Phase change materials result in cost savings

January 18, 2012  By: Korky Koroluk Construction Corner

A building material that absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night promises to save building owners a bundle of cash when it's time to pay the monthly electricity bill.

They’re called phase-change materials, or PCMs, and scientists have been experimenting with them for decades. Although there have been some efforts to introduce them to construction markets in North America and Europe, they remain largely unknown or ignored.

Now though, PCMs are getting a place in the spotlight.

A new building for the molecular engineering department of the University of Washington, in Seattle, has PCMs encapsulated in its wall and ceiling panels.

The expectation is that cooling costs will be as much as 98 per cent lower than one would expect for a 77,000-square-foot building.

The most common PCM is probably ice.

Drop a couple of cubes in your drink and they cool it by slowly absorbing heat, as they melt.

It’s such an obvious property that one might wonder why it’s important.

But what about other PCMs?

Those used in the Seattle building take the form of a gel derived from vegetable oils and the phase change occurs, not at the freezing point of water, but at room temperature.

It remains a gel when the air in the building is cool, but gradually absorbs heat and liquefies as the building’s heat load increases during the day.

The result is an indoor environment, in which the temperature fluctuations are small, just as they are in buildings with a significant solar mass.

The PCM panels, called BioCPM, were supplied by Phase Change Energy Solutions, of North Carolina, and the company’s founder, Peter Horwath.

He said the idea is the same as using thick concrete walls. His panels are 1.25 centimetres thick but, he said, “act like the thermal mass of 25 centimetres of concrete.”

The PCMs are set during manufacture to maintain a temperature of about 23 C.

As the building’s heat load increases during the day, the PCMs gradually melt, storing heat and cooling the building’s interior. Then, at night, as the heat load diminishes, the PCMs change back to gel.

In Seattle’s climate, the overnight cooling will be accomplished by having automatic windows open to flood the interior with cool night air.

In other climates, the air conditioning can be run at night, when power rates are low, to cool the indoor air enough to trigger the phase change back to a gel.

The same PCMs used in Seattle are also being introduced into the roofing market, as interest in the concept grows.

Scientists have been experimenting with other PCMs, as well. There is a system that uses tiny capsules of paraffin waxes embedded in drywall.

There have been lab experiments trying to use the phase-change properties of beeswax to store solar energy.

A British firm, Star Refrigeration, is experimenting with carbon dioxide, which changes phase (from gas to solid) at extremely low temperatures.

The building on the University of Washington campus is almost finished, with occupancy expected within weeks. It’s a 77,000-square-foot structure costing $77.7 million and is the first of two phases.

Since it will house the molecular engineering department, it’s nice to see that the building will not be only a working building, but a demonstration project as well.

Buildings are energy hogs. In the United States, it’s estimated that buildings consume more than 70 per cent of the electricity generated in the country.

There has been a push to make buildings lighter, making them quicker and cheaper to build.

The trade-off, though, is indoor temperatures that fluctuate more, which means higher heating and cooling costs. PCMs seem to offer one way to deal with that trade-off.


News of Housing Industry

Ten Predictions for the Housing Market…

Ten Predictions for the Housing Market… (1219)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-02-19 12:53:02

By Dawn Wotapka  January 20, 2012 Last year, David Goldberg, UBS’s home-builder analyst, issued 1…

Read More...

Realtors in Dalton get pep talk on economy…

Realtors in Dalton get pep talk on economy… (1358)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-01-27 15:57:21

  by Ellis Smith DALTON, Ga. -- Few metropolitan areas suffered as much during the recession as D…

Read More...

Protesters take message to Hampton bank customers…

Protesters take message to Hampton bank customers… (1251)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-01-20 17:20:52

Posted: Jan 20, 2012 1:19 AM EST Updated: Jan 20, 2012 1:34 AM EST By STEVEN REILLY HAMPTON…

Read More...

Housing a drag on growth…

Housing a drag on growth… (1508)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-01-12 14:59:31

Written by DOUG WILLIAMS The News Journal Jan. 11, 2012 The economic recovery in Delaware and the…

Read More...

Corker opposes write-down of mortgage principal…

Corker opposes write-down of mortgage principal… (1297)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-01-10 21:48:55

By Vicki Needham - 01/10/12 12:00 PM ET A Tennessee Republican is concerned that taxpayers will…

Read More...

Fed President Adds Own Suggestions to Housing White Paper…

Fed President Adds Own Suggestions to Housing White Paper… (1563)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-01-06 15:11:57

by Jann Swanson Jan 6 2012, 12:49PM   In remarks prepared for delivery to the New Jersey Bank…

Read More...

Housing market expected to make small gains in ’12…

Housing market expected to make small gains in ’12… (1346)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2012-01-06 09:13:10

By KATHLEEN LYNN The Record (Hackensack N.J.) HACKENSACK, N.J. – The housing market – staggering…

Read More...

Les Kramsky, A Highly Regarded Real Estate Attorney, Gives Predictions for 2012…

Les Kramsky, A Highly Regarded Real Estate Attorney, Gives Predictions for 2012… (1450)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2011-12-31 13:15:35

MARLBORO, N.J., Jan. 5, 2012  Les R. Kramsky, Esq., the General Counsel to the Money Store, is one…

Read More...

U.S. Ocean Imports Grow 5 Percent in November…

U.S. Ocean Imports Grow 5 Percent in November… (1301)

Administrator (News Housing Industry ) 2011-12-31 13:15:35

Recovering Home Sales Market Pushes Rebound, Reports The Journal of Commerce/PIERS NEWARK, N.J., J…

Read More...

News of Building Material

Consumers & Professionals Continue to Embrace Green Builds, Despite Economic Conditions…

Consumers & Professionals Continue to Embrace Green Builds, Despite Economic Conditions… (1409)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2012-01-27 16:00:26

Importance of Green Building Materials Expected to Continue to Grow Austin, TX (PRWEB) January 27…

Read More...

New Building Material to Improve Concrete Infrastructure…

New Building Material to Improve Concrete Infrastructure… (1301)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2012-01-20 17:03:38

By Joel Scanlon Construction projects rely on conventional concretes that are made up of water, ce…

Read More...

Phase change materials result in cost savings…

Phase change materials result in cost savings… (1863)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2012-01-18 19:19:46

January 18, 2012  By: Korky Koroluk Construction Corner A building material that absorbs heat duri…

Read More...

Recovery in the Concrete, Gypsum, and Plaster Products…

Recovery in the Concrete, Gypsum, and Plaster Products… (1346)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2012-01-17 16:10:19

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 Recovery in the Concrete, Gypsum, and Plaster Products Market to Follow R…

Read More...

Housing Recovery Buoys Furniture, Wood Imports…

Housing Recovery Buoys Furniture, Wood Imports… (1268)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2012-01-06 15:06:23

Furniture Imports Rise With Home Sales Bill Esler | 01/06/2012 5:28:00 AM   NEWARK, NJ - Furni…

Read More...

Ryan Homes Announces the Grand Opening…

Ryan Homes Announces the Grand Opening… (1894)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2012-01-05 19:11:21

Published: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 - 1:49 pm CLINTON, Md., Jan. 5, 2012  NVR, Inc. (NYSE: N…

Read More...

Cooper Industries Announces Three Acquisitions…

Cooper Industries Announces Three Acquisitions… (1860)

Administrator (News Building Material) 2011-12-30 23:25:29

Acquisitions Broaden Access to Key Emerging Markets, Expand Harsh and Hazardous Product Offering,and…

Read More...

News of Construction Industry

U.S. Companies Add 170,000 Workers in January…

U.S. Companies Add 170,000 Workers in January… (1441)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-02-01 17:18:43

U.S. Companies Add 170,000 Workers in January Companies added 170,000 workers in January, reflecti…

Read More...

More Corporate Subsidies, More Jobs?…

More Corporate Subsidies, More Jobs?… (1321)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-01-13 17:08:41

Friday, January 13, 2012 STATE – Last week, Gov. Chris Christie signed the “Grow New Jersey” bill…

Read More...

Rural Areas Slower to Rebound…

Rural Areas Slower to Rebound… (1590)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-01-13 17:07:06

By ANTOINETTE MARTINPublished: January 12, 2012 FOR whatever reason, homes sales picked up in New…

Read More...

NJ fares well in home safety report…

NJ fares well in home safety report… (1374)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-01-11 18:00:20

By Asia J Martin / The Cranford Chronicle Cranford Chronicle CRANFORD — Today the Insurance Inst…

Read More...

NJ makes it easier to build in sensitive areas…

NJ makes it easier to build in sensitive areas… (1301)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-01-10 09:35:40

January 10, 2012 9:21 AM ET By WAYNE PARRY TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey on Monday passed leg…

Read More...

Real Estate May Begin to Come to Life in 2012…

Real Estate May Begin to Come to Life in 2012… (1306)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-01-06 09:05:44

By KATHLEEN LYNN MCT Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 10:48 p.m. HACKENSACK, N.J. | The…

Read More...

Bill would let private groups build and run some New Jersey public schools…

Bill would let private groups build and run some New Jersey public schools… (1599)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2012-01-05 18:58:14

By Rita Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer Jan. 05--A pilot program that would let private manag…

Read More...

Hertz Equipment Rental Acquires DW Pumps…

Hertz Equipment Rental Acquires DW Pumps… (1817)

Administrator (News Construction Industry) 2011-12-31 13:21:07

HERC Acquisitions Support Revenue Diversification Strategy -- PARK RIDGE, N.J., Jan. 5, 2012 …

Read More...

/