Phase Change Materials in Infrastructural Concrete and Buildings: Material Design and Performance

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Description

Phase change materials (PCMs) are combined sensible-and-latent thermal energy storage materials that can be used to store and dissipate energy in the form of heat. PCMs incorporated into wall-element systems

Phase change materials (PCMs) are combined sensible-and-latent thermal energy storage materials that can be used to store and dissipate energy in the form of heat. PCMs incorporated into wall-element systems have been well-studied with respect to energy efficiency of building envelopes. New applications of PCMs in infrastructural concrete, e.g., for mitigating early-age cracking and freeze-and-thaw induced damage, have also been proposed. Hence, the focus of this dissertation is to develop a detailed understanding of the physic-chemical and thermo-mechanical characteristics of cementitious systems and novel coating systems for wall-elements containing PCM. The initial phase of this work assesses the influence of interface properties and inter-inclusion interactions between microencapsulated PCM, macroencapsulated PCM, and the cementitious matrix. The fact that these inclusions within the composites are by themselves heterogeneous, and contain multiple components necessitate careful application of models to predict the thermal properties. The next phase observes the influence of PCM inclusions on the fracture and fatigue behavior of PCM-cementitious composites. The compliant nature of the inclusion creates less variability in the fatigue life for these composites subjected to cyclic loading. The incorporation of small amounts of PCM is found to slightly improve the fracture properties compared to PCM free cementitious composites. Inelastic deformations at the crack-tip in the direction of crack opening are influenced by the microscale PCM inclusions. After initial laboratory characterization of the microstructure and evaluation of the thermo-mechanical performance of these systems, field scale applicability and performance were evaluated. Wireless temperature and strain sensors for smart monitoring were embedded within a conventional portland cement concrete pavement (PCCP) and a thermal control smart concrete pavement (TCSCP) containing PCM. The TCSCP exhibited enhanced thermal performance over multiple heating and cooling cycles. PCCP showed significant shrinkage behavior as a result of compressive strains in the reinforcement that were twice that of the TCSCP. For building applications, novel PCM-composites coatings were developed to improve and extend the thermal efficiency. These coatings demonstrated a delay in temperature by up to four hours and were found to be more cost-effective than traditional building insulating materials.

The results of this work prove the feasibility of PCMs as a temperature-regulating technology. Not only do PCMs reduce and control the temperature within cementitious systems without affecting the rate of early property development but they can also be used as an auto-adaptive technology capable of improving the thermal performance of building envelopes.