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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: Expanded vermiculite composite; inorganic PCM corrosion study; homogenous ternary molten salts; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Preparation and characterization of capric-myristic-stearic acid eutectic mixture/modified expanded vermiculite composite as a form-stable phase change material [Applied Energy]

Experimental investigation of a thermal storage system using phase change materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Compatibility of materials for macroencapsulation of inorganic phase change materials: Experimental corrosion study [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Novel Methodology to Prepare Homogenous Ternary Molten Salts for Concentrated Solar Power Applications and their Thermo-Physical Characterization [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Melting of Graphene Based Phase Change Nanocomposites in Vertical Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Unit [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Comparison of Different Heat Exchanger Tube Designs used in Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Systems - a Numerical Study [Computer Aided Chemical Engineering]

Influence of the Mushy Zone Constant on the Numerical Simulation of the Melting and Solidification Process of Phase Change Materials [Computer Aided Chemical Engineering]

Nanoadditives induced enhancement of the thermal properties of paraffin-based nanocomposites for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

PCM briefing: Research opening at Newcastle University; Pelican BioThermal lands Mexico partnership

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

• The Sir Joseph Swan Center for Energy Research at Newcastle University has an opening for a research associate with expertise in adsorption refrigeration, thermal energy storage, solar power engineering, heat and mass transfer, and thermodynamics. The full-time position is for 12 months to cover maternity leave.

Pelican BioThermal has expanded its presence in Central America, announcing a distribution partnership with Kryotec, a cold chain technology company based in Mexico City.

• "While the wave of EPA regulation that is soon to come will impose many challenges, the revised TSCA also provides some opportunities that should not be overlooked," writes Joseph J. Green of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Manufacturers, for example, "can seek an EPA 'safe to use' determination -- which could have obvious marketing advantages (and forestall potential state regulations)."

Water Heater Challenge winner begins work on prototype

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Energy consultant Benjamin Knopp, who won $5,000 in A.O. Smith's Water Heater Challenge last month, is working on a prototype for a thermally isolating preheater to improve the efficiency of residential water heaters. In collaboration with Smith and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knopp is investigating the use of phase change material to increase a water heater's first hour rating by 15 to 30 percent, without increasing water storage temperature.

Benjamin KnoppThe competition is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's JUMP program, an online crowdsourcing initiative aimed at advancing energy-efficient building technologies. 

"JUMP is a recipe for success," Knopp said, "because it brings the large organizations, small innovators, and national laboratories to the table to identify what the market needs, what technology can solve that need, and how to get it to market quickly.”

Knopp said the completed prototype would under rigorous testing and refinement. "Finally, assuming all goes as planned," he said, "we will work out a licensing agreement so that it can be mass produced."

Patent application: Articles containing functional polymeric PCMs

Ben Welter - Friday, June 24, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160177157 (applicant Outlast Technologies LLC, Golden, Colo.):

"A method of producing a temperature regulating article is disclosed. The method includes combining a functional polymeric phase change material with a substrate. The functional polymeric PCM has the capability of absorbing or releasing heat to adjust heat transfer at or within a temperature stabilizing range and having at least one phase change temperature in the range between -10 degree C and 100 degree C and a phase change enthalpy of at least 5 Joules per gram, the functional polymeric PCM has a backbone chain, side chains, and a crystallizable section. The side chains form the crystallizable section. The functional PCM carries at least one reactive function on at least one of the side chains or the backbone chain. The reactive function is capable of forming at least a first covalent bond with the second material or with a connecting compound capable of reacting with reactive functions of the second material."

Research roundup: Battery thermal management; active slab with PCM; polyethylene glycol/white carbon black; more

Ben Welter - Friday, June 24, 2016

Experimental study on a novel battery thermal management technology based on low density polyethylene-enhanced composite phase change materials coupled with low fins [Applied Energy]

Latent energy storage: Melting process around heating cylinders [Case Studies in Thermal Engineering]

Experimental study of an active slab with PCM coupled to a solar air collector for heating purposes [Energy and Buildings]

Preparation and performance of novel form-stable composite phase change materials based on polyethylene glycol/White Carbon Black assisted by super-ultrasound-assisted [Thermochimica Acta]

Strong reaction to Brexit in Europe's industrial, scientific communities

Ben Welter - Friday, June 24, 2016

Britain's vote on Thursday to leave the European Union is generating a variety of strong reactions in Europe's chemical, manufacturing and scientific communities.

From the Guardian:

Kurt Bock“The United Kingdom is and will remain an important market for BASF," said Kurt Bock, right, the company's chief executive. "It has always been our strong conviction that the UK is better off within the EU, we therefore very much regret that Great Britain and Northern Ireland want to leave the European Union. Although we respect the decision of the British people, this outcome of the referendum will cause considerable uncertainty for markets, companies and households.”

From the Engineer:

“Great care must be taken during the negotiation process to protect manufacturing’s interests and we will be working hard in the UK and in Brussels for that outcome," said James Selka, chief executive of the UK's Manufacturing Technology Association. "We believe that we can leverage UK manufacturing’s reputation for innovation and flexibility to secure the best possible deal for our members outside the EU.”

From ICIS News:

A European ethylene glycol (EG) buyer said he was sad to see the UK leaving the EU but added, however, that the country should be “happy” that it will no longer be subject to the “Euro printing press that is destroying pensions [and] creating housing bubbles.”

“It’s like a domino effect," said another EG buyer. "… Let the dust settle first and see what happens. All these contracts the UK has with other EU partners have to be revised. What will be the economic effect on all economies?” 

A polyethylene terephthalate buyer in Italy said Brexit was “a disaster” and will create a chain of events in the economy and forecast more countries to take the same path than the UK.

Other petrochemical market players reminded how “nothing will change for two years” at least, according to an olefins consumer in Germany, while others recognize the implications are totally unknown – it is the first time an EU member state has decided to leave the bloc.

From Chemistry World:

"EU membership has been part of the UK in broad and deep ways," said Dominic Tildesley, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry. "From the point of view of science, research and innovation there is now considerable uncertainty about how an EU exit will affect access to EU funding for research, the freedom of researchers to work across the EU and the application of EU regulations across the science and technology sector."

From European Rubber Journal [registration required]:

“It is not the decision that our sector wanted, but we fully respect the wish of the people for change,” said Steve Elliott, chief executive of the United Kingdom's Chemical Industries Association. “We now have to look to the future, and I am confident that an important and resilient industry such as ours can prosper in this new situation.”

From SeeNews:

“The vast majority of our members had fears of Brexit, and we will be consulting with them and government in the coming weeks to set out a plan for continued low carbon energy investment, deployment and assurance of the 117,000 jobs in this sector," said Dr. Nina Skorupska, chief executive at the UK's Renewable Energy Association.

Patent application: Thermally conducting capsules comprising a phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 23, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160177156 (applicant French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission):

"The invention relates to a thermally conducting capsule which has a core-shell structure and in which the core, which is surrounded by a tight single-layer or multilayer shell, is loaded with at least one phase change material (PCM). The invention is characterized in that the capsule also contains particles made of an additional conducting material at least in the shell, said particles made of the additional conducting material having a thermal conductivity greater than 100 W/m/K. The invention further relates to the use of said capsule in a heat-conducting material, in particular a thermal fluid, in order to modulate the heat capacity thereof."

Research roundup: Ag-coated polyurethane fiber membranes; thermal energy storage options in a sodium-based CSP plant; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ag-coated polyurethane fibers membranes absorbed with quinary fatty acid eutectics solid-liquid phase change materials for storage and retrieval of thermal energy [Renewable Energy]

Assessment of thermal energy storage options in a sodium-based CSP plant [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thermogravimetric study of a Phase Change Slurry: Effect of variable conditions [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Experimental study on performance of a solar-air source heat pump system in severe external conditions and switchover of different functions [Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments]

Application of Phase Change Materials to Reduce Heat Related Risks During Extreme Heat Waves in Australian Dwellings [Energy Procedia]

2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners named

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 23, 2016

Verdezyne of Carlsbad, Calif., which developed a greener way to make high-performance nylon, is among this year's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners. Verdezyne's process uses a plant-based feedstock and does not employ high temperatures or concentrated nitric acid. The nylon is used in hairbrushes, toothbrushes, adhesives, coatings, fragrances and other products. It has qualified for the USDA Certified Biobased label.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award recognizes innovative technologies "that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development." The awards were present last week at the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Ore. This year's other winners:

• Professor Paul Chirik of Princeton University discovered a new class of catalysts to produce silicones without the use of platinum.

Newlight Technologies of Costa Mesa, Calif., developed a plastic made from methane-based greenhouse gas. 

• Texas-based CB&I and Albemarle Corp. of Baton Rouge, La., developed and commercialized a safer technology to produce alkylate, a clean gasoline component.

Dow AgroSciences of Indianapolis developed and commercialized Instinct, an additive that reduces the leaching of fertilizer nitrate into ground and surface waters. 

Dr. William R. Sutterlin, Entropy Solutions' chief science officer, was a member of a University of Missouri team that won the academic award in 2006 for developing an inexpensive method to convert waste glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel fuel production, into propylene glycol.

PCM briefing: U.S. companies flock to renewables; molten salts could transform mining process

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

• Seventy-two percent of U.S.-based companies surveyed by PwC said they are actively pursuing renewable energy procurement, mainly wind and solar. 

• The University of South Australia has teamed up with Centrex Metals Limited to conduct research on higher-temperature molten salt. Centrex hopes to use the technology, which heats molten salt to 850º Celsius and higher, to convert potassium feldspar ore to potassium chloride fertilizer, using less water and energy than current processes.

• The American Chemistry Council says Toxic Substances Control Act, signed into law Wednesday by President Obama, will have "a meaningful impact on the economy and the marketplace." Up next: The Environmental Protection Agency begins work on implementing new rules

• In a guest blog post for Energy Storage News, Sunamp's business development manager writes about demonstrating the company's PCM/PV "heat battery" in Shenzhen, China, last month. Maurizio Zaglio says SunampPV is a great fit for the Chinese market, thanks to government incentives that have led to widespread use of PV panels.