Comparing predictions by existing explicit emission models to real world observations of formaldehyde emissions from solid materials

  • Christopher Just JohnstonEmail author
  • Toke Rammer Nielsen
  • Jørn Toftum
Research Article Indoor/Outdoor Airflow and Air Quality


Existing general explicit mass transfer models for volatile organic compound emissions have been validated against experimental results from small test chambers. This study compared emission rates predicted by such models to observations from homes, large test chambers and full scale experiments. The comparison revealed that the examined explicit emission models could not simulate behaviour observed under real world conditions for the cases studied. It is hypothesised that the reasons for the observed discrepancies include that: (1) There is a shortage of detailed information on the actual physical conditions at the emitting surfaces under real world conditions. (2) The mathematics behind the explicit emission models does not allow such models to fully capture the dynamic behaviour of a system with varying temperature and relative humidity. (3) The assumption that change in the concentration in an emitting material is determined by diffusion alone, implicitly implying that generation is negligible, may not be valid outside small test chambers.


volatile organic compound formaldehyde emissions mass transfer small test chambers building material 


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We would like to thank Jianyin Xiong, PhD, Distinguished Research Fellow, Director of the Institute of Thermal Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology for providing insight and expertise that greatly helped in our research. We would also like to thank Weihui Liang, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University and Professor Xudong Yang, PhD, Deputy Director of the Department of Building Science, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University for sharing their data on long term HCHO emissions (Fig. 6). Finally we want to thank Ásta Logadóttir, PhD, Senior Researcher, Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University and Professor Lars Gunnarsen, PhD, Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University for collecting and sharing the data on HCHO concentration levels in Danish homes (Fig. 5).


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Just Johnston
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Toke Rammer Nielsen
    • 2
  • Jørn Toftum
    • 2
  1. 1.The NIRAS GroupLillerødDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringTechnical University of DenmarkBrovejDenmark

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