Engineering a superinsulating wall with a beneficial thermal nonuniformity factor to improve building energy efficiency

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

6 Scopus Citations
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  • Huijun Wu
  • Jianming Yang
  • Jian Cen
  • Xianyong Zhang
  • Lei Xiao
  • Ruibing Cao


Original languageEnglish
Article number111680
Journal / PublicationEnergy and Buildings
Online published19 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


To increase the energy efficiency of buildings and lower carbon emissions, heat losses through exterior walls could be considerably decreased by using high-performance thermal insulation materials with superlow thermal conductivities or superhigh heat capacities. A superinsulating layer would result in a highly nonuniform distribution of thermal resistance and capacitance within the exterior wall. An interesting problem concerns how to engineer the nonuniform thermal distribution for given total resistances and capacitances to improve energy efficiency. This paper proposes using a thermal nonuniformity factor to quantitatively characterize the nonuniform distribution of thermal resistance and capacitance in an exterior wall built with superthermal aerogel insulating panels and given total resistance and capacitance values. Various thermal nonuniformity factors for several insulation modes were investigated by calculating the relevant transmission loads through the walls. The effect of the thermal nonuniformity factor on the wall transmission load was explored to improve the energy efficiency of a building. The results indicated that the wall heat flux could be greatly decreased by engineering walls with a high nonuniformity factor. For instance, engineering a wall in a sandwich mode with thermal nonuniformity factor of 0.97 could decrease the wall heat flux by ∼35% compared to a uniform wall. These findings on engineering walls based on thermal nonuniformity factors to decrease the wall heat flux could be a useful reference for superinsulated buildings and for further improving thermal insulating performance and building energy efficiency.

Research Area(s)

  • Building energy efficiency, Thermal capacitance, Thermal insulation, Thermal resistance