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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: Oil-in-water macro-emulsion process for forming solid gel beads

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200071586 (applicant Microtek Laboratories, Dayton, Ohio): 

"Solid gel beads formed from a gel product of a 5 carbon to 60 carbon alkane phase change material, 5 carbon to 60 carbon alkene phase change material, or a combination thereof and a styrene-based polymer are homogeneous, has an uneven exterior surface, and a major axis length in a range of 1000 μm to 100 mm. Methods for making the solid gel bead include providing water having a preselected temperature based on a linear relationship to the melting point of a phase change material composition, mixing the phase change material composition with the styrene-based polymer at or below the preselected temperature with stirring to form a pulp, and mixing the pulp into the water with turbulent mixing while maintaining the temperature of the mixture at the preselected temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200071586.pdf

PCM briefing: EnergyNest is finalist for startup award; Croda website offers live chat

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

EnergyNest is one of 15 start-ups nominated as finalists of the Start Up Energy Transition Award 2020. EnergyNest's thermal battery consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in a special type of concrete. The Norwegian company announced earlier this year that an EnergyNest battery with a capacity of 6-8 MWh would be installed at a brick manufacturing plant in Austria.

• "T-History Simplified: Combining a Universal Standard with an IoT Strategy," presented by Madison Hammerberg, product development engineering manager at CAVU Group, will be among the presentations at the Advancements in Thermal Management conference in Denver, Aug. 6-7, 2020.

Croda now offers live chat on its CrodaTherm website, www.crodatherm.com. The "Chat with a Croda Expert" feature is designed to provide visitors with "instant support."

Terrafore Technologies of Minneapolis is one of 13 companies to be awarded a Launch Minnesota Innovation Grant from the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development. The grants total $344,000; the amounts of individual grants were not disclosed. Terrafore is developing thermal energy storage to provide dispatchable solar power generation to the grid.

RayGen Resources Pty. Ltd. of Australia has been awarded $3 million AUD toward a feasibility study for a 4 MW “solar hydro” power plant in Victoria. The money will come from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. RayGen's system extracts heat from solar panels and stores it in a water reservoir acting as a heat store. The hot reservoir is paired with cold reservoir chilled by electricity from the solar panels and the grid. The temperature difference powers an Organic Rankine Cycle engine to generate electricity with a round-trip efficiency of 70%.

• The Swedish thermal energy storage company Azelio has completed the installation of "a system that will store solar energy from what is claimed to be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant project," Energy Storage Journal reports. "The complex [in Morocco] is 2,500 hectares in size, and solar panels cover 1,000 square metres — which means it could potentially harvest a total of 2.6GW a year." The system uses recycled aluminum as the heat storage material.

Sunamp Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland, has signed a memo of understanding with Ripple Energy, a company that enables customers to part-own large-scale wind farms to power their homes. Under the agreement, Ripple will offer its customers Sunamp heat batteries, which use a specially formulated phase change material to store large amounts of energy from renewable and other sources and release it as heat to deliver hot water and space heating as needed.

Chinese manufacturer joins RAL Quality Association PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, March 23, 2020

Hangzhou Ruhr New Material Technology Co. of Hangzhou City, China, has joined the RAL Quality Association PCM. 

RuhrTech logoThe company, known as RuhrTech, develops phase change materials and PCM products for use in food and pharmaceuticals packaging; cooling and temperature control in the fields of electronic devices and power batteries; and energy-saving applications for central air conditioning, cold storage and buildings. Its cold-chain packaging customers include Johnson & Johnson, Allergan and Lilly.

Dr. Li Huang, one of the company's founders, is looking forward to "fruitful cooperation" with RAL members.

Stefan Thomann, the association's managing director, said: "I am delighted to welcome yet another ambitious company in our association that is committed to quality and commercially successful with PCM. RuhrTech will undoubtedly manage to tap into new markets and applications where PCM can play a positive and beneficial role.”

The RAL Quality Association PCM was established in 2004 to develop standards for the PCM industry. Members include Axiotherm, Microtek Laboratories, Rubitherm, Croda Europe, va-Q-tec, PCM Technology, Global-Systems Europe, Sasol, Sunamp Ltd., Pluss Advanced Technologies and PureTemp LLC.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the association's next assembly will be held as a web conference on April 1. The association's fall assembly is scheduled for Oct. 28, 2020, in Dusseldorf, Germany. More than a dozen representatives of member companies and monitoring institutes took part in last fall's assembly. Here's a group photo:

RAL group photo

Back row, from left: Bernd Boiting, FH Münster/Axiotherm; Thomas Haussmann, ISE; Stefan Thomann, RAL Quality Association PCM managing director; Michael Brütting, ZAE; Andreas Laube, w&a; Gerard Oortman, PCM Technology. 

Front two rows, from left: Jan van Acquoij, Pluss Advanced Technologies; Ben Welter, PureTemp LLC; Kate Fisher, Sunamp; Matthias Maywald, Sasol; Marco Auerbach, Croda; Thomas Wollheim, va-Q-tec; Harald Mehling, PCM consultant; Tim Riazzi, Microtek Laboratories; Esther Kieseritzky, Rubitherm; Claudia Friedrich, RAL Quality Association PCM.

Research roundup: Corn oil PCM in frozen food cooling machine; portable solar box cooker; expanded graphite/1-octadecanol composite; more

Ben Welter - Saturday, March 21, 2020

From Journal of Physics:

Corn oil phase change material (PCM) in frozen food cooling machine to improve energy efficiency

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Investigating thermal properties of Nanoparticle Dispersed Paraffin (NDP) as phase change material for thermal energy storage

From Energy:

Effects of fluctuating thermal sources on a shell-and-tube latent thermal energy storage during charging process

From Solar Energy:

Design, realization, and tests of a portable solar box cooker coupled with an erythritol-based PCM thermal energy storage
Diversiform microstructure silicon carbides stabilized stearic acid as composite phase change materials

From International Journal of Thermofluids:

Investigating the performance of a thermal energy storage unit with paraffin as phase change material, targeting buildings’ cooling needs: an experimental approach

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Energy and exergy analysis of wind farm integrated with compressed air energy storage using multi-stage phase change material

From Powder Technology:

Effect of nano-SiC on thermal properties of expanded graphite/1-octadecanol composite materials for thermal energy storage

From Journal of Energy Storage:

A multi-objective optimal design method for thermal energy storage systems with PCM: A case study for outdoor swimming pool heating application
Reducing PV module temperature with radiation based PV module incorporating composite phase change material
Numerical investigation on the effect of fin design on the melting of phase change material in a horizontal shell and tube thermal energy storage

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Characterization of form-stable phase-change material for solar photovoltaic cooling

From International Journal of Thermophysics:

Thermophysical Properties of a Novel Nanoencapsulated Phase Change Material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Lattice Boltzmann simulation of forced convection melting of a composite phase change material with heat dissipation through an open-ended channel
High power density thermal energy storage using additively manufactured heat exchangers and phase change material

From Energies:

Evaluation of the State of Charge of a Solid/Liquid Phase Change Material in a Thermal Energy Storage Tank [pdf]
Novel Simulation Algorithm for Modeling the Hysteresis of Phase Change Materials [pdf]

From Energy & Fuels:

Novel shape-stabilized phase change materials based on paraffin/EPDM@graphene with high thermal conductivity and low leakage rate

From Polymers and Polymer Composites:

Regulating phase-change temperatures of form-stable phase-change ternary composite fibrous membranes consisting of polystyrene nanofibers and fatty acid eutectics via co-electrospinning method

From Applied Energy:

A design protocol for enhanced discharge exergy in phase change material heat battery
Fabrication of heat storage pellets composed of microencapsulated phase change material for high-temperature applications
A high-thermal-conductivity, high-durability phase-change composite using a carbon fibre sheet as a supporting matrix

From Journal of Building Engineering:

Preparation and characterization of metal-organic framework /microencapsulated phase change material composites for indoor hygrothermal control

From Indoor and Built Environment:

Numerical and experimental investigation on dynamic thermal performance of floor heating system with phase change material for thermal storage

From Applied Clay Science:

A triply synergistic method for palygorskite activation to effectively impregnate phase change materials (PCMs) for thermal energy storage

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Lignin-fatty acid hybrid nanocapsules for scalable thermal energy storage in phase-change materials

From Construction and Building Materials:

Phase change materials for pavement applications: A review

From Carbohydrate Polymers:

Shape-stabilization of polyethylene glycol phase change materials with chitin nanofibers for applications in “smart” windows

Patent application: Portable apparatus using PCM to create temperature stable environment

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200041147 (assignee Fruition LLC, Lexington, Mass.):

"A carrying case utilizes a layer of phase change materials and a thermal insulation layer in order to provide a temperature-stabilized environment for enclosed payloads such as musical instruments during transport through an environment in which temperatures differ greatly from those to which they are normally exposed. In one aspect, the phase change materials and thermal insulation provide an extended period of temperature constancy, without the addition of either active thermal control or excessively bulky insulation."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200041147.pdf

Patent application: Device and method for drug delivery

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200038600 (applicant Insuline Medical Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel):

Insuline patent drawing"A drug delivery control apparatus (e.g. a treatment apparatus) may be configured to control an amount of drug contained in a drug depot delivered or otherwise perfused or diffused into the circulatory system of a patient comprising a cooling element configured for cooling a treatment area by removing heat from the treatment area. The cooling element may be arranged above or near the treatment area. A heat disposal assembly is in thermal communication with the cooling element and configured for directing the removed heat to a heat zone away from the treatment area. A power source, a controller and a housing may be configured to at least partially house at least the cooling element and the heat disposal assembly. ... the heat disposal assembly comprises a phase change material configured to absorb at least some heat from the treatment area."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200038600.pdf

Patent application: Temperature controlled product shipper

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200033045 (applicant Packaging Technology Group Inc., Fall River, Mass.):

"A temperature-controlled product shipper includes a phase change material bladder which can be filled at the point of packaging. The shipper includes an internal product box and an outer box where the product box is received within the outer box. The phase change material bladder is received within a cavity defined between the outer surface of the product box and the inner surface of the outer box. The shipper may also include an insulated liner which is received between the product box and the bladder."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200033045.pdf

Cubesat propulsion concept wins $225,000 National Science Foundation grant

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

A Cubesat propulsion system that uses phase change material to store solar thermal energy for use when needed has been awarded a $225,000 National Science Foundation SBIR grant. The ThermaSat concept, developed by Howe Industries of Tempe, Ariz., is designed to provide propulsion for a typical 15kg cubcubesat for 10 years.

Cubesats are tiny satellites — weighing as little as 200 grams — that orbit close to Earth’s atmosphere. They are cheaper to develop and launch than larger satellites. Cubesats have a wide range of purposes, including the collection of mapping and weather data. More than 1,100 have been successfully deployed.

Troy Howe, owner of Howe Industries, answered questions about the ThermaSat propulsion system.

Q: How long has your company been working on the concept?

A: "We have been working on this topic for only about a year in preparation for our NSF proposal, but have experience with optical systems and phase change materials going back about five years."

Q: Can you briefly describe how the system works?

A: "The ThermaSat works by heating liquid water propellant to high temperature steam using incident sunlight. Normally, it is difficult to reach high enough temperatures to use water as propellant, but our optical filtration system is designed to reject long wavelengths of light and only transmit short wavelengths- similar to the greenhouse effect. The phase change materials in the thermal capacitor store the solar energy over a period of hours and then heat the propellant during a 'burn' phase.

ThermaSat cutaway drawing"The PCM will be distributed throughout a graphite matrix in the form of small beads. Flow channels will run axially down the length of the cylinder for the propellant to pass through. The design is based loosely on the old NERVA fuel elements from the nuclear rocket program in the 1970s, with the UC kernels being replaced with our PCM. The drawing here shows a cutaway of the thermal capacitor surrounded by the optical system.

"The system is very conceptual at this point and has not been tested, although the propulsion characteristics are well understood. Our task at this point is to show that the optical system works as predicted and can reach the desired temperatures. Phase II will address the effects of a vacuum environment on a prototype."

Q: What type of PCM is used?

A: "We chose a salt (80LiOH+20LiF) as our PCM, it melts at 700K and has a latent heat of fusion of 1163 J/g. The material was selected based on a study performed by NASA in 1986 on space energy storage. The paper was called 'Technology for Brayton-Cycle Space Powerplants Using Solar and Nuclear Energy' by Robert English.""

Q: How much PCM would be used in a system powering a typical Cubesat?

A: "The standard design includes 0.62 kg of PCM. "

Q: Are you working with any Cubesat manufacturers at this point?

A: "We received letters of interest from Pumpkin Space Systems, Aster Labs, and Arizona State University. They all expressed interest in having a safe and reliable Cubesat propulsion system but we have not formally formed collaboration with any manufacturers at this point.”

Q: How will you use the NSF SBIR grant?

A: "Our goals for this topic include demonstrating the optical system in a lab bench test, fabricating photonic crystals, and performing computational analysis on the thermal, structural, and propulsion systems."

Q: What's the next major step in commercializing the system?

A: "Our commercialization strategy right now is to build a functioning prototype and demonstrate operation on earth. From that point we will aim to do a flight test which performs a set of orbital maneuvers and successfully de-orbits itself. From there we will work with Cubesat manufacturers to move forward."

Q: What excites you most about this project?

A: "We are excited about how near term and effective this technology will be for the upcoming Cubesat revolution. We hope to provide a safe, reliable, and effective propulsion solution that can be used with thousands of different satellites and drastically increase the performance of new technologies in space in the timeframe of just a few years.”

PCM briefing: Ice Energy files for bankruptcy; Viking Cold has opening for thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 10, 2020

Ice Energy, the Santa Barbara, Calif., company that made and distributed ice-based thermal energy storage systems, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's Ice Bear system makes ice at night when demand for electricity is low and capacity is abundant. During the day, the stored ice is used to provide cooling. Details of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in December, are sparse. The company's website is no longer active. Over the years, Ice Energy had won several major energy storage and distribution contracts with utilities, and had begun marketing a smaller version of the Ice Bear system aimed at retail customers. 

Viking Cold Solutions has an opening for a chemical/thermal engineer in Houston. The engineer will "conduct research in Thermal Science, Storage/Heat Transfer and Phase Change Materials (PCM) for low temperature applications (<10⁰C)."

Axiom Exergy has secured more than $1 million in orders for the Axiom Cloud, a software platform that helps manage energy consumption in supermarkets and cold storage facilities that use the company's PCM-powered thermal storage systems.

• The 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 6-7 in Denver, has issued a call for presentations. Topics include thermal materials, thermal modeling and characterization and measurement of thermal materials. Abstracts are due Feb. 12.

EnergyNest will install a large thermal energy storage battery at a Senftenbacher brick factory in Austria. The system will temporarily store excess energy in the form of hot air from a tunnel furnace. The stored heat be converted to steam and later reused in production.

Devan Chemicals, the Belgium-based developer of finishing technologies for textiles, introduced its Tones of Cool Bio technology at the Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, last month. The technology "stimulates the textile to dissipate redundant heat from the body and to instantly reduce the body temperature," the company says. The phase change materials "are derived from sustainable, natural sources.

Registration is open for the 23rd Microencapsulation Industrial Convention to be held June 8-11 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.