A Non-Volatile Thermal Switch for Building Energy Savings: Article No. 100960

Ruijiao Miao, Ravi Kishore, Sumanjeet Kaur, Ravi Prasher, Chris Dames

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Compared with traditional static insulation, a thermally switchable building envelope could reduce annual heating and cooling loads by intermittently coupling to the outside environment when beneficial. Here, we demonstrate a voltage-actuated, contact/non-contact thermal switch that meets the unique challenges of this application. The switch is non-volatile, consuming electricity only briefly while switching and none to hold steady state. The switch ratio is 12, the off state has a low effective thermal conductivity of 0.045 W m^-1K^-1, comparable to fiberglass insulation, and the performance is stable over 1,000 switching cycles. Numerical simulations using real-world climate data show that combining this thermal switch with a thermal storage layer in a building envelope can yield annual energy savings of 9%-55% (heating) and 17%-76% (air conditioning), depending on the climate zone. The greatest benefits are realized when the exterior temperature crosses well above and below the desired interior temperature within a single 24 h period.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
JournalCell Reports Physical Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-82569


  • buildings
  • dynamic insulation
  • envelopes
  • switch ratio
  • thermal switch


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