What is Phase Change Material?

Think of your home like a drink cooler… 

If you wanted to keep the temperature inside a cooler ideal for drinks, why would you use a heating and cooling system to do this when you could use ICE (aka Phase Change Material)? Yet this is exactly what we do with our buildings.

Infinite R™ is a building product that behaves as a Phase Change Material (PCM) designed to freeze and thaw at the exact temperature you want, to keep your living and working spaces closer to target temperature without the use of conventional energy sources.

When your home or space gets hot (from solar gain, occupants, cooking, partying etc), Infinite R™ absorbs unwanted heat as the material inside it’s cells begin to melt. Later when the temperatures get cooler, Infinite R™ released that heat as it begins to freeze (at night) – all the while maintaining the space at a comfortable target temperature.

Within Walls

Installing Infinite-R™ PCM toward the inside of the building envelope, close to the conditioned space causes the PCM to act as a thermal battery that helps lock the building closer to intended comfort range.

In certain climates, the PCM can be installed outbound of the insulation system, however this is better suited to locations with very high cooling requirements. There are two reasons for primarily choosing “internal to insulation” PCM placement;

#1 – It is far more likely to select a PCM which can be active and benefit the building all year round, [eg. 73ºF/23ºc] – Having the PCM installed to the exterior of the insulation system (to the outside) means that any heat in winter will be released to the outdoors vs benefiting the building.

#2 – From an energy load perspective, most buildings have the greatest % of cooling loads as a result of internal, not internal loads. What this means is that with high quality weatherization, insulation, windows and doors the amount of cooling attributed to heat coming through walls is less than 10% of overall cooling. Most cooling is the result of heat gains through windows (solar), internal occupants, internal heat loads such as cooking, appliances and other activities. Since this is the case, the PCM installed to the inside of a building is far more likely to absorb free heat in winter, while also limiting the impact of heat buildup in summer.

Attics – Under Insulation

Your building envelope is much like the human body. When you keep the head and feet at optimal temperature [cap and boots], it tends to be easier to regulate temperature overall. Of all the places within the thermal envelope, the roof/ceiling [cap] is the most important. Most of any heat coming into a building envelope in summer happens through the ceiling/roof and most of the heat lost from an envelope in winter also happens through the ceiling/roof.

Installing Infinite-R™ PCM to the underside of insulation in the attic or roof system is a perfect way to optimize performance of a building/home and is the first and primary location we recommend installing. In winter, the PCM will absorb heat that would otherwise escape, helping to maintain temperatures well into the night in the cold of winter. In summer, the PCM will absorb heat making it’s way down through the roof system and stop the rise in temperature within the home.