Research and application of active hollow core slabs in building systems for utilizing low energy sources

Xinhua Xu, Jinghua Yu, Shengwei Wang, Jinbo Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The society and the building professionals have paid much concern in recent years on building energy efficiency and the development and applications of low energy technologies for buildings/green buildings allowing the elimination, or at least reduction of dependence on electricity or fossil fuel while maintaining acceptable indoor environment. Utilizations of favorable diurnal temperature difference and ground thermal source for air conditioning are among these low energy technologies. Utilization of the hollow cores in the prefabricated slab for ventilation and the mass of the slab for thermal storage is widely used in building systems in Europe by exploiting the low energy source of the ambient air. These hollow core slabs aim at enlarging the heat transfer surface between the slab mass and the air in the core, which permits substantial heat flows even for relatively small temperature differences. This, in turn, allows the use of low energy cooling or heating sources, such as the ground, outside air or recovered process heat.In this paper, we present a comprehensive review of the research and application of active hollow core slabs in building systems for utilizing low energy sources. The principle and development of active hollow core slabs in building systems for leveling the indoor temperature fluctuation by ventilation air passing the cores are described. Calculation models of the active hollow core concrete slab as well as the practical applications and performance evaluation of the slab applied in building systems for air conditioning are also critically reviewed, One-dimensional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional models can be found in the literature for successfully simulating these heat transfer process. A finite element or finite difference method is often used for problem solving of two-dimensional or three-dimensional models. These detailed numerical solutions usually require lots of computation demand and limit the practical application in conventional building simulation packages. Simplified thermal network models are simple and easy to be developed, the parameters of these thermal network models were determined manually based on the geometry description of the slab which may deteriorate the modeling accuracy. Simulation-based performance evaluations and in situ measurements show that significant energy and operation cost could be saved, the peak cooling load or heat load can also be reduced significantly when conventional air-conditioning systems are used as supplements. Finally, this review shows that more works on the active slab are worthwhile for further promoting these slabs to be used in low energy architecture for improving energy efficiency and occupant thermal comfort wherever the climate is appropriate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-435
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Active hollow core slab
  • Calculation model
  • Energy efficiency
  • Low energy source
  • Performance evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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