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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: Form-stable PCM; polyethylene glycol/quartz composites; fuzzy clustering; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

A N-octadecane/hierarchically Porous TiO2 Form-Stable PCM for Thermal Energy Storage

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Hybrid solar parabolic dish power plant and high‐temperature phase change material energy storage system

From Journal of Applied Polymer Science:

Thermal and dynamic mechanical properties of polyethylene glycol/quartz composites for phase change materials

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Using fuzzy clustering and weighted cumulative probability distribution techniques for optimal design of phase change material thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermoregulation effect analysis of microencapsulated phase change thermoregulation agent for asphalt pavement

From Applied Energy:

Residential cooling using separated and coupled precooling and thermal energy storage strategies

Novel PCM microspheres keep new therapy pack flexible when frozen

Ben Welter - Saturday, June 15, 2019

A novel phase change material developed by PureTemp LLC of Minneapolis is the key component of a new flexible therapy pack introduced at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Orlando, Fla., last month.

Glacier Tek therapy packThe flexible PCM microspheres have a melt point of 15 degrees C and remain pliable when frozen. The flexible GlacierPacks, developed by Glacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis, are designed to provide targeted cooling relief for bruises, muscle strains, headaches and more. The patent-pending packs can be recharged in ice water in about an hour, hold their target temperature of 17 C for more than two hours and can be reused indefinitely.

The packs can be applied directly to skin without damaging tissue or causing discomfort. They can be used safely and effectively for longer periods than traditional ice packs or cold water immersion (CWI) treatments.

In research led by Dr. Malachy P. McHugh and Susan Y. Kwiecien of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York, packs filled with PureTemp's biobased phase change material have been shown to provide a practical way to deliver prolonged post-exercise cooling and thereby accelerate muscle recovery.

A 2019 study, "Accelerated Recovery of Muscle Function in Baseball Pitchers Using Post-Game Phase Change Material Cooling," set out to examine the effectiveness of post-game PCM cooling on strength recovery in pitchers. Based on prior research (Kwiecien et al 2018 and Clifford et al 2018), it was hypothesized that PCM cooling would accelerate recovery. The flexible cooling packs were applied to the elbows and forearms of college pitchers after each had thrown 45 pitches. Pitchers in a control group received no PCM cooling treatment. The strength, soreness and creatine kinase levels of the athletes were then measured to gauge the effectiveness of the PCM cooling. CK is an enzyme released into the blood at elevated levels when there is muscle damage.

The researchers concluded that prolonged PCM cooling accelerated recovery of strength but did not affect soreness or CK levels. "The effect of PCM cooling of the medial elbow and forearm on grip strength recovery is very encouraging considering the role the wrist flexors play in dynamic stability of the elbow," the researchers wrote. 

"Can you believe it? A PCM that remains flexible when fully charged!" said RoxAnne Best, president of PureTemp and Glacier Tek. "I am really proud of our team for their commitment to bringing this technology to market. The consumer application possibilities are endless."

The therapy packs are available on Amazon and on the Glacier Tek website. A set of six packs retails for $229. Contact Glacier Tek to inquire about samples, volume discounts and custom configurations.

Patent application: Phase change material for storing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190177224 (applicant Université de Cergy-Pontoise, Cergy, France):

"A method for manufacturing a solid-solid organic phase-change material made of polyurethane, said method comprising: a single step (i) of synthesis by mixing and reacting a liquid polyethylene glycol, a crosslinking agent, and a liquid polyisocyanate, combined by mechanical agitation at a first controlled temperature, in an enclosure in order to obtain the liquid polyurethane, a step (ii) of curing the liquid polyurethane at a second controlled temperature in order to solidify the polyurethane, the synthesis step (i) being carried out in the absence of a solvent."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190177224.pdf

Patent application: Device and method for cooling living tissue

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190175395 (applicant RecensMedical Inc., Ulsan, South Korea):

Tissue cooling device patent drawing"The present disclosure provides a device and a method for cooling living tissues for a medical purpose and other purposes. The cooling device comprises: a container configured to accommodate a cooling medium and thermally coupled with the cooling medium by directly contacting the cooling medium; a cooling generator configured to be thermally coupled with the container by a direct contact and thereby to provide cooling energy to the cooling medium; and a heat sink dissipating heat from the cooling generator. ... [The] heat transfer medium [116] may comprise a heat pipe or a vapor chamber and may include a pipe body and phase change material (PCM) provided inside the pipe body. The pipe body may be made of material having the high thermal conductivity so as to effectively transfer the heat from the cooling generating unit that is in contact with the heat transferring medium to the PCM therein."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190175395.pdf

Patent application: Transport container

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190178534 (inventor Nico Ros, Riehen, Switzerland):

"In a transport container for transporting temperature-sensitive transport goods comprising a chamber for receiving the transport goods, a casing enclosing the chamber and at least one cooling element for temperature control of the chamber, the cooling element comprises an evaporation element with a cooling surface and a desiccant for receiving coolant evaporated in the evaporation element. The transport container further comprises a latent heat accumulator that communicates with the chamber for heat exchange. ... In a preferred embodiment, in which the transport goods are to be kept in the chamber at a temperature range of 2-8° C., the latent heat accumulator has a phase transition temperature of approx. 4-6° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190178534.pdf

8 Viking Cold Solutions systems installed in Massachusetts

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

Viking Cold Solutions has completed the installation of eight thermal energy storage systems as part of a utility-backed demand management program in Massachusetts. The Houston company says its PCM-based system, designed for use in cold storage facilities,  stores enough energy to cycle off refrigeration for up to 13 hours per day and reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent. 

https://www.vikingcold.com/news/release-viking-cold-solutions-installs-1-3-mw-of-thermal-energy-storage-in-industrial-cold-storage-facilities-as-part-of-a-massachusetts-utility-demand-management-program/

Research roundup: Building-integrated PV with PCM; double skin facade; lab-scale thermal energy accumulator; more

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

From Solar Energy:

Effectiveness of phase change materials for improving the resiliency of residential buildings to extreme thermal conditions

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Analysis and design of air ventilated building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system incorporating phase change materials
Experimental and numerical study on a novel hybrid battery thermal management system integrated forced-air convection and phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal Performance of Electrospun Core-Shell Phase Change Fibrous layers at Simulated Body Conditions

From Applied Engineering:

Phase change material blind system for double skin façade integration: System development and thermal performance evaluation

From Building and Environment:

Reduced-scale experiments on the thermal performance of phase change material wallboard in different climate conditions

From Renewable Energy:

Analysis of a laboratory scale thermal energy accumulator using two-phases heterogeneous paraffin wax-water mixtures

From Thermochimica Acta:

Nano-inclusion aided thermal conductivity enhancement in palmitic acid/di-methyl formamide phase change material for latent heat thermal energy storage

From Journal of Manufacturing Processes:

Experimental investigation of phase change materials fabricated using selective laser sintering additive manufacturing

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Cyclic characteristics of water thermocline storage tank with encapsulated PCM packed bed

From Journal of Building Engineering:

Thermal behaviour of wallboard incorporating a binary mixture as a phase change material

From Composites Part B: Engineering:

Effects of aging on asphalt binders modified with microencapsulated phase change material

From Chemistry Select:

Experimental Study of the Thermal Properties of Microencapsulated Palmitic Acid Composites with CuCO3 Shell as Thermal Energy Storage Materials

From Fire Safety Journal:

Fire resistance of light gauge steel framed wall systems lined with PCM-plasterboards

From ACS Applied Nano Materials:

Size-tunable Alumina-encapsulated Sn-based Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage

Have you ever seen a DSC quite like this?

Ben Welter - Friday, June 07, 2019

More than 120 years ago, German chemist Emil Fischer said his lab had developed a crystal that seemed to defy the laws of physics. The solid form of acetaldehyde phenylhydrazone kept melting at two different temperatures. One batch might melt at 65° C; another at 100° C. Physics Today explains how the mystery was eventually solved: 

DSC of mysterious crystal APH"Colleagues and rivals at the time told him he must have made a mistake. Fischer didn’t think so. As far as he could tell, the crystals that melted at such different points were identical. A few groups in Britain and France repeated his work and got the same baffling results. But as those scientists died off, the mystery was forgotten, stranded in obscure academic journals published in German and French more than a century ago.

"There it would probably have remained but for Terry Threlfall, an 84-year-old chemist at the University of Southampton, UK. Stumbling across Fischer’s 1896 paper in a library about a decade ago, Threlfall was intrigued enough to kick-start an international investigation of the mysterious crystal. Earlier this year in the journal Crystal Growth and Design, Threlfall and his colleagues published the solution: APH is the first recorded example of a solid that, when it melts, forms two structurally distinct liquids. Which liquid emerges comes down to contamination so subtle that it’s virtually undetectable."

https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.1.20190606a/full/

Sunamp signs its first major UK contract

Ben Welter - Friday, June 07, 2019

Sunamp Ltd. has signed a memo of understanding to supply its PCM-based heat batteries to Fischer Future Heat under an original equipment manufacturer contract. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, says the deal involves "many thousands" of units and will be worth seven figures as sales ramp up. Leicester-based Fischer began selling the product, dubbed the Aquafficient, in February.

Andrew BissellIn an email interview, Sunamp CEO Andrew Bissell filled in a few details on the deal.

Q: Can you tell me about the PCM aspects of this product?

A: "Sunamp’s success in making a super-stable (40,000+ cycles tested) salt hydrate PCM (very energy dense) at 58C and combining it (in a highly insulated, cuboid enclosure) with a very high power heat exchanger (high power, high flow rate hot water) made a whole class of heat battery devices possible. Not least electric water heaters, with about 4x the energy density of a classic electric hot water tank and 5+ gallon per minute performance. A key innovation (patent pending around the details) was to use electric elements immersed inside the PCM to melt the PCM and charge the heat battery."

Q: What can you tell me about the manufacturing process?

A: "Because Aquafficient by Fischer Future Heat is based on Sunamp UniQ, it’s effectively been in production at Sunamp Factory for nearly a year. 

"By going down this OEM white label route, Fischer Future Heat could hit the ground running with Aquafficient - which they did! Sunamp’s manufacturing has had to scale already this year from 75 units a month to 75 units a week, with 75 a day on the near horizon. This to keep up with exponentially rising combined demand from Fischer, other OEMs, and large housing and regeneration projects.

“We keep scaling production and the demand keeps outpacing us! We're working really hard on scaling up production and appreciate our partners’ and their customers patience when they sometimes have to wait quite a number of weeks for the product they want.”

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/heat-storage-battery-pioneer-sunamp-16252849

Patent application: Composite construction panels and applications thereof

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190161967 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, composite construction materials are described herein. In some embodiments, a composite construction panel comprises a substrate layer, a cover layer separated from the substrate layer by one or more spacers, and at least one mat disposed between the substrate layer and the cover layer, wherein the mat comprises at least one phase change material disposed in at least one phase change region."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190161967.pdf