Improvements to concrete will have a large impact in the construction and building sector. As the attention is drawn towards energy-efficient and zero emission buildings, the thermal properties of concrete will be important. Attempts are being made to decrease the thermal conductivity of concrete composites while retaining as much as possible of the mechanical strength. In this study experimental investigations of aerogel-incorporated mortar (AIM) with up to 80 vol% aerogel are prepared utilizing a reduced ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) recipe. It was found that at 50 vol% aerogel content, the AIM sample possessed a compressive strength of 20 MPa and a thermal conductivity of ≈0.55 W/(mK). This strength decreased by almost a factor of 4–5.8 MPa, while gaining only a 20% improvement in thermal conductivity when aerogel content increased to 70 vol%. No preferred gain in properties was observed as compared to a normal mortar system. This can be attributed to the imbalance of the particle–matrix ratio in the mortar system, causing a decrease in adhesion of the binder-aggregates. The AIM samples have been characterized by thermal conductivity and mechanical strength measurements, alongside scanning electron microscope (SEM) analyses.
Phase change materials (PCM) have received considerable attention over the last decade for use in latent heat thermal storage (LHTS) systems. PCMs give the ability to store passive solar and other heat gains as latent heat within a specific temperature range, leading to a reduction of energy usage, an increase in thermal comfort by smoothing out temperature fluctuations throughout the day and a reduction and/or shift in peak loads. The interest around PCMs has been growing significantly over the last decade. Hence, several commercial products have arrived on the market with various areas of use in building applications. This study reviews commercial state-of-the-art products found on the market and show some of the potential areas of use for PCMs in building applications. Examples of how PCMs can be integrated into buildings, and furthermore building materials and projects using PCMs that have already been realized, have also been reviewed. There seems to be a scarcity of data published on actual performance in real life applications so far. However, many laboratory and full scale experiments have shown positive results on energy savings. Furthermore, future research opportunities have been explored and challenges with the technology as of today have been discussed.
Low-emissivity (low-e) materials can be used in order to reduce energy usage in both opaque and transparent areas of a building. The main focus for low-e materials is to reduce the heat transfer through thermal radiation. Furthermore, low-e materials will also influence on the daylight and total solar radiation energy throughput in windows, the latter one often characterized as the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). This work reviews low-e materials and products found on the market, and their possible implementations and benefits when used in buildings. The SHGC is often left out by many countries in energy labellings of windows. With opaque low-e materials, research is still ongoing to correctly calculate the effect with regard to thermal performance when applied in buildings. Future research perspectives on where low-e technologies may develop are explored. To the authors’ knowledge, there seems to be little available literature on how ageing affects low-e materials and products. As this is of large significance when calculating energy usage over the lifetime of a building, ageing effects of low-e materials should be addressed by manufacturers and the scientific community.
The application of traditional thermal insulation materials requires thicker building envelopes in order to satisfy the requirements of the emerging zero energy and zero emission buildings. This work summarizes the steps from the state-of-theart thermal insulation materials and solutions, like vacuum insulation panels (VIP), gas-filled panels (GFP) and aerogels which all have various drawbacks, to our concepts and experimental investigations for making superinsulation materials (SIM) like e.g. nano insulation materials (NIM).
Glass represents an important and widely used building material, and crucial aspects to be addressed include thermal conductivity, visible light transmittance, and weight for windows with improved energy efficiency. In this work, by sintering monolithic silica aerogel precursors at elevated temperatures, aerogel glass materials were successfully prepared, which were characterized by low thermal conductivity [k ≈ 0.17–0.18 W/(mK)], high visible transparency (Tvis ≈ 91–96 % at 500 nm), low density (ρ ≈ 1.60–1.79 g/cm3), and enhanced mechanical strength (typical elastic modulus Er ≈ 2.0–6.4 GPa). These improved properties were derived from a series of successive gelation and aging steps during the desiccation of silica aerogels. The involved sol → gel → glass transformation was investigated by means of thermo-gravimetric analysis, scanning electron microscopy, nanoindentation, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Strategies of improving further the mechanical strength of the obtained aerogel glass materials are also discussed.