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Active thermal mass enhancement using phase change materials

Whiffen, T.R.; Russell-Smith, G.; Riffat, Saffa


T.R. Whiffen

G. Russell-Smith

Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems


Buildings account for around 40% of energy consumption in the UK. For over twenty years active thermal mass systems have been a feature in low-energy buildings in northern Europe. By passing ventilation air, and utilising night ventilation, through the hollow core structures efficient heating and cooling has been achieved. Despite the success, such systems suffer from space overheating and efficiency losses during extended hot periods. Control strategies have largely mitigated this effect however low cost retrofit solutions that enhance the system are of interest. This research therefore investigates the benefit of using innovative phase change material (PCM) solutions to enhance thermal comfort and reduced energy usage of traditional active thermal mass systems.

A prototype PCM enhancement was constructed, with energy saving and comfort benefits investigated under controlled laboratory conditions. In absolute terms the PCM solution offered an additional 12.5% energy storage capacity and a 29% increase in active surface area, coupled with the existing sensible thermal mass. Under laboratory conditions the PCM addition saved an additional 0.1 kWh per day, delayed AC onset by 1.2 h and offered an average 1.0 °C reduction in room temperature during 8 h of fixed internal heat gain, contrasted against the original active thermal mass system.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Journal Energy and Buildings
Print ISSN 0378-7788
Electronic ISSN 0378-7788
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 111
APA6 Citation Whiffen, T., Russell-Smith, G., & Riffat, S. (2016). Active thermal mass enhancement using phase change materials. Energy and Buildings, 111,
Keywords Active thermal mass ; Phase change materials ; Thermal mass ; Free cooling ; Night cooling ; Energy-efficient cooling
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


Active thermal mass enhancements using phase change materials_Manuscript.pdf (1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

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