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Testing facilities at Glasgow Caledonian University
The Environmental Chamber is a unique facility in the UK purchased with an award from the Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF3). The SRIF 3 scheme in Scotland is a joint initiative involving resources from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) and the Office of Science and Technology (OST).
The chamber is designed to test the performance of building materials & components under the range of climate conditions experienced in the UK.
The chamber consists of two walk-in rooms, an “Exterior” room which can be used to simulated outdoor weather and an “Interior” room to simulate typical indoor environmental conditions. The aperture formed between the rooms can accommodate a wall up to 3m wide by 2.4m high. By moving the interior room different wall thicknesses can be constructed.
The two rooms can be controlled as follows:
Temperature and humidity ranges:
Temperature : -20°C to + 30°C
Relative Humidity: 20% to 90%
Temperature : +10°C to + 40°C
Relative Humidity: 20% to 90%
The exterior room also has the facilities to simulate driving rain and solar radiation (using infra-red lamps) on a wall surface. Both rooms can be pressurised.
The temperature and humidity in both rooms and the driving rainfall and infra-red lamps are fully controllable from either built-in controllers or a PC. For example, a typical daily cycle of winter climate can be programmed to run in the exterior room including rainfall to investigate moisture penetration in historic wall constructions, whilst the interior room is set to follow a typical heating pattern using the results from the monitoring of real buildings.
Other techniques such as Thermography can also be applied in the chamber to gain additional information.
Recent projects including research funded by Historic Scotland and English Heritage to evaluate methods of improving the thermal efficiency of traditional timber windows.
We have the facilities to measure the thermal conductivity of insulation products and materials such as stone and ceramics with higher thermal conductivities.
The Lasercomp Fox314 is suitable for insulating materials with a maximum thickness of 102mm.
The Lasercomp Fox50 is for designed for testing the thermal conductivity of materials in the conductivity range of 0.1W/mK to 10W/mK. The maximum sample thickness is 25mm.
Vapour Permeability Testing
The water vapour transmission rates of building products such as vapour permeable membranes can be measured precisely using a Gintronic GraviTest Model 6300.
The GraviTest conforms to the following international standards:
ASTM E96, ISO 2528, EN ISO 12572, EN 1931, BS 3177, DIN 53122 (Part1) and others.
Moisture Content by X-ray Absorption
The response of building envelopes to imposed moisture loadings is an area of increasing concern to building professionals. Porous building materials can be extremely vulnerable to water-related damage. This vulnerability impacts not only on the durability and acceptability of new materials, but also on the viability and maintenance of traditional ones, as is evidenced by the marked degradation in the external fabric of many historic buildings of national importance.
The absorption and transport of moisture in porous materials is complex. The X-ray absorption apparatus at GCU enables high resolution moisture content measurements under transient conditions, e.g. the wetting and drying behaviour of sandstone. The moisture transport properties derived from these investigations can be used in simulation models for predicting moisture movement at material interfaces and other important macroscopic features. This is particularly important for the building sector from the viewpoint of regulations, design and material manufacture, where performance and durability of new materials and systems are of significant concern.
The working space in the chamber (790 mm along the horizontal-axis, 419 mm along the vertical-axis and 368 mm between the X-ray source and detector) allows for a large sample size or a number samples to be tested in the same sequence. The location of the sample within the chamber may be determined precisely relative to the detector gantry. The movement of the gantry may then be programmed to enable the scanning of the sample at precise locations.
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