Measuring Field Performance of Aerogel Insulation in a Hot, Dry Climate
Aerogel materials offer the potential for high thermal performance in a small material thickness, yet more information is needed to characterize their thermal and energy performance under dynamic field conditions. To evaluate cooling season performance, two types of Aerogel insulation (reflective facing surfaces and non-reflective facing surfaces) were installed in outdoor test structures and monitored during the summer in the hot, arid climate of Albuquerque, NM. Three identical 8’x12’ test structures were built with unconditioned attic space above a single air conditioned zone. The first was a baseline structure with no insulation. The second and third huts had a 1 cm (0.4 inch) thick layer of Aerogel insulation attached to the wall studs and rafters, creating a stud cavity. We measured heat flux and temperature profiles across the walls, ceiling, and roof deck of each hut, along with ambient weather conditions and space conditioning electricity consumption. Each structure was conditioned with an identical portable air conditioning unit to a consistent cooling setpoint temperature. Air leakage was measured in each structure before and after the installation of the Aerogel to assess its impact on infiltration. Results indicate the relative performance and energy benefits associated with each system in terms of thermal resistance, air infiltration, and energy savings.
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