Phase Change Materials in Transparent Building Envelopes: A Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnergies. 2018, 11 (1), 1-19. 10.3390/en11010111
Building envelopes can play a crucial role in building improvement efficiency, and the adoption of Phase Change Materials (PCMs), coupled with transparent elements, may: (i) allow a better control of the heat flows from/to the outdoor environment, (ii) increase the exploitation of solar energy at a building scale and (iii) modulate light transmission in order to prevent glare effects. Starting from a literature review, focused on experimental works, this research identifies the main possible integrations of PCMs in transparent/translucent building envelope components (in glazing, in shutters and in multilayer façade system) in order to draw a global picture of the potential and limitations of these technologies. Transparent envelopes with PCMs have been classified from the simplest “zero” technology, which integrates the PCM in a double glass unit (DGU), to more complex solutions—with a different number of glass cavities (triple glazed unit TGU), different positions of the PCM layer (internal/external shutter), and in combination with other materials (TIM, aerogel, prismatic solar reflector, PCM curtain controlled by an electric pump). The results of the analysis have been summarised in a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis table to underline the strengths and weaknesses of transparent building envelope components with PCMs, and to indicate opportunities and threats for future research and building applications.