Solar chimney are a must in green building design and can reduce energy costs by up to 50 percent. Evidence now reveals that they can even help to save lives in a building fire.
Researchers at RMIT University have built a solar chimney, which is configured for energy-saving and fire safety.
In a globe-first, researchers built a solar chimney setting optimized for energy saving as well as for fire safety. The specially built solar chimney dramatically increases the amount of time it takes for people to run away during a fire. It extends safe escape time from 2 minutes to more than 14 minutes.
With an estimated 19 percent of the world’s energy supplies going to heating, ventilating, and cooling buildings. Incorporating solar chimneys are into new buildings and retrofitting existing structures. The structure provides tremendous potential to reduce this huge environmental expense.
The dynamic design solution behind solar chimneys operates on the well-known concept of continuously rising hot air.
Modern solar chimneys typically feature a glass wall next to a black painted wall, to maximize solar radiation absorption.
Vents at the top and the bottom control the airflow for heating or cooling in and out of the chimney.
This heats the air inside the chimney as the sun warms up. The hot air rises and then expelled from the top of the chimney. It pulls additional air in at the bottom and force airflow through a tower to cool it down instantly.
To know exactly how often evacuation time a solar chimney might offer for a specific building, Shi said you have to model for that precise design.
“It is different from building to building, knowing that any additional time would be valuable and that it increases fire protection, which may potentially help to save lives.”
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