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PREDICTION OF HUMAN THERMAL COMFORT IN SEMI-OPEN SPACE

WITH COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS TECHNIQUES

Raymond Yau 邱万鸿博士, Vincent Cheng 郑世友博士 and


Rumin Yin 殷如民博士*

Arup Advanced Engineering


Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd 奥雅纳工程顾问
*corresponding author: rumin.yin@arup.com

ABSTRACT

The method of predicting human thermal responses and comfort sensations has been developed.
The Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) method, together with the dynamic thermal
modeling is applied to help architects to predict the effects of a building’s design on the comfort
of occupants for complex conditions, and aid to design comfort internal space for occupants.

This paper demonstrates the application of this method to aid the design of semi-open space,
Disneyland YamO station, to evaluate natural ventilation effect and predict the thermal comfort
sensations in the station. Environmental conditions within the station were predicted by a
dynamic thermal simulation program IES and a computational fluid dynamics code STAR-CD.
The hot climate, and the amount of solar radiation were investigated for their effect on the
thermal state of the occupants and their thermal comfort level.

Keywards Thermal comfort, CFD, Dynamic Thermal simulation

1. INTRODUCTION

With the rapid development of economic in Mainland China, more and more attention has been
paid on the energy saving for the modern building and thermal comfort for the occupants.
Thermal comfort is a subjective response and is determined on numbers of factors including air
temperature, air humidity and air moment etc. For many years, many research works have been
done on the study of thermal environment and human comfort to find out acceptable indoor
thermal conditions, the design thermal control system and air-conditioning. [1-4]. However,
many little attention has been paid to the uncontrolled open space, even semi-open space.
Different from well controlled indoor space, for the semi-open space where natural ventilation is
applied, the temperatures of air and surfaces are close to ambient temperature. Air movement
can induce more cooling effect to the visitors than still air does. Increase in air speed can
compensate for the raise of temperature in hot climate and provide cooling effects for the
passenger, which in turns, extends the comfort zone – the range of acceptable indoor
temperature and humidity level.

Due to the close coupling of these processions with any complex shape of these semi-open space
in nature, the application of CFD has been developed to offer a means of optimizing the
solutions for innovative architectural design, to provide healthy and comfort and energy-saving
space for the occupancy.

This paper will, therefore, focus on the analysis of the thermal environment in the concourse
area of the YAO station. Taken into consideration the local heat gains including solar and non-
solar sources and the surrounding environment, the likely environmental conditions in summer
within the semi-open stations are predicted using Dynamic thermal modeling (DTM) and

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Computational Fluid dynamic (CFD). Thermal comfort sensation is evaluated based on the new
method. Based on which a cost effective solution can be found for the design of YAO.

2. THERMAL COMFORT CRITERIA

To introduce thermal comfort indexes for the semi-open space, it is necessary to recall the basic
difference between indoor and semi-open spaces. While indoor environment tend to have
relatively steady and controllable (by building and mechanical services) thermal, radiative and
convective conditions, the semi-open one is defined by a great daily and seasonal variations of
much less controllable microclimatic parameters (Humidity, air temperature, surface
temperatures, wind and radiation) which affect the energy budget of the body and therefore its
thermal comfort.

Thermal comfort for semi-open space is not only influenced by physiological response to highly
variable microclimatic parameters but also by psychological and cultural adaptation which
arranges a wide range of environmental stimuli fluctuation to avoid thermal stress and
discomfort. It is indeed a very complex issue and only a few attempts have been made to
understand how the thermal environment affects people’s use of these spaces. Although there
are certain studies on thermal comfort, there are no definitive and structured researches or
indexes for that. Therefore, the approaches that are primarily used for studying indoor thermal
comfort are adopted. Certain commonly adopted approaches include:

• Fanger’s Comfort Equation


• Bioclimatic chart
• The Research of Tanabe

2.1 Fanger’s Comfort Equation

Fanger’s assumption [4] was that comfort could be derived from a human heat balance equation
that he formulated. Comfort equations for calculating the “Predicted Mean Vote” (PMV) and the
“ Predicted Percentage of Dissatisfied” (PPD) are derived with seven-point comfort scale [5].
The PMV values reflect the mean value of the thermal votes of a large group of people exposed
to the same environment.

+3 Hot
+2 Warm
+1 Slightly warm
0 Neutral
-1 Slightly cool
-2 Cool
-3 Cold

The PPD index predicts the number of thermally dissatisfied persons exposed to that same
environment. By varying parameters like relative humidity, air velocity and air temperature etc.,
the PMV and PPD were calculated. Fanger’s index is generally adapted for analysis of space
with air conditioning or heating.
Studies of Fanger’s Comfort Equation were conducted in climatic chambers with subjects from
the United States and Demark. The approach assumes “universal” comfort conditions although
numerous studies have indicated that persons living in hot countries prefer higher temperatures
than the temperatures recommended by Fanger. Therefore, direct application of Fanger’s
Comfort Equation is not appropriate for local climatic condition and is not recommended.

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2.2 Bioclimatic Chart

The bio-climatic chart [7][8] shows the relationship of the four major climate variables that
determine human comfort. By plotting temperature and relative humidity, one can determine if
the resulting condition is comfortable (within the comfort zone). The chart has relative humidity
as the abscissa and temperature as the ordinate. Though the boundary of comfort zone is
demarcated on the Bio-climatic chart could be extended for people living in hot-humid
conditions, its presentation method still considered to be complex. Also, wind effect and shading
effect could not be catered at the same time for Bioclimatic chart.

2.3 Research of Tanabe

A research by Tanabe modified the findings of Fanger’s Comfort Equation and catered the effect
of acclimatisation and air speed. The research of Tanabe has considered the thermal sensations
of persons in hot humid climates areas, such as HongKong. The results are shown in the Figure
1, which indicated the influence to the thermal sensations due to the airspeed surrounding the
occupants.

Observed Comfort vs PMV

3
Fanger
Observed Thermal Sensation

2 .5
2 Tanabe
V=0.13 m/s
1.5 V=0.44 m/s
1
V=0.71m/s
0.5
0 V=1.03 m/s
-1 - 0.5 0 1 2 3
V=1.34 m/s
-1
- 1.5 V=1.63 m/s

PMV

Figure 1 Tanabe’s Mean Thermal Sensation Votes as a function of the PMV

This approach is used for studying thermal comfort of the proposed development.
Given that the situation of hot climate, activity level and clothing habits of Hong Kong people,
i.e. visitors standing in rest and clothing unit equals to one, the acceptable thermal sensation
index by Tanabe is equal or less than 1.0 in summer occasion.

The thermal criteria is determined by the Tanabe Thermal Comfort index. As recommended by BS EN
ISO 7730, PMV =1 is recommended for environmental design and therefore is taken as the design
criteria for this study. With such criteria, 80% of the people will not be feeling hot to the thermal
environment. This criteria on PMV can be converted to the Tanabe comfort index.

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3. REVIEW OF DTM AND CFD TECHNIQUES

3.1 Dynamic thermal modelling

Dynamic thermal models are created for the concourse of YAO station to determine the likely
environmental conditions in terms of low-level occupied dry bulb temperature, resultant
occupied temperature and surface temperature.

This study utilised the IES program Version 4.1 to perform the DTM. The temperature and
ventilation rate of the semi-open concourse area with the operation of natural ventilation are
predicted by using simple heat and mass balance equations and buoyancy factors for a steady
state model for heat dissipated inside the Stations.

The numerical model of DTM is based on an explicit finite difference formulation for unsteady
heat flow within the building fabric. Internal radiation exchange between surfaces is carried out
using a radiosity method, the long-wave radiant heat flow (due to surface temperature
differences) is being handled separately from short-wave radiation (from the sun and lights). It is
assumed that all reflections are non-specula. The short-wave radiant gain to the space is
therefore the sum of the direct radiation on that surface plus that reflected (from an infinite
number of reflections) from all other surfaces. Solar penetrations are calculated using standard
optical theory, and distributed over the room surfaces according to the relative positions of sun,
surfaces and windows.

3.2 Computational Fluid Dynamic

Unlike DTM, CFD analysis is a field model which discretises entire air flow domain into a
number of small elements and the predicted airflow is calculated by adopting the principle of
conservation of mass, momentum and energy. The governing equations and basic theory could
be found in the literature and would not be repeated here.

The STAR-CD Version 3.15 Computational Fluid Dynamics Program was employed in this
study to calculate the air velocity and temperature within the flow domain of the CFD model.
STAR-CD is one of the leading multi-purpose thermofluid analysis codes for industry. It is
widely favoured by engineers requiring a robust and efficient software tool, capable of
modelling fluid flow, heat transfer, mass transfer and chemical reaction.

To represent the physical phenomena resulting from the wind, the turbulence flows are modelled
by standard high Reynolds number k-ε model while the fluid is specified as weakly
compressible and fully buoyant. Several differencing methods have been widely used in the
CFD code, such as Upwind Differencing Scheme, Central Differencing Scheme, Self-Filtered
Central differencing (SFCD) Scheme, hybrid differencing Scheme, Power Law differencing
Scheme and Quadratic Upstream Interpolation of Convective Kinematics (QUICK) Differencing
Scheme. In present study, the high order scheme QUICK scheme is applied to discretize the
momentum equation and the SFCD scheme is applied in other equations for most accurate
simulation result.

The linear forms of equations have been achieved after the discretization. Then the PISO
algorithm for pressure-velocity linked equations and the CG (Conjugate gradient) solver for
other equations are adopted to solve the whole set of equations.

Boundary conditions created by the external environments, e.g. the wind profile, estimated
surface temperature of the roof, were predetermined and specified for the model.

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DTM and CFD analysis are supplementary to each other. The DTM model will generate the
daily temperature profiles due to variations in train operation, patronage profile and the weather
conditions such as the ambient air temperature and solar radiation. The output of DTM for a
specific time and weather conditions will be used by CFD as an input for detail analysis on the
internal airflow and temperature.

4. CASE STUDY

The Well-known Hong Kong Disneyland Theme Park is planned to open in 2005. The Yam O
Station is a transit shuttle link connection between the Theme Park at Penny’s Bay to the
existing MTRCL Tung Chung Line. It is the intention of MTRCL to create a semi-open space at
the above ground YAO stations. The purposes of creating a semi-open space are to provide a
pleasant environment sheltered from intense heat, wind and rain for patrons and to achieve
energy conservation by making use of natural ventilation and daylight to maintain acceptable
environmental conditions.

A 3-dimensional model of the Station, which includes the major architectural layout and internal
design was constructed, as shown in Figure 2. The CFD model defined all major physical
features and boundaries within the flow domain including the platforms with high-level and low-
level canopies.

Figure 2 CFD model of Yam O station

The Yam O CFD model size is 500m(L) x 400m(W) x 200m (H) and more than 500,000 cells
are included, which cover the entire flow domain. Body-fitted structured grid technique is used
to fit the geometry to reflect the complexity of the Station geometry.

Due to the complication of the model, only limited numbers of simulations were feasible when
considering the simulation time requirement. In this regard, the model cannot cater for the
dynamic variation of train operation and station occupancy. The CFD model, therefore, is
studied some typical cases in greater detail.

The number of passengers staying in the concourse and train dwelling at the platform are
varying from one instant to another. There will be times when only passengers are waiting at
the concourse with no train dwelling at the station, whilst other time there will be trains dwelling
in platform with passengers getting on board. The heat gain in the concourse area will be
different at these instances as the heat sources from the passengers and the trains are varied.

In order to investigate the performance of the internal environment of the station under various
operation scenarios with variations on both train heat load and platform occupant loads, the
following scenarios were studied by DTM and CFD simulation:
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Case Train Heat Platform Situations Occurred
Load Occupant
Load
1 Full loaded Maximum This is the worst case. It happens during the
peak hour and when full-loaded trains
dwells at the platform, and passengers are
waiting at the station to get into the train, or
waiting for another train.
2 Nil Maximum Passengers were waiting at the station for
the trains during peak hours.
Table 1 Simulation Scenarios

5. RESULTS and DISCUSSION

Figures 3 to 4 show the resultant temperature of occupied zone demonstrating the effects on the
variations of both train loads and occupant loads. The sequence of the presented figures is in the
order of the cases described in the previous section respectively.

AM Peak Hour PM Peak Hour


49
47 Ceiling Surface
45 Temperature
43
41
39 Resultant
37 Temperature
35
33
31
29 Dry Bulb Occupied
27 Zone Temperature
25
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Time (Hour)

Temperature Profiles at TCL.PBL Platform of YAO Station (July) With Full-Loaded Trains
Parked on Both Sides of Platform

Full Passenger
Heat Load at
Concourse

1. Scenario 1
Condenser Heat Load
of Full Load Train

Figure 3 Resultant Temperature at occupied zone of Yam O Station with full-loaded


trains dwelled at both sides of platform, and with maximum number of
passengers waiting at the station

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AM Peak Hour PM Peak Hour
49
47
45 Ceiling Surface
43 Temperature
41
39 Resultant
37 Temperature
35
33
31
29 Dry Bulb Occupied
27 Zone Temperature
25
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Time (Hour)

Temperature Profiles at TCL.PBL Platform of YAO Station (July) With No Trains


Parked on Both Sides of Platform

Full Passenger Heat


Load at Concourse

2. Scenario 2

Figure 4 Resultant Occupied Temperature at Yam O Station with no trains dwelled at platform,
but with maximum number of passengers waiting at the station

For the CFD Analysis, only the worst case is considered by the CFD analysis, daily maximum
temperature and maximum people load are assumed. The plan view and section views of
PBL/TCL platform with calculated results of temperature distribution and velocity vectors are
illustrated in Figures C-1 to C-10 for Scenario 1 and Scenario 2, both under windless and
prevailing wind conditions. The plan view shows the plan of the occupied zone at a height of
1.6 m above the platform level and the section view shows the section at the central of the YAO
with high canopy.

Scenario 1
In this scenario, the train is dwelled at both the PBL line and the TCL line platform with heat
condenser under full load condition.

i) Windless Condition

The section view of the central of YAO with high canopy and just passing through the heat
condenser of train are illustrated in Figures 5.

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Under windless condition, the natural ventilation is strongly depended on the stack effect, which
is confined by the obstructed opening at the roof of high canopy and trains dwelled at both sides.
Only very limited fresh air could be entrained in the station from the PBL platform (left side of
the drawing) and flow out through the top openings of the roof. Meanwhile, insufficient
opening at the platform near TCL line causes nearly stagnant airflow at that particular location.
At the occupied zone, the mean air temperature of the YAO platform is recorded 35.2 °C,
together with the mean airflow speed of 0.33 m/s.

Figure 5 Temperature distribution and velocity vectors for the scenarios 1

Scenario 2

i) Windless Condition
Without the dwelling of train, stack effect is improved when compared with scenario 1. Figures
6 present the airflow pattern and temperature distribution in the station. At the lower lever of
platform, surrounding air is induced and moved up due to stack effect with the mean velocity
0.38 m/s.

For the platform under the fabric roof, the temperature is observed as high as 36.6 oC at some
locations, while the mean air temperature for occupied zone is about 34.6 oC. The higher
temperature is caused by the direct solar penetration via the transparent fabric roof.

Figure 6 Temperature distribution and velocity vectors for the scenarios 2

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5.1 Thermal Comfort Indices
Using the hourly temperature determined by DTM and the air velocity determined by CFD, the
hourly profile of the Tanabe thermal sensation index was estimated and shown in Figure 7.

1.5

windless with train


windless without train
1

Comfort Level
0.5
Thermal Sensation Index

-0.5

-1

-1.5
07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00
Hour

AM Peak PM Peak

Figure 7 Daily Profile for the calculated Tanabe’s Thermal Sensation Index

Table 2 summarises the analysis of the Tanabe thermal comfort index based on the CFD
simulated results of airspeed and mean air temperature of YAO at the design summer condition
while Table 3 summarise the acceptability of thermal criteria in different scenarios.

Tanabe Thermal Sensation


AM PM Daily
Peak Peak Maximum
Scenario 1 Windless condition 1.06 -0.40 1.53
Scenario 2 Windless condition 0.85 -0.54 1.36

Table 2 Thermal comfort index.

Acceptability of Space
AM PM Daily
Peak Peak Maximum
Scenario 1 Windless condition No Yes No
Scenario 2 Windless condition Yes Yes No

Table 3 Acceptability of the space.

The results show that during the AM Peak hour, the thermal environment may not be acceptable
when there are trains dwelled in the station and under windless condition. The environment is
acceptable when there is no train dwelling in the station. During the PM Peak hour, the thermal
environment is likely to be acceptable for most of the time. During the time period from 13:00 to
15:00, the environment is likely to be unacceptable to the majority of the people.

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6. CONCLUSION

The thermal environment created by the semi-open station design is evaluated in this paper.
With the help of CFD techniques, the air temperature and speed distribution at the occupant
level was clearly illustrated. The CFD result could also provide important information about the
distribution of the thermal comfort level at specific time to the architects, to optimise their
design for better thermal environments.

Reference

1. Nicol F. and Raja IA Modelling temperature and human behaviour in buildings Ibpsa
News, London Vol. 9 No.1 pp 8-10 1997

2. Humphreys Field studies of thermal comfort BSE Vol. 44 pp5-27 1976

3. De Dear R, Fountain M, Popovic S, Wakins S, Brager G, Arens E and Benton C A field


study of Occupant comfort and office thermal environments in hot-humid climate
ASHRAE RP-702

4. Fanger Thermal Comfort McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York 1972

5. Determination of the PMV and PPD indices and specification of the conditions for
thermal comfort BS EN ISO 7730:1995

6. De Freitas, C R Assessment of human bioclimate based on thermal response


International Journal of Biomterol Vol. 29 No. 2 pp 97-119 1985

7. Baruch Givoni Climate Considerations in Building and Urban Design Van Nostrand
Reinhold 1998

8. S. I. Tanabe Thermal Comfort requirement in Japan Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan


1988

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