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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 keeps Embry-Riddle’s EcoCAR entry running cool

Ben Welter - Monday, April 30, 2018

Batteries used in hybrid and electric cars work hard and run hot. Traditional cooling systems use an array of pumps, heat exchangers, cooling fans and hoses to manage that heat. Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University needed something lighter and simpler for its entry in the Department of Energy’s EcoCAR 3 competition.

The solution: an aluminum cooling plate filled with biobased phase change material.

A team of mechanical engineering students at the school designed and built the plate under the direction of Sandra Boetcher, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The school’s EcoCAR entry required that the plate use a PCM with a peak melting point of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F). To achieve that temperature, the team selected two commercially available PCMs – PureTemp 37 and PureTemp 48 – and mixed them together.

Embry-Riddle cold plateBoetcher explains the photo at right:

“That’s the inside of the plate before we sealed the aluminum lid on it. On the inside is a copper tube. At the time we put this in the car, we were under a strict deadline and did not have time to redo the bending of the copper tube. The copper tube feeds a cold ethylene-glycol/water mixture as backup for when the PCM has completely melted and needs to resolidify while the car is driving.

“I was concerned that the copper tube didn’t provide enough coverage of the area, but that cold plate has been in the car for the past 2.5 years and it works great. Actually, the back-up pump that runs the ethylene-glycol/water through the copper tube rarely even turns on which means that under our test-driving conditions, the cold plate is acting 100 percent passive. The terrible part of the PCM is that it loves to leak. We feel that there has been some leaking.”

The plate is lighter and simpler than a water-cooled system. “It doesn’t take any energy to run,” said Patrick Currier, an associate professor who advises the EcoCAR team. “We’re not wasting power cooling things. This is a totally passive system, so unless it leaks, it can’t fail.”

Embry-Riddle filed for a U.S. patent on the device in 2015.

“The diagrams in the patent are similar to what we have in the EcoCAR right now, although the geometry is a little different,” Boetcher said. “The research we are conducting is still on-going. The applications we envision could be anything that requires PCM – battery cooling, building technologies, etc.”

Embry-Riddle is one of 16 North American universities challenged to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car to reduce environmental impact, while maintaining the “muscle and performance” the car is known for. 

The teams have had four years to develop their entries. The cars will be put to the test in a variety of events in Arizona and California in May. Winners will be chosen in 40-plus categories at an awards ceremony in Hollywood on May 22, with more than $100,000 in prize money at stake.

Embry-Riddle EcoCAR entry

https://news.erau.edu/headlines/shape-shifters-lightweight-technology-keeps-batteries-cool-supporting-eco-vehicles

PCM briefing: Monodraught wins a Queen's Award; Dulas delivers 50 PCM-equipped solar refrigerators to Pakistant

Ben Welter - Monday, April 30, 2018

John Curley, former technical sales manager at Conex Bänninger and Viega Ltd., has rejoined Monodraught Ltd. as technical consultant. 

• Monodraught, of High Wycombe, United Kingdom, won a Queen's Award for Enterprise this week for its Cool-phase system, which provides "intelligent control of ventilation and cooling using phase change materials." Peli BioThermal of Bedfordshire also received a Queen's Award. The temperature-control packaging company was honored for its "export expertise." 

Dulas Ltd. has delivered 50 of its VC110SDD solar-powered refrigerators to Pakistan. The 110-liter refrigerators, accredited by the World Health Organization, use paraffin-based phase change material to keep vaccines at temperatures ranging from 5°C to 43°C. Renewable Energy Magazine reports that the U.K. company has also launched a temperature-monitoring device that can record and transmit the performance of the refrigerators in real time at any location in the world. 

Andrew Michler's MARTaK Passive House in Colorado has been named the overall winner in Green Builder's 10th annual Green Home of the Year Awards. Natural, nontoxic and recycled materials are used throughout the 1,200-square-foot house. Biobased phase change material with a melt point of 23º C is used to help even out temperature spikes. Five hundred square feet of ENRG Blankets made by Phase Change Energy Solutions is installed a south-facing interior wall. 

• The agenda has been released for the next Cold Chain Global Forum, set for Sept. 24-27 in Philadelphia. The lineup includes discussions on "CRT Product Solutions: How Can We Use Phase Change Materials or Water-based Refrigerants to Successfully Ship Compliance Ready Materials?" and "How Can We Achieve Sustainability & Environmental Packaging Designs in Temperature Controlled Packaging?" Also on the agenda are sessions on "Improving Sustainability & Environmental Packaging to Reduce Waste and Ensure Temperature Compliant Packaging Designs" and "Maintaining Temperature Control Distribution with New Reduced Delivery Targets" and a master class, "Certification Program: Life-Cycle Development of Temperature Assurance Packaging." 

Safer Chemicals in Products 2018 will be held in Boston Sept. 17-18. Topics include "Making the Business Case for Safer Chemicals" and "Substitution Strategies in Europe and Canada."

• New from QY Research: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product, By Type, By Region, By Application, Competitive Landscape, And Segment Forecasts 2018-2025"

Research roundup: Concrete as thermal mass material; nanoparticle-enhanced PCM; moisture migration in porous building materials; more

Ben Welter - Friday, April 27, 2018

Concrete as a thermal mass material for building applications - A review [Journal of Building Engineering]

Effects of nanoparticle-enhanced phase change material (NPCM) on solar still productivity [Journal of Cleaner Production]

Effect of moisture migration and phase change on effective thermal conductivity of porous building materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Fabrication and characterization of poly(melamine-formaldehyde)/silicon carbide hybrid microencapsulated phase change materials with enhanced thermal conductivity and light-heat performance [Solar Materials and Solar Cells]

Research roundup: Solar absorption cooling systems; air-PCM storage unit; cement slurry; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Performance enhancement of solar absorption cooling systems using thermal energy storage with phase change materials [Applied Energy]

Experimental validation of an air-PCM storage unit comparing the Effective Heat Capacity and Enthalpy methods through CFD simulations [Energy]

Controlling the heat evaluation of cement slurry system used in natural gas hydrate layer by micro-encapsulated phase change materials [Solar Energy]

Thermal properties and thermal conductivity enhancement of composite phase change material using sodium acetate trihydrate–urea/expanded graphite for radiant floor heating system [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Study on heat-transfer mechanism of wallboards containing active phase change material and parameter optimization with ventilation [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Life Cycle Assessment of Innovative Materials for Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings [Procedia CIRP]

Patent application: Articles of footwear with cooling features

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

Under Armour patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180103714 (applicant Under Armour, Baltimore, Md.):

"The present invention is directed toward an article of footwear effective to regulate the temperature of the feet of a wearer. In an embodiment, the article of footwear includes an upper and an insole with a thermal effect membrane. The thermal effect membrane contains a plurality of system-reactive components selectively engaged heat and/or moisture. In an embodiment, the printed coating includes a cooling agent, a phase change material, and a heat dissipation material. The bottom of the sole structure of the article of footwear further includes a multiple openings in the forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot regions. The multiple openings promote airflow into the interior of the upper. In operation, the article of footwear is effective to delay/diminish the rise in skin temperature (compared to footwear lacking the membrane and/or openings), increasing wearer comfort."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180103714.pdf

Patent application: Acoustical devices employing phase change materials

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180109858 (applicant Bose Corp., Framingham, Mass):

"An acoustical device comprising: a headphone having a cushion comprising: an outer layer configured to contact a headphone user; two or more phase change materials with an ability to change from solid phase to liquid phase or from one solid phase to a different solid phase at a predetermined phase-change temperature, wherein each phase change material has a different predetermined phase-change temperature; and padding; wherein the phase change materials are between the outer layer and the padding."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180109858.pdf

Related: Earpiece employing cooling and sensation inducing materials (Bose Corp.)

Patent application: Tube with a reservoir of PCM for a heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180106555 (applicant Valeo Systemes Thermiques, Le Mesnil Saint-Denis, France):

Valeo patent drawing"A tube with a reservoir of phase-change material [1] for a heat exchange bundle of a heat exchanger, said tube with a reservoir of phase-change material comprising: two flow plates [3] configured to be assembled with one another in a sealed manner and to form at least one conduit in which a first heat transfer fluid flows; at least one reservoir plate, said reservoir plate being configured to be assembled in a sealed manner onto an external face of one of the two flow plates so as to form housings for the phase-change material; and a filling duct for the phase-change material, one end of said filling duct opening into one of the edges of said tube with a reservoir of phase-change material, said filling duct being formed by a filling spout of the reservoir plate towards the outside and by the external face of one of the two flow plates, said filling duct further comprising a plug, said filling duct and said plug being contained within a volume of width smaller than or equal to the width of the tube with a reservoir of phase-change material and of height less than or equal to the height of the housings of the phase-change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180106555.pdf

Hottgenroth adds PCM module to building simulation software

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

Hottgenroth software PCM menuThe latest versions of Hottgenroth modeling software include simulation of phase change materials in buildings.

“We included PCM in our components properties and can now calculate the given or taken energy hourly for every single room in an complete 3D model,” said Björn Wolff, industrial technology engineer at Hottgenroth Software GmbH & Co., Cologne, Germany.

“Especially for cooling loads it’s important to take the specific mass and heat capacity into account," Wolff explained. "Our simulation is for the dynamic simulation of heat and cooling loads using worldwide climate data. If you know specific values of them we can also simulate renewable energies like PV, heat pumps, CHP, solar thermal, ice storage etc."

https://www.hottgenroth.de/M/SOFTWARE/SolarPVSimulation/Gebaeude-Simulation/Seite.html,73283,80430

PCM briefing: Revised version of EU energy directive approved; va-Q-tec signs partnership deal with Unitrans

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

• The European Parliament has approved a revised version of the Energy Performance of Buildings directive. The directive aims to reinforce efficiency in the building sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of energy use in Europe. 

• 1414 Degrees is installing a 25MWh demonstration of its silicon-based thermal energy storage system at a poultry processing plant in Australia. 

• New market research from 99Strategy: "Global Micro-capsule Phase Change Composite Material Market 2018-2023: Industry Overview, Segment, Type, Application, Competition, Demand, Price"

• Thermal materials specialist va-Q-tec has signed a partnership deal with Unitrans Ltd. of Japan. Unitrans will begin offering temperature-control box fulfillment services in Osaka in June, expanding va-Q-tec's global distribution network. 

• The technical program at ASHRAE's annual conference in Houston June 23-27 includes a session on "Principles and Practices of Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning."

• On the list of short courses available at the American Oil Chemists' Society annual meeting and expo in Minneapolis May 6-9: "Fundamentals of Oils and Fats Crystallization" (Alejandro Marangoni, University of Guelph) and "Improving the Bottom Line of Oils and Fats Refining" (Ken Carlson, RBD Technologies Inc.). 

Nagpur traffic officer wearing a cooling vest• Traffic cops in Nagpur, India, are beating the heat with cooling vests that contain phase change material, Nagpur Today reports. At a glance, though, the thin vests [right] appear to rely mostly on evaporative cooling. 

• Cold chain solutions provider Cryopak is now offering deterministic container closure integrity testing methods at the company's testing center in Edison, N.J. The methods will be used on flexible packaging, sealed containers and other packaging systems. 

• Working in collaboration with Glaciem Cooling Technologies, the University of South Australia has completed work on a new refrigerated cooling system for the hospitality industry. The PCM-based system was installed at the Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, Australia. Glaciem's ThermCOLD system uses a salt-based phase change material to store thermal energy, allowing refrigeration plants to run and store energy during off-peak periods, when electricity rates are lower, and then release energy during peak periods. 

• Scientists at England's University of Portsmouth have accidentally created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drink bottles. "The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans," the Guardian reports. "But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process."

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, is among 12 organizations shortlisted for the 2018 International Ashden Awards. The system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Phase change material ensures a hot shower from the start

Ben Welter - Friday, April 20, 2018

The morning alarm sounds. You wake up, hop in the shower, turn on the tap and … wait. The water might be ice cold for 10 seconds or more, as hot water makes its way from the heater. A Portuguese startup has developed a line of PCM-based products designed to eliminate the wait – and the waste.

Hoterway shower fixtureHeaboo’s Hoterway shower fixture incorporates a thermal battery that heats the water instantaneously until hot water arrives from the heater. The PCM then recharges as heated water passes through the battery. A thermal mixing faucet automatically keeps the incoming water at a constant temperature.

Heaboo, which delivered its first units to Kickstarter backers last year, also offers standalone thermal batteries designed to supply hot water to sinks, tubs and other fixtures.

Rui Teixeira, Heaboo founder and general director, talked about the products in an e-mail interview:

Q: What kind of PCM is used in the products?

A: “We are currently using a paraffin with additives in our products. We are also trying to use more conventional paraffin to reduce the cost of the PCM. The one that we are using has a heat storage capacity of 230 Joules per gram.”

Q: What is the PCM's peak melting point?

A: “It depends on the specifications of the markets we are addressing. The first product uses a PCM with the melting point 45ºC, but for example in France they would prefer to have a PCM with a melting point above 50ºC; as they supply hot water at the temperature around 60ºC. There is not a big deal because we just need 4-5ºC of temperature differential to ensure that the material melts during the shower period.”

Q: How much PCM is used in each Hoterway?

A: “We are optimizing it, but right now we should be talking about 5 kilograms.”

Q: Who is your PCM supplier?

A: “We currently have two European suppliers, but the main one is still Rubitherm from Germany.”

Q: What material is used to contain the PCM?

A: “We use a PVC extruded pipe with some particular design." 

Q: In addition to Kickstarter, where you raised about 26,000 euros, what are your funding sources for this project?

A: “We had to seed investors in the R&D phases. We have four products already in the market and the sales are growing but not as we would like. :)

“We are also looking for industrial partnerships in order to adapt the technology to other applications to diversify our source of income in this early stage and beside that we are looking for an additional investment mainly to optimize production process and increase the go-to-market strategy.”


Q: Heaboo announced a partnership with the Portuguese manufacturer OLI last year. Is the Hoterway manufactured entirely in Portugal?

A: “The partnership with OLI was mainly commercial for the Portuguese market. Currently we have a partnership with an important French manufacturer but I can't reveal the name yet because we are still finishing details about the project. We will adapt the technology to other products related to domestic hot water; the production is still 100% Portuguese but we include accessories that are not made in Portugal, the PCM itself and also the thermal insulation. We use silica vacuum panels to ensure a great insulation with low thickness.”

Q: Will OLI also serve as a distributor of the Hoterway?

A: “OLI is our distributor for Portuguese market but not in exclusivity; in France and Italy we are also developing a distribution network to bring the product there, hopefully during this year." 

Q: How many units have you delivered so far, and how many do you expect to sell in 2018?

A: "Right now we have about 60 units delivered and most of them are installed already; we would like to finish 2018 with 500 units sold." 

Q: What kind of feedback are you getting from consumers?

A: “The feedback is great. The product does exactly as we announced and the users just get rid of the problem they had before. You simply install the product and the waiting time is gone.

“We announce the capacity of the device to be 10 liters after 24 hours from last use, but normally the customer has less quantity of water stagnated in the pipes. That means that they actually still got instant hot water even if they don't use the shower for 48 hours and sometimes 72 hours. This is something highly valued by the customers because it seems that the device works better than we actually said to them.”