The incorporation of phase change material (PCM) into building fabrics would significantly enhance thermal energy storage, thereby enabling energy savings and CO2 emission reductions. However, the integration method remains a major challenge with the detrimental effects on structural integrity, durability of building elements and performance. This paper proposes a way of integrating PCM into concrete building elements by utilizing additive manufacturing and construction automation technologies. Additive manufacturing of concrete allows the manufacture of non-rectilinear building elements that cannot be constructed using the traditional construction method, thanks to the three-dimensional (3D) concrete printing technology. The concrete elements were constructed as hollow-core using the 3D concrete printing method and PCM incorporated into the hollow-core for thermal energy storage enhancement. Subsequently, the paper assesses performance enhancement of PCM incorporated concrete elements using experimental simulated test rooms and numerical assessment on full-scale buildings. The results reveal that the hollow-core concrete enables a large amount of PCM incorporation of up to 9.88% by weight of concrete, with the increase of heat storage capacity by 7.02 kJ/kg. The simulated test rooms experiment reports that the PCM incorporated hollow-core panels reduced the peak indoor temperature of the test room by 3.86 ℃ while enhancing the thermal storage capacity by 181%. Moreover, the numerical study on buildings incorporated with the innovative PCM panels demonstrated significant energy savings of up to 48% for the Australian climatic conditions.
Keywords Thermal energy storage, phase change materials, additive manufacturing, energy savings, buildings