High tech PCM-containing components for controlling thermal inertia


Control of thermal inertia during the summer season plays a fundamental role in energy efficient building design, especially in Mediterranean regions, where high insulation levels aimed at minimizing winter consumption can lead to situations of overheating in other seasons and nocturnal high temperature do not permit the usage of natural ventilation. 

A possible solution consists in the realization of high thermal inertia by means of Phase Change Materials (PCM), which operate around comfort temperatures and allow energy accumulation at almost constant temperature levels, such that the overheating of built elements is avoided.  The proposed uses are innovative and they regard both the intrinsic characteristics of PCMs (heat available when needed, heat stored and emitted at a constant temperature) and the considerable flexibility of use (various strategies can be used at the same time; the quantity of storable heat can be changed over time with low impact on the construction).

In fact the application of PCM in internal building components required planning in order to  provide strategies for the removal of stored heat as well, in order to avoid its being re-emitted within the same spaces. Mediterranean climatic conditions make the use of night ventilation ineffective, because of the high nocturnal  temperature of outdoor air.

The strategy analyzed in this research integrates PCMs in common radiant comfort systems, hypothesizing the use of aqueduct temperature water sufficient for discharging PCM containing components, rather than cooled fluid.

Working Group
Massimo Lemma, Alberto Giretti, Roberta Ansuini, Costanzo Di Perna (Department of Energetics), Paolo Principi (Department of Energetics), Roberto Larghetti