Novel Building Envelope Materials with Enhanced Durability that Reduce Energy Consumption

  • Technology Readiness Level: 3

Abstract
Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new process to incorporate phase change materials (PCMs) into construction materials. According to the World Green Building Council, the buildings and construction sector is responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that over half of energy use in homes is for heating and air conditioning. PCMs store energy by undergoing phase changes, which reduces energy consumption in buildings. PCMs moderate the effect of outside temperature changes on the indoor environment by converting changes in thermal energy into phase changes. Currently, PCMs are incorporated into other materials via microencapsulation or macroencapsulation. However, use of PCMs is limited either due to their negative effect on strength and durability in the case of microencapsulation or by limitations of the shape and production method in the case of macroencapsulation. The Purdue researchers’ method involves incorporating the PCMs into construction materials after they’ve already formed, thereby increasing strength and enhancing durability while increasing the thermal inertia of the material. This method can be used to turn bricks, concrete panels and drywall into materials that store thermal energy, reducing energy consumption of heating and cooling, improving thermal comfort and making buildings more energy resilient against power outages and energy crises. This would reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings as well as operational costs. The method can be also applied to produce pavers and other precast elements to reduce formation of ice and cause a higher rate of snow and ice melting.

Technology Validation: Preliminary tests showed that, after applying the Purdue researchers’ method, a typical commercial brick presented a final porosity of 0.01% of the volume of the brick. The PCM incorporated represented a 6.6% of the volume of the brick. The thermal inertia increased by 5.9%, and the strength increased by 11.9%. In other preliminary tests, the researchers produced concrete (or mortar) bricks and panels with a reduction of the porosity of 33%, a content of 7% of PCM (by volume) and an increase of thermal inertia of 24.7%.

Advantages

  • Reduces building energy consumption and, thus, CO2 emissions
  • Provides better thermal comfort in buildings
  • Increases strength and durability of construction materials
  • Decreases water permeability of construction materials
  • Decreases energy costs
  • Has a scalable, automatable manufacturing process

Potential Applications

  • Incorporation into construction materials to reduce heating and cooling energy use

Contact Information

Name: Parag S Vasekar

Email: psvasekar@prf.org

Phone: (765) 588-3342