Experimental and numerical assessment of using coconut oil as a phase-change material for unconditioned buildings

Talal Alqahtani, Sofiene Mellouli, Ahmad Bamasag, Faouzi Askri, Patrick E. Phelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The efficacy of integrating organic coconut oil (co-oil) phase-change material (PCM) into an unconditioned building with a lightweight envelope is explored experimentally and numerically for heat gain reduction. In what we think is the first test of its kind for co-oil PCM, twin side-by-side single-room buildings (with and without PCM) are constructed and studied experimentally under ambient weather conditions. The effects of the co-oil on the thermal performance of the buildings are investigated with respect to the window orientation (east, west, north and south). Furthermore, numerical simulation of the buildings is carried out to evaluate the contribution of the co-oil to their thermal performance and to determine the effect of the co-oil layer thickness on the heat storage capacity. Moreover, by employing a simplified heat transfer analysis, an approximate relation for the optimal thickness of co-oil PCM layer is developed. Experimental and numerical results show that co-oil PCM can be a promising solution to improve the indoor thermal environment. It is found that with a south-facing window equipped with co-oil PCM, the indoor temperature is lowered by 23.8% compared to the case without PCM, when an optimal PCM layer of ~4 cm in thickness is embedded in the wall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5177-5196
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 10 2020


  • building envelopes
  • coconut oil
  • latent heat storage
  • phase change material
  • thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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