A recent two-story addition to a bungalow in suburban Melbourne, Australia, uses bio-based phase change material as a lightweight alternative to thermal mass.
Phase Change Energy Solutions’ BioPCM mats containing about 270 kilograms of phase change material were installed above the ceilings, according to architect Penny Guild of Guild Architects. The PCM has a melting point of 24 degrees C. In an e-mail interview, Guild talked about PCM use in the Playtime House project.
Q: What are the projected energy savings related to PCM use in this project?
A: “We didn’t do any specific calculations, but the manufacturer claims between 40 to 80 percent saving in energy bills. The amount of PCM that was put in the project equates to 10kw hours.”
Q: Have you worked with PCM products in the past? Are there plans to use PCM in future projects?
A: “It’s relatively new for the residential market in Australia so I haven’t used it before. The upfront costs are reasonably high, and being a new product there’s not many people that potential clients can turn for advice on its effectiveness. They can’t just ask a friend ‘did you think the PCM was good value in your house’ because no one else has used it. The clients on this project had a high degree of environmental consciousness and both had a science background of some sort (doctor and teacher) and they felt confidant enough it was worth the investment. As the project was an extension above an existing structure adding traditional heavy mass materials was basically impossible which is where the PCM came in.”