Faculty of Engineering

Thermal management using phase change products manufactured from sustainable materials

The aim of this research is to enable the production of commercial quantities of PCMs from waste plastics and natural lipids such as tallow. Using these waste raw materials will have environmental benefits in recycling and containment of waste products, and reduce the cost of production.


Phase Change Materials (PCMs) are organic or inorganic materials, which absorb and release large amounts of energy as they melt and solidify.

PCMs can be used in thermal management systems in a wide range of applications including buildings, industrial cold stores, and in cooling of electronic devices. For example, in summer it is possible to utilise the relatively low temperature at night to prevent overheating of buildings during the day thus minimising the use of air-conditioning. In winter, it can capture solar radiation passively and help to shift heating load from high peak to low peak load periods.

Key focus areas/issues

This project has four major objectives:

  1. Production of PCM from sustainable materials, from waste products and natural lipids via esterification.
  2. Development of innovative encapsulation methods.
  3. Carry out large scale testing of PCM products in applications such as cold storage, buildings and cooling of advanced electronic devices.
  4. Conduct computer simulations of real size PCM systems, including buildings.


The encapsulation of PCM as micro-sphere particles known as microcapsules.

Current major developments

Based on the work conducted to date we have:

  1. Developed processes and product ie. appropriate PCMs of different melting points from waste products.
  2. Developed economically feasible processes for micro and macro encapsulation of PCM with polymers (see image to the right).
  3. Undertaken extensive large scale testing and simulations of real size buildings, glass houses, electronics, and cold stores to demonstrate the performance of PCMs in these different end applications.

We have built office size facilities at The University of Auckland's Tamaki Campus and extensive data has been collected over the last four years. For more than six years, we have been using these facilities for measuring indoor, walls and outdoor temperature, humidity, wind speed and solar radiation.

Key achievements

The graph below shows measurements conducted in summer showing ambient temperature, and the temperature of two buildings, one built with phase change materials and one built without PCM.  Results demonstrate the reduced fluctuations in temperature in the building constructed with PCM. We have also shown that the application of PCM in buildings provides significant savings in heating and cooling costs.


This graph shows temperatures during defrost and door opening periods in freezers with and without PCM.  Use of PCM greatly reduces temperature fluctuations during these periods.




Key people

  • Mohammed Farid
    Chemical and Materials Engineering
  • Sam Behzadi
    Chemical and Materials Engineering
  • John Chen
    Chemical and Materials Engineering
  • Pradeep Bansal
    Mechanical Engineering


Mohammed Farid
Email: m.farid@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 extn 84807

Related publications

Sittisart, P. and Farid, M.M., 2011. Fire retardants for phase change materials, Applied Energy, vol. 88, no. 9, pp 3140-3145.

Gin, B., Farid, M.M., and Bansal, P.K., 2010. Effect of door opening and defrost cycle on a freezer with phase change panels, Energy Conversion and Management, vol. 51, no. 12, pp 2698-2706.

Albright, G., Farid, M., and Al-Hallaj, S., 2010. Development of a model for compensating the influence of temperature gradients within the sample on DSC-results on phase change materials, Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, vol. 101, no. 3, pp 1155-1160.

Gin, B., and Farid, M.M., 2010. The use of PCM panels to improve storage condition of frozen food, Journal of Food Engineering, vol. 100, no. 2, pp 372-376.

Qureshi, W.A., Nair, N.-K.C. and Farid, M.M., 2008. Demand side management through efficient thermal energy storage using phase change material, 2008 Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference, AUPEC 2008, 4813056.

Farid, M., Smith, M., Sabbah, R., and Al Hallaj, S., 2007. Miniaturized refrigeration system with advanced PCM micro encapsulation technology, Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels and Minichannels, ICNMM2007, pp. 1105-1112.

Mills, A., Farid, M., Selman, J.R., and Al-Hallaj, S., 2006. Thermal conductivity enhancement of phase change materials using a graphite matrix, Applied Thermal Engineering, vol. 26, no. 14-15, pp 1652-1661.

Al-Hallaj, S., Kizilel, R., Lateef, A., Sabbah, R., Farid, M., and Rob Selman, J., 2005. Passive thermal management using phase change material (PCM) for EV and HEV Li-ion batteries, 2005 IEEE Vehicle Power and Propulsion Conference, VPPC, 200 5, 1554585, pp. 376, 380.

This project has been made possible with the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.