and radiant temperatures as well as the energy consumption if each test model are implemented into the Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) program to assist in evaluation the suitability of ETFE use in a broader spectrum of building applications with the intention of minimizing energy use.