Measuring the human body's microclimate using a thermal manikin



The human body is surrounded by a microclimate, which results from its convective release of heat. In this study, the air temperature and flow velocity of this microclimate were measured in a climate chamber at various room temperatures, using a thermal manikin simulating the heat release of the human being. Different techniques (Particle Streak Tracking, thermography, anemometry, and thermistors) were used for measurement and visualization. The manikin surface temperature was adjusted to the particular indoor climate based on simulations with a thermoregulation model (UCBerkeley Thermal Comfort Model). We found that generally, the microclimate is thinner at the lower part of the torso, but expands going up. At the head, there is a relatively thick thermal layer, which results in an ascending plume above the head. However, the microclimate shape strongly depends not only on the body segment, but also on boundary conditions: The higher the temperature difference between the surface temperature of the manikin and the air temperature, the faster the airflow in the microclimate. Finally, convective heat transfer coefficients strongly increase with falling room temperature, while radiative heat transfer coefficients decrease. The type of body segment strongly influences the convective heat transfer coefficient, while only minimally influencing the radiative heat transfer coefficient.