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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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USDA seeks to add PCM category to BioPreferred Program

Ben Welter - Monday, September 24, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to add phase change material as a category of biobased products eligible for procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors.

USDA BioPreferred labelPhase change material is not currently one of the 109 categories in the USDA's BioPreferred Program. But biobased PCM products are still eligible to participate in the program if they become certified through a voluntary labeling initiative, explained Caroline Tapscott, BioPreferred Program scientist. Products made by three PCM manufacturers – Croda Inc., Phase Change Energy Solutions and PureTemp LLC – qualified for the BioPreferred catalog through that initiative.

The current minimum biobased content for products in such "certification-only" categories is 25 percent. The USDA is proposing to raise the minimum to 71 for phase change materials. All PCM products now listed in the catalog meet that threshold.

The BioPreferred Program was created by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and expanded by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The purpose is to increase the use of biobased products.

Under the program, federal agencies are required, with some exceptions, to purchase biobased products within designated product categories when the purchase price of the product exceeds $10,000 or when the quantity of such products or functionally equivalent products purchased over the preceding fiscal year equaled $10,000 or more.

In the document describing the proposed rule changes, the USDA says it "has been unable to obtain data on the amount of phase change materials purchased by federal procuring agencies" but "believes that some federal agencies and their contractors do and would likely purchase these types of products."

The USDA is proposing to add 29 other biobased categories as well, including adhesives, concrete curing agents, exterior paints and facial care products. Public comments on the proposed rule changes will be accepted until Nov. 13, 2018.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/14/2018-19681/designation-of-product-categories-for-federal-procurement

Patent application: Articulated panel for thermal insulation

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hutchinson patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180266619 (applicant Hutchinson, Paris, France):

"An assembly comprising a structure provided with an interior volume in which is present for example at least one fluid capable of circulating in said volume and under the action of circulation means. Thermally insulating elements of VIP construction are arranged around a layer containing a PCM and extending around the peripheral wall that surrounds the volume. Protrusions fixed to the peripheral wall delimited spaces in which the thermally insulating elements are positioned."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180266619.pdf

Patent application: Body support cushion with multiple layers of phase change material

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 23, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180263377 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

"A body support cushion, e.g., mattress, has multiple foam layers, including a viscoelastic foam layer and a reticulated foam layer, and an outer cover. At least one of the foam layers and the outer cover each includes phase change material having latent heat properties that provide two intervals of dermal cooling."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180263377.pdf

Patent application: PCM panel and charging unit for cooling a cabinet of a merchandiser

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 23, 2018

Coca-Cola patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20180266739 (applicant The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, Georgia):

"A phase change material panel for cooling a cabinet of a merchandiser is disclosed. The panel may include a refrigerant tube, an outer jacket surrounding the refrigerant tube, and a phase change material positioned between the refrigerant tube and the outer jacket and in contact with the refrigerant tube. ... The panel [shown at right] may be charged at or near the point-of-sale or remotely therefrom, such as at a warehouse, on a truck, at a distribution center, or the like and brought to the merchandiser."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180266739.pdf

PCM briefing: Energy storage projects get share of $28 million in ARPA-E grants; nominations due Oct. 1 for AOCS awards

Ben Welter - Friday, September 21, 2018

ARPA-E this week awarded $28 million to 10 R&D projects aimed at developing energy storage systems to power the electric grid for up to 100 hours, improving grid resilience and performance. Thermal energy storage projects were among the winners. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory won a $2.79 million grant to “develop a high-temperature, low-cost thermal energy storage system using a high-performance heat exchanger and closed loop Brayton cycle turbine to generate power.” Michigan State University won $2 million to "explore a process that heats a bed of magnesium manganese oxide to release oxygen, and then passes air over the particle bed to start a chemical reaction that releases the heat to drive a gas turbine generator," Greentech Media reported.

Mark Richards, applications engineering manager at Phase Change Energy Solutions, will give a presentation on "Testing and Modeling of Phase Change Materials for Building Applications" at next week's Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild in Chicago.

• Nominations for nine Scientific and Society Awards given by the American Oil Chemists' Society are due Oct. 1. The awards recognize leaders in fats, oils, proteins and surfactants who have advanced the science and technology of their interest areas.

The agenda has been posted for the CSP Madrid 2018 conference and exhibition, to be held Nov. 13-14. Topics include "Advancements in Thermal Storage Systems with Molten Salt" and "Thermal storage + PV, gas or other power generations."

Ember Technologies announced this week that its PCM-equipped coffee mug is now available at Bloomingdale's

• New from Decision Databases: "2018-2023 Global Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market Report

Entropy Solutions has been granted a U.S. trademark for the tagline "Global Authority on Phase Change Material," in use since 2014.  

• How green is your lab? The EU Science Hub invites European Union residents to submit photos that show how to reduce waste, save energy, maximize equipment efficiency or anything else that makes a lab green. Science Hub will post submitted photos on its Facebook page. The entry deadline is Oct. 19. The winning photographer will receive a two-day trip to Berlin to visit the hub's ARTEFACTS exhibition, where the winning photo will be displayed.   

• Children curious about science will have a chance to chat with researchers, observe demonstrations and take part in hands-on experiments at the annual "Science is Wonder-ful!" event Sept. 25-26 in Brussels, Belgium. The event, sponsored by the European Commission and European Parliament, drew 4,600 participants in 2017.

• The United States has removed 142 chemical and plastic products, including paraffin wax, from the latest round of tariffs that it will impose on Chinese imports next week, the American Chemistry Council said Tuesday.

• The Thermal Energy Systems Lab at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has an opening for a post-doctoral researcher to assist in the development of thermal energy storage material and systems. For details, contact Alessandro Romagnoli, a.romagnoli@ntu.edu.sg. "We are looking for an expert on industrial energy efficiency with capabilities to run exergy/energy analysis, skills with flow diagrams (e.g. Sankey) and well grounded in current and future technology development," Romagnoli said. "This is a short-term appointment (either full time or part-time)." 

Research roundup: Concrete with shape-stable PCM; carbon nanotube laden with D-Mannitol; inorganic PCMs in metal capsules

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 20, 2018

From MATEC Web of Conferences:

Thermal Properties of Concrete Incorporated with Shape-stable Phase Change Material [pdf]

From Advanced Powder Technology:

Multi-walled carbon nanotube laden with D-Mannitol as phase change material: Characterization and experimental investigation

From Advances in Polymer Technology:

The influence of emulsifiers on preparation and properties of microencapsules of melamine–urea–formaldehyde resins with n‚Äźdodecanol as phase change material

From Materials:

Macro-Encapsulation of Inorganic Phase-Change Materials (PCM) in Metal Capsules

Patent application: Core-shell triggered release systems

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

RTI core shell patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180258340 (applicant Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, N.C.):

"The present disclosure relates to delivery and release systems, such as core-shell particles. An exemplary composition according to the disclosure can include a carrier element forming an outer shell that defines an inner core. The core can include a reactive agent that is adapted to react with the shell, particularly at an inner interface of the shell with the core materials. The reaction can provide an inside-out degradation of the shell and release of one or more materials therein. The reactive agent may be separated from the shell, such as using a phase change material (PCM). Upon reaching specific environmental conditions, the PCM can change so as the release the reactive agent for reaction with the shell. The systems can be used in various methods to deliver a material to various environments, including underground reservoirs."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180258340.pdf

Research roundup: Heat capacities of potential organic PCMs; asphalt binders; novel smart textile; modeling hysteresis; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

From Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics:

Heat capacities of potential organic phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Effects of microencapsulated phase change materials on the performance of asphalt binders
An improved, generalized effective thermal conductivity method for rapid design of high temperature shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage systems
Multi-objective optimisation of thermal energy storage using phase change materials for solar air systems

From Energy:

A comprehensive study of properties of paraffin phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Evaluation of a novel solar driven sorption cooling/heating system integrated with PCM storage compartment

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Shape-stabilized phase change materials based on porous supports for thermal energy storage applications
Novel smart textile with phase change materials encapsulated core-sheath structure fabricated by coaxial electrospinning

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental research on the effective heating strategies for a phase change material based power battery module
Modeling hysteresis in the phase transition of industrial-grade solid/liquid PCM for thermal energy storages

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Determination of heat transfer coefficients in direct contact latent heat storage systems

PCM briefing: UCF wins $360,000 grant to develop solar storage module; Nike unveils prototype cooling vest

Ben Welter - Monday, September 17, 2018

• The University of Central Florida was awarded a $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation last month to develop and commercialize a grid-connected solar storage module. UCF is partnering with battery maker AllCell Technology to develop the system, known as iPV++. The system will use smart inverters and battery management to deliver stable and predictable PV-based solar power for grid-tied applications. AllCell phase change composite material will provide passive thermal management of the system's lithium-ion battery modules. Dr. Issa Batarseh, UCF electrical engineering professor and the project principal investigator, says use of the material "guarantees the safety of the battery modules, simplifies the installation and maintenance, and significantly increases lifetime due to temperature control.”

Nike prototype cooling vest• A prototype cooling vest developed by the Nike Sport Research Lab made its public debut at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., earlier this month. Scorching heat and high humidity marked the tennis tournament's later rounds, prompting players to do whatever they could to stay cool. Rafael Nadal, right, was among the players seen wearing the vest courtside. The form-fitting vest features four cooling packs -- two in the front and two in the back -- to quickly cool down players between sets and before and after matches. Nike declined to answer questions about the vest, but it appears similar to phase change vests already on the market, including versions made by TechNiche and Glacier Tek.

Peli BioThermal, the temperature-controlled packaging company, has opened a service center in Indianapolis. The company says the 50,000-square-foot facility will be one of the largest in Peli's Credo on Demand network.

Registration is open for the next ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10, 2019. The 10th annual conference and technology showcase will "bring together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways." 

• Australian energy storage startup 1414 Degrees began trading on the Australian Securities Exchange last week after raising $16.3 million AUS as part of its initial public offering. The company's technology stores electricity as thermal energy by heating an melting containers full of silicon at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries.

NETenergy, a Chicago startup that licenses technology developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago, plans to commercialize its hybrid air-conditioning system with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The $500,000 grant was awarded to NETenergy's partner, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The International Copper Association and Ingersoll-Rand are commercial partners on the grant, which will provide cash and in-kind matching funds. The technology uses phase change composites to store cold energy, allowing customers to shift A/C production to off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper. 

• Costs for U.S. chemical distributors could rise by nearly $1.3 billion if the United States imposes tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods from China, according to an analysis by John Dunham & Associates. Job losses could top 5,900, the analysis said.

PCM-equipped heat exchanger designed for use in reefer trucks, cold rooms

Ben Welter - Friday, September 14, 2018

A new PCM application turned up in my LinkedIn feed this week:

"Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. presents ThermoTab active plates used for both #coldstorages and #transportation applications at India Cold Chain Show 2018" ... "Enabling last mile connectivity with fuel free refrigeration."

Vishnu SasidharanThe post offered plenty of hashtags but not much information. I asked Vishnu Sasidharan, right, vice president for new product initiatives at Pluss, for details on the thermoTab Active heat exchanger.

Q: Who developed the thermoTab Active heat exchanger and when was it introduced commercially?

A: "The thermoTab Active heat exchangers are being sourced from FIC, Italy, a company which is has been manufacturing heat exchangers for thermal energy storage in refrigerated vehicles since 1951. Pluss has partnered with FIC to offer complete solution – PCM-filled heat exchangers exclusively in India – introduced commercially in India from September 2017. The partnership leverages FIC & Pluss strength in heat exchanger and material sciences respectively to offer solutions for storage, transportation and space cooling/heating."

Q: What types of PCM are used? (salt hydrate, thermal energy capacity, peak melt point ranges, etc.)

A: "The current standardized offerings are for two categories of temperature; +2 to +8 deg C and -15 to -25 deg C. The plates offered on the basis heat load capacities and the categories under which it falls. For instance, if a customer requires 20kw-Hr of thermal storage capacity for +2 to +8 deg C the number of plates, the customer could refer to the datasheet and choose the combination of thermoTab Active plates based on its capacity. Alternatively, the datasheet also provides with a quick selection of number of thermoTab Active plates based on the volume of the container, insulation thickness and the retention hours required." 

Q: Describe how the heat exchanger functions.

Pluss thermoTab Active plateA: "The heat exchanger plates have a refrigerant coil inside. The PCM filled inside the plate remains completely immersed in the PCM solution. During charging or freezing cycle begins when refrigerant is passed through the coil at a temperature lower than the phase change point of PCM. When the temperature in the room starts to rise above the phase change point of the PCM, the surface of the heat exchangers starts to release the energy at a constant temperature, thereby maintaining the temperature of the environment."

Q: How and when are the PCM panels charged in a refrigerator truck?

A: "The thermoTab Active plates are charged by means of an electric refrigeration system on board the truck. Prior to commencement of the delivery cycle, the truck’s refrigeration system is connected to a three-phase electric source for 8-10 hours. The cost of storing energy by electricity as against active cooling using diesel the savings are substantial. The payback for such system is less than six months."

Q: How and when are the PCM panels charged in a micro cold room?

A: "In a micro cold room as well the charging takes place similar to a refrigerator truck. However, the operating cost could be further reduced by running the refrigerator unit using solar instead of grid electricity. The thermoTab Active plates provides a unique value proposition for solar based micro cold room by enabling 24/7 uninterrupted cooling without the requirement of an electrochemical battery. Most micro cold rooms operate in areas which do not have access to electricity."

Q: How does thermoTab Active differ from passive PCM systems used in reefer trucks and cold rooms?

A: "Passive PCM systems depend on a centralized freezing unit. This makes the process cumbersome for the user as the PCM modules/cartridges need to be constantly removed from the container to a freezer unit and back. It also results in temperature losses due to exposure to ambient temperature during the loading and unloading of PCM modules."

Q: How many refrigerator trucks are using the system?

A: "In India over 250 refrigerator trucks are using this system."

Q: How many micro cold units are using the system?

A: "In India approximately 60 micro cold rooms are using this system. The demand is immense and we believe the application is now beginning to transition from early stage to maturity in terms of market reach."

Q: Is the product available outside India?

A: "It is also available in Africa and southeast Asia."