What are PCM’s?

PCMs, otherwise known as Phase Change Materials are materials or compounds that can change phase from a solid to a liquid depending on the temperature to which the material is subjected. PCMs can absorb and release significant amounts of thermal energy as they change phase, thus making PCMs a promising technology that could be implemented within temperature control and management sectors.

When PCMs are subjected to thermal energy they change phase from solid to liquid, during this process they absorb and store heat and then subsequently slowly release it. PCMs will aid Cold Stores by absorbing the heat that is allowed to enter the storeroom and releasing it at a far slower rate.

How can PCMs be used within Cold and chilled storage?

Typically, PCMs are made use of in environments where temperatures are Sub-zero or below ambient, this form of PCM is made up of water and inorganic salts. When this type of PCM is placed within a cold or chilled storage environment, the PCM solidifies as the warehouse is cooled and blowers/chillers are active.

As the PCM melts, it absorbs surrounding heat away from the products in which it is placed allowing warehouse operators to ensure that their products are kept and maintained at a consistent temperature. PCMs could be introduced as a method of regulating the temperature of the stored products as well as assist in reducing the overall energy consumption required to maintain their desired temperature.

Barpro Storage SA (PTY) Ltd.’s Innovative solution and application of PCM’s

Barpro Storage SA has innovated and designed an example of how PCMs could be incorporated within racking to be made use of within Cold & Chill stores. The image below displays Barpro’s proposed concept design.

Within the Concept design, PCM materials are placed within PVC tubing which is then placed within a mesh deck, allowing for the PCMs to take place within each pallet position on the top of each rack, allowing for its distributed efforts to be utilized throughout without taking up valuable pallet position space and allowing PCM’s to be placed throughout a warehouse.

PCMs benefits and savings

Alongside the benefit which they offer by taking the strain away from a cold store cooling system & maintaining the shelf life of their products, PCM’s further offer the benefit of massive energy savings through their implementation. Some of the energy-saving benefits that can be achieved through PCMs include:

  • Maximize refrigeration efficiency by directly consolidating up to 85% of the heat infiltration within the airflow.
  • Reduce energy costs by up to 35%
  • Improve temperature stability
  • Maximize refrigeration efficiencies
  • Control temperatures
  • Save electricity
  • Reduce carbon footprint