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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.




Research roundup: High-temperature apps; underground trench TES; cement paste; 0-D numerical model; building envelopes; PCM in buildings

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thermal Energy Storage with Encapsulated Phase Change Materials for High Temperature Applications [Lehigh University dissertation]

Heat transfer analysis of underground thermal energy storage in shallow trenches filled with encapsulated phase change materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Development of Carbon Nanotube Modified Cement Paste with Microencapsulated Phase-Change Material for Structural–Functional Integrated Application [International Journal of Molecular Sciences]

Experimental validation of a 0-D numerical model for phase change thermal management systems in lithium-ion batteries [Journal of Power Sciences]

Phase Change Materials: A Prospective Solution for Surface Layers of Building Envelopes [Applied Mechanics and Materials]

Application of Phase Change Materials in Buildings [Advanced Materials Research]

Research roundup: PCMs with expanded graphite; life cycle assessment of PCMs; DHFMA method; fluidized bed of PCMs

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

PCMs Heat Transfer Performance Enhancement with Expanded Graphite and its Thermal Stability [Procedia Engineering]

Life cycle assessment of two biologically produced phase change materials and their related products [International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment]

DHFMA Method for Dynamic Thermal Property Measurement of PCM-integrated Building Materials [Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports]

Modeling and Experiments of Energy Storage in a Fluidized Bed with PCM [Procedia Engineering]

Masdar Institute's retooled solar concentrator uses a single tank

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

In an interview with CSP Today, Dr. Nicolas Calvet, who leads the Masdar Institute's thermal energy storage research group, talked about the design of Masdar's 100 kW solar platform. The experimental "beam-down" solar concentrator in Abu Dhabi is being retooled to demonstrate the feasibility of a more cost-effective and flexible TES solution. 

The new design, which brings light into a ground-level tank, has a number of advantages.

Dr. Nicolas Calvet"You don’t pump the molten salts up the tower," he noted. "You don't need pump, pipes, you don't need electrical tracing to avoid the freezing in the pipes. You reduce a lot parasitic energy consumption by not moving molten salt in pipes. And you have direct absorption between the concentrated light and the salt in the tank.

"Instead of two tanks there’s only one tank. There is a moving divider plate inside it separating the upper part which should be hot and the lower part which should be cold. When you charge your system, this plate is moving down and you have only hot salts. And when you discharge, the plate is moving up and you have only cold salts."

Calorimetry workshop set for Lyon June 21-26

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

The Research Institute for Catalysis and Environment in Lyon, France, is offering a five-day workshop on differential scanning calorimetry and other techniques related to the characterization of phase change materials, catalysts, polymers and other compounds. Sessions will be organized to match the interests of participants. Participants are asked to submit a brief summary of their work to be considered for presentation during the workshop, which will be held June 21-26.

Promethean to expand distribution of milk chiller to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

Promethean Power Systems milk chillerPromethean Power Systems, which makes a milk chiller recently introduced in rural parts of India, is planning to expand distribution to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka over the next few months. Co-founder Sam White said his company hopes to have 500 units in the field by the end of the year.

Thanks to a thermal battery filled with phase change material, the chiller needs only intermittent electricity to quickly chill raw milk to a temperature that arrests bacterial growth. That's a potential game-changer for developing countries, where many dairy farmers don't have access to reliable electricity.

Boston-based Promethean manufactures the device, and the PCM, in Pune, India. White declined to identify the composition of the PCM, but a U.S. patent application for the device describes a salt hydrate with a melting point of -2º Celsius and a latent heat of fusion of 290 J/g. A nucleating agent is added to reduce the effect of supercooling.

The tech blog Gizmodo featured a Doc North video of the product over the weekend:

Utilities can maintain profits while reducing energy consumption, Economist says

Ben Welter - Friday, April 10, 2015

The Economist lists ice-based energy storage systems as among the technologies that can slash energy consumption without dampening economic growth.

"Storing off-peak energy as ice is particularly useful for air-cooling systems, one of the industrialised world’s biggest energy hogs," the Economist notes. "Air conditioning in commercial buildings accounts for about 5% of America’s electricity use. But in some parts of the country, on a hot day, the figure can reach 30%. Cooling systems from Calmac, a firm that used to make furnaces, store energy by cooling water mixed with antifreeze when power is cheap, and release it when it is needed, rather than relying on power-hungry compressors to cool the building during peak daytime hours."

A virtual tour of NYC's passive house movement

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 09, 2015

Map of NYC passive housesCurbed New York has compiled a list of 21 buildings in New York City designed to meet energy-use standards outlined by Germany's Passive House Institute. 

Most of New York's passive houses are in Brooklyn. The list includes 23 Park Place, NYC's first certified passive house; 951 Pacific, a three-unit row house that is aiming for "net zero" status, allowing each homeowner "the possibility of living without eternal power costs"; and 45-12 11th Street, which has been called the ugliest house in Queens. ...

Patent application: Utilizing waste heat in hybrid vehicle via PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 09, 2015

Patent application 20150089922 drawingPatent application 20150089922 (Assignee: Ford Global Technologies): "The system may reduce engine warm-up time and increase an amount of time an engine of a hybrid vehicle is deactivated while the hybrid vehicle is powered by a motor. In one example, a phase change material selectively stores and releases exhaust gas energy from and engine to improve vehicle operation."

Research roundup: Portable climate control; diatomite as PCM carrier material; translucent passive solar wall

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 09, 2015

Thermal battery for portable climate control [Applied Energy]

Diatomite: A promising natural candidate as carrier material for low, middle and high temperature phase change material [Energy Conservation and Management]

Full scale experimentation on a new translucent passive solar wall combining silica aerogels and phase change materials [Solar Energy]

PCM market projected to reach $339 million in the Americas by 2019

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 09, 2015

The market for advanced phase change materials in the Americas will reach $339.56 million by 2019, according to the latest report from MicroMarket Monitor. That's a compound annual growth rate of 19.9% from 2014 to 2019. The report identifies the shipping, packaging and refrigeration segment as a key driver and attributes much of the growth to initiatives by the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other bodies.

MicroMarket Monitor is planning to release similar reports next month on the PCM markets in Asia-Pacific and Middle East-Africa. The Asia-Pacific market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 19.2 percent from 2013 to 2018. The Middle East-Africa market is expected see a CAGR of 11.9 percent in the same period.