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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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PCM briefing: RSPO orders ban on deforestation; ESA calls on Congress to clarify tax credit

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

• The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has ordered a total ban on deforestation by its members, amid growing pressure from both companies and consumers. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban at the group’s annual general assembly in Malaysia Nov. 15. The ban is now part of the RSPO core standards, which member companies must comply with for their products to be certified “sustainable.”

Sunamp Ltd. reports that it has received $2.8 million in new seed funding. The latest round of investors includes Scottish Investment Bank, Equity Gap, PAR Equity and the Japanese energy utility Osaka Gas. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently signed a memo of understanding with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

• From Andreas Hauer, head of ZAE Bayern's Energy Storage Division; via LinkedIn: "The Progress Report for the working group 'Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage' (http://task58.iea-shc.org/) has been approved by the Executive Committee of #IEA #EnergyStorage programme. One more year for international collaboration and inspiring discussions among material experts and applied scientist on advanced thermal energy storage!" Task 58 Annex 33 deals with advanced materials for latent and chemical thermal energy storage, PCMs and thermochemical materials.

• Registration is open for an all-day Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The free event "will present and discuss current innovations within the field of energy storage and efficiency in the built environment. Joining together industry and academia for discussions focussing on integrated solutions for residential, commercial and public buildings using renewable sources. Results will be presented from the ongoing TESSe2b European project, as well as results from other projects in the field of energy efficiency, generation & storage in buildings." 

AQUACHILL Cool Coating, a water-based phase change material coating for bedding materials and other cooling applications, is among six Dow technologies to make R&D Magazine's 2018 R&D 100 list. The awards recognize "revolutionary technologies" introduced during the past year. 

• The RAL Quality Association PCM's next meeting has been set for April 2, 2019, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• A coalition led by the Energy Storage Association is calling on Congress to clarify that energy storage systems qualify for the Investment Tax Credit. The ESA said bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would "ensure a level playing field" for storage resources. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded nearly $2.8 million to develop a system for grid electricity storage and power generation. The system includes a high-temperature charging device, low-cost thermal energy storage modules, a high-performance heat exchanger, and a closed-loop Brayton cycle turbine. 

Ecozen Solutions of India has won Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The award recognizes innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. Ecozen, one of five finalists, won both the Jury’s Prize of $15,000 and the Audience’s Prize of $5,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Energy Storage News reports that Lumenion's new storage technology, now being trialled in Berlin by Vattenfall, can store energy in steel structures for up to 48 hours. The technology is designed to provide low-cost energy storage for combined heat and power applications, using steel as the medium. The steel modules store energy thermally at up to 650 degrees Celsius.

Research roundup: Thermo-regulating bamboo fabric; PCM emulsions; nanoparticle-enhanced composite; more

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Autonomous greenhouse microclimate through hydroponic design and refurbished thermal energy by phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Development of heat accumulation unit based on heterogeneous structure of MF/PCM for cogeneration units

From Textile Research Journal:

Preparation and evaluation of thermo-regulating bamboo fabric treated by microencapsulated phase change materials

From International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology:

Development of thermo-regulating fabrics using PCM microcapsules with poly(methyl methacrylate-co-2-hydroxy ethyl methacrylate) shell and n-alkane core

From Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress:

Preparation and Properties of Nanoparticle-enhanced Composite Phase Change Material with Ceramic Porous Media

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A comprehensive review on phase change material emulsions: Fabrication, characteristics, and heat transfer performance

From 59th Conference on Simulation and Modelling:

Convective Melting Modeling Approach for Phase Change Materials with Variable Boundary Heating

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Simultaneous energy storage and recovery in the triplex-tube heat exchanger with PCM, copper fins and Al2O3 nanoparticles

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Operation strategies guideline for packed bed thermal energy storage systems [pdf]

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Solidification process of hybrid nano-enhanced phase change material in a LHTESS with tree-like branching fin in the presence of thermal radiation

From Energy:

Experiment study on thermal performance of building integrated with double layers shape-stabilized phase change material wallboard

Patent application: Apparatus for controlling environmental conditions of substances

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180333330 (inventor Ron Nagar, Tel Aviv, Israel):

"An apparatus, comprising an environmental control element configured to control at least one environmental condition of a substance contained within a chamber, the environmental control element includes a thermal insulator configured to provide a thermal shield to the substance and a phase change material (PCM) configured to thermally regulate at least one environmental condition. The environmental control element is configured to control the environmental condition without use of an external power source, thereby allowing the apparatus to be thermally self-recharging."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180333330.pdf

Patent application: Cooling device for charging station

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180334049 (applicant Porsche AG, Stuttgart, Germany):

"A cooling device cools a charging station or a multiplicity of charging stations of a charging park. The respective charging station has an internal coolant duct for a coolant to flow through the charging station, an input-side coolant connection, an output-side coolant connection, a coolant circuit with a cooling assembly for cooling the coolant, and a pump for pumping the coolant in the coolant circuit. The coolant duct of the respective charging station is integrated into the coolant circuit. A heat accumulator or a multiplicity of heat accumulators is integrated into the coolant circuit."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180334049.pdf

Patent application: Cables made of phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180334775 (applicant E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"A phase change material (PCM) is useful for thermal management in various applications such as automotive, building, packaging, garments, and footwear, and in devices such as wires and cables. The cable described herein comprises a core and a PCM layer surrounding the core. The PCM layer comprises a PCM composition, which in turn comprises a 1,3-propanediol fatty acid ester. The core consists of a yarn, strand or wire made of a natural or synthetic polymeric material or a metal."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180334775.pdf

Patent application: Multi-circuited phase change composite heat exchangers

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180340738 (applicant Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC, Golden, Colo.):

"Disclosed herein are multi-circuit thermal energy storage (TES) systems connected in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The two circuits (a refrigeration circuit and a secondary fluid circuit) are designed to work together, but they might contain separate units. In certain configurations, the TES system may use a phase change composite (PCC) with high thermal conductivity, which allows for efficient heat transfer within the PCC. Thus, the PCC itself may be used as the heat transfer media between a refrigerant and a secondary fluid, allowing the refrigerant/secondary fluid heat exchanger in typical configurations of HVAC systems to be removed."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180340738.pdf

Patent application: Ceramic phase change container

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180339833 (applicant Blueleaf Lab Oy, Espoo, Finland):

Blueleaf patent drawing"An article for holding foodstuff. The article comprises a receptacle (4) having a wall with an inner surface for holding the foodstuff and an opposite outer surface. The wall is formed of a first material, such as a ceramic material, having a first thermal conductivity. The articles also has a shell (1; 5) spaced apart from the outer surface of the receptacle such as to define an interstitial chamber (2, 3) between the shell and the outer surface of the receptacle. The shell is at least partially formed of a ceramic material with a second thermal conductivity. Within the interstitial chamber, there is disposed a phase change material which abuts with at least the outer surface of the wall of the receptacle. The first thermal conductivity being greater than the second thermal conductivity, so as to allow for heat transfer through the wall to the phase change material, which will accumulate the heat."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180339833.pdf

Patent application: Use of a phase change material system

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180340740 (applicant BorgWarner Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.):

"A number of variations may include a vehicle system which includes an engine. The vehicle system may also include a phase change material which may be disposed in a phase change material device. The phase change material may be released into a vehicle cooling system upon user command. The PCM device may be constructed and arranged to increase a temperature of a vehicle cabin without the engine being turned on when the phase change material is released."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180340740.pdf

Patent application: Solid-liquid phase change driven heat engine

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180320518 (inventor Yanming Wei, Ontario, Canada):

"A new kind of solid-liquid-solid cyclic phase change heat engine is presented with optional but highly recommended multiple cylinders aka multiple stages cascading powertrain. Unlike the traditional Rankine engine or Stirling engine, hereby the gaseous phase is prohibited, and the conventional turbine is abandoned too. Under the drive of heat flux, low expansion volume of the working Phase Change Material (PCM) replaces the high expansion volume of hot gas, and in compensation, high expansion pressure replaces the low expansion pressure of hot gas. ... Inspired by [Donald] Trump's book “the art of deal,” I audaciously make technical trade-off to combine but isolate standard hydraulic oil and PCM in a hydraulic ensemble, despite minor existence of PCM leakage, corrosion and excessive friction, which are caused by the non-ideal viscosity & fluidity."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180320518.pdf

Patent application: Method and mechanisms to use PCMs to improve vehicle comfort

Ben Welter - Monday, November 12, 2018

Toyota patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180321703 (applicant Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., Erlanger, Kentucky): 

"A temperature moderation apparatus is structured to be positioned in vehicle passenger compartment. The apparatus includes an outer shell defining an interior of the shell, the wall has an exterior surface structured and positioned for physical contact with a skin surface of a vehicle occupant. The outer shell wall also has a plurality of through-holes formed therein. A phase change material element is positioned within the shell interior. The phase change material element includes a stretchable, thermally-conductive outer wall and a quantity of phase change material positioned therein. A pressurization mechanism is coupled to the phase change material element, the pressurization mechanism is structured to pressurize the phase change material element so as to force portions of the phase change material element to extend from the interior of the shell into associated ones of the through holes and past the outer shell wall exterior surface."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180321703.pdf