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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.

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Patent application: Method for controlling the release of heat by a temperature control unit

Ben Welter - Monday, June 04, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180147916 (applicant Thermo King Corp., Bloomington, Minn.):

"[An] HVAC circuit for a temperature control unit, the HVAC circuit comprising: a phase change material (PCM) reservoir; wherein the HVAC circuit is configured to operate in a heat storage mode, whereby heat generated by the temperature control unit for providing temperature control within the internal space is stored in the PCM reservoir, and wherein the HVAC circuit is configured to operate in a heat release mode, whereby the heat generated by the temperature control unit for providing temperature control within the internal space is released to an ambient environment outside of the internal space."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180147916.pdf

PCM briefing: DowDuPont shifts to small-scale R&D projects; Viking Cold Solutions has opening for business development manager

Ben Welter - Monday, June 04, 2018

Arktek vaccine carrierWired takes a close look at Arktek, "the Ebola vaccine's high-tech thermos." The World Health Organization is using the PCM-equipped container to transport the temperature-sensitive vaccine to wherever it's needed, whatever the conditions. The container is designed keep payloads colder than -65 C for five days.

• With an eye toward increased profits, CEO Edward Breen says DowDuPont is moving away from large-scale R&D projects in favor of less risky initiatives of $30 million or less.

Viking Cold Solutions has posted an opening for a business development manager for the Northeastern United States.

ASHRAE has published a new standard describing a methodology to apply building energy modeling throughout the design process. ASHRAE Standard 209-2018 defines minimum requirements for providing energy design assistance using building energy simulation and analysis.

Pelican BioThermal is opening its first Canadian drop point for the Credo on Demand rental program. The new drop point, at ATS Healthcare headquarters in Toronto, offers customers an additional location to return temperature-control pallet and bulk shippers. 

Patent application: Compositions comprising PCM and methods of making the same

Ben Welter - Monday, June 04, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180148621 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc., Asheboro, S.C.):

"In one aspect, compositions are described herein. In some embodiments, a composition comprises a phase change material, a hydrophobic sorption material, and a viscosity modifier. In some embodiments, a composition comprises a foam and a latent heat storage material dispersed in the foam, the latent heat storage material comprising a phase change material and a hydrophobic sorption material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180148621.pdf

Alexium International CEO Dirk Van Hyning resigns

Ben Welter - Friday, June 01, 2018

Alexium International Group Ltd. said its chief executive officer, Dirk Van Hyning, resigned this week for personal reasons. He was appointed CEO in June 2017.

Robert Brookins, Alexium’s executive vice president of research and development, has been appointed interim CEO. Alexium, based in Greer, S.C., and Perth, Australia, makes flame-retardant and PCM-enhanced fabric treatments.

In April, Alexium announced that it had developed an "innovative thermal analytical testing methodology" to measure the cooling capacity of PCM-enhanced products used on pillows, sheets and mattresses.

In an April 23 news release, the company said:

"Alexium developed a testing protocol using a standard industry tool to quantify the cooling capacity, or enthalpic cooling, of PCM products when applied to pillows and other bedding fabrics. As a result, using this testing protocol, pillows treated with Alexium’s Alexicool PCM solution were shown to deliver over 500% greater cooling capacity than commercially available pillows treated with other PCM products.

"Testing was conducted on microencapsulated octadecane-based PCM in a controlled lab environment using a differential scanning calorimetry method developed by Alexium scientists with a TA Instrument DSC 250. The method was developed to be applicable across a wide range of fiber composition, fabric construction, and types of PCM." 

Alexium said the protocol allows for "facile adoption by the industry." But the company has not responded to questions about whether a detailed description of the protocol would be made public so that results can be replicated and a new industry standard established. It is not clear how the protocol compares to other known methods used for quantifying cooling capacity, such as ASTM Standard D7984.

Phase change composite shows potential to double AC compressor efficiency

Ben Welter - Friday, June 01, 2018

Using a phase change composite material, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a novel thermal energy storage system that has the potential to downsize conventional air-conditioner compressors by 50 percent and double compressor efficiency during off- and mid-peak hours.

The research is described in a paper titled “Design and optimization of a hybrid air conditioning system with thermal energy storage using phase change composite,” recently accepted for publication in Energy Conversion and Management. One of the authors, Said Al-Hallaj, a research professor of chemical engineering at UI-Chicago and CEO of AllCell Technologies LLC, answered a few questions by e-mail.

Q: Who led the research team, and how long did the project take?

A: “It is an ongoing project since 2015 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I work as a Research Professor of Chemical Engineering, and part of the PhD thesis for my graduate student Ahmed Aljehani.”

Q: Who funded the project? 

A: “Ahmed has a scholarship from his government in Saudi Arabia and we get technical support from our industry partners NETenergy and AllCell Technologies LLC.”

Q: Who supplied the PCM?

A: “I believe it is n-tetradecane (C14H30) PCM that we bought from a distributor and not sure about actual source.”

28 slabs of phase change composite materialQ: What is its peak melting point? 

A: “4-6 degrees Celsius.”

Q: What is its thermal storage capacity?

A: “180 kJ/kg (78% PCM, 22% graphite).”

Q: Describe the benchtop PCC/TES system size, components and functionality.

A: “The actual 4 kWh PCC-TES structure is made of 28 slabs of PCC [right]. The whole PCC-TES structure is thermally insulated with building insulation materials. Each slab represents a graphite structure that has been soaked into n-tetradecane for at least 24 h until impregnated with n-tetradecane. The slabs are numbered from top to bottom; top being number 1. The second component is the copper tubes or the copper coils, which pass back and forth in between the 28 slabs. The copper tubes enter the PCC-TES structure from the top and exits from the bottom of the structure.”

Q: Is the concept intended mainly for commercial AC systems, or could it be adapted for residential use?

A: “It should work for both, but commercial AC applications are more economically beneficial due to rate structure and peak demand requirements.”

Q: What are the next steps in developing this concept?

A: “NETenergy, our technology commercialization partner, is partnering with National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a major OEM to build and test a full-scale prototype at NREL facilities in the next year or so.”


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019689041830517X

Research roundup: Nanofluid-based PCMs; microencapsulation of n-alkanes; finned solar PV PCM; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, May 31, 2018

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Glycolysis of Advanced Polyurethanes Composites containing Thermoregulating Microcapsules

From Applied Thermal Engineering:
From Applied Energy:

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

From Chemical Engineering Science:

Research roundup: Variable conductance heat pipe; micro-nanoencapsulated n-eicosane with PMMA shell; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Experimental investigation into the feasibility of using a variable conductance heat pipe for controlled heat release from a phase-change material thermal store

From Thermochimica Acta:

Form-stable phase change nanocomposites for thermal energy storage based on hypercrosslinked polymer nanospheres

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Non-monotonously tuning thermal conductivity of graphite-nanosheets/paraffin composite by ultrasonic exfoliation

From Sustainable Computing: Informatics and Systems:

A review of thermal management and innovative cooling strategies for data center

From Renewable Energy:

Numerical analysis of a latent heat thermal energy storage system under partial load operating conditions

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Graphene embedded form stable phase change materials for drawing the thermo-electric energy harvesting

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Performance of novel Na2SO4-NaCl-ceramic composites as high temperature phase change materials for solar power plants (Part II)

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Synthesis and Characterization of Micro-Nanoencapsulated n-eicosane with PMMA Shell as Novel Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage

PMMA shell as novel phase change material

PCM briefing: Sunamp's copper heat exchangers; renewable energy's 'next big thing'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

• The industry group Copper Alliance takes a look at Sunamp Ltd.'s use of copper heat exchangers in its PCM-equipped heat battery systems: "Copper has a few properties that make it ideal for this application, including high thermal conductivity, lack of corrosion when in contact with the PCM, and the ability to satisfy potable water regulations required to fully certify Sunamp’s products."    

Bloomberg's David Fickling explains why the development of lower-cost energy storage technologies will be renewable energy's "next big thing."

• Swedish researchers have produced a bio-based material that is reported to be stronger than spider silk and all other known bio-based materials, whether fabricated or natural. Working with cellulose nanofiber, the essential building block of plants, researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed larger, lightweight materials for use in airplanes, cars, furniture and other products.

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes PCM-equipped portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, was profiled this week in India Climate Dialogue

• New from Global Info Research: "Global Microencapsulation Technology Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023"

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market Research Report - Forecast to 2027"

• New from HongChun: "2018 Global Molten Salt Solar Energy Thermal Storage and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Industry Depth Research Report"

Horizon 2020's RealValue group has released findings on its three-year, small-scale energy storage project. The group, led by Glen Dimplex and consisting of 13 partner organizations, installed smart electric thermal storage systems in 750 commercial and residential properties in Ireland, Germany and Latvia. Among the findings: "Smart control of SETS devices simultaneously reduces charging costs of the devices while improving the thermal comfort of the end user. It also has potential to manage congestion." 

Patent application: Self-warming insulation

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180142383 (applicant PrimaLoft Inc., Latham, N.Y.):

"The invention provides an insulation material that includes exothermic fibers, heat capturing fibers capable of retaining heat, and synthetic fibers. The heat capturing fibers having a density of at least 1.17 g/cm3or 2.0 Dtex linear density. Also provided are articles comprising, and methods of making the inventive insulation material. ... In some embodiments, the heat capturing fibers are selected from fibers containing ceramic, fibers containing carbon, and fibers containing phase change material (PCM)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180142383.pdf

Patent application: Artificial turf system with energy management material

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Artificial turf patent drawing
U.S. patent application 20180142426 (inventors Reyad Sawafta and Jeffrey Bruner, Greensboro, N.C.):

"An artificial turf system comprising: an artificial turf mat [10]; and artificial turf fibers [60] disposed on a surface of the artificial turf mat, the artificial comprising at least one energy management material, wherein the at least one energy management material comprises a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180142426.pdf