A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War

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Book Review of Daniel A. Barber's A House in the Sun (Oxford: OUP, 2016). Daniel J. Ryan (2017) A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War, Fabrications, 27:3, 437-440, DOI: 10.1080/10331867.2017.1368851

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... Since 1881, when Edward Morse first proposed the idea of using solar energy in architecture [2,8], the discussion has not stopped. In 1940, Fred Keck painted the walls black, making it possible to convert solar radiation into heat and to accumulate it into heat rooms at night [9]. In 1967, Felix Trombe and Jacques Michel designed and patented a low-rise apartment building that is known as the classic Trombe wall [10]. ...
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This paper discusses an improved approach to the Trombe wall: an insulated panel is installed on the inner side, and vents are installed at the top and bottom to connect the outer and inner air layer with the interior. Direct current (DC) fans are installed in the upper vents for stable control of the air circulation. The study first analyzed the thermal performance of this composite Trombe wall, for which the heat load was 27.3% less compared to the classic Trombe wall and 32.1% less compared to the case without the Trombe wall. However, its efficiency for heating the room temperature was not high without heating. Then, we optimized the ventilation efficiency, the proportion of the Trombe wall in the room, and the type of glazing. The highest heat load savings could be achieved when the ventilation openings used high ventilation with temperature-controlled fans and the Trombe wall about 3% of the house floor area. With the use of Low-e double-glazing, we were able to save nearly 41.3% of the heat load than that with the regular single-glazing. For the composite Trombe wall, after taking into account the optimization factors, the room temperature was significantly higher, and could save nearly 52.3% of energy compared to the pre-optimization period.
... This concept was developed by Edward Morse in 1881 [2]. However, this concept gained worldwide fame in the 1970s, when Felix Trombe and Jacques Michel patented their classic Trombe wall [3]. The classic Trombe wall includes [4]: glazing from single or double glass; a massive wall of brick or concrete with a thickness of 20 to 40 , which should be painted black; several ventilation ducts on the lower and upper tiers of the massive wall. ...
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This article is devoted to the problems of using any solar heating systems, the Trombe wall in particular, in modern heating systems and various climatic conditions. The main problem in solar heating systems is that the climatic conditions can be very different in one latitude, while the appropriateness of the Trombe wall using in heat supply systems will depend on the ratio between the incident solar energy and the room heat load. The main goal of this work is to determine the most effective climate divide for the Trombe wall using. This paper presents an algorithm for the technical and economic analysis of the Trombe wall effectiveness. The calculation results showed that the most appropriate Trombe wall use in the heat supply system is observed in the range of latitudes from 55° to 40° N . At the same time, the payback period of the Trombe wall is in the range from 3.5 to 10 years.
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