Phase Change Materials for Applications in Building Thermal Energy Storage

M.A. Habib, M.M. Rahman
Wichita State University,
United States

Keywords: phase change materials, building, energy storage


Phase change materials (PCMs) have excellent thermal energy storage (TES) potential to provide thermal comfort in buildings by lowering the cooling and heating energy demands. A phase change material has high energy density because of latent heat property. Phase change materials can be used in several building applications such as space heating/cooling, waste heat recovery, solar water heating, and power generation. Research has shown that thermal energy storage with phase change materials can be applied for peak electricity demand saving or increased energy efficiency in heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The primary grid benefit of thermal energy storage is load shifting and shedding by replacing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system operation during peak times and recharging the storage system during off-peak times. Additional efficiency benefits come from shifting HVAC system operations to periods when the system can operate more efficiently and at a lower cost. This paper discusses the present state-of-the-art of PCMs for thermal energy storage systems for buildings applications. It provides a deep insight into recent efforts to develop new phase change materials, showing strengthened achievement and safety. Specific observations are given to enhance thermal conductivity, encapsulation methods, and shape stabilization procedures, and flame retarding properties. A broad range of phase change materials for building applications, focusing on their significant advantages and limitations, are presented. Many disadvantages to phase change materials can negatively impact; lack of public awareness of phase change materials and high cost of implementation means that final solutions are still under investigation towards becoming recognized solutions. Along with raising public awareness of phase change materials, several other factors were identiļ¬ed as areas that need require further studies. As most phase change materials involve cyclic thermal degradation, it would be predominant that innovative ways to provide non-intrusive maintenance on residential building phase change material systems be developed before they become an accepted solution.