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Energy performance analysis of smart wall system with switchable insulation and thermal storage capacity

by Emishaw D Iffa, Harri M Salonvaara, Diana E Hun
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Journal Name
Journal of Physics: Conference Series
Publication Date
Page Number
Conference Name
8th International Buildings Physics Conference 2021 (IBPC)
Conference Location
Copenhagen, Denmark
Conference Sponsor
The International Association of Building Physics (IABP)
Conference Date

The ever-increasing global energy demand and the issues caused by population growth and unsustainable energy resource usages have several environmental and economic impacts. The on-demand capability of dynamic wall systems with switchable insulation systems can contribute toward energy efficiency and reduced electric cost using "building-as-a-battery." In this paper, the performance of an exterior envelope system that employs a switchable insulation system is investigated. A COMSOL simulation was used to study the envelope performance under three switchable insulation locations in the wall system. The on and off switching cycle included insulating or conducting the exterior, interior, or both sides of the mass wall system. To validate the simulation work, an experimental test was conducted in climate chamber on a 4 × 8 in. wall system with identical wall components used in the COMSOL simulation. Results show a good agreement between the experiment and simulation results. The wall system with switchable insulation placed on the exterior side provided the highest interior inward heat flux when compared with the interior or split insulation. Also, an exterior switchable insulation system in addition to a thermal mass maintained a positive heat flow for more hours when the outdoor temperature was lower than the interior temperature.