Testing turbulence models to predict interzonal mass airflows through a stairwell opening for both natural and mixed convection flows in buildings

Sergio Vera, Magdalena Cortés, Jiwu Rao, Paul Fazio, Waldo Bustamante


The main objective in building design is to balance energy efficiency with healthy, comfortable and productive indoor environments for the occupants. Interiorbuilding openings, such as stairwells, are significant paths for the exchange of heat, air, moisture and pollutants. The interzonal airflow through horizontal openingshas not been profoundly studied because of its highly transient and unstable nature, the complexity of carrying out experiments and the limited availability ofexperimental data. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is an excellent tool to advance the understanding of this phenomenon. In this paper, CFD is applied toevaluate the performance of five two-eddy viscosity turbulence models (k-ε standard, k-ε RNG, k-ε realizable, k-ω standard and k-ω SST) to predict indoor airconditions and upward mass airflows through a horizontal opening in a full-scale, two-story test hut. This study involves six cases with different temperature gradientsbetween the two floors and with three ventilation strategies that represent natural or mixed convection. The main results show that the temperatures are wellpredicted by all turbulence models while the simulated air speeds present larger variations among the evaluated turbulence models. Overall, the k-ε standard and k-εrealizable models are the most accurate ones to predict indoor temperatures and air speeds for natural and mixed convection, respectively. Moreover, the upwardmass airflows through the horizontal opening estimated by both turbulence models are in very good agreement with the experimental data.

Rev. ing. constr. [online]. 2015, vol.30, n.2, pp. 85-97. ISSN 0718-5073.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-50732015000200001


Vertical interzonal airflows; horizontal opening; two eddy-viscosity turbulence models; natural convection; mixed convection

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-50732015000200001


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