Evaluation of the thermal performance of an innovative prefabricated natural plant fibre building system


Shea, A. D., Wall, K. and Walker, P., 2013. Evaluation of the thermal performance of an innovative prefabricated natural plant fibre building system. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology, 34 (4), pp. 369-380.

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    Energy efficient new and retrofit building construction relies heavily on the use of thermal insulation. A focus on the environmental performance of current construction materials with regards to both embodied energy and energy in-use has resulted in a growing interest in the use of natural fibre insulation materials. The results of heat flow meter thermal conductivity tests on a range of straw samples of different densities are presented. The innovative use of straw in the development of a prefabricated straw-bale panel and the results of guarded hot-box testing are presented. In common with most building materials, there is a degree of uncertainty in the thermal conductivity due to the influences of temperature, moisture content and density; however, from evaluation of a range of the literature and experimental data, a value of 0.064W/mK is proposed as a representative design value for straw bales at the densities used in building construction. Computer simulation and experimental testing suggest that the overall heat transfer coefficient (U-value) for the complete prefabricated panel is approximately 0.178W/m2K. This article also briefly discusses the use of this innovative unit in a highly instrumented test building constructed at the University of Bath.


    Item Type Articles
    CreatorsShea, A. D., Wall, K. and Walker, P.
    Related URLs
    URLURL Type
    DepartmentsFaculty of Engineering & Design > Architecture & Civil Engineering
    Research Centres & Institutes > BRE Centre in Innovative Construction Materials
    ID Code30137


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