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Melting wax may be key to cooling

MATERIALS

CHEMICAL company BASF has developed a plasterboard that can absorb heat and help maintain constant temperatures in buildings.

Its Micronal PCM SmartBoard uses paraffin wax within a plasterboard mix to absorb excess heat when the wax melts.

During the wax's transition from solid to liquid, a large amount of thermal energy is consumed and, in the same way as an ice cube keeps a drink cool when it melts, the wax helps to cool a room.

BASF's development team has altered the melting point of the paraffin wax so that it melts at 23 or 26 deg C, preventing room temperature from rising past these levels. This could spell the end for air conditioning systems, according to researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.