The goal of this project was to design and test an inexpensive device to replace the need for air velocity and mean radiant temperature measurements in thermal comfort studies. The new device works by measuring heat flux across plates maintained at body temperature, mimicking the heat transfer between a person and their surroundings. Two designs were prototyped and tested. One uses thin-film heat flux sensors and one calculates heat flux from power input and surface area. Both designs consist of two plates, insulated on all but the front face, heated to 37 °C by PID controlled relays. One plate is covered in a low emissivity tape and the other in a high emissivity tape, allowing differentiation between convective and radiative heat flux. Preliminary results and literature suggest the device is feasible and responsive to environmental changes.
More testing and alteration of design is necessary to fully quantify sensitivity and applicability.