Comparison of two tracer gas dilution methods for the determination of clothing ventilation and of vapour resistance

G. Havenith, P. Zhang, K. Hatcher, H.A.M. Daanen

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Clothing microclimate ventilation is an important parameter in climatic stress and in contaminated environments. The two main methods for its determination (Crockford et al. (CR) 1972 and Lotens and Havenith (LH) 1988) were, after further development, compared in terms of reproducibility, validity and usability. Both methods were shown to have a good sensitivity and reproducibility (with average coefficients of variation 1.5-2.3% for the method alone and up to 7% for method and clothing/movement effects combined). They produced values very close to calibration values in forced ventilation tests (r = 0.988). Weak points for the CR method were the limits in the time constant of the measurement apparatus, causing an upper limit to the ventilation that can be reliably measured (around 800 l/min) and the method of measuring clothing microclimate volume. The original 'vacuum oversuit' (CR) method was cumbersome and prone to large errors. Alternative methods of measuring clothing microclimate volume (whole body scanner or manual circumference measurements) were shown to produce good results. For the LH method, the distribution of the tracer gas over the whole skin surface became a problem factor at very high ventilations (above 1000 l/min). As all methods use tracer gases (O2, Ar, CO2, SF6) with diffusivities smaller than that of water vapour, this potentially creates a problem in the calculation of vapour resistance from the ventilation values in the region where the emphasis of vapour transfer moves from diffusion to convection. In most real-life situations, where body and air movement are present, a correction is not however required because the error remains below 10%. Statement of Relevance: Clothing ventilation indicates heat loss potential as well as risk of pollutants entering the clothing. Two main methods for its determination are compared and validated, identifying a number of issues. An in-depth analysis is given of the advantages and disadvantages of the available methodologies. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)548-558
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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