Coventry University and the RESSEEPE partners have been very busy over the past few months progressing the RESSEEPE research into the demo site activities phase. It’s at this point where the practical end of the demonstrations is coming into action and the really exciting work is happening. Having been a part of the project since its initial practical kick off its great to see the technologies explored as a part of the project actually gong onto the buildings. Over the next few weeks a number of articles will be released discussing each of the technologies installed at Coventry University.
The first major works at Coventry consisted of the installation of Phase Change Materials (PCM). PCM is a passive system, which behaves similar to ice, in that the material ‘freezes’ and melts at a fixed temperature. The PCM installed in Coventry is a S27 phase change material, which is a salt hydrate that peaks at 27oC. In reality, the PCM may start the melting process at 25oC and be completely liquid at 29oC. In reverse, the PCM may show signs of solidification at 29oC and be completely solid at 25oC.
The PCM Tubes are installed and respond to the surrounding temperature of the room. At the beginning of the day, the TubeICE are frozen. As the room heats up due to body heat, and heat from the sun, the PCM Tubes passively cool the room by absorbing the heat until completely melted.
The duration of the cooling effect is dependent on the intensity of the heat being absorbed. I.e. the PCM will melt quicker if the ambient temperature in the room is 40oC compared to if the temperature is 35oC, much like a block of ice would. As the temperature cools over night, so does the PCM. The PCM effectively looses energy to the immediate surroundings, charging for the next day.
One of the challenges with installation was due to the unknown entity of the PCM. A number of local contractors were approached to install but were put off by the increased risk factor when dealing with a technology which is very new. Contractors rightly so have to consider the increased level of risk and liability that they will take on when dealing with something they have little precedent or experience in handling. In reality once a contractor had been identified the installation was fairly straight forward. Certain protocols had to be adhered to such as a structural assessment of the space and an asbestos survey, both to ensure that firstly the structure could hold the increased loading of the PCM tubes and secondly to ensure that no surprises were found in regards to asbestos. Both were cleared and the installation was quick and uneventful. As can be seen from the image the PCM tubes were fixed using a standard tube fixing bracket system which was fixed to the underside of the ceiling.
PCM technology was installed within the Architecture Studio and 2 offices within the John Laing Building at Coventry University. The spaces and tubes will be energy monitored over the next year to gather full performance data, which will be objectively compared to controls rooms neighbouring the spaces. Below the PCM tube can be seen in-situ.
Contributors – Danny McGough and PCMproducts
- Coventry University research – Link here
- RESSEEPE Website – Link here
- School of Energy, Construction and Environment (https://www.facebook.com/ececovuni/)
- PCM – http://www.pcmproducts.net/