Lead Performer: PolyMaterials App, LLC – Tampa, Florida
-- University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, NM
-- Wichita University – Wichita, KS
DOE Total Funding: $206,365
Project Term: June 29, 2020 March 28, 2021
Funding Type: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Project

Diagram of a panel using encapsulated PCM, and two house diagrams showing heat released and heat absorbed.

The top picture shows encapsulated PCM in ceiling panel, and the bottom picture shows the use in ceiling and working principle, in daytime and nighttime.

Photo © PolyMaterials APP, LLC.

Project Objective

PolyMaterials App, LLC (PolyMaterials) will develop low-cost encapsulated inorganic thermal storage materials with high thermal energy density, which can be effectively applied as ceiling panel materials for energy-saving applications. PolyMaterials is partnering with Dr. Sarada Kuravi, assistant professor, University of New Mexico, and Prof. Muhammad Rahman, Wichita University, as a consultant in the Phase I SBIR project. Encapsulated materials developed by PolyMaterials will address the reduction of subcooling effect, incongruent melting, and phase segregation in phase change materials (PCMs), using unique nanomaterials and fabrication techniques. The resulting encapsulated PCMs will be nontoxic, nonflammable, with drastic reduction in corrosiveness, offering great potential for easy application in building panels.

PolyMaterials’ patented synthesis and fabrication method for the encapsulation of inorganic PCMs allows the production of nano- to milli-sized encapsulated PCM spheres with excellent dispersion and structural integrity, for direct integration into building panels. The larger PCM spheres require a thicker inner material; if the inner material is too soft it will not be stable enough to withstand the pressure and will rupture. To solve this problem a nanocomposite polymeric-gel is created, yielding milli-encapsulated materials that are more stable and easier to handle. The nano-encapsulation method yields unique spheres and can be tailored to have a maximum surface area, for heightened performance and selective thermal regulation. PolyMaterials has the capability to make PCMs with targeted properties, including phase change temperatures between 10o and 30o C using selected eutectic inorganic salt mixtures.

PolyMaterials’ encapsulated PCMs can be integrated directly into a building panel material as shown in the figure above. PCMs in solid form absorb heat from the surroundings and exhibit a cooling effect, as opposed to liquid form where the materials provide a warming effect by releasing heat to the surroundings. The advantage in energy saving can be experienced by incorporating the encapsulated PCMs in all sectors of the construction industries. These PCMs can be applied in roof panels, ceiling panels and drywall, and even to electrical appliances. The release and absorption of energy using encapsulated PCMs can easily reduce temperature fluctuations in buildings, lowering the use of electrical energy for cooling and heating purposes. PolyMaterials’ research on encapsulated inorganic materials will address obstacles currently encountered with PCMs, including corrosiveness, poor stability, and thermal regulation and performance.

Project Impact

PCMs will enable increased renewable energy fraction, reduced emissions, increased efficiency in HVAC equipment and reduced peak loads, as well as increased indoor comfort by reducing temperature fluctuations. In this SBIR Phase I project, PolyMaterials, using innovative encapsulation techniques, will develop unique, low-cost, industrially scalable PCMs, which can be used in envelope-integrated (e.g., ceiling panels) and heating and cooling applications.


DOE Technology Manager: Sven Mumme
Lead Performer: Dr. Manoj Ram, PolyMaterials App, LLC.

Related Publications

  1. Manoj K. Ram, et al., Method of Encapsulating a Phase Change Material with a Metal Oxide, U.S. patent 9,493,695; November 15. 2016.
  2. Manoj K. Ram, et al. Microencapsulated thermochromic materials for self-cleaning and energy efficient coatings for buildings and other applications; U.S. patent PCT/US18/30,886, March 2018.
  3. Manoj K. Ram, et al. "Microencapsulated dimethyl terephthalate phase change material for heat transfer fluid performance enhancement." International Journal of Energy Research 41, no. 2 (2017): 252-262.
  4. S. Kuravi, Y. Goswami, E.K. Stefanakos, Manoj K Ram, et al. Thermal energy storage for concentrating solar power plants, Technology & Innovation, 14 (2012) 81-91.
  5. Manoj K. Ram, Encapsulation on Low Temperature Based Hygroscopic Materials, U.S. provisional patent 62/805,496, filing date 2019/2/14
  6. Y. Zhang, M.K. Ram, et al., Synthesis, characterization, and applications of ZnO nanowires, Journal of Nanomaterials, 2012 (2012).