Procedure to determine the impact of the surface film resistance on the hygric properties of composite clay/fibre plasters


The experimental determination of dynamic mass transfer properties of porous materials such as eco-efficient clay plasters is greatly influenced by the convective conditions at the surface of the material during the test. The measurement of the intrinsic vapour permeability of highly porous materials has shown to present wide discrepancies when the surface film resistance is not known. Therefore, a proper assessment of the hygric properties of clay plasters requires the determination of such resistance to vapour flow. An adapted experimental procedure was used to determine intrinsic water vapour permeability taking into account the influence of the surface film resistance. The moisture buffering test was used to measure dynamic exchange behaviour. The results gave evidence on the thickness of the active layer in the material and the impact of surface resistance on the exchange behaviour. A 1D mass transfer model was used to verify the validity of corrected vapour permeability by the surface film resistance and discuss its nature and influence on dynamic results.

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ρ d :

Dry density (kg/m3)

ϕ :

Porosity (−)

ξ :

Moisture capacity (kg/m3)

δ p :

Apparent water vapour permeability [kg/(m s Pa)]

\(\delta_{p}^{r}\) :

Real water vapour permeability [kg/(m s Pa)]

\(\delta_{p}^{ISO}\) :

“ISO Correction” water vapour permeability [kg/(m s Pa)]

δ a :

Water vapour permeability of air [kg/(m s Pa)]

μ :

Water vapour resistance factor (−)

D p :

Liquid permeability

\(p_{v}^{sat}\) :

Saturation water vapour pressure (Pa)

G :

Total moisture flow rate (kg/s)

A :

Area of the specimen (m2)

β :

Water vapour surface transfer coefficient [kg/(m2 s Pa)]

d :

Thickness of the material (m)

d a :

Thickness of the air layer in the cup (m)

u :

Water content (kg/kg)

w :

Water content (kg/m3)

φ :

Relative humidity (−)

Z s :

External surface film resistance ((m2 s Pa)/kg)

Z Int :

Interior air layer resistance ((m2 s Pa)/kg)


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The research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement n. PCOFUND-GA-2013-609102, through the PRESTIGE programme coordinated by Campus France. The authors wish to thank the French National Research Agency - France (ANR) for funding project BIOTERRA - ANR - 13 - VBDU - 0005 Villes et Bâtiments Durables.

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Correspondence to Fionn McGregor.

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McGregor, F., Fabbri, A., Ferreira, J. et al. Procedure to determine the impact of the surface film resistance on the hygric properties of composite clay/fibre plasters. Mater Struct 50, 193 (2017).

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  • Surface film resistance
  • Vapour permeability
  • Moisture buffering
  • Clay
  • Biobased
  • Plasters