A study by consultants Frost & Sullivan of Mountain View, Calif., finds the market for micro-encapsulated phase-change materials (MPCMs) earned $45.1 million in 2013 and estimates the market will reach $99 million in 2018. The study covers MPCMs incorporated in textile and mattress components such as fibers, yarns, fabrics, foams and gels.
The report says the trend toward smart textiles and the need for comfortable temperature regulation in fabrics has driven the use of MPCMs in clothes and mattresses. The availability of materials in slurry and powder forms complying with a wide range of melting points further boosts adoption in diverse applications, it adds.
New PCM microcapsules that are highly flame-resistant or non-flammable are being researched and developed and bio-based PCMs are becoming important, due to reduced risk of flammability and better biodegradability than paraffin-based PCM. But the report cautions that the pace of market growth will primarily depend on the suitability of these technologies for commercialization. For example, it says, while encapsulation in polymeric shells is expected to be a superior method for incorporating MPCMs in garments, such applications add dead weight to existing material and affect overall comfort.
Deficiencies in testing standards and measurements add to the challenge. The development of better testing methods will likely take time, thereby delaying the commercialization of some textiles and mattress products.