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The award-winning Phase Change Matters blog tracks the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. E-mail tips and comments to Ben Welter, communications director at Entropy Solutions. Follow the blog on Twitter at @PureTemp. Subscribe to the weekly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.




Patent application: Utilizing PCM, heat pipes and fuel cells for aircraft applications

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 29, 2016

Boeing patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20160380279 (applicant The Boeing Co., Chicago, Ill.):

"A heat transfer system includes a fuel cell module that produces heat and water, and a thermal energy storage module that stores the heat produced by the fuel cell module. The thermal energy storage module includes a phase-change material. A conduit couples the fuel cell module to the thermal energy storage module. The conduit is oriented to channel the water produced by the fuel cell module through the thermal energy storage module."

Patent application: Protective dressing with reusable PCM insert

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 29, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160374847 (applicant Hill-Rom Services Inc., Batesville, Ind.):

Protective dressing patent drawing"A protective dressing includes an outer dressing and an adhesive layer. The outer dressing includes an opening and a cavity sized to receive a phase-change material (PCM) insert (1408) inserted through the opening. The adhesive layer is configured to adhere to a patient's skin surrounding an anatomic site. When adhered to the patient's skin, the PCM insert modifies the patient's skin at the anatomic site. The PCM insert may be removed and replaced with another PCM insert. For example, a warm PCM insert may be replaced with a refrigerated PCM insert. The opening of the outer dressing may be self-sealing. The opening of the outer dressing may be sealed with an upper layer dressing coupled to the PCM cooling insert."

PCM briefing: Space station gets water-based heat exchanger; China gets molten salt solar power plant

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 28, 2016

• An experimental PCM heat exchanger has been installed aboard the International Space Station. The device is designed to help maintain safe temperatures for crew members and equipment. The device uses a water-based PCM to remove heat from areas that must be cooled and move it into areas that must be warmed.

China News Service reports that Asia's first molten salt solar power plant has been connected to the grid and will begin operations next week in northwestern China. The 10-megawatt plant, run by Beijing Shouhang Resources Saving Co., generates electricity from solar power 24 hours a day. It will provide electricity for 30,000 households during its initial phase.

• A cooling technology that can operate without a constant power supply will undergo pilot trials in Dubai. Sure Chill's water-based system is used in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for a grid-based electricity. The Welsh company signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-run Dubai Electricity and Water Authority after taking part in the 12-week Dubai Future Accelerators Program.

• In a decision involving a patent on phase change material, a U.S. appeals court has reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision to exclude certain e-mails used as evidence of an earlier conception date in REG Synthetic Fuels LLC v. Neste Oil OYJ. The court found that the board had improperly excluded the emails as hearsay.

• Noting recent acquisitions by FedEx and UPS, Pelican Biothermal VP Kevin Lawler lists consolidation among the key trends likely to shape the temperature-controlled logistics market in 2017.

Research roundup: Ice-on-coil storage; active-passive ventilation wall; cross-flow heat exchanger; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Experimental and numerical investigation of discharging process of direct contact thermal energy storage for use in conventional air-conditioning systems [Applied Energy]

Experimental and numerical study of thin ring and annular fin effects on improving the ice formation in ice-on-coil thermal storage systems [Applied Energy]

Experimental characterization and simulation of a hybrid sensible-latent heat storage [Applied Energy]

Thermal and Fluid Characteristics of a Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Unit [Energy Procedia]

Numerical Modelling of Thermal Performance of Active-passive Ventilation Wall with Phase Change Material [Energy Procedia]

Development of heat storage unit based on the phase change materials for mining machinery with combustion engines [Acta Montanistica Slovaca]

Experimental Study of the Performance of Phase Change Material Air Cooling Rig [Procedia Manufacturing]

Experimental and Numerical Investigation of the Cross-flow PCM Heat Exchanger for the Energy Saving of Building HVAC [Energy and Buildings]

Design and Performance of Thermal Energy Storage Module using High Thermal Conductivity Phase Change Composite Material [International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference]

Transient multiphysics modeling of a robotic personal air-conditioning device [International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference]

Numerical study of heat transfer in macro-encapsulated phase change material for thermal energy storage [Bulgarian Chemical Communications]

Research roundup: Battery thermal management; plastic greenhouse thermal modeling; cementitious composites; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Investigation of phase change material based battery thermal management at cold temperature using lattice Boltzmann method [Energy Conversion and Management]

A study on thermal calculation method for a plastic greenhouse with solar energy storage and heating [Solar Energy]

Assessing the feasibility of integrating form-stable phase change material composites with cementitious composites and prevention of PCM leakage [Materials Letters]

Expanded graphite/disodium hydrogen phosphate/sodium acetate trihydrate stabilized composite phase change material for heat storage [pdf] [Journal of Thermal Science and Technology]

Coupling of solar reflective cool roofing solutions with sub-surface phase change materials (PCM) to avoid condensation and biological growth [Environmental Science and Sustainable Development]

Experimental Study on Thermal Performance Improvement of Envelop Integrated with Phase Change Material in Air-conditioned Room [International High Performance Buildings Conference]

PCM-lined hard hats designed to help cooler heads prevail at Qatar stadium sites

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Solar-powered, PCM-lined hard hatA hard hat equipped with phase change material and a solar-powered fan has been developed for construction workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

A solar panel atop the helmet powers a fan that sucks in hot air. PCM cools the air, which then passes onto the wearer's head. The hats are designed to reduce skin temperature by up to 10 degrees.

Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, an engineering professor at Qatar University, which developed the technology, said the device can help reduce heatstroke and regulate body temperatures.

“While this technology is developed and designed in Qatar and will be first used on our sites, we believe it can have a legacy which extends to many other parts of the world which have hot summer climates,” he said.

PCM briefing: First Ice Cub installed in California; hot asphalt demand response system wins UK award

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins reports that the first Ice Cub has been installed at a home in Santa Ynez, Calif. The unit makes ice during off-peak hours and stores it in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the stored ice delivers three to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. "This powerful system," writes Hopkins, "replaces the traditional outdoor AC condensing unit and the conventional gas/propane furnace, provides 14 kW of the lowest cost most reliable energy storage available for a home, and if you have solar PV, can make ice using 100% solar power."

Open Energi's effort to tap the "thermal inertia" of hot asphalt has been honored by the UK Association for Decentralised Energy. The London-based startup installed a demand response system at 70 Tarmac plants in the United Kingdom this year, using 200-some asphalt tanks as fast-acting batteries for the electric grid. The tanks stay close to the optimum 150° Celsius for long periods without electricity. 

• In an interview with EPMPelican BioThermal's Kevin Lawler talks about simplification, reusable packaging, tighter temperature restrictions and other trends in the temperature-controlled packaging industry.

BOCA International Ltd. has signed a project development agreement with Nano and Advanced Materials Institute Ltd. in Hong Kong. The parties plan to work together to develop a new microencapsulated phase change material for thermal energy storage in chiller plants.

Dutch-led consortium develops calculation model for industrial heat storage

Ben Welter - Friday, December 16, 2016

LOCOSTO PCM test tankA consortium led by the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) has developed a calculation model to predict the performance of a phase change material buffer for industrial heat storage in the 100-250° C temperature range. The model is used to optimize the design of a heat exchanger to achieve the required performance in the most cost-effective way. According to the ECN:

"A test installation with around 100 liters of PCM (see photo) is used to measure the performance of the storage and compare it with the model calculations. There is a high level of consistency between the experimental and model outcomes, providing a basis for the further development and scaling of PCM heat storage technology."

The consortium continues to work on the selection of PCMs with the desired attributes for industrial heat storage. 

"We consider salt hydrates as most feasible option for industrial heat storage," said Robert de Boer, thermal systems project manager at ECN. "I wouldn’t say it is ideal, but the best we can get at this moment."

Members of the LOCOSTO consortium are end-users DOW, Perstorp and EMMTEC; system suppliers IEE and Bronswerk Heat Transfer; materials suppliers PCM Technology and Nedmag; and Dutch research institutes TNO and ECN. "LOCOSTO" stands for "LOw COst STOrage" of heat.

Research roundup: Inorganic PCMs for thermal storage; battery thermal management; α nano alumina; more

Ben Welter - Friday, December 16, 2016

A review on current status and challenges of inorganic phase change materials for thermal energy storage systems [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Development of Phase Change Materials for Refrigerated Transportation of Fruits and Vegetables [International Conference on Computational Modeling, Simulation and Applied Mathematics]

Numerical study on solid–liquid phase change in paraffin as phase change material for battery thermal management [Science Bulletin]

Comparative study of two weir type cascade solar stills with and without PCM storage using energy and exergy analysis [Energy Conversion and Management]

Thermal conductivity enhancement of treated petroleum waxes, as phase change material, by α nano alumina: Energy storage [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

PCM briefing: Karlsruhe professor wins $2.6M Leibniz Prize; outlook strong for U.S. chemical industry

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dr. Britta Nestler• Dr. Britta Nestler of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has won the 2017 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for her research into computer-aided materials modeling. The prize comes with $2.6 million in research funds to be used at her discretion. Her work includes the development of foam structures within integrated phase change materials for use in latent heat storage systems.

• The 2017 outlook for the U.S. chemical industry is better than that in Germany and Europe, the American Chemistry Council reports. The U.S. industry group expects a 3.6 percent production increase, compared with the 0.5% increase expected by the European Chemical Industry Council.

Alexium International, maker of Alexicool phase change material, has an opening for a senior sales rep at its office in Greer, S.C.

Setaram Instrumentation's next free webinar, "Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry Applied to Thermal Energy Storage," will be held Jan. 24, 2017.   

• New from QY Research: "United States Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials (MPCM) Market Report 2016"