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The Role of Phase Change Materials (PCM) for Green Buildings

By Garvit Vyas , 18 November, 2022

A stringent regulatory environment and ambitious plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions have spiked the importance of green buildings. The greening of the construction industry is heavily dependent on materials that will enable them to achieve the levels required. The IEA has concluded that CO2 emissions from current and new buildings are touted to grow from 194 million tons in 2020 to 245 million tons by 2040.

The concept of using phase change materials in construction has been explored for a few years with the intent of energy storage. PCMs can be used in building materials via macro encapsulation or microencapsulation in hollow slabs, PCM-filled bricks, or powdered forms mixed with different materials.

In August 2022, research published by A Aridi From the University of Angers, France, and A Yehya of Harvard University mentions that PCMs have the potential to save 5 to 14 times more energy in 1 unit volume in comparison to conventional storage materials such as masonry or rock. The study further notes that PCMs can store substantial thermal energy in a building through off-peak-load intervals to stabilize the on-peak demand.

Companies such as National Gypsum have been collaborating with PCM providers such as BASF to develop drywall which can help with high thermal energy storage capacity. There has also been a significant rise in interest in biobased PCMs, which can be used in combinations of materials such as beef tallow with coconut oil, palm oil, rapeseed oil, and palm kernel oil. Other PCM materials from waste or by-products include animal fats, fish wastes, pork lard, beef tallow, chicken fat, plastics, and carbon PCM (C-PCM). Research and findings on waste products can make way for the development of durable and cost-effective conventional PCM alternatives in the coming future.

Cooling load effect of PCM

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Garvit Vyas

Analyst