As the likelihood grows for climate change to potentially wreak havoc with seasonal temperatures around the world, it not only has implications for our outdoor environment but indoors, as well: When rooms inside buildings become uncomfortably hot, for example, it can negatively affect the well-being and the performance of those living or working there.
Now construction materials made with BASF’s Micronal® PCM — a heat-trapping phase change material — could represent a game-changing alternative to or a complementary solution for power-consuming air-conditioning and heating systems. By absorbing and storing superfluous heat as and when required, the micro-encapsulated Micronal phase change material helps keep ambient room temperatures comfortable for longer. Construction systems manufacturer Knauf recently released "Comfortboard 23," a gypsum product made with Micronal, into the German market, with plans to release worldwide.
When temperatures rise, the Micronal PCM material within Knauf’s Comfortboard 23 is activated, BASF says. The paraffin wax core of the microscopic Micronal PCM polymer capsules begin to melt around temperatures of 23° Celsius, leading to an absorption of heat and preventing the room temperature from rising. When temperatures drop in the evening and the room temperature goes down, the absorbed heat gets re-released — the core of the latent heat storage material cools down, solidifies and is once more ready to absorb the next temperature peak on the following day.
"Gypsum boards are standardized construction materials that are used in virtually all building projects — irrespective of whether they are new build or renovation projects — to clad ceilings, attic slopes and wall systems. Hence, using boards made of Micronal PCM results neither more work nor additional installation costs during processing,” explains Marco Schmidt, Head of Business Management Micronal PCM at BASF. “There is, however, a significant increase in the building’s retention capacity, which constitutes an important contribution to sheltering it against summertime heat."
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BASF says Micronal PCM facilitates intelligent temperature management – without the use of energy- and maintenance-intensive climate control systems. Another option is to combine an air-conditioning system with a latent heat storage facility. The air-conditioning system needed in such a case would be much smaller. The material could also help cut heating costs in winter months.
Due to the minute size of its particles, Micronal PCM with its latent heat storage effect can be incorporated in virtually all building materials — from drywall boards to interior plaster.
BASF has already used the product for its own building projects: Drywall boards made with Micronal PCM were last used as part of a cooling concept for the "LuMit" Employee Center for Work-Life Management in Ludwigshafen.
Speaking of materials innovations, other recent announcements from BASF — which just unveiled its new Solution Steering Method for assessing the sustainability of its entire portfolio of products — include a versatile, bio-based polyamide called Ultramid; and making headway on a biodegradable material for disposable diapers.