Increasing thermal mass in lightweight dwellings using phase change materials – a literature review

Minnie Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The number of houses of lightweight timber or steel frame construction being built over recent years has increased significantly. These buildings have low thermal mass and may be subject to large temperature fluctuations and particular overheating during the summer and this problem is set to get worse with the changing climate. Researchers have been investigating the use of PCMs (phase change materials) for improving thermal mass in lightweight buildings and found them to be effective. However, until recently, various problems have prevented products from entering the commercial market. In the last few years microencapsulated paraffin PCMs have been developed that are easy to use and building products are now available to buy containing these materials. Although there is significant academic research relating to PCMs for thermal buffering in lightweight buildings, there is a lack of field trials and case studies of PCMs in buildings in use. There is also a lack of information and guidance for designers and building owners. Recommendations are made for further research to discover the viability of uptake for PCM wallboard technology and the provision of information about the benefits of the products to the public and industry professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-83
JournalNorthumbria Working Paper Series: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Built and Virtual Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


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