Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Sharp, Michael Keith

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hnat, William

Committee Member

Hnat, William

Committee Member

Brehob, Ellen

Committee Member

Kelecy, Andrea

Committee Member

Biles, William


Heat pipes; Solar energy; Dwellings--Heating and ventilation


This dissertation documents advancements made in passive, renewable energy applications for building space conditioning (heating and cooling). Since, for most climates across the US, space heating requires a much larger annual energy demand than space cooling, the majority of this dissertation is focused on the heating season. The dissertation is divided into five chapters, primarily covering computer simulations and experimental studies pertaining to specific space conditioning technologies. Chapter One discusses the significance of supplanting fossil fuel based energy production with clean, renewable sources, and provides further detail on the organization of this dissertation. Chapter Two provides background on the heat pipe augmented solar wall – a passive solar space heating technology. Additionally, the design, construction, and experimental analysis of the first full-scale prototype for this system are highlighted in the chapter. A new heat pipe system design, which improved heating performance over the original, is the focus of Chapter Three. A prototype of the new model was also constructed, and both models were tested side-by-side in a passive solar test facility, constructed on campus grounds. Exclusive focus on heating loads in Chapters Two and Three shifts to total space conditioning loads in Chapter Four. The heat pipe wall is still the subject of this chapter, in which the effectiveness of implemented system mechanisms in reducing unwanted thermal gains to the room during the cooling season was investigated. Chapter Five focuses on the cooling season only, and lays the groundwork for space cooling solutions by studying the potential of four different ambient sources to meet annual space cooling loads. This final chapter also considers the theoretical thermal storage that would be required, for each respective ambient source, to serve cooling loads throughout the US.