A numerical study of external building walls containing phase change materials (PCM) Articles uri icon


  • Rodriguez Sanchez, D
  • Molina, A.E
  • Almendros ibaƱez, J.A

publication date

  • December 2012

start page

  • 73

end page

  • 85


  • 47

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1359-4311

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5606


  • Phase Change Materials (PCMs) have been receiving increased attention, due to their capacity to store large amounts of thermal energy in narrow temperature ranges. This property makes them ideal for passive heat storage in the envelopes of buildings. To study the influence of PCMs in external building walls, a one-dimensional transient heat transfer model has been developed and solved numerically using a finite difference technique. Different external building wall configurations were analyzed for a typical building wall by varying the location of the PCM layer, the orientation of the wall, the ambient conditions and the phase transition temperature of the PCM. The integration of a PCM layer into a building wall diminished the amplitude of the instantaneous heat flux through the wall when the melting temperature of the PCM was properly selected according to the season and wall orientation. Conversely, the results of the work show that there is no significant reduction in the total heat lost during winter regardless of the wall orientation or PCM transition temperature. Higher differences were observed in the heat gained during the summer period, due to the elevated solar radiation fluxes. The high thermal inertia of the wall implies that the inclusion of a PCM layer increases the thermal load during the day while decreasing the thermal load during the night.