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Penn State University

1. McWhirter, Dylan Montgomery. Impact of Return Air System on Indoor Air Quality and Building Security.

Degree: MS, Architectural Engineering, 2011, Penn State University

The impacts of ducted air distribution system design and performance on buildings, particularly residential structures in which ducts are frequently outside condition space, has received significant study. Less work relative to return systems in non-residential buildings can be found in the literature. Some previous studies have considered the pros and cons of return system alternatives based on limited field measurements and experience; extensive analytical or controlled experimental studies providing a systematic quantitative energy and IAQ impact assessments for the various return strategies are very few. Tracer gas releases were conducted in the Iowa Energy Center to compare resistance of ducted and plenum return air systems to interzonal contaminant transfer and to investigate the impact of parallel fan powered VAV boxes on transport of contaminants from the plenum to conditioned space. Contrary to recommendations found in much building security literature, tracer gas results indicate plenum return does not inherently pose a greater risk of exposure to building occupants. In some cases, plenum return may provide greater protection to occupants during the time immediately following a contaminant release, during which evacuation can take place by delaying the entry of contaminants into occupied spaces. Fan powered VAV boxes tend to diminish the buffering effect of the plenum because they may inject highly contaminated return air into occupied space. Results from parametric multizone model simulations seem to support the observation from laboratory experiments that the plenum functions as a buffer zone that can delay and flatten the peak concentration in occupied space following a release held true in these simulations. Exposure results indicate that plenum return systems have the potential to significantly reduce short term occupant exposure to contaminants released in occupied spaces. To test the applicability of mutlizone model simulation for determining inter-zonal contamination vulnerability of each return air strategy, CO2 tracer gas test results were compared to multizone model simulation results. Assumptions inherent in multizone modeling, most notably well mixed zones with uniform contaminant concentrations, restrict multizone modeling's applicability in determining inter-zonal contamination vulnerability of return air strategy. Since the model assumes a well mixed plenum, simulating the transport of contaminants from the plenum to conditioned spaces by parallel fan powered boxes was not possible. Although there were instances in which multizone modeling accurately simulated inter-zonal contaminant concentration with release zone mixing, simulations were not consistent for different release zone locations and return air strategies.

Subjects/Keywords: CONTAM; building security; Iowa Energy Center Energy Resource Station; multizone model; fan powered box; plenum return; ducted return; tracer gas test; Indoor air quality; interzonal contaminant transfer; occupant exposure; energy model; duct leakage; contaminant dispersion resistance

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

McWhirter, D. M. (2011). Impact of Return Air System on Indoor Air Quality and Building Security. (Masters Thesis). Penn State University. Retrieved from https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/catalog/11908

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

McWhirter, Dylan Montgomery. “Impact of Return Air System on Indoor Air Quality and Building Security.” 2011. Masters Thesis, Penn State University. Accessed February 23, 2020. https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/catalog/11908.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

McWhirter, Dylan Montgomery. “Impact of Return Air System on Indoor Air Quality and Building Security.” 2011. Web. 23 Feb 2020.

Vancouver:

McWhirter DM. Impact of Return Air System on Indoor Air Quality and Building Security. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Penn State University; 2011. [cited 2020 Feb 23]. Available from: https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/catalog/11908.

Council of Science Editors:

McWhirter DM. Impact of Return Air System on Indoor Air Quality and Building Security. [Masters Thesis]. Penn State University; 2011. Available from: https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/catalog/11908

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