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Du Pont claims an extraordinary thermal mass breakthrough

A major product manufacturer has claimed that it has solved the age-old problem of low thermal mass in lightweight structures.

Energain is a phase-change material that moves from a solid to a liquid state at 22°C, absorbing a large amount of ambient heat.

On cooling it reconverts at 18°C, emitting heat into the cooling space.

Du Pont claims the material, a paraffin wax mixed with a copolymer that prevents leakage, has the equivalent thermal mass to a standard concrete block.

The 5mm-thick panels are intended for use behind plasterboard on walls or ceilings.

The multi-national manufacturer claims that independent tests in France have shown that temperature peaks and troughs can be reduced by up to 7°C.

It also claims that savings on the running costs of air conditioning are up to 35 per cent, and in some cases air conditioning can be eliminated altogether, thus also cutting carbon emissions.

Panels come in standard plasterboard dimensions and can be cut to size, with edges sealed with aluminium tape for fire protection. The material has passed fire tests with the Building Research Establishment.

Raymond Reisdorf, research engineer with Du Pont, who developed the product, said that the combination of the wax with the copolymer 'gave us the possibility to create an easy, practical and patented solution in the form of a panel that could be easily installed into the building envelope and would not leak when cut or drilled'.

Du Pont, which developed the product in Luxembourg, chose the UK for its first launch because of the prevalence of lightweight construction and because of the new Part L.

by Ruth Slavid

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