Fiber insulation enhanced with phase change material (PCM) is an excellent fit for the US building market, thanks to its ability to minimize energy consumption for space conditioning and in, turn, reduce peak loads. To date, however, it has been difficult to perform accurate thermal evaluations of these kinds of materials, data which are fundamentally required for any whole-building simulations, energy analysis, and energy code work involving such insulation.
To date, however, it has been difficult to achieve an accurate thermal evaluation of these kinds of materials due to the lack of homogeneity within the material itself. Fraunhofer CSE’s Building Energy Efficiency team took on the challenge to develop an accurate and effective method of thermal evaluation of PCM-enhanced materials.
To address this issue, the Building Enclosures team developed a novel lab-scale testing procedure using a Dynamic Heat Flow Measuring Apparatus (DHMA), a radical improvement on the older rapid temperature ramp methodology. The DHFMA dramatically improved the accuracy of the results with minimal alteration to existing equipment. The Building Energy Efficiency team was able to measure the dynamic properties of PCM-enhanced materials of complex enthalpy curves.
In addition to performing thermal evaluations, the Building Enclosures team was able to use their data as a basis for proposing a novel PCM installation methodology, one that would place PCM-enhanced thermal insulations directly in the core of the building envelope.
CSE's ZNEB assessment work was one of several research projects undertaken by a Fraunhofer CSE-led research team under a task order from the US Department of Energy's Building America Program.