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In this module, the following topics will be covered: 1) the general concept of Phase Change Materials (PCM), 2) understand the applications of PCMs in sustainable energy, 3) recognize the uses of PCM for heating and cooling systems, 4) recognize the uses of PCM in buildings, 5) recognize the uses of PCM in transportation.

Learning objectives

After reading this module, students should be able to

  • learn the general concept of Phase Change Materials (PCM)
  • understand the applications of PCMs in sustainable energy
  • recognize the uses of PCM for heating and cooling systems
  • recognize the uses of PCM in buildings
  • recognize the uses of PCM in transportation


The growing demand for sustainable energy from consumers and industry is constantly changing. The highest demand of energy consumption during a single day brings a continuous and unsolved problem: how to maintain a consistent desired temperature in a sustainable way. Periods of extreme cold or warm weather are the triggering factors for increasing the demand on heating or cooling. Working hours, industry processes, building construction, operating policies, and type and volume of energy production facilities are some of the main reasons for peak demand crises. Better power generation management and significant economic benefit can be achieved if some of the peak load could be shifted to the off peak load period. This can be achieved by thermal storage for space heating and cooling purposes.

Thermal energy can be stored as a change in the internal energy of certain materials as sensible heat    , latent heat    or both. The most commonly used method of thermal energy storage is the sensible heat method, although phase change materials (PCM), which effectively store and release latent heat energy, have been studied for more than 30 years. Latent heat storage can be more efficient than sensible heat storage because it requires a smaller temperature difference between the storage and releasing functions. Phase change materials are an important and underused option for developing new energy storage devices, which are as important as developing new sources of renewable energy. The use of phase change material in developing and constructing sustainable energy systems is crucial to the efficiency of these systems because of PCM’s ability to harness heat and cooling energies in an effective and sustainable way.

Phase change materials for energy storage devices

Thermal storage based on sensible heat works on the temperature rise on absorbing energy or heat, as shown in the solid and liquid phases in Figure Temperature Profile of a PCM . When the stored heat is released, the temperature falls, providing two points of different temperature that define the storage and release functions. Phase change materials are conceptually different, however. They operate by storing energy at a constant temperature while phase change occurs, for example from solid to a liquid, as illustrated in the center of Figure Temperature Profile of a PCM . As heat is added to the material, the temperature does not rise; instead heat drives the change to a higher energy phase. The liquid, for example, has kinetic energy of the motion of atoms that is not present in the solid, so its energy is higher. The higher energy of the liquid compared to the solid is the latent heat . When the solid is fully transformed to liquid, added energy reverts to going into sensible heat and raising the temperature of the liquid.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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