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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.




Patent application: Tube-fin thermal storage evaporator

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150198386 (applicant Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp.):

U.S. patent application 20150198386"A tube and fin arrangement of an evaporator for an air conditioning system for a vehicle having a first row of tubes disposed within a flow of air having at least two refrigerant tubes and at least two thermal storage tubes in thermal communication with ... at least two refrigerant tubes, each of the thermal storage tubes containing a phase change material. The tube and fin arrangement further includes a [fin] in thermal communication with the first row of tubes and configured to receive a flow of air therethrough."

PCM building materials cut energy costs significantly in New Zealand study

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Dr. Mohammed Farid of the University of Auckland discusses new research on the impact of phase change material in building materials. 

Dr. Mohammed Farid"The benefits of applying PCM in buildings is not limited to capturing day solar heat in winter and night coolness in summer but also to create peak load shifting," said Farid, a member of Entropy Solutions' advisory team. "When you have PCM in the walls of your homes you could switch [off] your heating or air-conditioning for extended period without having the indoor changing significantly."

Farid's research article, "Peak load shifting with energy storage and price-based control system," concludes that PCM-infused building materials could cut home energy costs significantly. The research was published last week in the journal Energy. 

"Experimental results showed that using thermal storage material in conjunction with the proposed price-based control method can improve performance of these systems and lead to a successful peak load shifting," according the article's abstract. Based on New Zealand electricity rates, savings of up to 62.64 percent per day were achieved for the building applications.

But the cost of such materials remains a barrier.

"The cost of PCM needs to be reduced," Farid told the Herald. "And it must be used wisely to make it economical."

Ice storage has price advantage over grid-based batteries, MacCracken says

Ben Welter - Monday, July 20, 2015

CALMAC CEO Mark MacCracken tells the Washington Examiner that his company's ice-based energy storage system has an advantage over its big-battery counterparts. Tesla's new grid-based batteries are priced at $300-$400 per kilowatt hour, he says, while CALMAC's IceBank is priced at $100 per kilowatt hour.

The IceBank concept is simple: Make ice overnight, when the cost of electricity is lower, and use it to cool buildings during the day. 

"Like the IceBank, batteries can soak up electricity to offset power demand, but they do it at nearly nine times the cost, according to a recent CALMAC study. It says six batteries are required to equal the same storage capacity as one IceBank," the Examiner reports.

'Green banks' offer low-interest loans for renewable-energy projects

Ben Welter - Monday, July 20, 2015

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists cites state-led loan programs as “a promising avenue for scaling up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency that can reap significant economic and consumer benefits.” The report cites six initiatives in the United States:

Connecticut's Green Bank: "Over the past three years, the program has completed 8,800 projects and installed solar panels in more than 10,000 Connecticut homes, thereby creating almost 6,200 jobs and reducing carbon emissions by one million tons."

New York's Green Bank: "In October 2014, New York announced its first round of Green Bank investments, totaling $800 million, across a diverse portfolio of investment types and clean energy market segments."

Pennsylvania's Keystone Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) and Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans: "Since its inception, Keystone HELP has supported more than 12,000 residential loans totaling nearly $90 million."

Kentucky's Home Performance Program: "The program supported 1,000 retrofits of single-family homes and trained some 150 contractors to perform energy efficiency retrofits in the state."

Iowa's IADG Energy Bank Revolving Loan Program: Offers $50,000 to $300,000 in the form of 1 percent interest loans for up to 10 years.

Massachusetts' Mass Save HEAT Loan: "Energy efficiency experts consider the HEAT Loan program one of the most successful U.S. financing programs for residential energy efficiency."

Team Sky equipped with Outlast-powered rain jacket for Tour de France

Ben Welter - Monday, July 20, 2015

Chris FroomeHigh-tech gear plays an important role in the grueling Tour de France. This year, Team Sky is equipped with Rapha's new Extreme Rain Jacket, designed for use on cold, rainy days. The jacket incorporates Outlast phase change technology, which absorbs, stores and releases heat as needed.

The jacket is still in development, but you might see tour leader Chris Froome slip one on if the weather turns nasty.

Free online course on HDPE characteristics and impact on environment

Ben Welter - Monday, July 20, 2015

Want to test your knowledge of high-density polyethylene, a material commonly used to contain phase change material? LEED and AIA professionals can earn a continuing education credit by completing a free online course titled "Sustainable Materials in Restrooms, Locker Rooms and Other Applications." The GreenCE course covers these areas:

• Material characteristics of HDPE
• Environmental impact
• Impact on indoor air quality
• Responsible manufacturing

Patent application: Polyurethane gel particles for use in flexible foams

Ben Welter - Friday, July 17, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150197610 (applicant Peterson Chemical Technology Inc., Fort Smith, Ark.): 

"Combinations of open cell flexible foams with polyurethane gel particles, and methods of making the combinations are described using a variety of procedures. The open cell flexible foam may partially or wholly comprise polyurethane foam and latex foam. ...

[Claim 2] The composition of claim 1 where the polyurethane gel particles contain at least one phase change material with a solid/liquid phase transition temperature range of from about −10° F. to about 220° F. (about −23° C. to about 104° C.). "

Patent application: Manufacturing a composite PCM for clothing

Ben Welter - Friday, July 17, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150197678 (assignee Honeywell International Inc.):

"Composite phase change materials, methods for manufacturing composite phase change materials, and articles of clothing including composite phase change materials for temperature regulation are provided. In one example, a composite phase change material includes a cross-linked polyethylene glycol matrix and a phase change material filler. Each of the cross-linked polyethylene glycol matrix and the phase change material filler has a phase change temperature of from about 10 to about 60° C. Further, the composite phase change material has a latent heat of enthalpy greater than about 50 kJ/kg."

Patent application: Phase change materials for refrigeration and ice making

Ben Welter - Friday, July 17, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150198359 (assignee Whirlpool Corp.): 

Image from Whirlpool patent application "A bottom mount refrigerator is provided including a thermal battery or phase change material positioned within the refrigerator or freezer in order to increase energy efficiency and compartment sizes of the refrigerator. The thermal battery can be used with an ice maker to aid in removing heat from the water in the ice maker to produce ice. Furthermore, the phase change material or thermal battery may be used with a thermoelectric cooler to aid in ice production.

"The phase change material may be tuned to various temperatures according to the desired use of the phase change material, as well as the location of the thermal battery or phase change material. Other embodiments include positioning the phase change material in the liner of the compartments or in thermal storage units in order to further increase the energy efficiency of the refrigerator."

Patent application: Composite catalyst/PCM for use in catalytic reactions

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 16, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150190796 (assignee French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission): "Material with hybrid particles each consisting of a particle of a phase-change material (PCM) interfaced with a catalytic material in solid form, the size of the hybrid particles being between 0.1 mm and 10 mm, preferably between 1 mm and 5 mm."