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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: Texas undergrads win ASHRAE equipment grant; 1414 Degrees among exhibitors at Australia energy storage conference

Ben Welter - Monday, May 21, 2018

• A University of North Texas research project, “Design of Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger Coupled with Phase Change Materials for Building Temperature Control,” is one of 25 undergraduate projects awarded a 2018 equipment grant from ASHRAE. The grants, totaling more than $113,000, will help the winning students complete undergraduate projects at schools around the world.

• New from HTF Market Intelligence: "United States Cold Chain Equipments Market Report 2018"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Salt Hydrate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017-2027"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"

CouchBed

• The retail market is full of PCM-topped mattresses, pillows and seat cushions. Here's the first fold-out couch we've seen that features the temperature-control technology. The CouchBed, made by an Arizona company, is a 10-inch memory foam mattress that’s “made with 100% CertiPur certified ultra-dense memory foam, combined with phase change material to actively cool the sleeping surface."

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $72 million for new projects to advance high-temperature concentrating solar power technologies. The high-temperature thermal storage systems targeted by this program seek to achieve at least 700 degrees C, which would boost the efficiency and lower the cost of electricity. Awardees include Brayton Energy, Hampton, N.H, $7.6 million; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., $7 million; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., $9.5 million.

• Under a new joint development agreement, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy will join Cleanergy AB's board of directors and help the Swedish firm advance its concentrated solar power and storage technology. The agency will fund a “substantial part” of Cleanergy's research and development work on thermal energy storage. Cleanergy, in turn, will be able to test its technology using the agency's facility in Ouarzazate, Morocco.

• A Ph.D. candidate at Delft University of Technology outlines a strategy to maximize the potential of aquifer thermal energy storage and phase out the use of natural gas in the Netherlands.

• Thermal energy storage company 1414 Degrees will be among more than 60 companies from around the world scheduled to attend the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition May 23-24 at the Adelaide Convention Center. Other exhibitors include Tesla, Toshiba, GE and Victron Energy.

Research roundup: Thermoelectric generator system; solar chimney; novel thermal management system for lithium-ion battery pack; more

Ben Welter - Friday, May 18, 2018

From Energy:

Protection and Thermal Management of Thermoelectric Generator System Using Phase Change Materials: An Experimental Investigation
Performance analysis of a novel thermal management system with composite phase change material for a lithium-ion battery pack

From Solar Energy:

Efficient energy storage technologies for photovoltaic systems
The experimental appraisement of the effect of energy storage on the performance of solar chimney using phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Improving thermal management of electronic apparatus with paraffin (PA)/expanded graphite (EG)/graphene (GN) composite material
Experimental exploration of incorporating form-stable hydrate salt phase change materials into cement mortar for thermal energy storage

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Role of Metallic Foam in Heat Storage in the Presence of Nanofluid and MicroEncapsulated Phase Change Material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical investigation of thermal and optical performance of window units filled with nanoparticle enhanced PCM

From Applied Energy:

Cost estimation and sensitivity analysis of a latent thermal energy storage system for supplementary cooling of air cooled condensers
Influence of design on performance of a latent heat storage system at high temperatures

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Preparation and investigation of distinct and shape stable paraffin/SiO2 composite PCM nanospheres

From Energy and Buildings:

Parametric Analysis of Using PCM Walls for Heating Loads Reduction

Axiotherm data cooling center concept honored at Future Thinking conference

Ben Welter - Friday, May 18, 2018

A data center cooling concept developed by Axiotherm GmbH and Frigoteam Handels GmbH was among the technologies honored at last month's Future Thinking conference in Darmstadt, Germany.

The concept, "Security of supply and emergency operation in data centers by integration of PCM cold storage," took third place in the energy technology category. Based on Axiotherm's HeatSel thermal storage technology, the system is designed to ensure the cooling of data centers in the event of a power outage. At the same time, the use of photovoltaic power and free cooling can increase system efficiency and reduce emissions during regular operations.

Dirk BüttnerAxiotherm, a subsidiary of ESDA Technologie GmbH, specializes in developing macro-encapsulation of phase change materials for various applications. Dirk Büttner, Axiotherm's chief research officer, answered a few questions about the technology by e-mail: 

Q: The award is based on a data center cooling concept, not a working model or pilot project, correct?

A: "Correct, the award is based on a cooling concept, but there have already been diverse Frigoteam cooling systems with the Axiotherm PCM-Storage implemented, only for other fields of application."

Q: Is this the system that you and Yvonne Reimann of Croda gave a presentation on at the 5th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage in Lucerne in January?

A: "Yes, the Axiotherm Hybrid-PCM-Storage was the central element of the presentation in Lucerne."

Q: Is CrodaTherm specified as the PCM used in the data cooling center concept?

A: "No, in this system a subzero PCM developed by Axiotherm."

Axiotherm thermal storage tankQ: What are the peak melting points and energy storage capacities of the PCMs available for use in the system?

A: "Starting at -33°C up to +12°C. The storage capacity of the Hybrid-PCM-System is typically approximately 50 kWh /m3 (@dT = 10 K)."

Q: What are the dimensions of the HeatSel discs, and what are they made of?

A: There are two types of HeatSels, one with a diameter of 180 mm for smaller tanks, and one with a diameter of 270 mm for big tanks (with a diameter >1,20 m). The maximum layer thickness in both cases is less than 30 mm, therefore, compared to classical spherical elements, a four times higher thermal output power can be achieved. The (diffusion resistant) encapsulation material depends on the operating temperature, the basis are e.g. PP or PE-HD.

Q: What are the next steps in the development of this system, technically and commercially speaking?

A: "First step was the successful proof of concept and initial market entry through launching customers, like Frigoteam. 

"The next step is the extension of distribution network through fast-following customers. Here we are looking for further potential strategic partnerships with fast-following customers, like tank manufacturers and manufacturers of cooling/heating systems.

"Another step is the diversification of customers for further applications, such as for industries working with process heat and cooling as well as manufacturers of air conditioning and further cooling systems."

Patent application: Electric vehicle powered by capacitive energy storage modules

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180126857 (applicant: Capacitor Sciences Inc., Menlo Park, Calif.):

"The invention relates to a capacitor based energy storage module and an electric vehicle using the same. For providing an electric vehicle which can meet the requirements of long distance running and rapid acceleration at the same time, the electric vehicle of present invention comprising: An electric control unit controlling all operations of the electric vehicle; An energy storage unit having one or more energy devices based on meta-capacitor which provides needed electric energy of the electric vehicle; A DC-DC converter receiving control signal from said electric control unit to convert the energy from said energy storage unit then provide to motor; A motor converting the electric energy into mechanical energy to drive the wheels; Wheels are driven by the motor to make the electric vehicle run. ... [The] capacitive energy storage module may include a cooling mechanism in thermal contact with the capacitive energy storage device and/or the DC-voltage converter. Such a cooling mechanism may be, e.g., a passive cooling mechanism, an active cooling system using air, water, ethylene glycol as a coolant; phase-change material, or any combination thereof."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180126857.pdf

Patent application: Method and system for battery protection

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Milwaukee battery pack patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180131036 (applicant Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., Brookfield, Wis.):

"The present invention provides a system and method for battery protection. In one construction and in some aspects, the invention provides a system and method for monitoring the temperature of a battery. In another construction and in some aspects, the invention provides a system and method for transferring heat within a battery pack. In another construction and in some aspects, the invention provides a system and method for transferring heat within a battery pack via a phase change material [300]."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180131036.pdf

PCM briefing: BASF to spend $2.2 billion on R&D; Sunamp heat batteries qualify for Scottish loan program

Ben Welter - Monday, May 14, 2018

Chemical & Engineering News reports that the top 50 U.S. chemical producers generated $285.4 billion in chemical revenues in 2017, a 9.4 percent increase over 2016. 

• Under its new CEO, Martin Brüdermüller, BASF is planning to pour $2.2 billion into research and development, making BASF the second-highest investor in innovation in the chemicals sector after DuPont

Grace HsiaWarmilu LLC founder Grace Hsia, right, is on Crain's 20 in Their 20s list honoring Michigan's rising young leaders. Warmilu makes a PCM-equipped infant warming blanket.   

Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding, for a total of $12.5 million raised to date. The round was co-led by GXP Investments and Shell Ventures. Axiom's PCM-based "refrigeration battery" is designed to reduce energy supermarket energy costs. 

Sunamp Ltd. is applauding the Scottish government's decision to include heat batteries to its Home Energy Scotland Loan program. Homeowners and private landlords are now eligible to apply for an interest-free loan of up to 6,000 pounds to install Sunamp's PCM-based heat battery systems.

• Albuquerque-based SAVSU Technologies is launching two new high-performance shipping containers branded as Evo Extreme. The containers are designed for the 2-8C and -80C temperature ranges.

Emirates District Cooling has won a contract to supply a district cooling system to the Expo Dubai 2020 event. The system will have a capacity of 60,000 tons of refrigeration. 

• Georg Rodriguez, managing director at MUTZ Engineering mbH, will present a free lecture, presumably in German, on "phase change materials for temperature management and energy storage in buildings" on Tuesday, May 15, at the KEBAB lecture room in Berlin.

Polar Bear thermal storage system installed at California winery

Ben Welter - Monday, May 14, 2018

Ice Energy's newest ice-based thermal energy storage system has its first customer: Wilson Creek Winery of Temecula, Calif.

The Polar Bear, developed at Ice Energy's IdeaLAB in Riverside, is designed to reduce energy costs in supermarkets and other commercial refrigeration systems. Like the company's flagship Ice Bear product, the Polar Bear makes ice during off-peak hours for use in cooling during periods of peak energy demand. 

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins"Wilson Creek Winery [was] an early adopter of Ice Bears to cut their utility bill, and a first adopter of Polar Bears to help them cool their wine-making fermentation process," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "During the peak hours of the day, the Polar Bears come online and automatically augment the amount of cooling that is provided by the chiller or allow the chiller to either remain on standby/run at part-load, vastly increasing the operating efficiency of the plant."

Hopkins estimated the cost of installing the system in a typical 40,000-square-foot supermarket in Southern California at $40,000, "which would pay for two Polar Bears, fully installed."

Two competitors in the cold storage market, Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., and Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, say their saltwater- and salt-hydrate-based thermal storage systems can reduce a customer's energy costs by up to 40 percent. How does the Polar Bear compare?

"The Polar Bear is uniquely cost effective in reducing peak demand," Hopkins said. "Based on currently utility rates, the Polar Bear has a payback of less than one year in California and about two years in New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut. I am not aware of any energy storage including Axiom or Viking Cold that has paybacks close to ours."

Commercial rollout of the Polar Bear is planned for the fourth quarter of this year. IdeaLAB, meanwhile, is working on a larger-capacity Ice Bear, and the company is developing expansion plans.

"We will be entering markets outside the U.S. through distribution partners this year," Hopkins said. "We are planning to raise capital this summer to support our growth plans."

Research roundup: Comb-like polymeric phase change materials; energy-storing concrete; building-integrated solar thermal; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 09, 2018

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Thermal and electrical management of photovoltaic panels using phase change materials – A review

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Thermal performance and shape-stabilization of comb-like polymeric phase change materials enhanced by octadecylamine-functionalized graphene oxide

From Energy:

Front tracking in modelling of latent heat thermal energy storage: Assessment of accuracy and efficiency, benchmarking and GPU-based acceleration

From Construction and Building Materials:

Mechanical behavior, energy-storing properties and thermal reliability of phase-changing energy-storing concrete

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Building-integrated solar thermal system with/without phase change material: Life cycle assessment based on ReCiPe, USEtox and ecological footprint

From Case Studies in Thermal Engineering:

Magnetically stirring enhanced thermal performance of phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Numerical comparison between single PCM and multi-stage PCM based high temperature thermal energy storage for CSP tower plants

Patent application: Electronic device with protective shield containing PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180124945 (applicants French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and Airbus Operations SAS, France):

"An electronic device includes an electronic component and a protective shield including a phase change material having a phase change temperature of between 20 degrees C. and 90 degrees C., an antivibration gel having hyperelastic and/or viscoelastic behavior at 20 degrees C., and a separation barrier positioned so as to separate the phase change material and the antivibration gel. The antivibration gel is positioned, at least partly, in contact with the electronic component, and has a thermal conductivity of greater than 1 W/mK at 20 degrees C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180124945.pdf

Patent application: Mobile comfort units with PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180120873 (applicant University of Maryland, College Park, Md.):

"Despite otherwise uncomfortable conditions in a surrounding environment, a customizable microenvironment can be created around a user to maintain a comfortable temperature and/or humidity level using a [mobile] comfort unit [100]. For example, the environment may be an office building where conditions are out of the comfortable range to save on energy or for other reasons, a factory/shop environment that is poorly conditioned, or an outdoor location with little to no conditioning. A sensing unit  can monitor biometric and environmental data and can determine a comfort level of the user [300]. The comfort unit can then dynamically respond to the determined comfort level and adjust the microenvironment to improve the user's comfort level. The comfort unit can follow the user as the user moves within the macro-environment, or can otherwise move within the macro-environment to achieve certain functions, such as recharging or spatial shifting of thermal load within the overall macro-environment. ... [The system uses] a phase change material (PCM) that stores heat by changing phase."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180120873.pdf