Abstract The impact of heat waves arising from climate change on human health is predicted to be profound. It is important to be prepared with various preventive measures for such impacts on society. The objective of this study was to investigate whether personal cooling with phase change materials (PCM) could improve thermal comfort in simulated office work at 34°C. Cooling vests with PCM were measured on a thermal manikin before studies on human subjects. Eight male subjects participated in the study in a climatic chamber (Ta = 34°C, RH = 60%, and νa = 0.4 m/s). Results showed that the cooling effect on the manikin torso was 29.1 W/m2 in the isothermal condition. The results on the manikin using a constant heating power mode reflect directly the local cooling effect on subjects. The results on the subjects showed that the torso skin temperature decreased by about 2–3°C and remained at 33.3°C. Both whole body and torso thermal sensations were improved. The findings indicate that the personal cooling with PCM can be used as an option to improve thermal comfort for office workers without air conditioning and may be used for vulnerable groups, such as elderly people, when confronted with heat waves.
Wearable personal cooling integrated with phase change materials has the advantage of cooling human body’s micro-environment in contrast to stationary personalized cooling and entire room or building cooling, thus providing greater mobility and helping to save energy. In places where air conditioning is not usually used, this personal cooling method can be used as a preventive measure when confronted with heat waves for office workers, vulnerable populations such as the elderly and disabled people, people with chronic diseases, and for use at home.