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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: Thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 9828165 (applicant Sonoco Development Inc., Hartsville, S.C.):

"A thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper for a temperature sensitive payload is provided. The shipper comprises an outer shell, an inner shell and vacuum insulated panels sandwiched therebetween. The outer shell and the inner shell may be unitary rigid structures made of an expanded foam material and comprising a bottom having a perimeter and sides extending from the bottom perimeter and terminating in a rim. The inner shell rim may be spaced from the outer shell rim to define a gap, the gap being sealed to create an enclosed space within which the vacuum insulated panels are located. Each vacuum insulated panel may be oriented substantially orthogonally to at least one adjacent vacuum insulated panel and have an edge that abuts the adjacent vacuum insulated panels."

Patent application: Non-combusting smoking article with thermochromatic label

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170340008 (applicant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Winston-Salem, N.C.):

"A smoking article is disclosed herein. The smoking article includes a shell defining an interior space, a consumable substance within the interior space, a heat source effective to increase the temperature of at least a portion of the shell, and a label attached to at least a portion of the shell. The label includes a base film, a cover film, and a temperature dependent material disposed between the base film and the cover film. The temperature dependent material is configured to transition between a first appearance and a second appearance responsive to the increase of the temperature of at least a portion of the shell. ... In some embodiments, the temperature dependent material may be a reversible thermochromatic ink or a reversible phase change material that may transition from a colored, opaque cool state to a substantially transparent warm state to effect the change in appearance. "

Patent application: Free cooling in high humidity environments

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170347499 (applicant Amazon Technologies Inc., Seattle, Wash.):

Amazon patent drawing"A data center includes heat producing components and an air handling system that provides reduced relative humidity air to cool the heat producing components. The air handling system includes a thermal storage unit [section shown at right] that removes thermal energy from incoming air under a given set of ambient air conditions and releases thermal energy into incoming air under another set of ambient air conditions. Under the given set of ambient air conditions, the thermal storage unit cools the incoming air and causes water vapor to condense out of the incoming air. Under the other set of ambient air conditions, the thermal storage unit releases thermal energy into the incoming air, thus heating the incoming air. ... [The] thermal storage unit may include a phase change material such as a paraffin wax, salt solution, an inorganic phase change material, or other suitable material with a high heat of fusion."

Patent application: Rubber or elastomer compositions and processes for their manufacturing

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170342240 (applicant Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research Dresden, Germany):

"The present invention is concerned with the field of polymer chemistry and relates to rubber or elastomer compositions as can be used for vehicle tires, and to a method for the production of the rubber or elastomer compositions. The object of the invention is that in particular the elastic modulus of the compositions can be adapted depending on the temperature and/or the application conditions, and is a cost-effective and easily implemented method for the production of the compositions. The object is attained by rubber or elastomer compositions that contain at least one rubber or elastomer matrix and at least 20 to 150 phr of a phase change material in solid or liquid form."

Research roundup: Axisymmetric lattice Boltzmann model; slurry flow in heated helical coils; sebacic acid/CNT sponge PCM; more

Ben Welter - Monday, November 27, 2017

Optimized demand side management (DSM) of peak electricity demand by coupling low temperature thermal energy storage (TES) and solar PV [Applied Energy]

Investigation of solid-liquid phase change in the spherical capsule using axisymmetric lattice Boltzmann model [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Thermodynamic assessment of binary erythritol-xylitol phase diagram for phase change materials design [Calphad]

Thermal Properties Optimization of Microencapsulated a Renewable and Non-toxic Phase Change Material with a Polystyrene Shell for Thermal Energy Storage Systems [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Heat transfer analysis of microencapsulated phase change material slurry flow in heated helical coils: A numerical and analytical study [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Experimental test bed design and development for PCM-water exchangers characterization [Sustainable Cities and Societies]

Synthesis of novel phase change material microcapsule and its application [Polymer]

Sebacic acid/CNT sponge phase change material with excellent thermal conductivity and photo-thermal performance [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Research roundup: Direct evaporative cooling unit; diatomite-stabilized paraffin; hyperbranched polyurethane; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Enhancement in free cooling potential through PCM based storage system integrated with Direct Evaporative Cooling (DEC) unit [Energy]

A Numerical Study on Phase Change Inside a Spherical Capsule [Exergetic, Energetic and Environmental Dimensions]

Performance of a thermal energy storage composite by incorporating diatomite stabilized paraffin as phase change material [Energy and Buildings]

Phase Change Materials for Application in Energy-Efficient Buildings [Cost-Effective Energy Efficient Building Retrofitting]

Thermal energy storage using poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) incorporated hyperbranched polyurethane as solid-solid phase change material (PCM) [Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research]

Comparative Research on Solar Phase Change Material Storage Wall Systems under Different Summer Working Conditions [Energies]

The Application of Carbon Materials in Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage (LHTES) [Thermal Transport in Carbon-Based Nanomaterials]

H2O2-microwave treated graphite stabilized stearic acid as a composite phase change material for thermal energy storage [Royal Society of Chemistry]

Sodium acetate–urea composite phase change material used in building envelopes for thermal insulation [Building Services Engineering Research & Technology]

Integration of Pore Confinement and Hydrogen-Bond Influence on the Crystallization Behavior of C18 PCMs in Mesoporous Silica for Form-Stable Phase Change Materials [Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering]

Research roundup: Enthalpy-temperature plots; solar wall collector; vertical U-tube heat exchanger; more

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Enthalpy-temperature plots to compare calorimetric measurements of phase change materials at different sample scales
Preparation and enhanced thermal performance of novel (solid to gel) form-stable eutectic PCM modified by nano-graphene platelets

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

An implicit algorithm for melting and settling of phase change material inside macrocapsules

From Energy Procedia:

Experimental study of a solar wall collector with PCM towards the natural ventilation of model house
Experimental Study of Solar - Phase Change Material Wall for Domestic Hot Water Production under the Tropical Climate

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Efficiency analysis of utilizing phase change materials as grout for a vertical U-tube heat exchanger coupled ground source heat pump system

From Sustainable Cities and Societies:

PCM Thermal Energy Storage in Solar Heating of Ventilation Air—Experimental and Numerical Investigations

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Evaluation of thermophysical properties of refrigerant clathrates with additives

From Solar Energy:

A comprehensive study on the effect of hot water demand and PCM integration on the performance of SDHW system

Agenda set for 5th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

The 5th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage will be held at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts on Jan. 26, 2018.

This year's symposium will focus on the importance of energy storage in energy systems and industrial processes; the economic aspects of thermal storage; and recent findings about new storage materials. Eleven presentations, all in English, are scheduled:

• "Macro-encapsulated Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage," Dieter Brüggemann, University of Bayreuth, Germany

• "Fast Loadable Phase Change Heat Storages for Multiple Applications," Sven Kunkel, Matthias Rädle, University of Applied Science Mannheim, Germany

• "Future Directions in Thermal Energy Storage Systems and Applications," Ibrahim Dinçer, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Ontario, Canada 

• "Applying PCM Beyond the Building Sector," Esther Kieseritzky, Rubitherm Technologies GmbH, Germany

• "Thermal Recuperation with CrodaTherm PCM Using Axiotherm Heat Storage Technology," Yvonne Reimann, Croda GmbH, Germany; Dirk Büttner, Axiotherm GmbH, Germany

• "Integration of Variable Renewable Energy in Switzerland – Implications for Storage Technologies and System Flexibility," Tom Kober, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland

• "Thermal Heat and Renewable Energy Integration in the Industry," François Maréchal, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

• "Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Horizontal Packed Bed Thermal Energy Storages," Marco Prenzel, Vladimir Danov, Siemens AG, Germany

• "Seasonal Heat Storage, the Underestimated Pillar of our Future Energy System, Examples of Realized Projects," Stefan Brändle, Simon Büttgenbach, Amstein + Walthert AG, Switzerland 

• "Large Thermal Energy Storage for Large Cities – A New Dimension," Hannes Poier, TU Graz / S.O.L.I.D. Gesellschaft für Solarinstallation und Design GmbH, Austria

• "Ecological Comparison of Thermal and Electrical Storages for Load Shifting in PV and Heat Pump Systems," Michel Haller, Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil, Switzerland

The registration fee is 300 Swiss francs. Lunch is included. To register, visit

PCM briefing: Active vs. passive shipping solutions; registration open for Energy Innovation Summit

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

• Registration is open for "Active vs. Passive Solutions: Which one is for me?" the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Ben Vanderplas, global product manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and David Bang, CEO of DHL LifeConEx, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Dec. 12.

Brooklyn Bedding's new Aurora mattress collection features TitanCool technology, "a phase change surface infusion" with "high conductivity properties."

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Thermal Management Technologies Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2027"

The UV-activated thermal energy storage material shows the rapid crystallization and heat discharge upon visible light (blue LED) illumination. (Grossman Group at MIT)MIT researchers have combined conventional phase change material with an organic compound that responds to a pulse of light. "The new system," MIT News reports, "uses molecular switches that change shape in response to light; when integrated into the PCM, the phase-change temperature of the hybrid material can be adjusted with light, allowing the thermal energy of the phase change to be maintained even well below the melting point of the original material." The system could be used in a thermal battery to store heat from the sun or any other source and release the heat when needed.

• Registration for the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is open. The event, to be held March 13-15 at the Gaylord Convention Center, outside Washington, D.C., showcases emerging energy technologies. No agenda yet.

• Researchers at the University of Maryland College Park have developed a method of fabricating fibers with boron nitride and polyvinyl alcohol using 3D print technologies which allows heat to be transferred away from the body.  Clothes made with the nanocomposite thread could help keep wearers cool in hot conditions.

Stanford University researchers have developed a reversible fabric that keeps skin a comfortable temperature whatever the weather. "On one side," Stanford News reports, "a copper coating traps heat between a polyethylene layer and the skin; on the other, a carbon coating releases heat under another layer of polyethylene." The fabric can either warm or cool the wearer, depending which side faces out.

Patent application: Beverage container with self-regulating thermal control member

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170325607 (applicant Pacific Market International LLC, Seattle, Wash.):

Beverage patent application drawing"A beverage container provided with a thermal regulation member having a sidewall extending through a beverage cavity of a container main body. The thermal regulation member contains an energy storage material that receives, stores, and transmits heat energy to and from a beverage in the beverage cavity to regulate its temperature. The energy storage material may initially absorb energy from a heated beverage having a temperature too hot for drinking, then transfers heat energy back into the beverage as it cools, keeping it within a comfortable temperature range for an extended period of time. The thermal regulation member may be selectively attachable to a stopper assembly that seals an upper opening of the beverage cavity. Alternatively, laterally extending attachment members may attach the thermal regulation member directly to a wall of the beverage cavity. ... The energy storage material [37] may be a phase change material that undergoes phase changes within and around temperature ranges that are comfortable for human consumption of beverages."