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An optimal two-bout strategy with phase change material cooling vests to improve comfort in hot environment

Itani, Mariam, Ghaddar, Nesreen, Ouahrani, Djamel, Ghali, Kamel, Khater, Beatrice
Journal of thermal biology 2018 v.72 pp. 10-25
cooling, energy, heat, humans, melting point, metabolism, models, phase transition, sensation
Cooling vests incorporating phase change material (PCM) packets are used to improve comfort of workers in hot environments. This work aims to investigate by modeling and experimentation the effect of dividing the working duration into two bouts, where different PCM melting temperatures are used in each bout. An integrated bio-heat and fabric-PCM model predictions of physiological and subjective votes are validated via active human subject testing at hot conditions. A parametric study is performed to select, at two conditions (40°C and 45°C), the optimal PCM melting temperatures of the two bouts that would result with similar thermal comfort and sensation to the optimal single-bout case. The optimal case achieves most reductions in energy use for PCM regeneration, PCM carried weight and material cost.The results of the parametric study showed that heat storage is reduced in the second bout due to wearing the second vest with lower PCM melting temperature, thus thermal comfort and sensation are significantly improved. The optimal case at the 40°C environment uses a vest with 21°C PCMs in the first bout and a vest with 21°C PCMs in the second bout (V21→V21). At 45°C, the optimal case is V18→V10 with significant PCM weight reductions from the reference single bout case by a minimum of 47%. Thus, the issue of extra carried weight that affect metabolism and ease of movement when applying continuous cooling during work have been mitigated by using the two-bout strategy.