Study on the optimum PCM melting temperature for energy savings in residential buildings worldwide
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To maintain comfort conditions in residential buildings along a full year period, the use of active systems is generally required to either supply heating or cooling. The heating and cooling demands strongly depend on the climatic conditions, type of building and occupants' behaviour. The overall annual
energy consumption of the building can be reduced by the use of renewable energy sources and/or passive systems. The use of phase change materials (PCM) as passive systems in buildings enhances the thermal mass of the envelope, and reduces the indoor temperature fluctuations. As a consequence, the overall energy consumption of the building is generally lower as compared to the case when no PCM systems are used. The selection of the PCM melting temperature is a key issue to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings. The main focus of this study is to determine the optimum PCM melting temperature for passive heating and cooling according to different weather conditions. To achieve that, numerical simulations were carried out using EnergyPlus v8.4 coupled with GenOpt® v3.1.1 (a generic optimization software). A multi-family residential apartment was selected from ASHRAE Standard 90.1- 2013 prototype building model, and different climate conditions were considered to determine the optimum melting temperature (in the range from 20ºC to 26ºC) of the PCM contained in gypsum panels. The results confirm that the optimum melting temperature of the PCM strongly depends on the climatic conditions. In general, in cooling dominant climates the optimum PCM temperature is around 26ºC, while in heating dominant climates it is around 20ºC. Furthermore, the results show that an adequate selection of the PCM as passive system in building envelope can provide important energy savings for both heating dominant and cooling dominant regions.