Armstrong Ceilings launches its CoolZone system - ceiling cassettes which absorb heat when temperatures are high
Launched at Ecobuild this year after two years in development, the ceiling cassettes incorporate the use of PCM (Phase Change Material). PCM is a non-toxic material which absorbs heat when temperatures are high, typically during the day, and releases it when temperatures drop, typically at night. It is ideally suited to climates like the UK's that drop below 20ºC at night.
While this passive technology has been around for 50 years, the Zero Carbon agenda and Part L of the Building Regulations have helped to drive its incorporation into building products ranging from wall boards through plaster and screed to ventilation systems.
Armstrong Ceilings' system is particularly innovative because the PCM material has been incorporated into the cassettes specifically to enable a variety of sizes to be used so that a room's aesthetics are not compromised. It is also one of the least intrusive solutions, especially for refurbishment purposes.
The PCM units can be exchanged for standard ceiling cassettes with minimum disruption, delaying the requirement for air conditioning by up to eight hours by reducing high-usage peaks, helping use up to 50/70% less energy.
A trial of CoolZone at an architects' office in central London saw a number of PCM metal cassettes replace standard mineral tiles in the centre of the ceiling of a basement meeting room that was suffering from overheating and heavily reliant on air-conditioning.
The 600x600mm PCM tiles, which are reversible and can be wholly recycled at the end of their life, comprise an infill of 25% PCM material with a melt point of 23ºC, providing a total heat storage capacity of 136.2 Wh/m².
They covered 60% of the 47.5m² ceiling in the room that had an air circulation rate of 13l/s m² managed by a split HVAC system incorporating a ventilation fan. Occupancy, temperature, airflow and air conditioner energy use were monitored for six months.
The pilot showed that when heat could be purged at night, the room used 20% and 70% less energy compared to a similar untreated room.
These are just some of the results of the two-year R&D programme by Armstrong Ceilings during which more than 50 different PCM materials, configurations and conditions were tested. Further testing and validation has recently been concluded by BSRIA.