Bio-Based Phase-Changing Material Adds Instant Thermal Mass


Images Credit: Lloyd Alter

So much on show at Greenbuild, the huge green building convention put on by the US Green Building Council, has been seen on TreeHugger; one has to set some standards. So no products with LEEDING The Way or any other bad punning on LEED will be seen; We want game-changers, products and ideas that are applicable and affordable, or change the way we think about building.

One such product is BioPCM (Phase change material), shown above in bottles. It is a mix of soy-based chemicals tuned to change from liquid to solid and vice versa at a given temperature, absorbing and releasing heat, just like water does when it changes state at 32 degrees. it acts like the thermal mass of 12 inches of concrete.

It doesn't look like much, (especially with my photography) but those little pillows contain the phase change material. If you live in a part of the country where it gets cooler after the sun goes down, it will absorb the heat in the daytime, cooling you off, and release it at night.

BioPCM™ is not insulation. Insulation works by increasing the thermal resistance of a building, slowing the flow of heat in and out of the structure. BioPCM™ works by increasing the thermal mass of a building, therefore increasing the time it takes for the structure of a building to warm up or cool down. The product is designed to help keep a structure at a prescribed temperature.

Thermal mass is a great way of essentially storing heat from solar gain in the daytime and releasing it at night. It is a reason we like rammed earth and trombe walls; their thermal mass evens out the temperatures between day and night. th BioPCM does the same thing, without the mass. Studies show that it can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 30%.

And all you do is unroll it and staple it on like a vapour barrier. A gamechanger from Phase Change Energy Solutions.

It isn't the first phase change material we have shown; Dupont sells one in Europe. But this one is a lot cheaper at about $2.00 per square foot, and is not based on petroleum products like paraffin. We have also been waiting for this stuff to be available for years, first covering it in TreeHugger in 2005. It is about time.

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Tags: Energy Efficiency | greenbuild | Green Building