Vacuum insulation panel (VIP) is a promising thermal insulator for buildings, refrigerator, LNG carrier and so on. In general, it has the thermal conductivity of 2~4 mW/m·K. However, this thermal conductivity is that measured at the center of VIP. The total effective thermal conductivity of VIP is larger than this value due to the edge conduction through the envelope. In this paper, the edge conduction of VIP is examined theoretically, numerically and experimentally. To confirm the existence of the edge conduction, numerical analysis is performed for simple two-dimensional VIP model and a theoretical model is proposed to calculate the edge conductivity. Also, the edge conductivity is measured using the vacuum guarded hot plate and the experiment is validated against numerical analysis. The results show that the edge conductivity is dependent on the width of panel and thickness of Al-foil. To reduce the edge conduction, it is recommended that the VIP should be made as big as possible or made of thin Al film envelope.
Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP) can achieve very low thermal conductivity by evacuating its inner space. Heat transfer in the core materials of highly-evacuated VIP occurs by conduction through the solid structure and radiation through the pore. The effect of various scattering modes in combined conduction-radiation in VIP is investigated through numerical analysis. The discrete ordinates interpolation method (DOIM) incorporated with the commercial code FLUENT® is employed. It is found that backward scattering is more effective in reducing the total heat transfer while isotropic scattering is almost identical with pure absorbing/emitting case of the same optical thickness. For a purely scattering medium, the results agrees well with additive solution with diffusion approximation, while a modified term is added in the effect of optical thickness to backward scattering is employed. For other scattering phase functions, it is also confirmed that backwardly scattering phase function gives a lower effective thermal conductivity. Thus the materials with backward scattering properties, with radiation shields are desirable to lower the thermal conductivity of VIPs.
To practically apply vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) to buildings or home appliances, VIPs have demanded long-term lifespan with outstanding insulation performance. Service lives of VIPs enveloped with Al-foil and three-layer Al-metallized envelope are calculated. For Al-foil envelope, the service life is longer but edge conduction is too large compared with the Al-metallized envelope. To increase service life even more, the proposed double enveloping method and metal-barrier-added enveloping method are further analyzed. The service lives of the VIP to employ two enveloping methods are calculated. Also, pressure increase and thermal insulation performance characteristics are investigated. For the metalbarrier- added enveloping method, effective thermal conductivity increase with time is close to that of Al-foil envelope, especially, for getter-inserted VIPs. For double enveloping method, if water vapor is perfectly adsorbed, the effect of service life enhancement becomes much greater. From these methods, the VIP can be guaranteed for service life of more than 20 years.