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Ventilation system design for a church pipe organ using numerical simulation and on-site measurement

: Pitsch, S.; Holmberg, S.; Angster, J.


Building and environment 45 (2010), No.12, pp.2629-2643
ISSN: 0360-1323
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBP ()

Since old churches have had heating installed, more complaints have arisen of organs sounding out of tune. Sound frequency of organ pipes is dependent on air temperature. Old churches tend to have very large volumes, so are typically heated just before and during services in wintertime, in order to reduce energy usage. Warm air plumes rise at radiators and spread out into the room, finally reaching the cold organ casing where they cause a non-uniform temperature distribution within. If pipes standing in different temperature zones are played at the same time the organ sounds out of tune due to clearly audible beats (interference between two slightly different frequencies). The purpose of this study was to design a ventilation system inside the organ casing, able to create a uniform temperature distribution around the pipes. A computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model was developed for the St. Martin church in Oberesslingen, Germany. It was validated by on-site measurements that had been carried out in the organ casing of the church. Four organ divisions containing 300-500 pipes were represented by equivalent porous material zones. Their properties were determined using an auxiliary two-dimensional model of a staggered array consisting of 392 pipes. The effect of different ventilation system settings on the temperature field in the organ casing was examined. Best results were achieved by a system consisting of two ventilation lines together with a thin, synthetic net placed at the open interface between church and organ casing in order to reduce warm air inflow.