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PATH: Optimal Integration of Renewable and Phase Change Materials in Insulation Systems for the Reduction of Thermal Loads Across Building Walls and Ceilings

University of Kansas Center for Research Inc.

* Mario A. Medina, Principal Investigator
* Marylee Southard, Co-Principal Investigator

Start: September 1, 2005
Expires: August 31, 2008


A team of researchers from four Kansas institutions and agencies and one private industry are developing the next generation of energy efficient building insulation systems. These systems integrate renewable and phase change materials (PCMs) to significantly reduce peak heat transfer rates across walls and ceilings, shift peak cooling loads, and reduce energy use in residential and small commercial buildings.

In this project, the building thermal insulation represents the carrier and holder of the PCMs, which are integrated into the insulation during its manufacturing process. This integration is made possible through innovative encapsulation techniques and reformulated fire-retardant mixtures.

Research in this area is important because the energy spent annually to power space heating and cooling systems in buildings in the U.S. represents about 20 percent of the all annual energy consumed in the country. Therefore, improvements that increase the energy efficiency of building elements (walls, ceilings, floors) are greatly needed. These improvements will:

1. Reduce energy resource use.

2. Ultimately decrease emissions of greenhouse gases.

3. Increase the development of low-energy buildings.

4. Significantly extend current practices by integrating low-temperature energy distribution into the manufacture of high-efficiency wall and ceiling components.

The potential benefits to society include a wider range of product choices for consumers, opportunities to save energy, savings resulting from reduced utility bills and new competitive ventures for manufacturers.

View additional details on this NSF Award.

Content updated on 9/21/2005

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