Cool Temp-Shifting Material Could Cut Home Utility Costs

The very cool (and equally warm) properties of phase change material are just starting to be truly appreciated in a wide commercial sense, and a new development could bring the material into every home. Researchers at the University of Nottingham campus in Ningpo, China have engineered a new type of phase change material that could be used to dramatically reduce heating and cooling bills of homes and offices. The material can be produced in nearly any size and shape – even microscopic pieces that could be sprayed onto the walls of existing buildings.

Phase change materials are superb at regulating heat: they retain heat above a certain temperature and release that heat when the ambient temperature drops below a certain temperature. As a result, a room coated in phase change material would stay at an optimum temperature with far less need for heating and cooling. According to the research team, their lab-created material could reduce a building’s energy use by up to 35 percent and even increase the efficiency of LED lighting and solar panels. It will never replace conventional heating and air conditioning, but it could very well make a huge impact on global carbon emissions.

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See more in New Materials or under Science. August, 2011.