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TECHNICAL PAPERS

A Computational and Experimental Investigation of the Human Thermal Plume

[+] Author and Article Information
Brent A. Craven

Gas Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering,  The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802bac207@psu.edu

Gary S. Settles

Gas Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering,  The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802

J. Fluids Eng 128(6), 1251-1258 (Mar 19, 2006) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2353274 History: Received June 01, 2005; Revised March 19, 2006

The behavior of the buoyant plume of air shed by a human being in an indoor environment is important to room ventilation requirements, airborne disease spread, air pollution control, indoor air quality, and the thermal comfort of building occupants. It also becomes a critical factor in special environments like surgery rooms and clean-rooms. Of the previous human thermal plume studies, few have used actual human volunteers, made quantitative plume velocity measurements, or considered thermal stratification of the environment. Here, a study of the human thermal plume in a standard room environment, including moderate thermal stratification, is presented. We characterize the velocity field around a human volunteer in a temperature-stratified room using particle image velocimetry (PIV). These results are then compared to those obtained from a steady three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solution of the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations (RANS) using the RNG kε two-equation turbulence model. Although the CFD simulation employs a highly simplified model of the human form, it nonetheless compares quite well with the PIV data in terms of the plume centerline velocity distribution, velocity profiles, and flow rates. The effect of thermal room stratification on the human plume is examined by comparing the stratified results with those of an additional CFD plume simulation in a uniform-temperature room. The resulting centerline velocity distribution and plume flow rates are presented. The reduction in plume buoyancy produced by room temperature stratification has a significant effect on plume behavior.

Copyright © 2006 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Schlieren image of the human thermal plume, front view, captured using a 1.0m aperture double-pass coincident schlieren system with inherently high sensitivity to weak thermal gradients (8)

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Figure 2

Schlieren image of the human thermal plume, side view. Notice also the warm turbulent exhaled air from the nose of the subject.

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Figure 3

Computational model of the human form

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Figure 4

Experimental room stratification temperature profile

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Figure 5

Boundary conditions for thermally stratified CFD domain

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Figure 6

Boundary conditions for uniform-temperature CFD domain

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Figure 7

Schematic of experimental setup

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Figure 8

Experimental PIV images of the particle-laden flowfield

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Figure 9

Contours of velocity magnitude in the coronal plane (PIV)

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Figure 10

Contours of velocity magnitude in the coronal plane (CFD, stratified flow)

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Figure 11

Contours of velocity magnitude in the sagittal plane (PIV)

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Figure 12

Contours of velocity magnitude in the sagittal plane (CFD, stratified flow)

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Figure 13

Plume centerline velocity distribution with height

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Figure 14

Normalized plume velocity profiles at a height of 2.13m above the floor

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Figure 15

Contours of velocity magnitude above the human subject at a height of 2.13m

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Figure 16

Volumetric flow rate of the human thermal plume at various heights above the floor

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Figure 17

Comparison of centerline velocity distribution in the human thermal plume for stratified and uniform room environments

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