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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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Value of TES 'not always fully recognized by policymakers'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Heating and cooling in buildings and industry accounts for half of Europe's energy consumption, and yet the potential “immense value” of thermal energy storage has barely been explored, the head of an energy storage trade group says. 

Patrick Clerens“Despite its immense value to the energy system, the role of thermal energy storage concepts is not always fully recognized by policymakers,” Patrick Clerens, secretary-general of the European Association for Storage of Energy, said in an interview with Energy Storage News. 

“For example, the ongoing discussions about the energy storage definition in the European Parliament would appear to exclude thermal energy storage and Power-to-Gas, or Power-to-Liquids. A broader energy storage definition, such as the European Commission’s initial proposal, is needed to allow all energy storage technologies to be considered.”

In a position paper published in July, the trade group called for economic incentives such as accelerated depreciation, better regulatory framework to “ensure non-discriminatory access to energy grids” and improved support from European Union research agencies.

https://www.energy-storage.news/news/immense-value-of-thermal-energy-storage-not-yet-recognised-by-europes-polic

Patent application: Enclosure with a condensation-resistant interior surface

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 07, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170254503 (applicant Sabic Global Technologies BV, Netherlands):

Sabic headlamp patent application drawing"In an embodiment, an enclosure comprises walls forming the enclosure, wherein the enclosure comprises an internal space; an inhibiting element disposed in at least one wall, the inhibiting element having an internal inhibiting surface exposed to the internal space, wherein the inhibiting element has a transparency of greater than or equal to 20%; and a condensing element disposed in at least one other wall, the condensing element having an internal condensing surface exposed to the internal space; wherein at least one of the inhibiting element and the condensing element comprise a phase change material [84] configured to form a temperature differential between an internal inhibiting surface temperature and an internal condensing surface temperature over a temperature range."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170254503.pdf

Research roundup: Supercooling in paraffin slurry; double-composition microencapsulation; encapsulated nitrates; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 07, 2017

Reduction of supercooling in paraffin phase change slurry by polyvinyl alcohol [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Preparation, characterization, and thermal stability of double-composition shell microencapsulated phase change material by interfacial polymerization [Colloid and Polymer Science]

Heat transfer characteristics of a hybrid thermal energy storage tank with Phase Change Materials (PCMs) during indirect charging using isothermal coil heat exchanger [Solar Energy]

Hybrid network structure of boron nitride and graphene oxide in shape-stabilized composite phase change materials with enhanced thermal conductivity and light-to-electric energy conversion capability [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Encapsulated Nitrates Phase Change Material Selection for Use as Thermal Storage and Heat Transfer Materials at High Temperature in Concentrated Solar Power Plants [Energies 2017]

Smart pet feeder keeps Fido's kibble cool with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 07, 2017

It's not much to look at, but an ingenious assembly of off-the-shelf electronic components could be just what a busy (and geeky) pet owner needs. The Mario Feeder allows users to schedule and monitor pet feedings from a smart phone and plays a personalized message alerting Fido when it's time to chow down. If Fido fails to heed the call, an alert will be sent to the owner's phone. Other features of the rotating dispenser include:

Mario FeederProximity detection: The bowl will open only when your RFID-tagged pet is nearby, to stop other animals from stealing food.

Bark detection: The feeder is "constantly listening" and will send an alert if your pet sounds distressed.

Smart scale: Tracks what your pet eats, when it eats and how much it eats.

Phase change material: Keeps perishable food cold. 

Developers have launched an Indiegogo campaign in hopes of raising $46,500 to help bring the product to market. They've also produced a video that might be the cutest ad you'll see on the Internet today:

Mario pet feeder video grab

Lead engineer Justin O'Neill answered a few PCM-focused questions by e-mail:

Q: What type of PCM is used? 

A: "We believe that the ability to keep food cold throughout the day is an important feature in a premium pet feeder, and strangely absent in competing products. We are using an organic PCM with a melting point of around 6 degrees Celsius. ... [It is] a bio-based PCM. This isn't because we believe there is a risk of food contamination (very small risk since we are using a robust casing) but more of a product life-cycle consideration with disposal."

Q: How is the PCM encapsulated? 

A: "The PCM is encapsulated in the walls and base of the main bowl, and it is recharged by placing the whole bowl into the freezer/ fridge. We did play with the idea of having separate removable compartments, but this did not fit with our ethos of reducing the total number of components. The bowl is sized so that it will fit in to most domestic freezers/ fridges (also less fiddly for the user). ... Our final design has two compartments with thicker base to hold more PCM. Prototypes have been developed with an ABS housing, but the final version could be PP or HDPE. ... We would have loved to use aluminium or stainless casing but the bowl is a fairly complex moulding and I suspect we would have ended up with high pressure die casting and a step change in cost."

Q: What are the dimensions of the product? 

A: "The bowl is ~310mm in diameter, depending on where exactly you are measuring. We tried to balance catering to larger pets with ensuring it isn't too big for apartments, and of course getting the food bowl with PCM it into a fridge/ freezer."

Q: How long does the product provide a cooling effect?

A: "Our intent is only to provide the ability to delay food spoiling, not keep it frozen or cold indefinitely. Our target has been delaying spoiling for 3-4 hours vs food being exposed, and obviously the performance varies greatly with ambient temperature, the foodstuff and volume of food. The Mario feeder allows users to set an expiration time. I.e after a specified time a particular compartment will be forbidden to expose even if the dog is near (RFID proximity detection) as food may be spoiled. By keeping food out of the sun (using proximity detection and rotating the bowl) we further improve total performance."

Research roundup: Influence of nanoparticle morphology; battery thermal management; concrete pavement; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Influence of nanoparticle morphology and its dispersion ability regarding thermal properties of water used as Phase Change Material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

The optimal allocation of the PCM within a composite wall for surface temperature and heat flux reduction: an experimental approach [Applied Thermal Engineering]

An innovative practical battery thermal management system based on phase change materials: Numerical and experimental investigations [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Using phase change material in under floor heating [Energy Procedia]

Incorporating phase change materials in concrete pavement to melt snow and ice [Cement and Concrete Composites]

Dynamics of phase change in a vertical PCM capsule in the presence of radiation at high temperatures [Applied Energy]

Experimental study on thermal performance of phase change material passive and active combined using for building application in winter [Applied Energy]

Thermodynamics behavior of phase change latent heat materials in micro-/nanoconfined spaces for thermal storage and applications [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Advancement in phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Study on solidification process of sodium acetate trihydrate for seasonal solar thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

PCM briefing: Dethleffs unveils solar-powered camper; ScienceDirect launches 'personalized recommendations'

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 05, 2017

ScienceDirect, the full-text research database from Elsevier, now offers a "personalized recommendations" feature. Registered users of the site are automatically enrolled in the service, which uses an adaptive algorithm to analyze a user's searches and then sends a list of three to five recommended articles to the user by e-mail each week. 

Ember Technologies' temperature-control coffee mug won a Silver IDEA Award in the kitchen and accessories category at the 2017 International Design Excellence Awards in August. 

Dethleffs e-home motorhome• German camper manufacturer Dethleffs has unveiled a concept vehicle that runs on a 107-horsepower electric motor. The "e.home" features 334 square feet of thin solar panels and a heating system that uses phase change materials to absorb heat when the outside temperature rises above 79° F. Fully equipped, its driving range on a full charge is just over 100 miles. But of course its batteries recharge when the sun shines.

Gary Owens has been named president and chief executive officer at Mesa Laboratories Inc., succeeding John Sullivan, who has held the positions since 2009. 

Dulas Ltd., maker of solar-powered vaccine refrigerators, has completed a supply and training program in Myanmar under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Dulas delivered refrigeration units that feature phase change material, a 400W photovoltaic array and 132-liter vaccine storage capacity.

Pluss Advanced Technologies' MiraCradle infant cooling device, which uses phase change material to treat birth asphyxia, is featured in an article in The Guardian this week. The device was launched commercially in 2014 and is now being used in more than 125 hospitals across India and three in South Africa. 

Dow Chemical and DuPont have completed their planned $130 billion merger to form DowDuPont. Shares of the merged company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "DWDP." 

Patent application: Enhanced dry-cooling system for increasing power plant efficiency

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170248035 (applicant University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio):

"The presently disclosed subject matter relates to enhanced dry-cooling systems and methods. More specifically, the presently disclosed subject matter relates to enhanced dry-cooling systems for increasing power plant efficiency and output. One embodiment of the present disclosure is directed to dry-cooling system for increasing power plant efficiency and output. The dry-cooling system comprises an air-cooled condenser and an air cooling system in fluid communication with the air-cooled condenser. ... In certain embodiments, the thermal energy storage material 28 is a liquid to solid phase change thermal storage material"

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248035.pdf

Patent application: Heat exchanger and storage device

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170248375 (assignee BorgWarner Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.):

"A product with a heat generating system, the product having a heat storage medium constructed and arranged to receive and store heat from the heat generating system wherein the product is constructed and arranged to trigger, extract, and use the stored heat, the heat storage medium receiving heat from the heat generating system during which heat storage in the heat storage medium increases at a first rate to a point where a phase change of the heat storage medium occurs and increases at a second rate during the phase change of the energy storage medium at a phase change temperature, the second rate being substantially higher than the first rate and wherein the extraction and use of heat by the product is triggered by a generator at a temperature that is lower than the phase change temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248375.pdf

Patent application: Refrigeration, or thermal, energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

Refrigeration TES system patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20170248377 (applicants Upgrading Services SPA and Labor SRL, Italy):

"A refrigeration, or thermal, energy storage system for storing refrigeration, or thermal, energy, comprising a body, closed and insulated, the body being configured to contain two fluids, respectively a Phase Change Material (PCM) type fluid and a secondary fluid, the two fluids being immiscible with each other and having different densities, so as to be stratified within the volume of the body; withdrawal means configured to draw the secondary fluid from the body, and to convey the same inside a heat exchanger configured to exchange frigories, or calories, with the secondary fluid; and distribution means configured to draw the secondary fluid from the heat exchanger, and distribute the secondary fluid into the PCM type fluid, so that the secondary fluid exchanges with the PCM type fluid frigories, or calories, absorbed in the heat exchanger, the secondary fluid having a solidification temperature substantially lower than that of the PCM type fluid."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248377.pdf

Research roundup: Flexible PCMs with high thermal conductivity; treatment for exercise-induced muscle damage; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thermal sensitive flexible phase change materials with high thermal conductivity for thermal energy storage [Energy Conversion and Management]

The efficacy of cooling with phase change material for the treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage: pilot study [Journal of Sports Sciences]

Form-stable phase change material based on Na2CO3·10H2O-Na2HPO4·12H2O eutectic hydrated salt/expanded graphite oxide composite: The influence of chemical structures of expanded graphite oxide [Renewable Energy]

Structure and Thermal Performances of Paraffin/Diatomite Form-stable Phase Change Materials [Chinese Journal of Materials Research]