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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Room air stratification in combined chilled ceiling and displacement ventilation systems.


Radiant chilled ceilings (CC) with displacement ventilation (DV) represent a promising integrated system design that combines the energy efficiency of both sub-systems with the opportunity for improved ventilation performance resulting from the thermally stratified environment of DV systems. The purpose of this study was to conduct laboratory experiments for a typical U.S. interior zone office to investigate how room air stratification is affected by the ratio of cooling load removed by a chilled ceiling to the total cooling load, η, for two different chilled ceiling configurations. The experiments were carried out in a climatic chamber equipped with radiant panels installed in the suspended ceiling. In the first test configuration representative of thermally activated slab applications, 12 panels covering 73.5% of the ceiling were used. During the second series of tests, 6 panels covering 36.7% of the ceiling were used, representing a typical installation of metal radiant panels. The cooling load removed by the panels varied between 0 and 73 W/m2 [0-23.1 Btu/(h ft2)](based on radiant panel area) or between 0 and 28 W/m2 [0-8.9 Btu/(h ft2)] (based on room area). The average mean water temperature of the panels varied over a more moderate range of 20-24°C [60-75.2°F] for the 12-panel tests and over a colder range of 16.5-22.6°C [61.7-72.7°F] for the 6-panel tests. The displacement ventilation airflow rate varied between 1.65 and 4.03 l/(s m2) [0.32-0.79 cfm/ft2], and the supply air temperature was kept constant at 18°C [64.4°F]. The results showed that increasing η, the relative amount of the cooling load removed by the chilled ceiling, reduced the total room stratification. However, a comparison between the colder 6-panel tests and the warmer 12-panel tests indicated that average radiant surface temperature (mean chilled water temperature in panels) was a stronger predictor of stratification performance. When smaller active radiant ceiling areas are used (e.g., for a typical radiant ceiling panel layout), colder radiant surface temperatures are required to remove the same amount of cooling load (as a larger area), which cause more disruption to the room air stratification. Despite the impact that the chilled ceiling has on stratification, the results indicate that a minimum head-ankle temperature difference of 1.5°C (2.7°F) in the occupied zone (seated or standing) will be maintained for all radiant ceiling surface temperatures of 18°C (64.4°F) or higher.

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