Researchers at the Universiti Putra Malaysia report the development of a new method of nanoencapsulating phase change material. They say the PCM has proved its effectiveness in the lab and is ready to be put to the test in ceiling tiles and wallboard designed to lower room temperatures and reduce the use of air conditioning.
The nanoencapsulation method, known as miniemulsion in-situ polymerization, is covered by a Malaysian patent application filed in 2015.
“This NPCM method is the first of its kind in Malaysia that can absorb, store and release thermal heat when the surrounding temperature where the material is located is above or below melting temperature," Dr. Mohd Zobir Hussein said at the university's annual technology innovation day in July. “These properties allow the phase change material to store the thermal energy when it melts and release the energy when it solidifies.”
The research is detailed in several papers published in the past three years, including "Laboratory-Scale Studies on Smart Gypsum Composite Boards Incorporated with Nano-Encapsulated Organic Phase Change Material for Thermal Comfort Building Application" (Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, March 2016):
"Composite boards were prepared by mixing 1–30% by weight nano-encapsulated n-octadecane phase change material (PCM) with gypsum to develop gypsum-based building materials with thermal energy storage (TES) capability. The nanocapsules were prepared by encapsulating n-octadecane in nano-sized styrene-methyl–methacrylate copolymer shells using one-step mini-emulsion in situ polymerization. A thermal performance testing device was designed to evaluate the heat storage effect of the resulting gypsum composite. The results indicated that composite boards containing n-octadecane nanocapsules effectively decreased the temperature peak of the experimental test room compared with gypsum board without n-octadecane nanocapsules."
Related research includes:
• Advanced energy storage materials for building applications and their thermal performance characterization: A review (Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, May 2016)
• Shape-stabilised n-octadecane/activated carbon nanocomposite phase change material for thermal energy storage (Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers, October 2015)
• Nano-encapsulated n-nonadecane using vinyl copolymer shell for thermal energy storage medium (Macromolecular Research, July 2015)
• Nano-encapsulated organic phase change material based on copolymer nanocomposites for thermal energy storage (Energy, March 2014)
Zobir, head of the research team, said in an e-mail interview: "We are looking for a company or manufacturers to commercialize the product, especially for up-scaling the process and subsequently use the product for wallboard or ceiling tiles."