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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.




Ceramic material can store thermal energy for long periods, release it on demand

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 30, 2015

A University of Tokyo research team has identified a ceramic material that can store thermal energy for long periods and release it on demand. The material, which can also absorb light and electrical current, has the potential to be used in a variety of energy storage systems.

Upon absorption of heat, light or electrical energy, the material undergoes a solid–solid phase change, transforming from beta-trititanium pentoxide to lambda-trititanium pentoxide. The latter can store that energy stably for long periods of time. Applying "a relatively weak pressure of just 60 MPa" releases the stored energy and returns the material to its beta phase. 

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications earlier this year. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:

"The pressure for conversion is extremely small, only 600 bar (60 MPa) at ambient temperature, and the accumulated heat energy is surprisingly large (230 kJ L−1). Conversely, the pressure-produced beta-trititanium pentoxide transforms to lambda-trititanium pentoxide by heat, light or electric current. That is, the present system exhibits pressure-and-heat, pressure-and-light and pressure-and-current reversible phase transitions. The material may be useful for heat storage, as well as in sensor and switching memory device applications."

Research roundup: Uncertainty propagation analysis; milk cooling system; metal hydride tank; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 30, 2015

Uncertainty propagation and sensitivity analysis of thermo-physical properties of phase change materials (PCM) in the energy demand calculations of a test cell with passive latent thermal storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Performance characterization of a small milk cooling system with ice storage for PV applications [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Numerical Analysis of Metal Hydride Tank with Phase Change Material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

System Design and Energy Performance of a Solar Heat Pump Heating System with Dual-tank Latent Heat Storage [Energy and Buildings]

Modeling and simulation on the performance of a novel double shape-stabilized phase change materials wallboard [Energy and Buildings]

The preparation of the hydrotalcite-based composite phase change material [Applied Energy]

Patent application: Thermal energy storage systems

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 30, 2015

PCES thermal energy storage patent applicationU.S. patent application 20150204618 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc., Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, thermal energy storage systems are described herein. In some embodiments, a thermal energy storage system comprises a thermal energy storage system comprising a container and a heat exchange apparatus disposed within the container. The heat exchange apparatus comprises a tank, a manifold at least partially disposed within the tank, and a phase change material disposed within the tank and in thermal contact with the manifold."

Research roundup: PCM and night purge ventilation; seasonal cold storage; liquid cooling garment; galactitol for solar cookers; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cooling load reduction in office buildings of hot-arid climate, combining phase change materials and night purge ventilation [Renewable Energy]

Mechanical response evaluation of microcapsules from different slurries [Renewable Energy]

A seasonal cold storage system based on separate type heat pipe for sustainable building cooling [Renewable Energy]

Ground source heat pumps as high efficient solutions for building space conditioning and for integration in smart grids [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental study on the performance of a liquid cooling garment with the application of MEPCMS [Energy Conversion and Management]

Pore-scale and volume-averaged numerical simulations of melting phase change heat transfer in finned metal foam [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Galactitol as phase change material for latent heat storage of solar cookers: Investigating thermal behavior in bulk cycling [Solar Energy]

Energy and exergy performance assessments for latent heat thermal energy storage systems [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Enhancements in domestic refrigeration, approaching a sustainable refrigerator – A review [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Thermodynamic analysis and optimization of cascaded latent heat storage system for energy efficient utilization [Energy]

Tailoring Thermal Properties via Synergistic Effect in a Multifunctional Phase Change Composite Based on Methyl Stearate [Journal of Materiomics]

Study on functional and mechanical properties of cement mortar with graphite-modified microencapsulated phase-change materials [Energy and Buildings]

Market for advanced insulation materials is projected to double by 2019

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The global market for advanced insulation materials is expected to hit $1.9 billion in 2019, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Revenue for aerogels, vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials topped $1 billion in 2014, with more than 80 percent coming from non-building applications. Among the report's findings:

• "Industrial equipment accounted for 83% of the $177 million market for aerogels in 2014, with Aspen Aerogels and Cabot the leading players. Industrial equipment will continue to dominate for the next five years, with smaller innovative players likely to carve out niches."

• "Refrigeration held the lion's share of the market for VIPs, 71.5% of a $297 million market in 2014, with companies such as OCI, Suzhou Wei Ai Pu, LG Electronics and Panasonic enjoying distinct advantages."

• "Logistics and electronics will grow fastest for PCMs. Logistics held a 42% share of the $375 million market for PCMs in 2014, with thermal energy storage, textiles and electronics the other major applications."

Patent application: Insulated chamber with phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, July 24, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150204601 (applicant Caron Products and Services Inc., Ohio):

Patent application: Chamber with PCM"An insulated chamber having an interior chamber for storing items therein includes a phase change material to facilitate controlling the temperature of the interior chamber and the items. A heating device or cooling device may be used to melt or freeze the phase change material, which may be in various locations such as the walls of the chamber or packets which may serve as shelves and may be removable from the interior chamber with the items thereon. The packets may have recesses for receiving the items. The phase change material may be within capsules which may be within a liquid or a solid matrix. Controls may be provided to control humidity and carbon dioxide within the interior chamber."

Patent application: Preparation method of polymeric phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, July 24, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150203733 (applicant Tianjin Polytechnic University, China):

"The invention relates to a preparation method of a polymeric phase-change material, comprising: using 1, 2 or 3 of (meth)acrylate poly(ethylene glycol) n-alkyl ether ester as a raw material, wherein the (meth)acrylate poly(ethylene glycol) Patent application 20150203733n-alkyl ether ester has a structural general formula of CH2═C(CH3)—COO(CH2O)mCnH2+1 or CH2═CH—COO(CH2CH2O)mCnH2+1, m=1 to 100, and n=10 to 50; washing the raw material with a solution of sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate having a mass percentage of 1% to 10% to remove a polymerization inhibitor, and subjecting reduced-pressure distillation, and then to a polymerization reaction by adopting one of the following process; 1. polymerization reaction initiated by irradiation; 2. polymerization reaction initiated by an initiator; 3. polymerization reaction in a solvent; after the polymerization reaction is completed, adding a precipitating agent to precipitate the polymeric phase-change material from the solution, and then washing with deionized water and dried, to obtain a polymeric phase-change material as a powder to block."

Research roundup: Solid PCM thermocline storage; solar paraffin wax melting unit; packed bed solar TES simulation; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 23, 2015

Multi-layered solid-PCM thermocline thermal storage for CSP; numerical evaluation of its application in a 50 MWe plant [Solar Energy]

Experimental Investigation of Solar Paraffin Wax Melting Unit Integrated with Phase Change Heat Energy Storage by Using Phase Change Material [Applied Mechanics and Materials]

Review on phase change material to maintain the human comfort inside the car [pdf] [IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering]

Mathematical Model of Packed Bed Solar Thermal Energy Storage Simulation [Energy Procedia]

PCM/graphite foam composite for thermal energy storage device [pdf] [Materials Science and Engineering]

Reliability verification of a solar–air source heat pump system with PCM energy storage in operating strategy transition [Renewable Engineering]

Preparation and characterization of phase change material microcapsules by a core-shell-like emulsion polymerization method [pdf] [Materials Science and Engineering]

Design and assessment of solar concentrator distillating system using phase change materials (PCM) suitable for desertic weathers [Desalination and Water Treatment]

N.Y. conference on renewable energy set for Sept. 24-25

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Registration is open for the REV4NY conference and expo in New York City Sept. 24-25. 

"Reforming the Energy Vision" – REV – is New York State's effort to pave the way for utilities, homeowners and businesses to adopt renewable energy technology more easily.

The conference agenda and list of speakers are still in flux, but Day 1 includes a session on integrating behind-the-meter storage with solar, EV and other technologies. Networking sessions and opportunities to explore partnerships are also on the agenda.

Patent application: Thermostatic packaging and methods for their preparation and use

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150197679 (applicant Empire Technology Development LLC):

"Thermostatic packaging materials, and methods for making and using the materials are disclosed. The materials may include phase change materials that are covalently bound with the packaging material to avoid any leaching of liquefied phase change materials. The phase change materials may be copolymerized with hydrogels to provide an absorbent thermostatic material. ...

"Example 1 ... Thermostatic food packaging containers having a thermal buffering temperature of about 0° C. to about 4° C. will be produced. The containers will be made from styrene, in the form or styrene blocks of 50-200 styrene units, co-polymerized with lauryl acrylate, in the form of blocks of 50-200 lauryl acrylate units, and will have a styrene to lauryl acrylate ratio of about 1/9 to about 9/1. The copolymer will be press-molded into bowl-shaped containers. The containers will be fitted with lids of the same material to isolate and thermally insulate any contents placed therein."