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Project Description

Novel Phase-Change Materials Design and Performance Assessment for Cool Pavements

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yang Lu

The energies entering, reflected, absorbed, and emitted by the earth are components of the earth’s radiative balance that influence climate and extreme weather conditions. Urban heat-island effects, due to a high concentration of paved surfaces of asphalt or concrete, impact local climates leading to an increase in energy consumption. Mitigation strategies, such as cool pavements, have the potential to limit urban heat-island effects. One option for improving pavement thermal performance is using phase-change materials (PCMs) in pavement construction. When a material undergoes an endothermic phase change, e.g., from solid to liquid, energy is absorbed. The latent heat during the phase change can store this energy, thus increasing the thermal inertia of a pavement. Given that PCMs can provide or store heat as needed, using them in pavements is particularly advantageous in areas with large daily temperature changes. It is expected that the addition of PCMs with appropriate thermal characteristics will help the pavement industry regulate extreme temperatures, mitigate thermally-induced rutting, and reduce the contribution of pavements to the urban heat-island effect. Thus, the goal of this project is to design and synthesize a novel pavement material with PCMs (e.g., paraffin wax or vegetable oil). The thermal performance and impact of the PCM during mixing, compaction, and after hardening will be investigated via heat-transfer analysis. Both experimental and modeling methods will be included to evaluate the thermal and energy performance.

Role of Participant(s):

Participants will learn how to design pavement materials with PCMs that can reduce pavement rutting potential and improve thermal-mechanical performance. They will participate in optimizing PCM design and testing techniques. They will also be introduced to the measurements and concepts that can be used to quantify the rutting mitigation efficiency, such as thermal energy density, thermal insulation efficiency, latent heat, self-discharge, duration of storage, and cost in pavement design and management practices.

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