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Computational Thermal Sciences: An International Journal

ISSN Print: 1940-2503
ISSN Online: 1940-2554

Computational Thermal Sciences: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/ComputThermalScien.v1.i3.10
pages 231-258


Stephanie Giroux-Julien
Centre d’Energétique et de Thermique de Lyon (CETHIL), CNRS-INSA- Univ. Lyon 1
Christophe Menezo
Universite de Lyon, CNRS, France ; Chaire INSA-EDF Habitats et Innovations Energetiques, CETHIL, UMR5008, F-69621,Villeurbanne, France
Jeremie Vareilles
Centre de Thermique de Lyon UMR 5008, (CETHIL, CNRS/INSA Lyon/UCBL), Lyon, France
Univ Lyon, CNRS, INSA-Lyon, Universit ́e Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CETHIL UMR5008, F-69621, Villeurbanne, France
Marco Fossa
Dime, Universita di Genova, Via Opera Pia 15a, 16145 Genova, Italy
Eddie Leonardi
Computational Fluid Dynamics Research Laboratory, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 2052


This paper investigates an active component of the building envelope: a photovoltaic-thermal double-skin facade. This element consists of a vertical open air channel bound by two parallel walls: one is made of photovoltaic panels and one is the main frame of the building. Integrating this system in a building facade is not an easy matter because the electrical output is strongly dependent on the operating temperature of the photovoltaic component. The aim of this study is to promote better cooling of the photovoltaic facade working on its typical geometrical arrangement. This consists of an alternation of photovoltaic cells (localized heat sources) and semitransparent window panes (unheated zones). Fundamentally, the flow of natural convection that develops within the vertical channel appears to be subjected to boundary-localized thermally active areas and adiabatic areas, evenly distributed throughout the height. This requires investigations of parametric variations of magnitude and space frequency of the heated areas as well as intermediate spacing. Two complementary experimental apparatuses were developed, namely, at CETHIL and at the CFD Research Laboratory UNSW in collaboration with the DIPTEM. Experiments were conducted on both. For these experiments, Grashof numbers, based on the channel width and the convective heat flux, are about 1010. The results obtained constitute an important database, which allows characterization of convective heat transfer. Some of the results concern the dynamic boundary conditions that are required for the numerical investigation. The present study compares (on a common operating range) both experimental and numerical investigations focusing on the CETHIL experiments.