Evaluation of Phase Change Plaster/Paste Composites for Building Envelopes

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10 Scopus Citations


Thermal energy storage (TES) materials increase a building's thermal mass and provide the flexibility to shave and time-shift energy use. These materials are needed to enable grid-interactive efficient buildings, allowing building occupants to lower costs by leveraging free ambient heating/cooling as well as shifting consumption to cheaper electricity periods. Phase change materials (PCMs) that store heat through a solid–liquid/solid–solid transformation are of particular interest for TES because of their ability to store large amounts of energy across a constant temperature or very small temperature range. Previous studies on PCM building envelopes evaluated products that may only be incorporated as part of new construction and are not easily applicable to existing, energy-intensive buildings. In this work, we leverage laboratory PCM characterization and whole-building energy simulation to study the energy and cost savings of PCM plaster/paste coatings, which can be applied post construction to both new builds and retrofits of existing buildings (about 40% of residential buildings in the United States fall into the retrofit category). We evaluated the energy impact of PCM plaster/paste composites for a single-family residential building in the United States, including layer design (location and thickness), composite properties (phase change temperature, energy density, and shape of the enthalpy curve), and U.S. climate zone. The enthalpy curve shape of PCM shows that phase change temperature and energy density are not the only two parameters that must be considered for PCM selection. Maximizing the energy density amid the effective TES zone is key to boosting energy savings. We also studied PCM price targets with the aim of achieving reasonable payback periods based on both block and time-of-use electricity rates. Moreover, we developed an empirical equation to provide a rough estimate of the energy savings potential of incorporating PCM without the need to perform detailed simulations. These results will help guide the selection and design of PCM plaster/paste composite elements for residential building envelopes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number111372
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-77615


  • Building energy simulation
  • Payback period
  • Phase change plaster/paste
  • Residential building envelopes
  • Thermal energy storage (TES)


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