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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.

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Patent application: Thermal energy battery with enhanced heat exchange capability

Ben Welter - Friday, July 28, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170205152 (applicant Promethean Power Systems Inc., Somerville, Mass.):

Thermal storage battery patent drawing"This invention provides a thermal energy battery having an insulated tank contains a multitude of densely packed plastic tubes filled with a phase-change material (PCM, such as ice) that changes from solid to liquid and vice-versa. Energy is stored when the PCM transitions from liquid to solid form, and released when the PCM transitions back from solid to liquid form. The tubes are arranged vertically, span the height of a well-insulated tank, and are immersed in heat transfer fluid (HTF) contained within the tank. The HTF is an aqueous solution with a freezing point temperature below the freezing point temperature of the chosen PCM. The HTF remains in liquid form at all times during the operation of the battery. Diffusers located allow the HTF to be extracted uniformly from the tank, pumped and cooled by a liquid chiller situated outside the tank and then and inserted back into the tank."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170205152.pdf

PCM briefing: 'New paradigm' in pharma cold chain; opening for sales manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe

Ben Welter - Monday, July 24, 2017

GoSun solar stove• The makers of the GoSun portable stove, which uses solar energy to bake, roast or steam food at temperatures up to 290° C, have raised nearly $400,000 from investors on seedinvest.com. The stove initially used high-temperature phase change material to store the sun's energy. "We abandoned the PCM a couple years ago after we started doing testing with it," said GoSun's Matt Gillespie. He said the material did not match the performance promised by the PCM maker, degrading "significantly" after just a few cycles. The current design uses compound parabolic reflectors and a horizontal vacuum tube to convert nearly 80 percent of sunlight into usable heat. The Cincinnati company has sold 10,000 stoves online and in retail outlets such as Home Depot, REI and Cabela's. GoSun plans to use the SeedInvest funds to support continued growth. 

• A “new paradigm” is evolving in the pharma cold chain to address the rapid advance in cellular and genetic therapies that require extremely low temperatures, Pharmaceutical Commerce reports.  

Bio-based chemical processes that include a thermochemical conversion step are finding favor as early forms of industrial bio-based processing mature, Chemical Processing reports.

• New from Accuray Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025

• New from QYResearch: "Global High Temperature Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2017"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Smart Fabrics Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2016-2026"

• The University of Warwick has posted an opening for a Ph.D. studentship in thermal energy storage. The 3.5-year research position is open to candidates from the United Kingdom and European Union.  

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted an opening for a regional sales manager

Creative Ticking of Gastonia, N.C., has announced two new PCM-based cooling technologies. Kyla treatments can be applied to fabrics at different levels depending on the desired cooling level, the company said. Kyla+ is a specially designed yarn that "is durable enough to withstand repeated washing without losing any cooling effects.” Creative Ticking is the bedding specialty division of Beverly Knits.

Patent application: Condenser cylinder adapted for use in an A/C cylinder

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170198952 (applicant Valeo Systemes Thermiques, Le Mesnil St. Denis, France):

Valeo cylinder patent drawing''The invention relates to a condenser receiver adapted to receive and house a fluid used in a cold loop of an air-conditioning system, said condenser receiver comprising an outer wall and an inner wall. The inner wall defines an inner space for housing a fluid, while the outer wall is provided on its outer surface with a plurality of ribs that increase the heat exchange between the fluid contained in the inner space and the ambient air outside the condenser receiver. ... According to a preferred mode of embodiment of the present invention, the component adapted to store and release a set amount of heat comprises a phase change material [14]."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170198952.pdf

Patent application: Load-bearing structure

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170197752 (applicant Airdex Corp., Henderson, Nev.):

"The present invention provides a movable load bearing structure with a surface that includes antimicrobial agents capable of eliminating, preventing, retarding or minimizing the growth of microbes and also minimizing cross-contamination when the load bearing structure is being reused for cargos that differ from a previously transported cargo, for example, different food types, such as poultry, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruit. The load bearing structure may be a dunnage platform or a container for storing and/or shipping cargo. ... In an embodiment of the invention, the pockets may be used to locate phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170197752.pdf

North Carolina company ramps up production of Temperfect mugs

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The temperature-controlled coffee mug market heated up a bit this month with word from Joeveo that it has completed the shipment of 5,000 Temperfect mugs to Kickstarter backers. The Wake Forest, N.C., startup is now contacting customers who placed subsequent orders to let them know that their mugs will soon be shipped.

Temperfect PCM mugThe 16-ounce mug uses phase change material to cool coffee or tea to a drinkable temperature and keep it there. How is the Temperfect mug ($40-$45) different from two notable competitors, the Ember ($150) and Lexo ($38-$48)?

"The Ember mug is a more complex hybrid PCM/electronic design, 12-ounce rather than 16-ounce like the Temperfect mug, and has a significantly higher price," said Joeveo's Dean Verhoeven, who launched the Kickstarter campaign in November 2013. "The electronics and battery of course allow adjustment of the hold temperature, which a straight PCM mug like the Temperfect won't do.

"The Lexo flask is easier to compare to the Temperfect, as it is strictly PCM-based, and a 16-ounce model is available. The Temperfect mug uses a higher-temperature PCM (61°C vs. 56°C), it's smaller, lighter and has more of a travel mug design rather than the traditional cylindrical thermos shape of the Lexo. It's more colorful!

"Lexo offers what I call a 'backpackable' lid, whereas the current Temperfect lid is optimized for ease of use in a car cupholder, and not for a hermetic backpack-safe seal."

Once Joeveo has caught up on current orders, are there plans to sell on Amazon or in coffee shops or brick-and-mortar stores?

"Yes, we'd like to try both," Verhoeven said. "Brick-and-mortar at some shops we like around here to see what it's like and to get some experience."

PCM briefing: Energy storage rebate falters in California Assembly; at Los Alamos lab, it's ice ice ice ice ice ice ice baby

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

• The California Assembly has essentially killed a bill to create a long-term energy storage rebate. The bill, known as SB 700, had earlier cleared the state Senate. Last week's unexpected move pushes consideration of the rebate, which would have applied to a wide range of technologies, including thermal energy storage, into next year. 

"Ice Energy and others interested in energy storage for the residential market have closely followed and supported SB 700," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "The Duck Curve problem is serious and storage is the solution. SB 700 would have significantly accelerated the solution so the delay is disappointing to anyone who cares about replacing fossil fuels with renewables, lowering the cost of power, and improving grid reliability. In the meantime, Ice Energy will continue to work with utilities and utilize SGIP to deliver cost effective and reliable energy storage to the residential market."

• For the first time, scientists have recorded water freezing into a structure called Ice VII under extreme, controlled conditions in the lab, Science Alert reports. "These experiments with water are the first of their kind, allowing us to witness a fundamental disorder-to-order transition in one of the most abundant molecules in the Universe," says geophysicist Arianna Gleason of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

• The Hohenstein Institute for Textile Innovation has developed a new method for measuring the cooling effect of intelligent textiles, a heat release tester called WATson. The institute's thermophysiological evaluation system "will compare the results of the WATson heat loss tester to data from experiments on subjects in a climate chamber under a range of ambient conditions," Advanced Textiles Source reports.   

• A team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has submitted a precise new calculation of a key formula to redefine the kilogram based on a fundamental universal constant. 

• California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems, has an opening for a computational thermal systems engineer. Axiom announced a deal last week to collaborate with Hillphoenix, a manufacturer of refrigeration equipment used in U.S. supermarkets. The two companies plan to develop and market storage-enabled refrigeration platforms.

Research roundup: Transient energy storage; metal alloys for high-temperature applications; low-cost PCM emulsion; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Transient thermal energy storage in partitioned enclosures packed with microencapsulated phase change materials [International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer]

Considerations for the use of metal alloys as phase change materials for high temperature applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Experimental analysis of a coiled stirred tank containing a low cost PCM emulsion as a thermal energy storage system [Energy]

Fabrication and characterization of novel shape-stabilized synergistic phase change materials based on PHDA/GO composites [Energy]

Fabrication of hard-shell microcapsules containing inorganic materials [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Systems [Energy]

Thermal Storage Capacity and Night Ventilation Performance of a Solar Chimney Combined with Different PCMs [International Journal of Photoenergy]

Preparation and characterizations of asphalt/lauric acid blends phase change materials for potential building materials [Construction and Building Materials]

Numerically Study the Performance of An Air—multiple PCMs unit for Free Cooling and Ventilation [Energy and Buildings]

Robot chemist shines in test against human counterparts

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A University of Glasgow team has developed a robot equipped with an algorithm that allows it to be more efficient than human chemists in some applications. The robot isn't likely to replace humans any time soon, Chemistry World reports, but it proved to be very effective at discovering and crystallizing gigantic self-assembling molecules.

"The robot extends the intuition of the human,’ said Dr. Lee Cronin, who led the team. "The robot frees the human from bias because it has more time to do reactions that a human wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. If you’re given a random set of reactions, you use your bias – or your training – to choose those reactions." 

https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/humans-come-out-second-best-against-efficient-robot-chemist/3007676.article 

Research roundup: Macro-packed fatty acid ester composites; selective laser sintering; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

From Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry:

Performance evaluation of macro-packed fatty acid ester composites using energy-efficient thermal storage systems

From Procedia Manufacturing:

Selective Laser Sintering of Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage Applications

From Applied Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of microencapsulated myristic acid–palmitic acid eutectic mixture as phase change material for thermal energy storage
Advances in thermal energy storage materials and their applications towards zero energy buildings: A critical review

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A new strategy for enhanced latent heat energy storage with microencapsulated phase change material saturated in metal foam
Preparation and characterization of hybrid nanocomposite embedded organic methyl ester as phase change material

From Renewable Energy:

Cutting copper fiber/paraffin composite phase change material discharging experimental study based on heat dissipation capability of Li-ion battery

From Lehigh University:

Numerical and Experimental Study of the Melting Process of a Phase Change Material in a Partically Filled Spherical Shell [thesis]

From IEEE Internet Computing:

Thermal Time Shifting: Decreasing Datacenter Cooling Costs with Phase Change Materials

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical modeling of solid-liquid phase change in a closed 2D cavity with density change, elastic wall and natural convection

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Evaluation of the suitability of different calorimetric methods to determine the enthalpy-temperature curve of granular PCM composites
Heat Transfer Enhancement during Freezing Process of Nano Phase Change Material (NPCM) In a Spherical Capsule
Numerical simulation on thermal characteristics of supercooled salt hydrate PCM for energy storage: Multiphase model

Patent application: Air conditioner units having dehumidification features

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170191721 (applicant General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

"Air conditioner units are provided. An air conditioner unit includes an outdoor heat exchanger, the outdoor heat exchanger including a coil assembly through which refrigerant is flowable, and an indoor heat exchanger, the indoor heat exchanger comprising a coil assembly through which refrigerant is flowable. The air conditioner unit further includes an auxiliary heat exchanger [110, above] disposed between the outdoor heat exchanger and the indoor heat exchanger along a refrigerant flow path, the auxiliary heat exchanger including a coil assembly [112] through which refrigerant is flowable and further including a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170191721.pdf