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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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Croda began work on new microencapsulated PCM four years ago

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

UK-based Croda International recently announced the launch of a microencapsulated form of biobased phase change material developed at the company's PCM technical center in Netherlands. The new material is designed to be used to control temperatures in bedding, mattresses, automotive interiors, clothing and other applications.

Jerome Gonthier and Martin ButtersThe development was led by Marco Auerbach and Jerome Gonthier, working with colleagues who have expertise in microencapsulation and acrylic polymer. Martin Butters, a specialist in PCM applications and business development, also supported the project.

Gonthier and Butters provided details on the new material in an email interview.

Q: What prompted the decision to develop this technology?

A: "Having established a range of high-quality bio-based PCMs, market demand led us to explore the microencapsulation of these PCMs. Microencapsulation converts the PCM into particles that are offered to the market in two forms, powder and water-based dispersion. Microencapsulated PCMs are often advantageous for use in composite materials such as coatings, fibers and other matrices where PCM leakage needs to be avoided."

Q: How long did it take to complete the project?

A: "Overall the project ran for about four years leading to the launch of the first products in 2018."

Q: Did the team surmount any unexpected challenges, technical or otherwise?

A: "The challenges were mainly those we expected – achieving microcapsules with good durability, very low levels of free wax and overcoming sub-cooling (reduction in crystallisation temperature due to microencapsulation)."

Q: When did Croda officially launch the technology commercially?

SEM photo of CrodaTherm ME29P (powder grade) A: "The first products, CrodaTherm ME 29D (50% dispersion) and CrodaTherm ME 29P (powder), which are 29º C melting point products, were launched in Q4 2018. 32º C versions will be added to the range shortly and we expect the range to be further extended with other operating temperatures in due course."

Q: Does Croda manufacture fibers and textiles with the microencapsulated PCM? Or does it manufacture the MPCM and sell it to fiber and textile manufacturers?

A: "Croda does not produce fibers or textiles, instead we specialize in offering PCMs that are developed and manufactured in-house, for use in such applications (and many more)."

Q: What specs can you share on the MPCM, such as composition, peak melt point and latent heat storage capacity?

A: "We microencapsulate CrodaTherm bio-based PCMs with an acrylic-type shell. For CrodaTherm ME 29D and ME 29P, peak melting temperature is 29ºC and latent heat is typically about 180 J/g."

Q: Does the MPCM have any properties, such as latent heat storage capacity or ease of manufacture, that sets it apart from competing products?

A: "We use internally produced bio-based PCM, rather than paraffin waxes sourced externally from the market, meaning we have full control over quality and the products have high bio-based content and excellent thermal properties."

Q: Have textiles embedded with this MPCM undergone thermal effusivity testing or other tests that would confirm their effectiveness in managing temperatures in consumer products?

A: "Several tests have been carried out to confirm the performance of materials embedded with mPCM and further work will be carried out, including thermal effusivity."

Q: Will the technology be used in any products scheduled for release this year or next?

A: "A number of projects are underway for different applications, so we’ll have to wait and see!"

PCM briefing: PureTemp fabrics featured at Materio library; new round of funding for Ecozen Solutions

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

PureTemp-enhanced fabrics were among the new materials presented at a gathering of architects, designers and journalists at the MatériO library in Paris this week. The materials library, which also has showrooms in Brussels, Seoul and Shanghai, lists thousands of "cutting edge" materials and technologies in its online database, including PureTemp's biobased PCM.

Southern Research opened the new Energy Storage Research Center on its engineering campus in Birmingham, Ala., this month. The center will work to speed the development of clean and sustainable energy storage technology, including thermal energy storage systems. 

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, recently closed a Series A round of funding from investors including impact investment fund manager Caspian and Hivos-Triodos Fund, which is affiliated with Netherlands-based Triodos Bank. Omnivore Capital Management Advisors, which originally invested in Ecozen in 2015, also participated in the round, AgFunder News reports. The solar cold room's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather. 

Patent application: Pouch filled with PCM for use in crockery

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 25, 2019

Probalco PCM pouch patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190223636 (applicant Probalco BVBA, Kortrijk, Belgium):

"A pouch [510] filled with phase-change material [530], wherein the pouch comprises a preformed first wall [521] and a second wall, wherein the first wall comprises a bowl-shaped part, in which the phase-change material is accommodated, and a peripheral part, wherein the second wall is attached to the peripheral part of the first wall, wherein a high vacuum prevails in the pouch, and wherein the pouch is intended for placing against a wall to be heated or cooled. ... The present invention further relates to crockery provided with a pouch filled with phase-change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190223636.pdf

Patent application: PCM-based enhancement for reversed-cycle defrosting

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 25, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190226735 (applicant Sunamp Ltd., Lothian, Great Britain):

"A thermal energy storage system in the form of a reverse-cycle defrosting vapour compression system suitable for use with systems adapted to transfer heat from at least one heat source to at least one heat sink (heat transfer system), wherein said thermal energy storage system comprises: at least two thermal energy storage units; said thermal energy storage units comprise a thermal store comprising a heat exchanger with the storage units comprising a primary coil and a secondary coil; the primary coil is dedicated for use with refrigerant fluids and is adapted for inter-connection to both a condenser and a pressure-lowering device for use with a heat transfer system; the secondary coil is dedicated for use with heat transfer fluids and wherein said secondary coils are adapted to exchange heat with the phase change material in each thermal storage unit; said primary and secondary coils are surrounded by a suitable phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190226735.pdf

Patent application: Water-based thermal cooling gels with viscosity modifier

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 25, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190225853 (applicant Microtek Laboratories, Dayton, Ohio):

"Thermal cooling gel and cold packs enclosing such thermal cooling gel have an aqueous gel of 1% to 10% wt/wt of cellulose, 0.5 g/L to 2 g/L of an ice nucleating protein, and a biocide. The enthalpy of the thermal cooling gel is in a range of 250 J/g to 330 J/g."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190225853.pdf

Research roundup: Diatomite‐based hydrated salt composites; zinc oxide coating of hermetically encapsulated paraffins; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 25, 2019

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Design of diatomite‐based hydrated salt composites with low supercooling degree and enhanced heat transfer for thermal energy storage

From Journal of Physical Chemistry B:

Clusters in Liquid Fatty Acids: Structure and Role in Nucleation

From Construction and Building Materials:

Development of thermal energy storage lightweight structural cementitious composites by means of macro-encapsulated PCM
Preparation of microencapsulated phase change materials used graphene oxide to improve thermal stability and its incorporation in gypsum materials

From Journal of Power and Energy:

Numerical modelling of phase change material melting process embedded in porous media: Effect of heat storage size

From Advanced Materials Interfaces:

Phase Change Materials: Doubly Coated, Organic–Inorganic Paraffin Phase Change Materials: Zinc Oxide Coating of Hermetically Encapsulated Paraffins

From NASA Technical Reports Server:

Utilization of Micro Tube Heat Exchanger for Next Generation Phase Change Material Heat Exchanger Development

From SN Applied Sciences:

Encapsulation of paraffin wax by rigid cross-linked poly (styrene divinylbenzene-acrylic acid) and its thermal characterization

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Transient performance of a Peltier super cooler under varied electric pulse conditions with phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal optimization of a kirigami-patterned wearable lithium-ion battery based on a novel design of composite phase change material
An experimental and theoretical study of the solidification process of phase change materials in a horizontal annular enclosure

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Enhancement of the thermal energy storage capacity of a parabolic dish concentrated solar receiver using phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Numerical simulation on the thermal performance of a PCM-containing ventilation system with a continuous change in inlet air temperature

From Energy Fuels:

Graphene modified hydrate salt/UV-curable resin form-stable phase change materials: continuously adjustable phase change temperature and ultrafast solar-to-thermal conversion

From Journal of Industrial and Chemical Engineering:

Thermal performance enhancement of a phase change material with expanded graphite via ultrasonication

From Chemistry Select:

Microencapsulation of Stearic Acid into Strontium Titanate Shell by Sol‐Gel Approach for Thermal Energy Storage

PCM briefing: Sunamp closes deal with Chinese manufacturing partner; window film captures, releases solar energy

Ben Welter - Friday, July 19, 2019

Sunamp UniQ 12 heat batterySunamp Ltd. has signed an agreement with Chinese partner Jiangsu Gomon New Energy to move forward with manufacturing of a heat pump water heater based on Gomon heat pumps and Sunamp's UniQ heat batteries. The two companies signed a memo of understanding earlier this year to develop the new product.

Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of research papers, has cut off access by University of California faculty, staff and students to articles published since Jan. 1 in 2,500 Elsevier journals. UC, which paid $11 million for Elsevier subscriptions last year, ended its subscription deal with the publisher in February in a dispute over increasing fees and the principle of free access to scholarly work.  

Sonoco ThermoSafe Europe, Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom, posted openings this month for a sales manager and a lab engineer.

• Researchers at Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology have developed a window film with a specially designed molecule that can capture energy from the sun’s rays and release it later as heat.  

• Nominations are open for the American Oil Chemists' Society's 2020 Society and Scientific Awards. Among the seven awards are the Award of Merit, which recognizes a AOCS member with a history of outstanding service to the society, and the Young Scientist Research Award, which recognizes research contributions in one of the areas represented by an AOCS division. The deadline for submitting nominations is Aug. 1.   

Patent application: Battery module, battery pack module and vehicle including battery pack

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 18, 2019

LG Chem battery module drawingU.S. patent application 20190221901 (applicant LG Chem Ltd., Seoul, South Korea):

"A battery module includes a plurality of battery cell assemblies, each having at least one battery cell; a bottom case configured to accommodate the plurality of battery cell assemblies; an upper case mounted to an upper side of the bottom case to expose a part of an upper side, a part of a front side and a part of a rear side of adjacent battery cell assemblies of the plurality of battery cell assemblies; and a cooling unit configured to cover the exposed parts of the adjacent battery cell assemblies and having a phase change material for cooling the adjacent battery cell assemblies."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190221901.pdf

Patent application: A passive temperature control system for transport and storage containers

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 18, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190219320 (applicant Softbox Systems Ltd., Long Crendon, Great Britain):

"The present invention relates to the field of the transportation and storage of goods and to a passive temperature control system for such a transport and storage containers. The present invention seeks to provide a system that can enable goods to be securely and reliably transported and stored for limited periods within specified temperature ranges. Pharmaceuticals, proteins, biological samples and other temperature sensitive products, including food items, are regularly shipped in containers year round and are subjected to a wide range of temperatures. Though they are shipped in insulated containers and/or climate controlled environments, the temperature stability of the shipping containers can be significantly improved by utilising suitable phase change materials in an ordered fashion. The present invention provides a simple solution to the maintenance of temperature profiles for the transport and storage of temperature sensitive products."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190219320.pdf

Patent application: Method for making PCM products and system therefor

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 18, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190217553 (inventor Peter Horwath, New London, N.C.):

Horwath patent drawing"A method for processing phase change material includes providing pieces of phase change material having a transition temperature, the pieces of phase change material being in a solid phase. A medium is provided which is transformable from a liquid state to a solid state, the medium is in the liquid state and at a temperature which is below the transition temperature of the pieces of phase change material. The pieces of phase change material are combined with the medium to form a mixture. The mixture is supplied to a tool which forms a phase change material product. The medium is then transformed to the solid state."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190217553.pdf