Article by Russell Muren, Rebound-tech
PCM Innovations develops esBITS™ the encapsulated PCM solution for energy efficient wall, ceiling, and molding building products. esBITS™ (energy storage bits) enable building product manufactures to enhance the thermal properties of their existing products without major changes to their manufacturing or installation processes. These esBITS™ enhanced products, once in buildings, can significantly reduce peak energy consumption by maintaining temperatures in the occupant’s comfort zone.
PCM building materials save energy by decreasing a buildings tendency to change temperature with the weather. The PCM in the buildings wallboard, ceiling, or floor is charged/absorbs energy when it gets too hot outside and gives off energy when it is too cold. It does this by melting and freezing at a carefully selected temperature. Picture enjoying a cold glass of ice water outside on a hot day; the air around the glass is hot, but the water stays very cold until all the ice is melted. The same thing happens with PCM enhanced building materials: as the temperature outside goes up, the inside temperature stays at a comfortable level until all the PCM has melted. During that time, the room stayed comfortable and the air conditioner could stay off.
PCM Innovations got its start in PCM building materials while working with a larger British PCM supplier. After their supplier was acquired, PCM Innovations emerged with no ties to any one encapsulated PCM or building material. Without these constraints, PCM Innovations was free to work on developing a wide array of building products with various configurations and temperatures. This is where esBITS™ demonstrate their value. As CEO Joe Parker puts it, “we can optimize it for a particular application in a particular market place”.
To this end, PCM Innovations has demonstrated a wide array of products including: wall boards, attic blankets, custom molding, direct foam board bonding, and direct integration into 3rd party building materials. These products can use any off-the-shelf encapsulated PCM or a mix of two or more to meet the demands of different climates and industries.
In spite of its product portfolio, pushing the envelope of integrated building PCM technology is not without challenges. PCM enhanced building materials are not well understood in the building material marketplace and they do not match well with the industry’s metrics. For example, esBITS™ enhanced products do not have an R-value comparable to typical foam or fiberglass insulation. This can frustrate building material manufactures that rely on these metrics when deciding what technology to incorporate in their products.
To overcome this challenge, PCM Innovations approach each customer with an educational attitude. The first step is making sure the customer understands, on a basic thermodynamic level, what the PCM is doing and how its different then normal insulation. Only after the customer understands how esBITS™ work, can they help PCM Innovations determine the optimum product configuration that yields the best performance with minimal changes to the manufacturing or installation process.
esBITS™ offer a new way for building material manufactures to increase the thermal inertia and energy efficiency of their products. PCM Innovations has positioned itself as a supplier to the mainstream building materials manufactures with a versatile, safe, and effective product.