Phase Change Material for Bed Cooler

16 March 2013


What is phase change material (PCM)?  How do we make use of it for cooling purposes? This article will discuss some of its applications.

What is PCM? 

Ice is a perfect example of a PCM material.  When water is chilled,  it turns from liquid water to solid ice @ 0 oC and vice versa.  During the process of turning water into solid ice,  water will need lots of chilling energy.  When ice is melted to turn into liquid water,  it will release this chilling energy to cool its surroundings.  In the process,  it actually stores and releases cooling energy. 

Many other chemical materials also have the PCM property. They can turn from one material to another at different temperatures.   Some can change from one solid to another,  others can change from solid to gas or liquid to gas.  They store and release heating or cooling energy depending the type of phase change materials.

What are the Applications? 

Because PCM has the energy storage capabilities.  It has long been used in medical as well as engineering areas for cooling and heating purposes.  It has been used also in textile, computing and many other industries.   

PCM has been used often in the thermal storage and transportation.  It  will save space requirement in thermal storage.  PCM materials can be transported over longer distances without losing much energy. This makes it a necessary material for district cooling system.

What are the other Common Applications? 

Heating and cooling pads.  They are used commonly in cold or tropical countries for  quick relief from hot or cold weathers.   Cooling pads have been used also in medical field such as cooling pad for treating fever.  

Cooling pads are  plenty and easily available from the market.  They are economical and yet effective to give cooling immediately.  However,  most of these are passive type.  Without energy renewal or recharging,  they will become ineffective  after one or two hours of usage depending on the design of the pad.   

Application in Bed Cooler  

The author uses cooling pads with bed coolers.  The cooling pads will give instant cooling without the needs to pre-cool the bed every night.  It also helps to save more energy because of the even and reactive cooling of the pad that will allow one to raise cooling temperature of the bed cooler by at least 1 oC.  


DIY Bed Cooler

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