Latent heat energy storage through phase-change materials (PCMs) is one possible strategy to control interior temperatures in buildings, improve thermal comfort, and passively reduce building energy use associated with heating and cooling. While PCMs integrated into building structure elements have been studied since the 1970s, challenges of integrating PCMs into building materials while maintaining their heat storage benefits have limited their application in practice. The recent introduction of microencapsulated phase-change materials provides the energy storage capability of PCMs in micron-scale, chemically-inert capsules that can be easily integrated into composite materials such as gypsum wallboard and concrete. The size and physical properties of microencapsulated PCMs suggest that they will behave similarly to filler materials in concrete. Such filler materials are generally less than 125 μm in diameter and can increase concrete strength when added to a mix. This study uses the compressive strength of hardened concrete mixes with varying amounts of PCM to evaluate the effect of PCM addition on concrete structural integrity.
*Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA.