As Phil McKenna reports: "Phase-change materials that freeze at around room temperature could revolutionise energy storage, cooling things that are too hot and warming them later on."
It is no design flaw: encapsulated within the walls and ceiling panels is a gel that solidifies at night and melts with the warmth of the day. Known as a phase change material (PCM), the gel will help reduce the amount of energy needed to cool office space in the building — scheduled to house the molecular engineering department when completed this month — by a whopping 98 per cent.
PCMs don't have to be as high-tech as this, of course. We have been using ice, phase change material that melts at 0°C, to keep things cool for thousands of years. But advances in materials science and rising energy costs are now driving the development of PCMs that work at different temperatures to help people and goods stay cool or warm, or to store energy.
More: New Scientist.