Laboratory tour and presentation attendees listening to speaker

Applied Research

A very important function of the PHRC is to undertake or stimulate research and development on materials, products, procedures, and processes. These efforts may have a longer-term or a more fundamental focus than other projects. Projects in this category foster partnerships and draw on the expertise and strengths of the people and facilities available at the Pennsylvania State University.

Laboratory Testing and Analytical Evaluation of Residential Wall R-value for Several Conventional Wall Systems

As more innovative and alternative wall systems to conventional wood-frame systems are becoming available to builders offering additional choices, more accurate thermal evaluation of these systems becomes essential. Designers and manufactures of newer wall configurations would certainly like to market such products for higher R-values of a finished wall system, which may include insulation, sheathing, vapor retarder, air barrier, and interior and exterior finish layers.

The two available analytical approaches for determining R-values, Parallel Path Method and Isothermal Method, yield significantly different results. Although each method has its strength for certain type of configuration (e.g., stud wall vs. CMU wall), many new wall systems may have features that makes it difficult to say which method is more appropriate. Numerical methods for whole-wall R-value or clear-wall R-value based on computer simulation can provide a calculation of a wall R-value, but values determined through real-model testing is needing to calibrate and validate the simulation. The objective of this proposed project is to test a selected subset of most commonly used wall systems at the Building Enclosure Testing Laboratory (BeTL) using the climate chamber as a hot-box for determination of clear wall R-values to compare the selected wall types. The result of the study will also provide a basis for comparison of other walls that may be tested at the lab at a future time, hopefully by support from the industry. Both analytical and numerical approaches will also be used to compare with test results. The project will develop a thorough review of past studies.

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The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center serves the home building industry and the residents of Pennsylvania by improving the quality and affordability of housing.

We conduct applied research, foster the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, and transfer appropriate technologies to the housing community.

Pennsylvania Housing Research Center

219 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2341

Fax: 814-863-7304