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Improving the energy efficient of manufactured lightweight housing: Integrating phase-change material with passive solar design

Goodfield, David (2008) Improving the energy efficient of manufactured lightweight housing: Integrating phase-change material with passive solar design. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Improving the energy efficiency of the built environment is fundamental to slowing the current increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases and hence global warming. Thermal energy storage in buildings is a key component of energy conservation and the use of phase change materials is now regarded as one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of achieving this. Space conditioning systems using integrated phase-change materials exhibit significantly higher thermal capacities than conventional systems and are therefore able to reduce and normalize extremes of high and low temperatures within the home. Various techniques have been used over time and this thesis describes the results of spring and summer trials using microencapsulated phase-change material plasterboard to improve thermal performance in lightweight buildings.

The author assisted in the design, supervision of construction, commissioning and thermal performance monitoring of a prototype lightweight manufactured park home in the warm temperate climate of Mandurah, 65 kms south of Perth, Western Australia. The microencapsulated phasechange material plasterboard was used as an integrated active and passive space heating and cooling system within the prototype. The summer trials involved the combination of using the plasterboard together with a fan assisted ventilation system; the spring trials described the use of the plasterboard together with a natural gas fire as a sensible heat source. Under cool conditions the fan
ventilation system was also used to heat the building.

This prototype indicates that innovative use of the new technology is a cost-effective way to improve the thermal performance and energy efficiency of housing under both summer and winter conditions. The thesis reports on the findings that have emerged from various planning, design, construction and preliminary monitoring activities. The project has verified that the costs of adding phase-change
materials are viable when integrated in volume manufactured lightweight housing with the added benefits of ignificantly reduced heating cooling costs and reduced greenhouse emissions. In fact, the benefits at this early stage have proven significant enough for the village development company to incorporate the new plasterboard within the design specification of all 415 homes in their next lifestyle village currently under construction.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Pettitt, Bradley and Anda, Martin
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