Good Thinking

Phase-change drywall boards store and release heat to save power

Phase-change drywall boards st...
The phase-change drywall absorbs heat during the day, and releases it at night
The phase-change drywall absorbs heat during the day, and releases it at night
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The phase-change drywall absorbs heat during the day, and releases it at night
The phase-change drywall absorbs heat during the day, and releases it at night

Scientists from Spain’s Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have created a new type of drywall, that they claim can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 40 percent. Its secret? Lots of tiny beads of paraffin.

Unlike regular drywall boards (also known as gypsum boards) which use pure plaster, paraffin microcapsules constitute almost half of the plaster mixture used in the new boards. When factors such as sunlight, electrical motors and body heat cause the temperature within a building to rise, that paraffin turns to a liquid state. In doing so, it absorbs some of the ambient heat, causing the building to cool down.

At night, when the ambient temperature drops, the paraffin solidifies, releasing the heat it stored earlier. This helps the building keep from getting too cool.

In tests of the technology, it was found that a 1.5-inch (38-mm)-thick board made from the material had five times the thermal energy capacity as a piece of regular drywall of the same thickness. A six-inch (15-cm) layer of hollow brick masonry was shown to have about the same capacity as the new drywall.

It was also noted that in an area of a building where the material was used, a temperature range of 20 to 30ºC (68 to 86ºF) could be maintained without the use of air conditioning – keep in mind, this was in Spain.

The researchers admit that the use of phase-change materials such as paraffin in drywall is not an entirely new idea, and in fact one product is already commercially available. That material is reportedly composed of just 26 percent paraffin, however, while the technology used to create the new material boosts its paraffin content to 45 percent.

Source: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Peter Winquist
And is it fireproof ?
That was the first question I had: Does it affect the drywall fire resistance rating? A wall filled with liquid paraffin doesn't sound too fireproof. But then if it is locked away from oxygen, maybe it can't burn? would it instead explode as it changed to vapour?
Maybe it would be fine for some reason since there is already another product on the market stuffed full of the paraffin.
Bill Gresham
Sounds fantastic! Where do I get it? Your question is an important one Peter. Paraffin is a fuel isn't it?
We are going to metal studs to reduce the flammability of buildings and they want to put in drywall that in a fire will be 40% flammable liquid to spread the fire faster. Not in my house.
"Not entirely new" ? I would say not new at all. The article presents the technology as innovative, whereas those products are not only commercially available but effectively used in practice and have their established name: PCM (phase change materials). I'm expecting from GIZMAG more balanced articles about what is really innovative and what is just an improvement of established products and technologies.
Not new at all:
Bob Stuart
Drywall is made with gypsum, not plaster. That's why it needs paper facing, but can be nailed.
I have never seen "a piece of regular drywall" that was 1.5" thick. I would like to see the benefit at a normal thickness.
re; chopperwalker
Two 3/4 inch sheets are used to make a wall "fireproof" that obviously wouldn't work here.
Mike Berry
F.E.S-Board® is an engineered tongue and groove profiled panel incorporating a bio-based phase change material which can be used as a wall or ceiling panel. Phase change materials store energy in a latent form. They undergo an endothermic process of phase change to store heat energy when ambient temperature rises and exothermic process to release this energy when the temperature drops. In building applications, these processes are desirable in a narrow temperature range close to the human comfort temperature with large amounts of heat being absorbed and released http: //
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