How can the average household or business reduce energy use without sacrificing comfort or safety? Is there a solution that is both practical and affordable? University of the Arts, Berlin students Anna Koppmann and Esmeé Willemsen were presented with just such a challenge. The classmates found inspiration in a simple and common household item: curtains. In addition to restricting airflow, curtains have a long history of insulating and protecting against direct sunlight and drafts.
“During our research, we learned that phase change material (PCM) has been integrated into the walls of many buildings,” said Esmeé. The students recognized that this could be their answer. “We theorized that adapting this technology for household curtains could provide a more controlled temperature environment and offset heating and cooling demands.”
Further research led to the discovery of microencapsulated PCM and Microtek Laboratories
(a division of CAVU Group). The company was quick to assist in the project by providing material and recommending best practices for its application.
The PCM was mixed with paint and applied to the fabric via a screen-printing process. When embedded into the curtains, the material changes from a solid to a liquid state as it absorbs heat from the sun or other incoming air. Conversely, heat is released as temperatures fall below 25°C (77°F) and the material is returned to its solid state. This continuous process essentially turns the curtain into a self-maintaining thermal system.
“Microtek supported us with general guidance about phase change materials and with their specific products,” said Anna. “Their support and guidance with textiles were critical to our success.”
The project received high praise as being both innovative and practical. Anna and Esmeé are leveraging this technology to address environmental, personal comfort, and safety challenges. Because the material can be customized into a variety of shapes, sizes, material layers, fabric, and patterns - these curtains offer a practical and affordable solution to reducing energy usage in homes, offices, and public spaces.For more information, read our full case study.