Inorganic phase-change materials
Phase-change materials (PCMs) are a passive thermal management solution for regulating indoor temperature while lowering the use of air conditioning. PCMs can be embedded in walls, floors, and ceilings. PCMs melt during the day, absorbing heat and keeping the building cool, just as ice melts in your drink and keeps it cold and refreshing. At night, when temperatures drop, they automatically solidify and recharge for the next day, releasing the stored heat into the cool air.
The CoolFlux additive for insulation is comprised of microparticles of inorganic phase-change materials. In contrast, most PCM-enhanced building materials currently available use organic PCMs. These are readily processed and reversibly undergo thermal cycling. However, they are flammable and made of expensive raw materials that must be highly purified. In addition, these building materials are often incompatible with existing construction processes.
Inorganic PCMs, on the other hand, store about twice as much energy per volume as organic PCMs, use cheaper raw materials, tolerate impurities, and are flame-retardant. They would be the PCM materials of choice if issues surrounding their processing and manufacture, such as thermal cycling and encapsulation of the PCM, could be circumvented. CoolComposites has already solved the former. We are currently working to overcome the latter through the elegant solution of direct addition of CoolFlux to existing building materials, such as polyurethane foam insulation.