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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: Temperature-regulating apparel with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 30, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150106992U.S. patent application 20150106992 (applicant Under Armour Inc.): "The present invention is directed toward an article of apparel effective to regulate the temperature of the wearer. In an embodiment, the article of apparel includes a base textile with a thermal regulation membrane. The thermal regulation membrane contains a plurality of system-reactive components selectively engaged heat and/or moisture. In an embodiment, the printed coating includes a cooling agent, a phase change material, and a heat dissipation material. In operation, the article of apparel is effective to delay/diminish the rise in skin temperature (compared to a garment lacking the membrane), increasing wearer comfort."

Patent application: Heat storage member for canister

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 30, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150107561 (assignee Aisan Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha): "A heat storage member housed in a canister together with an adsorbent capable of adsorbing fuel vapor has a sealed container and a phase-change material housed in the sealed container. The phase-change material becomes semisolid gel state at the melting point of the phase-change material."

Research roundup: Expanded graphite with PCM; thermal cycle test; concrete with macroencapsulated PCM; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 28, 2015

RT100/expand graphite composite phase change material with excellent structure stability, photo-thermal performance and good thermal reliability [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Thermal Cycle Test of Binary Mixtures of Some Fatty Acids as Phase Change Materials For Building Applications [Energy and Buildings]

Development of structural–functional integrated concrete with macro-encapsulated PCM for thermal energy storage [Applied Energy]

Phase Change Materials—A Sustainable Way of Solar Thermal Energy Storage [pdf] [Energy Sustainability Through Green Energy]

Characterization and real-time testing of phase-change materials for solar thermal energy storage [Energy Research]

Latent Heat Thermal Storage (LHTS) for Energy Sustainability [Energy Sustainability Through Green Energy]

Axiom Exergy's 'Refrigeration Battery' set for supermarket trial

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 23, 2015

California startup Axiom Exergy says its "Refrigeration Battery" is ready for its first supermarket trial. The system stores water chilled at night, when electricity is cheapest, to take the load off condensers and compressors during the day. The system also provides backup refrigeration during power outages. Greentech Media's Jeff St. John reports that the company plans to begin scaling up to commercial production later this year.

New School's University Center, Federal Center South win AIA sustainability awards

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 23, 2015

New School University CenterThe New School's University Center, a 370,000-square-foot mixed-use building in Manhattan, has made the American Institute of Architects' list of the Top 10 Most Sustainable Projects of 2015. The LEED Gold building, right, features a thermal energy storage system that makes ice at night, when electricity is cheaper, to help cool the structure during the day. University Center was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Federal Center South, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office building in Seattle, was honored as the AIA's Top 10 Plus winner. The building's HVAC system includes heat-recovery chillers that extract heat from a thermal storage tank to warm the building in the morning, when demand is high. A rooftop tank is filled with 2-foot-long panels containing phase change material that freezes and thaws at 55 degrees, serving as a battery for storing energy. Federal Center South was designed by ZGF Architects.

Ergodyne launches 3 redesigned cooling vests

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ergodyne of St. Paul, Minn., has launched three redesigned cooling vests featuring phase change material. The maker of workplace gear says flexible honeycomb cooling packs and a shorter, wider vest design give wearers increased comfort and mobility. Ergodyne says the cooling material is a "non-toxic, non carcinogenic substance." Product safety data sheets identify the PCM as a paraffin.

GoSun's new solar cooker 'a big step forward'

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

GoSun solar cookerLloyd Alter, Treehugger's managing editor, described GoSun's original solar-powered cooker as "absolutely brilliant." But the small size of its glass vacuum tube limited a foodie's options. The new design features 5-inch-diameter tube that can cook a meal for eight people. A thermal battery – an aluminum case filled with paraffin-based phase change material – stores the sun's energy for use near mealtime.

"GoSun has worked hard to turn an idea that did have limitations into one that can be used for almost any kind of cooking," Alter writes. "It is a sort of steaming, so you won't be doing conventional barbecued burgers and steaks, but hey, we eat too much of that stuff anyway. You can still bake, roast, steam and boil and that's a lot healthier than grilling. This is a big step forward in the world of solar cooking."

Research roundup: Polyols as PCM for surplus thermal energy storage; paraffin/expanded vermiculite; solar chimney case study

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Polyols as phase change materials for surplus thermal energy storage [Applied Energy]

Preparation of paraffin/expanded vermiculite with enhanced thermal conductivity by implanting network carbon in vermiculite layers [Chemical Engineering Journal]

Heating Performance of a Solar Chimney Combined PCM: A Numerical Case Study [Energy and Buildings]

The case for investing in concentrated solar power

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CSP Today's latest Expert Column addresses the question: Is CSP an expensive or viable investment?

Simon Stevens, legal counsel at the Middle East Solar Industry Association, and Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, outline the challenges and opportunities associated with concentrated solar power. A key factor for both is the development of cost-effective energy storage:

"The importance in the long run of solar becoming a dispatchable power producer shouldn’t be underestimated," Stevens writes. "PV may be viewed as being a lower cost, relatively simple and proven technology right now, but that all tends to become a lot less clear cut once the question of storage is brought into the discussion."

"The pace of implementation and cost reductions for PV has been dramatic, but the energy storage issue has not been resolved and will increasingly challenge electrical distribution systems," Smith writes. "With increased CSP implementation, I anticipate similar efficiency and cost improvements for CSP, but a cost-effective storage solution with CSP has already been achieved.”