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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.




Research roundup: Phase change emulsion properties; metal hydride tank with PCM jacket; ceramic stabilized PCM

Ben Welter - Friday, April 29, 2016

Thermophysical properties and thermal characteristics of phase change emulsion for thermal energy storage media [Energy]

Absorption and desorption of hydrogen in long metal hydride tank equipped with phase change material jacket [International Journal of Hydrogen Energy]

Porous ceramic stabilized phase change materials for thermal energy storage [RSC Advances]

Roccor to develop flexible PCM panels for miniature satellites

Ben Welter - Friday, April 29, 2016

A proposal by Roccor LLC of Louisville, Colo., to develop lightweight, flexible thermal energy management panels for CubeSats and other small satellites is one of 399 projects selected by NASA this week to support future missions into deep space. The thermal panels incorporate paraffin phase change material inside a metal case with an internal metal woven mesh to protect the electronics aboard miniaturized satellites.

Roccor's proposal describes the potential applications:

"The primary NASA target application for the proposed space-rated PCM panel technology is future NASA CubeSat and SmallSat spacecraft for which thermal control of on-board electronics is a major bottleneck in the system design. In particular, the proposed technology will enable efficient thermal control by maintaining a constant temperature heat sink or heat source for a range of electronic components in rapidly changing thermal environments. The PCM panel is being designed as a lightweight and flexible component, yet having high thermal capacity, requiring less mass and volume than currently used carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb composite panels."

Two other Roccor proposals were approved for Phase I development. Each will receive six-month contracts valued at up to $125,000. Watch the video below to learn more about the CubeSats being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California.

Research roundup: Sodium nitrate-urea binary mixture; constructal design for convection melting; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 28, 2016

The sodium nitrate–urea eutectic binary mixture as a phase change material for medium temperature thermal energy storage. Part II: Accelerated thermal cycling test and water uptake behavior of the material [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Constructal design for convection melting of a phase change body [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Experimental study on the melting and solidification behavior of erythritol in a vertical shell-and-tube latent heat thermal storage unit [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Patent application: Bottle-cooling display stand with PCMs

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160109176 (inventor Cigdem Harms, Las Vegas, Nev.):

Bottle-cooling display stand"The present disclosure relates to a device for holding a bottle, in particular the bottle holder includes a stand, the stand including a base portion, an angled stand portion, and an annular holding portion. The base portion is configured to rest against a supportive surface, and the angled stand portion extends upward away from the base portion. The angled stand portion can include first and second prongs forming a primary void in a front planar face therebetween. An annular holding portion extends rearwardly from the front planar face between the first and second prongs. A cooling insert can be provided which is configured to rest in the annular holding portion and provide cooling to a bottle contained therein. ... The cooling insert can be filled with a freezable gel or other phase change material and placed into the bottle holder assembly so as to provide a cooling effect to a bottle held by the bottle holder assembly and thereby maintain the liquid contained therein at a desired drinking temperature."

With help from PCMs, a Japanese company turns trash into tomatoes

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TKS greenhouses in Toyama

A Japanese waste-management company is using waste heat — and phase change material — to grow tomatoes, strawberries and ornamental plants.

Toyama Kankyo Seibi collects 300,000 tons of trash in Toyama prefecture each year. The company incinerates the combustible materials and recycles or landfills the rest. The heat generated by the incineration process drives a steam turbine to generate electricity that powers the TKS complex. 

In 2015, TKS built 28 greenhouses to make use of the excess steam. Forbes magazine describes how the greenhouses are heated:

"Large heat-transfer containers are filled with oil that is heated using the residual heat from the steam. The containers incorporate a closed phase-change heat system filled with a heat-storing substance that changes to a solvent-like liquid when heated (the phase-change part), and which is more efficient in retaining heat than is oil.

"A prepared container is transported to a nearby greenhouse on the site and is hooked up to a heat exchanger. The solvent circulates through the exchanger, and the heat is passed on and used to heat up cold water to 55 degrees C. The hot water is then pumped into the greenhouse and fans are employed to circulate air warmed by the water. Complicated, yes! But it works."

The Japanese government covers more than half of the project's annual operating cost of 2.7 billion yen ($24 million). The goal is to harvest 500 tons of tomatoes and 1.4 million flowers a year. The produce is sold in stores around the country and as far away as Thailand and Singapore.

Research roundup: Phenolic resin/PEO-PPO block copolymer composites; yarn with thermal management characteristics; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Phenolic resin/PEO-PPO block copolymer composite materials as phase change materials (PCM) for latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) [Journal of Energy Storage]

Finite Element Analysis of Functional Yarn with Thermal Management Characteristics [Thermochimica Acta]

Inverse Problem for Phase Change Materials and Preparation in Building Envelope [Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies for Building and Environmental Applications]

Solid–solid phase transitions via melting in metals [Nature Communications]

The Preparation of Phase Change Energy Storage Ceramsite from Waste Autoclaved Aerated Concrete [Procedia Environmental Sciences]

Research on air-cooling system for power plants wins $3.5 million ARPA-E grant

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Each day, U.S. thermoelectric power plants withdraw more than 100 billion gallons of water from rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers to cool turbines. Two University of Cincinnati engineering researchers have been awarded nearly $3.5 million to develop an air-cooling system that uses phase change material to eliminate the need to tap local water supplies.

Professors Raj M. Manglik and Milind A. Jog are developing an enhanced air-cooled condenser and a daytime peak-load shifting system that will enable dry cooling for power plants even on hot days. The project is one of 15 awarded grants under ARPA-E's Advanced Research In Dry cooling program. The three-year project is outlined on the ARPA-E site:  

"The team will transform a conventional air-cooled condenser by incorporating flow-modulating surfaces and modifying the tubular geometry of the system, both of which will reduce heat transfer resistance and increase the thermal surface area. Whenever the air temperature becomes too high for the air-cooled heat exchanger to be effective, the [peak load-shifting system] will cool the air inlet temperature back down to acceptable temperatures. This inlet air-cooler technology removes heat from the incoming air and stores it in a thermal energy storage (TES) system that incorporates phase-change materials, which can store and release heat over a range of temperatures. During periods when the ambient air is cooler, the TES will release the stored heat to the atmosphere. Together, the combined innovations could quadruple the condenser's coefficient of performance, while the system's compact design will result in a smaller footprint than other air-cooled designs."

PCM briefing: Thermal battery maker Sunamp raises $4.6 million; Viking Cold Solutions' cooling system is on display in Hannover

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

• U.K. thermal battery maker Sunamp has raised 3.2 million pounds ($4.6 million) in its latest investment round. Sunamp said “an international private investor in the energy market” led the funding round, along with existing investors Scottish Investment Bank, Par Equity, Equity Gap, Highland Venture Capital and Old College Capital. The company said the money would be used to fund expansion and product development.

Viking Cold Solutions' hybrid cooling system is on display at the industrial technology show in Hannover, Germany, this week. The new system combines phase change material with solar photovoltaics for use in supermarkets and food warehouses. The Houston-based company says the system can reduce electricity peak demand by up to 90 percent.

EGO Power+ string trimmer• The new EGO Power+ 15-inch string trimmer, which uses phase change material to keep its rechargeable battery cool, was the highest-rated of 11 battery-powered trimmers reviewed this month by Pro Tool Reviews.

• The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has signed an agreement with the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to work together to stimulate development of "high-potential, high-impact clean energy technologies" in the state. The collaboration will focus on a broad range of technology, including smart grid, distributed energy, renewable energy and energy storage.

• New report from Future Market Insights: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025".

• South Africa's new Bokpoort concentrated solar power plant has set an African record for continuous supply of electricity: 161 hours, or nearly six days. The plant's molten salt system provides 9.3 hours of thermal storage.

Research roundup: PCM-integrated buildings and heat stress; capric-palmitic-stearic acid ternary eutectic mixture; more

Ben Welter - Monday, April 25, 2016

Thermal performance of buildings integrated with phase change materials to reduce heat stress risks during extreme heatwave events [Applied Energy]

Synthesis and thermal energy storage properties of the solid–solid phase change material with a novel comb-polyurethane block copolymer structure [RSC Advances]

Dual-Functional Phase Change Nano-Capsules Based on n-Octadecane Core and Polypyrrole Shell [Key Engineering Materials]

A capric-palmitic-stearic acid ternary eutectic mixture/expanded graphite composite phase change material for thermal energy storage [Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing]

Preparation of thiol-ene based photo-crosslinked polymer as a potential phase change material [Materials Chemistry and Physics]

Thermal performance of a PCM-filled double-glazing unit with different thermophysical parameters of PCM [Solar Energy]

Numerical analysis of latent heat thermal energy storage using encapsulated phase change material for solar thermal power plant [Renewable Energy]

Reducing heat loss through the building envelope by using polyurethane foams contianing thermorregulating microcapsules [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thermal compatibility of Sodium Nitrate/Expanded Perlite composite phase change materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Patent application: Robust air conditioning systems configured to utilize thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, April 25, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160084536 (Axiom Exergy Inc., Richmond, Calif.):

"Systems and methods in accordance with embodiments of the invention implement air conditioning systems that are operable to establish/maintain a desired temperature for a target space and simultaneously establish/maintain a temperature lower than the desired temperature for the target space for an included cold thermal energy storage unit. In one embodiment, an air conditioning system includes: a condensing unit; a liquid pressurizer and distributor ensemble; a cold thermal energy storage unit; a target space; and a suction gas/equalizer; where the listed components are operatively connected by piping such that vapor compression cycles can be simultaneously implemented that result in the cooling of the cold thermal energy storage unit and the target space ... wherein the cold thermal energy storage unit comprises a phase change material encased in thermal insulation."