LBNL Report Number
Accurately analyzing heat transfer in window frame cavities is essential for developing and characterizing the performance of highly insulating window products. Window frame thermal performance strongly influences overall product thermal performance because framing materials generally perform much more poorly than glazing materials. This paper uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling to assess the accuracy of the simplified frame cavity conduction/convection models presented in ISO 15099 and used in software for rating and labeling window products. (We do not address radiation heat-transfer effects.) We examine three representative complex cavity cross-section profiles with varying dimensions and aspect ratios. Our results support the ISO 15099 rule that complex cavities with small throats should be subdivided; however, our data suggest that cavities with throats smaller than seven millimeters (mm) should be subdivided, in contrast to the ISO 15099 rule, which places the break point at five mm. The agreement between CFD modeling results and the results of the simplified models is moderate. The differences in results may be a result of the underlying ISO correlations being based on studies where cavity height/length (H/L) aspect ratios were smaller than 0.5 and greater than five (with linear interpolation assumed in between). The results presented here are for horizontal frame members because convection in vertical jambs involves very different aspect ratios that require three-dimensional CFD simulations. Ongoing work focuses on quantifying the exact effect on window thermal performance indicators of using the ISO 15099 approximations in typical real window frames.