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Building Insulation Better With 3D-Printable Phase Change Material

Jul, 2021 - By WMR

Building Insulation Better With 3D-Printable Phase Change Material

The potential to incorporate phase change components into building materials in a scalable manner opens the door to more passive temperature regulation in both the existing and new frameworks.

Thermostats are among the most energy intensive systems in use, so inactive temperature control could be an effective strategy to decrease emission levels. Phase change materials look promising in this regard and technicians at Texas A&M have now designed a 3D printable PCM composite. When the temperature changes, the matter phases among these materials also changes, as the term phase change is self-explanatory. Insulation is one of the most promising applications for this technology, as it absorbs heat, the PCM melts into a liquid, trying to cool the environment.

The substance will solidify again when the ambient temperature cools, releasing the heat it has stored. Previously, the PCMs were used to keep the drinks heated in the coffee cups, garments that remain warm, liquid layers that protect against freeing and construction materials which regulate temperature indoors. This is the last study to be improved by the scientists. Prior PCMs were quite expensive and inefficient since a shell was needed to accumulate their liquid shape. This requires that pellets of PCMs are incorporated into a constructive material, but fewer of those can fit into this shape and this demand may be difficult to scale. This new research included a direct blending of a PCM to a construction material between the scientists of Texas. Like PCM, they combined paraffin wax with molten state as a framework to create a soft, gel material, which can be molded when required.

It can be healed with ultraviolet light once in the desired form to toughen the adhesive. The conclusion is a hard substance that is sufficiently robust to encompass the interior of the PCM. Without the necessity of extra shells, the PCM is packed more thoroughly, consisting of about 63% of the material which increases its temperature control. Most interestingly, now, the material is more readily available in bulk. Its slipperiness makes it possible to create a 3D printable ink that can be produced at a much cheaper price that the other PCM construction materials in any type of size or shape.

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