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Best Uses of Air-                         Keeping Warm, Keeping Cool.

Communicating and teaching insulation and ventilation - thermal barriers and bridges; convection, advection and conduction. 

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Air has two important thermal properties: 

We can use these properties to maximise our personal comfort levels with minimal disruption to the environment.  

Teaching Best Uses of Air -The Challenge: Air and low frequency radiation  (infrared radiation) have one great thing in common. We cannot see them but we can feel them. We feel air as pressure. We feel low frequency radiation as heat or the transfer of thermal energy.  The challenge is to make these invisible properties of air visible. See also Revealing our Thermodynamic Beings.


The Greenhouse Education Model for communicating and teaching Insulation (Building and Clothing).    

We place great value on sensory data derived from tactile experiences and greenhouses present us with a vital ‘window of opportunity’ to know the invisible.  

This is because greenhouses offer unique opportunities to experience the controlled suppression of convection  and advection.


 Students can immerse themselves in a human designed and controlled microclimate and have these concurrent, cumulative experiences:

Feel the lack of air pressure (lack of wind) inside the greenhouse.

See the equally transparent nature of air inside and outside.

Feel the difference between the ambient temperature generated inside and out by an identical heat source (solar, fossil fuel, geothermal, electric).

See and compare interior and exterior biospheres at the same time.    

This immersion experience can be extended and linked to a range of common insulation experiences:

buildings and vehicles. 

suppressed air movement in bubble wrap and double-glazing.

suppressed air movement at the microscopic level. Examples of the microscopic are the naturally occurring hollow core fibres in wool and the manufactured hollow core fibres in polyester insulation.  


Greenhouse vent systems provide graphic and sensory experiences in the use of air’s capacity for convection and advection in cooling and warming.

The glass structure provides valuable lessons in controlling solar radiation. This is illustrated in the use of reflective (white or silver foil) materials and of absorptive (black) materials to optimise solar radiation and artificial light flows.

  These experiences contribute to a greater understanding of air and its effective use in the design, manufacture and operation of clothing and buildings. This is important because large volumes of valuable energy forms (electricity) and fuels (oil, coal, gas and wood) are consumed keeping us warm and cool.

Effective use of air can enhance personal comfort levels while conserving these resources for future generations.

  This page is part of a programme  Communicating and Teaching the scientific principles underlying Climate Change issues.


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Air has a large capacity to transfer thermal energy by convection and advection.

Air has a small capacity to transfer thermal energy by conduction.  




Symbol of  infrared radiation



Convection = upward movement of air mass.        

Advection = horizontal movement of air mass. 















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