Numerical Study of the Airflow and Temperature Distributions in an Atrium

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Basarir, Murat Nihat
numerical study , atrium , airflow , CFD , buildings , computer modeling
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been extensively used in the study of building energy usage and thermal comfort in buildings, however there remains the need to thoroughly evaluate the accuracy of the results given by such CFD methods. The present study involves a numerical investigation of the flow and temperature distribution in the atrium situated in the Concordia University Engineering Building. The study involved a steady-state simulation of the conditions in the atria on August 1, 2007, a date for which experimental data was available for validation of the numerical results. The commercial CFD solver FLUENT was used to solve the equations that govern the flow in the atrium. The realizable k- turbulence model incorporating buoyancy force effects was used. During the period studied a forced airflow through the atrium existed due to a mechanical air supply vent near the floor level. The natural convection in the atrium, induced by the temperature differences resulting mainly from the incoming solar radiation, was modeled using the bousinessq approximation. In general, good agreement was obtained between the numerical and experimental results. The numerical results also predicted the thermal stratification in the atrium relatively accurately. A parametric study was performed to assess the sensitivity of the numerical results to the assumed boundary conditions used in the study. An evaluation of the thermal comfort levels in the atrium was also undertaken using the numerical results. This indicated that while regions of thermal discomfort did exist in the atrium, these regions constituted only a small part of the atrium.
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