Palm oil-based bio-PCM for energy efficient building applications: Multipurpose thermal investigation and life cycle assessment
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This study aims at investigating the potential use of a bio-based phase change material, i.e. expired palm oil from the food industry, as a more sustainable alternative to petrochemical-based organic PCMs. To this purpose, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and isoconversional methods (Starink and Miura-Maki methods) are applied and the main thermo-physical properties of the blend are investigated by means of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and extensive thermal monitoring in a controlled realistic environment. Finally, a life cycle assessment is used to evaluate the environmental impact of the bio-based material in comparison to the more common petrochemical-based application. Kinetic analysis results indicate the two dimensional phase boundary reaction model as the most reliable scheme for describing the oxidation of palm oil, with an activation energy of about 73 kJ · mol−1. The DSC and the thermal monitoring procedure, showed two separate melting peaks in the ambient temperature range, which globally guarantee a melting enthalpy of about 50 kJ · kg−1, i.e. of the same order of magnitude of the first developed PCMs. Results from the life cycle analysis reveal that the expired palm oil can be considered a promising material for bio-based latent applications. Globally, the palm oil has proved itself as a promising, low cost, and environmentally friendly alternative for passive thermal storage solutions (e.g. building envelope applications) where stability across multiple thermal cycles, low health risks, and low leakage are crucial parameters to be addressed.