Civil Engineering and Architecture Vol. 2(2), pp. 92 - 102
DOI: 10.13189/cea.2014.020204
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CFD Analysis of Tensile Conical Membrane Structures as Microclimate Modifiers in Hot Arid Regions

Amira M. Elnokaly *
Lincoln School of Architecture, College of Arts, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, United Kingdom


Extensive research has been undertaken to understand form finding and the structural behaviour of tensile membrane structures (TMS). In comparison, little is known about the environmental behaviour of this class of structure and a lack of predictive tools for informing their design serves as a barrier to their wider acceptance by the building industry. This paper presents part of a research study carried out to investigate the effect of various forms, configurations and orientations of conical TMS on the airflow behaviour under, around and above these structures for application in hot arid climates. The airflow behaviour and airspeed in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space significantly influence thermal comfort in hot-arid climates. Part of this research involved a parametric study of the airflow behaviour of conical TMS scaled models with different geometrical configurations and orientations in an environmental wind tunnel. The results of this experimental investigation were compared with results from investigations carried out in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software “FLUENT 5.5” on 1:20 and 1:1 models. The comparison showed that the CFD modelling was able to replicate much of the behaviour observed in the wind tunnel and the approach was extended to explore arrays of conical TMS. This paper presents the CFD modelling undertaken to explore airflows over varying conical tensile fabric structures. The modelling is carried over single conical structures either inverted or straight. These investigations explore how the form, geometry and orientation of a conical TMS affect the airflow rates. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the form and geometrical configuration affect the airflow behaviour and hence the thermal comfort level of the occupants of the semi-enclosed space.

Tensile Membrane Structures, Airflow, Environmental Behaviour, Comfort Level, CFD Modelling, Wind Tunnel Investigation

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Amira M. Elnokaly , "CFD Analysis of Tensile Conical Membrane Structures as Microclimate Modifiers in Hot Arid Regions," Civil Engineering and Architecture, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 92 - 102, 2014. DOI: 10.13189/cea.2014.020204.

(b). APA Format:
Amira M. Elnokaly (2014). CFD Analysis of Tensile Conical Membrane Structures as Microclimate Modifiers in Hot Arid Regions. Civil Engineering and Architecture, 2(2), 92 - 102. DOI: 10.13189/cea.2014.020204.