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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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Research roundup: PCM wallboard; cement mortars; electric load shifting; red-mud geopolymer composite; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

Phase Change Material Wallboard (PCMW) melting temperature optimisation for passive indoor temperature control

From Cement and Concrete Research:

Multiphysics analysis of effects of encapsulated phase change materials (PCMs) in cement mortars

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Preparation and characterization of sodium sulfate pentahydrate/sodium pyrophosphate composite phase change energy storage materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Performance of heat pump integrated phase change material thermal storage for electric load shifting in building demand side management
Indoor thermal comfort assessment using PCM based storage system integrated with ceiling fan ventilation: Experimental design and response surface approach

From International Journal of Photoenergy:

Experimental Study on the Performance of a Phase Change Slurry-Based Heat Pipe Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal Cogeneration System

From Solar Energy:

Effects of sodium nitrate concentration on thermophysical properties of solar salts and on the thermal energy storage cost
Red-mud geopolymer composite encapsulated phase change material for thermal comfort in built-sector [pdf]

From Energies:

A Novel Encapsulation Method for Phase Change Materials with a AgBr Shell as a Thermal Energy Storage Material

From Advanced Composites and Hybrid Materials:

Latent heat and thermal conductivity enhancements in polyethylene glycol/polyethylene glycol-grafted graphene oxide composites

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Preparation and performance of form-stable TBAB hydrate/SiO2 composite PCM for cold energy storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Delignified wood/capric acid-palmitic acid mixture stable-form phase change material for thermal storage
Molten salt corrosion mechanisms of nitrate based thermal energy storage materials for concentrated solar power plants: A review

From Buildings:

Thermal Performance of Hollow-Core Slab Ventilation System with Macro-Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials in Supply Air Duct

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Heat transfer performance of the finned nano-enhanced phase change material system under the inclination influence

From Journal of the Electrochemical Society:

Effect of High Temperature Circumstance on Lithium-Ion Battery and the Application of Phase Change Material

From Energy:

High-temperature PCM-based thermal energy storage for industrial furnaces installed in energy-intensive industries

PCM mats helped lift Virginia Tech to first place in Solar Decathlon

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

FutureHAUS, front elevation

The Virginia Tech team that won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East credits a good share of its success to the deft use of phase change material donated by Insolcorp LLC of New London, N.C.

FutureHAUS, the lone U.S. entry, topped 13 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants in the competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. Australia's University of Wollongong finished second. The finals took place in November in the desert heat of Dubai.

Insolcorp donated 400 square feet of two types of Infinite R PCM mats. Both are salt hydrates, one with a melt point of 21 degrees Celsius, the other a melt point of 22 degrees C. The phase change material acts as a thermal battery, absorbing and releasing thermal energy as it solidifies and melts.

The Virginia Tech team deployed the mats in the plenum of its 900-square-foot solar-powered house. The PCM allowed the team to take advantage of a rule that limited the use of solar energy to 8kw at any one time, with one exception: Unlimited use of solar energy for air conditioning was allowed during daily inspection periods to assure visitor comfort. The PCM mats, solidified during those periods, helped keep the house comfortable at other times. That helped the FutureHAUS achieve the highest score in net energy use, a key metric in the competition.

Joseph Wheeler, AIA"Every team struggled with the 8kw limit," said Joseph Wheeler, right, lead faculty on FutureHAUS and co-director of Virginia Tech's Center for Design Research. "Typically, during peak energy, you would be generating lots and lots of power, which you could easily charge your batteries with, which you could easily run all your tasks, and you could feed the grid, and build up quite a bit of surplus so that you would remain energy positive throughout the two weeks of competition.

"But, since they limited inverter use at any one time to 8kw, it really put a limit to what our energy budget was. We saw phase change as batteries. A massive ton of batteries. ... It's more of a strategy for a competition than it is for a realized situation. But in a realized situation, we know the value of the PCM. Heat energy, cost of power being cheaper at night than during the day where you can charge your systems and load shift. Practically, PCMs make a lot of sense. And we wanted to have the PCMs in this house for practical reasons, not just for competition reasons. ...

"In simple terms, we eased the demand for the HVAC every afternoon. It was the hottest time of the day and it was also the time when we were getting less power from the solar panels because the sun was moving down. It was a critical time because we knew that once the sun went down, we had to survive on battery. And we had a limit. They limited every house to 15kw of battery."

FutureHAUS, kitchenThe FutureHAUS team finished in the top three in eight of the competition's 10 categories: first place in Architecture, House Functioning and Sustainable Transportation; second place in Sustainability and Innovation; and third place in Engineering/Construction, Energy Efficiency and Comfort Conditions.

The FutureHAUS entry was a two-year university-wide effort. More than 100 Virginia Tech students helped design and build the structure, with help from faculty members in architecture, urban studies, science, engineering and other departments.

The house consists of 18 modular  "cartridges" built inside a Virginia Tech research facility. It was first assembled on campus in Blacksburg, Va., last summer. After testing, it was disassembled, shipped to Dubai and then reassembled at the competition site in just two days. It has since been shipped back to Blacksburg, where it will undergo testing to measure its various energy-saving components.

"We now have a system in place where we can collect data and can truly test the performance," Wheeler said. "We know the PCM worked for us during the competition because we did have some temperature sensors in the ceiling. And so we were able to prove that we were reaching the pre-state when those PCMs were being charged. But we really want to collect a lot more data and look at it in real-world situations."

PCM briefing: PureTemp joins RSPO; Reda's new PCM fabric on display in Milan

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

PureTemp LLC has joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil as an associate member. The nonprofit organization, which has more than 4,000 members worldwide, promotes the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products. In November, RSPO adopted stricter standards for certified sustainable palm oil, including a total ban on deforestation by its members.

Reda Group's new Active Phase temperature-control fabric was on display at the Milan fabric trade show earlier this month. The material uses phase change material to keep body temperature constant when ambient temperature fluctuates. Reda says the material features enhanced breathability and softness and is "easy to clean, even in water."

University of Maryland fabric•  University of Maryland researchers have created a temperature-control fabric that does not rely on phase change material. The fabric changes its insulating properties in response to the environment. In warm and humid conditions, the fabric allows radiant heat to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. Two types of synthetic materials in the fabric — one that absorbs water and another other that repels it — are coated with carbon nanotubes. The fibers warp and relax in response to changing humidity, opening and closing pores in the fabric. 

• In interviews with Advanced Textiles Source, four entrepreneurs were asked: What do you wish you had known early on when you were first dealing with intellectual property law and patent issues? “Get feedback on why you need a patent,” said Jeremy Wall, founder and CEO of smart-clothing startup Lumenus. “Where else could you spend $20,000?” Said Matt Kolmes, CEO of VOLT Smart Yarns: “Even if you are on a tight budget, file that Provisional application immediately before you show your idea to anyone, or talk about it with anyone."

• The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action program is seeking applicants for a one- to two-year research fellowship at the Oslo Metropolitan University. The European Union-funded fellowship will focus on the energy-performance aspects of phase change material in buildings. "In this collaboration," OsloMet says, "we intend to gain our understanding and explore about the micro-structural aspect to relate the macro-scale behavior at continuum level." The application deadline is March 7.

Patent application: Exhaust system with actuated flow bypass

Ben Welter - Friday, February 15, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190053330 (Watlow Electric Manufacturing Co., St. Lous, Mo.):

"An exhaust system is provided that includes an exhaust aftertreatment unit, first and second exhaust pathway in communication with and upstream of the exhaust aftertreatment unit, a thermally activated flow control device operable in a first and second mode, and a thermal storage device. ... The thermal storage device or thermal flywheel may also include a phase change material, an in one form a phase change material that changes phase at a temperature between 180° C. and 45° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190053330.pdf

Patent application: Battery pack containing phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190051955 (applicant Consortium de Recherche BRP / Universite de Sherbrooke, Canada):

"A battery pack for a vehicle is presented. The battery pack comprises a plurality of bricks, each brick of the plurality of bricks comprising a phase change material block, a side of the phase change material block defining a plurality of channels, and a plurality of battery cells, each battery cell being disposed at least in part in the phase change material block; and at least one connector for electrically connecting a first one of the plurality of bricks to a second one of the plurality of bricks, the at least one connector being disposed at least partially in one of the plurality of channels."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190051955.pdf

Research roundup: Self-luminous wood composite; palmitic acid/mullite composite; corrosion sensitivity of metal alloys; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

From Energy Storage Materials:

Self-luminous wood composite for both thermal and light energy storage

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

The thermal performances of a refrigerator incorporating a Phase Change Material

From Renewable Energy:

Enhanced thermal conductivity of palmitic acid/mullite phase change composite with graphite powder for thermal energy storage
An experimental study on the corrosion sensitivity of metal alloys for usage in PCM thermal energy storages

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Sorption thermal energy storage: Hybrid coating/granules adsorber design and hybrid TCM/PCM operation
Novel hybrid microencapsulated phase change materials incorporated wallboard for year-long year energy storage in buildings

From Thermochimica Acta:

Experimental Investigation on Thermal Properties of Sodium Acetate Trihydrate based Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage
The preparation of AgI/Au/foam-Cu as a framework of composite for water-based cool storage phase-change material with low supercooling

From Energy and Buildings:

Nano-encapsulation of phase change materials: from design to thermal performance, simulations and toxicological assessment
Investigation of phase change materials integrated with fin-tube baseboard convector for space heating

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Nano-enhancement of phase change material in a shell and multi-PCM-tube heat exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of phase change material thermal storage for space cooling

From Journal of Materials Chemistry A:

Vertically aligned carbon fibers as supporting scaffolds for phase change composites with anisotropic thermal-conductivity and good shape-stability

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions taps Constellation funding; energy sector veteran to lead Sunamp growth plans

Ben Welter - Monday, February 11, 2019

• Researchers at the University of Alabama have won a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a thermally activated building envelope system that integrates non-combustible phase change materials and hydronic activation into building envelopes. The goal is to reduce the energy costs as well as to support renewable energy sources for "power grid reliability, quality, resilience and dispatchability." It's one of 19 projects that will share up to $19.5 million in DOE grants for early-stage research and development for advanced building technologies and systems.

Viking Cold Solutions warehouse installationViking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has reached an agreement with Constellation to offer Viking's commercial and industrial refrigeration customers access to the energy retailer's Efficiency Made Easy program. The program helps businesses implement energy conservation measures with no upfront capital costs. The upgrades are included in the monthly charges that appear on a customer's Constellation utility bill. Viking's PCM-based thermal energy storage systems, such as the one shown at right, are designed to reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• Registration is open for the 2019 Energy Storage Association Conference set for April 16-19 in Phoenix, Ariz. Exhibitors include battery thermal management startup Hotstart Inc. and Hydrostor, a Canadian company that offers "utility-scale energy storage facilities that can be flexibly sited using its Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology."

• The deadline for submitting presentations for the Advancements in Thermal Management conference is Feb. 15. Topics include emerging technologies for thermal management; market opportunities for thermal products and services; thermal materials; and thermal modeling characterization and measurement. The conference will be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo.

Sunamp Ltd. has appointed energy sector veteran Bill Edrich as global head of commercial and industrial to lead the thermal energy storage company's growth plans.  

Ice Bear 30Ice Energy says it has completed the first phase of what will be the largest installation of its Ice Bear thermal storage systems in the United States. Under a 21.6-megawatt energy storage contract with Southern California Edison, about 100 Ice Bear systems have been installed at businesses across SCE’s territory. The two-year project calls for the deployment of more than 1,200 Ice Bears.

• Nominations are being sought for the World Materials Forum's 2019 Start Up Challenge. The competition honors "demonstrated breakthroughs" in a handful of categories, including new material composition and new product design. The top prize is 50,000 euros. The application deadline is Feb. 28.

• A group of businesses and environmental leaders have jointly launched the Plant Based Products Council, a group working to "guide the global economy toward more sustainable and responsible consumer products and packaging through greater use of plant-based materials." The group's website, pbpc.com, features a database of more than 480 plant-based and biobased products now on the market. 

Pelican BioThermal has opened a new network station and service center in Los Angeles to service, refurbish, repair and condition the company’s reusable Credo on Demand temperature-controlled shippers.

Tim RiazziTim Riazzi, right, president at Microtek Laboratories of Dayton, Ohio, has been elected vice president of the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America. He succeeds Pete Horwath, CEO at Insolcorp, who was elected president of the association in December.

• The CAVU Group of Dayton, Ohio, has posted an opening for a chemical engineer, "responsible for designing new process plants/equipment, work cells or modifying existing ones."

• Registration is open for the 11th Microencapsulation Training School, to be held April 9-12 in Loughborough, United Kingdom. Topics include spray drying/cooling, dripping technology, membrane emulsification and microencapsulation in microfluidic systems. The training is hosted by Loughborough University's chemical engineering department. The deadline for early registration, with fees ranging from 450 to 1,000 euros, is Feb. 28.

• Registration is open for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International conference to be held April 4-5 in Paris.

• The presentations given Jan. 24 at the Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems at the University of Nottingham are available for download. Among the highlights: "PCM Products R&D overview" (Adam Dicken), "Enhanced geothermal borehole heat exchangers with PCMs" (Heiko Gaich and Amandio Rebola) and "Phase change materials for renewable heating and cooling" (Sam Gledhill). 

Patent application: Mattress for improved sleep

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 07, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190038040 (applicant Technogel Italia S.r.l., Pozzoleone, Italy):

"Mattresses and mattress toppers having an upper layer including a high heat capacity material are disclosed. The mattress is configured to reduce a core body temperature of the body supported thereon, and thus induce improved sleep, measurable as an increase in the time spent in slow wave sleep relative to standard mattresses having lower heat capacities. The high heat capacity of the mattress may be attributable to the geometry and nature of the support material and optional additives, including polymer gels and phase change materials. Methods for improving sleep quality and uses of the high heat capacity mattresses to improve sleep quality are also disclosed."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190038040.pdf

Patent application: Thermal energy storage apparatus

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 07, 2019

CCT thermal storage patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190041139 (applicant Climate Change Technologies Pty. Ltd., Adelaide, Australia):

"A thermal energy storage apparatus, including: a block of a heat-absorbing material, and a plurality of heat storage elements, the heat storage elements including a phase change material stored in a containment vessel; wherein each heat storage element is in thermal contact with the block of heat-absorbing material. ... The phase change material may include silicon metalloid or a eutectic, hypereutectic or hypoeutectic silicon composition."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190041139.pdf

Patent application: PCM evaporator and heat dissipating apparatus

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 07, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190041144 (applicant Man Zai Industrial Co. Ltd., Tainan City, Taiwan):

Man Zai PCM evaporator drawing"A heat dissipating apparatus has a phase change material evaporator, a condenser, a refrigerant output tube, and a refrigerant input tube. The evaporator has a base having an evaporation chamber, a refrigerant inlet and a refrigerant outlet, a reinforcement panel mounted in the evaporation chamber and dividing the evaporation chamber into two spaces, and multiple heat conduction fins separately arranged in the two spaces. An opening area of the refrigerant outlet is larger than an opening area of the refrigerant inlet. The evaporator, the refrigerant output tube, the condenser and the refrigerant input tube form a closed refrigerant circulation loop with a refrigerant filled therein. Gas pressure of a gas-phased refrigerant in the two spaces can be increased. With pressure difference between the refrigerant outlet and the refrigerant inlet, the gas-phased refrigerant can be accelerated to flow toward the refrigerant outlet and flowability of the refrigerant can be increased."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190041144.pdf