Fire safety aspects of PCM-enhanced gypsum plasterboards: An experimental and numerical investigation

Eleni Asimakopoulou, Dionysios Kolaitis, Maria Founti

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)
    27 Downloads (Pure)


    New trends in building energy efficiency include thermal storage in building elements that can be achieved via the incorporation of Phase Change Materials (PCM). Gypsum plasterboards enhanced with micro-encapsulated paraffin-based PCM have recently become commercially available. This work aims to shed light on the fire safety aspects of using such innovative building materials, by means of an extensive experimental and numerical simulation study. The main thermo-physical properties and the fire behaviour of PCM-enhanced plasterboards are investigated, using a variety of methods (i.e. thermo-gravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, cone calorimeter, scanning electron microscopy). It is demonstrated that in the high temperature environment developing during a fire, the PCM paraffins evaporate and escape through the failed encapsulation shells and the gypsum plasterboard's porous structure, emerging in the fire region, where they ignite increasing the effective fire load. The experimental data are used to develop a numerical model that accurately describes the fire behaviour of PCM-enhanced gypsum plasterboards. The model is implemented in a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) code and is validated against cone calorimeter test results. CFD simulations are used to demonstrate that the use of paraffin-based PCM-enhanced construction materials may, in case the micro-encapsulation shells fail, adversely affect the fire safety characteristics of a building.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)50-58
    JournalFire Safety Journal
    Early online date11 Feb 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: [1] L.F. Cabeza, A. Castell, C. Barreneche, A. de Gracia, A.I. Fernandez, Materials
    used as PCM in thermal energy storage in buildings: a review, Renew. Sustain.
    Energy Rev. 15 (2011) 1675–1695.
    [2] D. Zhou, C.Y. Zhao, Y. Tina, Review on thermal energy storage with phase
    change materials (PCMs) in building applications, Appl. Energy 92 (2012)
    [3] F. Agyenim, N. Hewitt, P. Eames, M. Smyth, A review of materials, heat transfer
    and phase change problem formulation for latent heat thermal energy storage
    systems (LHTESS), Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 14 (2010) 615–628.
    [4] C. Voelker, O. Kornadt, M. Ostry, Temperature reduction due to the application
    of phase change materials, Energ. Build. 40 (2008) 937–944.
    [5] N. Soares, J.J. Costa, A.R. Gaspar, P. Santos, Review of passive PCM latent heat
    thermal energy storage systems towards buildings’ energy efficiency, Energy
    Build. 59 (2013) 82–103.
    [6] N. Shulka, A. Fallahi, J. Kosny, Performance characterization of PCM impregnated
    gypsum board for building applications, Energy Procedia 30 (2012)
    [7] D. Banu, D. Feldman, F. Haghighat, J. Paris, D. Hawes, Energy-storing wallboard:
    flammability tests, J. Mater. Civil Eng. 10 (1998) 98–105.
    [8] C.Y. Wang, C.N. Ang, Effect of moisture transfer on specific heat of gypsum
    plasterboard at high temperatures, Constr. Build. Mater. 16 (2004) 505–515.
    [9] D.A. Kontogeorgos, M.A. Founti, Numerical investigation of simultaneous heat
    and mass transfer mechanisms occurring in a gypsumboard exposed to fire,
    Appl. Therm. Eng. 30 (2010) 1461–1469.
    [10] D.I. Kolaitis, M.A. Founti, Development of a solid reaction kinetics gypsum
    dehydration model appropriate for CFD simulation of gypsum plasterboard
    wall assemblies exposed to fire, Fire Saf. J. 58 (2013) 151–159.
    [11] V.V. Tyagi, S.C. Kaushik, S.K. Tyagi, T. Akiyama, Development of phase change
    materials based microencapsulated technology for buildings: a review, Renew.
    Sustain Energy Rev. 15 (2011) 1373–1391.
    [12] A. Sharma, V.V. Tyagi, C.R. Chen, D. Buddhi, Review on thermal energy storage
    with phase change materials and applications, Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 13
    (2009) 318–345.
    [13] P. Sittisart, M.M. Farid, Fire retardants for phase change materials, Appl. Energy
    88 (2011) 3140–3145.
    [14] Y. Cai, Y. Hu, L. Song, Y. Tang, R. Yang, Y. Zhang, Z. Chen, W. Fan, Flammability
    and thermal properties of high density polyethylene/paraffin hybrid as a formstable
    phase change material, J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 99 (2006) 1320–1327.
    [15] M. Hunger, A.G. Entrop, I. Mandilaras, H.J.H. Brouwers, M.A. Founti, The behavior
    of self-compacting concrete containing micro-encapsulated phase
    change materials, Cement Concrete Compos. 3 (2009) 731–743.
    [16] M.N.A. Hawlader, M.S. Uddin, M.M. Khin, Microencapsulated PCM thermalenergy
    storage system, Appl. Energy 74 (2003) 195–202.
    [17] W.D. Walton, P.H. Thomas, Estimating temperatures in compartment fires, in:
    P.J. DiNenno (Ed.), SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, National Fire
    Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 1995.
    [18] L. Sanchez-Silva, J.F. Rodriguez, A. Romero, A.M. Borreguero, M. Carmona,
    P. Sanchez, Microencapsulation of PCMs with a styrene-methyl methacrylate
    copolymer shell by suspension-like polymerisation, Chem. Eng. J. 157 (2010)
    [19] H. Willax, B. Katz, M.R. Jung, S. Altmann, E. Jahns. Gypsum wall board containing
    micro-encapsulated latent heat accumulator materials, Patent Number
    20120196116, 2 August 2012.
    [20] W.W. Wendlandt, Thermal Analysis, 3rd ed., John Wiley and Sons, New York,
    [21] B.M.E. Brown, Introduction to Thermal Analysis: Techniques and Applications,
    2nd ed., Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 2001.
    [22] B. Wundelich, Thermal Analysis, Academic Press Inc., UK, 1990.
    [23] C.L. Yaws, Handbook of Thermodynamic and Physical Properties of Chemical
    Compounds, Knovel, New York, 2003.
    [24] ISO 5660-1:1993, Fire tests-Reaction to Fire Heat Release – Part 1: Rate of Heat
    Release from Building Products (cone calorimeter method), International
    Standards Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 1993.
    [25] B. Schartel, T.R. Hull, Development of fire-retarded materials: interpretation of
    cone calorimeter data, Fire Mater. 31 (2007) 327–354.
    [26] L. Zhao, N.A. Dembsey, Measurement uncertainty analysis for calorimetry
    apparatuses, Fire Mater. 32 (1) (2008) 1–26.
    [27] J.R. McGraw, F.W. Mowrer, Flammability and dehydration of painted gypsum
    wallboard subjected to fire heat fluxes, Fire Saf. Sci. 6 (2000) 1003–1014.
    [28] K. McGrattan, S. Hostikka, R. McDermott, J. Floyd, C. Weinschenk, K. Overholt,
    Fire Dynamics Simulator User's Guide, 6th ed., NIST Special Publication 1019,
    [29] K. McGrattan, S. Hostikka, R. McDermott, J. Floyd, C. Weinschenk, K. Overholt,
    Fire Dynamics Simulator Technical Reference Guide, 6th ed., NIST Special
    Publication 1018, 2013.
    [30] R.K.K. Yuen, G.H. Yeoh, G. Vahl Davis, E. Leonardi, Modelling the pyrolysis of
    wet wood – II. Three-dimensional cone calorimeter simulation, Heat Mass
    Transf. 50 (2009) 4387–4399.
    [31] S. Vyazovkin, A.K. Burnham, J.M. Criado, L.A. Perez-Maqueda, C. Popescu,
    N. Sbirrazuoli, ICTAC Kinetics Committee recommendations for performing
    kinetic computations on thermal analysis data, Thermochim. Acta 520 (2011)
    [32] V. Novozhilov, B. Moghtaderi, D.F. Fletcher, J.H. Kent, Computational fluid
    dynamics modelling of wood combustion, Fire Saf. J. 36 (1996) 69–84.
    [33] F. Kempel, B. Schartel, G.T. Linteris, S.I. Stoliarov, R.E. Lyon, R.N. Waltes,
    A. Hofman, Prediction of the mass loss rate of polymer materials: Impact of
    residue formation, Combust. Flame 159 (2012) 2974–2984.
    [34] D.M. Marquis, M. Pavageau, E. Guillaume, C. Chivas-Joly, Modelling decomposition
    and fire behaviour of small samples of a glass-reinforced polyester/
    balsa-cored sandwich material, Fire Mater. 37 (2012) 413–439.
    [35] Y.M. Ferng, C.H. Liu, Investigation of the burning characteristics of electric
    cables used in the nuclear power plant by way of 3-D transient FDS code, Nucl.
    Eng. Des. 241 (2011) 88–94.


    • Gypsum plasterboard
    • Phase change material
    • PCM
    • Fire
    • Fire safety
    • CFD
    • TGA
    • DSC
    • Cone calorimeter
    • SEM


    Dive into the research topics of 'Fire safety aspects of PCM-enhanced gypsum plasterboards: An experimental and numerical investigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this