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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: PCM panel and charging unit for cooling a cabinet of a merchandiser

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 23, 2018

Coca-Cola patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20180266739 (applicant The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, Georgia):

"A phase change material panel for cooling a cabinet of a merchandiser is disclosed. The panel may include a refrigerant tube, an outer jacket surrounding the refrigerant tube, and a phase change material positioned between the refrigerant tube and the outer jacket and in contact with the refrigerant tube. ... The panel [shown at right] may be charged at or near the point-of-sale or remotely therefrom, such as at a warehouse, on a truck, at a distribution center, or the like and brought to the merchandiser."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180266739.pdf

PCM briefing: Energy storage projects get share of $28 million in ARPA-E grants; nominations due Oct. 1 for AOCS awards

Ben Welter - Friday, September 21, 2018

ARPA-E this week awarded $28 million to 10 R&D projects aimed at developing energy storage systems to power the electric grid for up to 100 hours, improving grid resilience and performance. Thermal energy storage projects were among the winners. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory won a $2.79 million grant to “develop a high-temperature, low-cost thermal energy storage system using a high-performance heat exchanger and closed loop Brayton cycle turbine to generate power.” Michigan State University won $2 million to "explore a process that heats a bed of magnesium manganese oxide to release oxygen, and then passes air over the particle bed to start a chemical reaction that releases the heat to drive a gas turbine generator," Greentech Media reported.

Mark Richards, applications engineering manager at Phase Change Energy Solutions, will give a presentation on "Testing and Modeling of Phase Change Materials for Building Applications" at next week's Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild in Chicago.

• Nominations for nine Scientific and Society Awards given by the American Oil Chemists' Society are due Oct. 1. The awards recognize leaders in fats, oils, proteins and surfactants who have advanced the science and technology of their interest areas.

The agenda has been posted for the CSP Madrid 2018 conference and exhibition, to be held Nov. 13-14. Topics include "Advancements in Thermal Storage Systems with Molten Salt" and "Thermal storage + PV, gas or other power generations."

Ember Technologies announced this week that its PCM-equipped coffee mug is now available at Bloomingdale's

• New from Decision Databases: "2018-2023 Global Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market Report

Entropy Solutions has been granted a U.S. trademark for the tagline "Global Authority on Phase Change Material," in use since 2014.  

• How green is your lab? The EU Science Hub invites European Union residents to submit photos that show how to reduce waste, save energy, maximize equipment efficiency or anything else that makes a lab green. Science Hub will post submitted photos on its Facebook page. The entry deadline is Oct. 19. The winning photographer will receive a two-day trip to Berlin to visit the hub's ARTEFACTS exhibition, where the winning photo will be displayed.   

• Children curious about science will have a chance to chat with researchers, observe demonstrations and take part in hands-on experiments at the annual "Science is Wonder-ful!" event Sept. 25-26 in Brussels, Belgium. The event, sponsored by the European Commission and European Parliament, drew 4,600 participants in 2017.

• The United States has removed 142 chemical and plastic products, including paraffin wax, from the latest round of tariffs that it will impose on Chinese imports next week, the American Chemistry Council said Tuesday.

• The Thermal Energy Systems Lab at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has an opening for a post-doctoral researcher to assist in the development of thermal energy storage material and systems. For details, contact Alessandro Romagnoli, a.romagnoli@ntu.edu.sg. "We are looking for an expert on industrial energy efficiency with capabilities to run exergy/energy analysis, skills with flow diagrams (e.g. Sankey) and well grounded in current and future technology development," Romagnoli said. "This is a short-term appointment (either full time or part-time)." 

Research roundup: Concrete with shape-stable PCM; carbon nanotube laden with D-Mannitol; inorganic PCMs in metal capsules

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 20, 2018

From MATEC Web of Conferences:

Thermal Properties of Concrete Incorporated with Shape-stable Phase Change Material [pdf]

From Advanced Powder Technology:

Multi-walled carbon nanotube laden with D-Mannitol as phase change material: Characterization and experimental investigation

From Advances in Polymer Technology:

The influence of emulsifiers on preparation and properties of microencapsules of melamine–urea–formaldehyde resins with n‚Äźdodecanol as phase change material

From Materials:

Macro-Encapsulation of Inorganic Phase-Change Materials (PCM) in Metal Capsules

Patent application: Core-shell triggered release systems

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

RTI core shell patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180258340 (applicant Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, N.C.):

"The present disclosure relates to delivery and release systems, such as core-shell particles. An exemplary composition according to the disclosure can include a carrier element forming an outer shell that defines an inner core. The core can include a reactive agent that is adapted to react with the shell, particularly at an inner interface of the shell with the core materials. The reaction can provide an inside-out degradation of the shell and release of one or more materials therein. The reactive agent may be separated from the shell, such as using a phase change material (PCM). Upon reaching specific environmental conditions, the PCM can change so as the release the reactive agent for reaction with the shell. The systems can be used in various methods to deliver a material to various environments, including underground reservoirs."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180258340.pdf

Research roundup: Heat capacities of potential organic PCMs; asphalt binders; novel smart textile; modeling hysteresis; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

From Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics:

Heat capacities of potential organic phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Effects of microencapsulated phase change materials on the performance of asphalt binders
An improved, generalized effective thermal conductivity method for rapid design of high temperature shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage systems
Multi-objective optimisation of thermal energy storage using phase change materials for solar air systems

From Energy:

A comprehensive study of properties of paraffin phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Evaluation of a novel solar driven sorption cooling/heating system integrated with PCM storage compartment

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Shape-stabilized phase change materials based on porous supports for thermal energy storage applications
Novel smart textile with phase change materials encapsulated core-sheath structure fabricated by coaxial electrospinning

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental research on the effective heating strategies for a phase change material based power battery module
Modeling hysteresis in the phase transition of industrial-grade solid/liquid PCM for thermal energy storages

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Determination of heat transfer coefficients in direct contact latent heat storage systems

PCM briefing: UCF wins $360,000 grant to develop solar storage module; Nike unveils prototype cooling vest

Ben Welter - Monday, September 17, 2018

• The University of Central Florida was awarded a $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation last month to develop and commercialize a grid-connected solar storage module. UCF is partnering with battery maker AllCell Technology to develop the system, known as iPV++. The system will use smart inverters and battery management to deliver stable and predictable PV-based solar power for grid-tied applications. AllCell phase change composite material will provide passive thermal management of the system's lithium-ion battery modules. Dr. Issa Batarseh, UCF electrical engineering professor and the project principal investigator, says use of the material "guarantees the safety of the battery modules, simplifies the installation and maintenance, and significantly increases lifetime due to temperature control.”

Nike prototype cooling vest• A prototype cooling vest developed by the Nike Sport Research Lab made its public debut at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., earlier this month. Scorching heat and high humidity marked the tennis tournament's later rounds, prompting players to do whatever they could to stay cool. Rafael Nadal, right, was among the players seen wearing the vest courtside. The form-fitting vest features four cooling packs -- two in the front and two in the back -- to quickly cool down players between sets and before and after matches. Nike declined to answer questions about the vest, but it appears similar to phase change vests already on the market, including versions made by TechNiche and Glacier Tek.

Peli BioThermal, the temperature-controlled packaging company, has opened a service center in Indianapolis. The company says the 50,000-square-foot facility will be one of the largest in Peli's Credo on Demand network.

Registration is open for the next ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10, 2019. The 10th annual conference and technology showcase will "bring together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways." 

• Australian energy storage startup 1414 Degrees began trading on the Australian Securities Exchange last week after raising $16.3 million AUS as part of its initial public offering. The company's technology stores electricity as thermal energy by heating an melting containers full of silicon at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries.

NETenergy, a Chicago startup that licenses technology developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago, plans to commercialize its hybrid air-conditioning system with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The $500,000 grant was awarded to NETenergy's partner, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The International Copper Association and Ingersoll-Rand are commercial partners on the grant, which will provide cash and in-kind matching funds. The technology uses phase change composites to store cold energy, allowing customers to shift A/C production to off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper. 

• Costs for U.S. chemical distributors could rise by nearly $1.3 billion if the United States imposes tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods from China, according to an analysis by John Dunham & Associates. Job losses could top 5,900, the analysis said.

PCM-equipped heat exchanger designed for use in reefer trucks, cold rooms

Ben Welter - Friday, September 14, 2018

A new PCM application turned up in my LinkedIn feed this week:

"Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. presents ThermoTab active plates used for both #coldstorages and #transportation applications at India Cold Chain Show 2018" ... "Enabling last mile connectivity with fuel free refrigeration."

Vishnu SasidharanThe post offered plenty of hashtags but not much information. I asked Vishnu Sasidharan, right, vice president for new product initiatives at Pluss, for details on the thermoTab Active heat exchanger.

Q: Who developed the thermoTab Active heat exchanger and when was it introduced commercially?

A: "The thermoTab Active heat exchangers are being sourced from FIC, Italy, a company which is has been manufacturing heat exchangers for thermal energy storage in refrigerated vehicles since 1951. Pluss has partnered with FIC to offer complete solution – PCM-filled heat exchangers exclusively in India – introduced commercially in India from September 2017. The partnership leverages FIC & Pluss strength in heat exchanger and material sciences respectively to offer solutions for storage, transportation and space cooling/heating."

Q: What types of PCM are used? (salt hydrate, thermal energy capacity, peak melt point ranges, etc.)

A: "The current standardized offerings are for two categories of temperature; +2 to +8 deg C and -15 to -25 deg C. The plates offered on the basis heat load capacities and the categories under which it falls. For instance, if a customer requires 20kw-Hr of thermal storage capacity for +2 to +8 deg C the number of plates, the customer could refer to the datasheet and choose the combination of thermoTab Active plates based on its capacity. Alternatively, the datasheet also provides with a quick selection of number of thermoTab Active plates based on the volume of the container, insulation thickness and the retention hours required." 

Q: Describe how the heat exchanger functions.

Pluss thermoTab Active plateA: "The heat exchanger plates have a refrigerant coil inside. The PCM filled inside the plate remains completely immersed in the PCM solution. During charging or freezing cycle begins when refrigerant is passed through the coil at a temperature lower than the phase change point of PCM. When the temperature in the room starts to rise above the phase change point of the PCM, the surface of the heat exchangers starts to release the energy at a constant temperature, thereby maintaining the temperature of the environment."

Q: How and when are the PCM panels charged in a refrigerator truck?

A: "The thermoTab Active plates are charged by means of an electric refrigeration system on board the truck. Prior to commencement of the delivery cycle, the truck’s refrigeration system is connected to a three-phase electric source for 8-10 hours. The cost of storing energy by electricity as against active cooling using diesel the savings are substantial. The payback for such system is less than six months."

Q: How and when are the PCM panels charged in a micro cold room?

A: "In a micro cold room as well the charging takes place similar to a refrigerator truck. However, the operating cost could be further reduced by running the refrigerator unit using solar instead of grid electricity. The thermoTab Active plates provides a unique value proposition for solar based micro cold room by enabling 24/7 uninterrupted cooling without the requirement of an electrochemical battery. Most micro cold rooms operate in areas which do not have access to electricity."

Q: How does thermoTab Active differ from passive PCM systems used in reefer trucks and cold rooms?

A: "Passive PCM systems depend on a centralized freezing unit. This makes the process cumbersome for the user as the PCM modules/cartridges need to be constantly removed from the container to a freezer unit and back. It also results in temperature losses due to exposure to ambient temperature during the loading and unloading of PCM modules."

Q: How many refrigerator trucks are using the system?

A: "In India over 250 refrigerator trucks are using this system."

Q: How many micro cold units are using the system?

A: "In India approximately 60 micro cold rooms are using this system. The demand is immense and we believe the application is now beginning to transition from early stage to maturity in terms of market reach."

Q: Is the product available outside India?

A: "It is also available in Africa and southeast Asia."

Research roundup: Thermoplastic polyurethane blends; simulation of supercooling and convection; battery thermal management; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From Frontiers in Materials:

Thermoplastic polyurethane blends with thermal energy storage/release capability

From Energies:

Review of Reactors with Potential Use in Thermochemical Energy Storage in Concentrated Solar Power Plants

From Progress in Computational Fluid Dynamics:

Towards the simulation of supercooling and convection in phase change materials using a thermal lattice Boltzmann method

From Nanomaterials:

Palm Kernel Shell Activated Carbon as an Inorganic Framework for Shape-Stabilized Phase Change Material

From Journal of Power Sources:

A comprehensive review on a passive (phase change materials) and an active (thermoelectric cooler) battery thermal management system and their limitations

From Applied Energy:

Process integration of thermal energy storage systems – Evaluation methodology and case studies

From Journal of Nanomaterials:

Effects of Biceramic AlN-SiC Microparticles on the Thermal Properties of Paraffin for Thermal Energy Storage

PCM briefing: AOCS issues call for papers; EnergyNest making thermal batteries in Rotterdam

Ben Welter - Monday, September 10, 2018

• The American Oil Chemists' Society has issued a call for papers for its 2019 meeting and expo, May 5-8 in St. Louis, Mo. Topics include new technologies for oil processing; oleochemicals and green chemistry; and advanced methods of analysis, including automation. The deadline for priority consideration is Nov. 1. After that date, submissions will be considered as time and space permit.

EnergyNest thermal batteryEnergyNest announced that manufacturing of its industrial-scale thermal batteries has begun at the company's new hub in Rotterdam. The battery, shown at right, consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in Heatcrete, a special type of concrete developed in partnership with HeidelbergCement

• A number of prospective postdoc researchers and their advisors are exploring the possibility of remote work, citing work/life balance and other advantages. "The setup is not without challenges," The Scientist reports, "from simple communication difficulties to feelings of isolation, leaving postdocs to come up with bespoke solutions to their unusual situations." 

Registration is open for the 2019 ASHRAE Winter Conference, to be held Jan. 12-16 in Atlanta. The conference's technical program will feature more than 100 sessions and 300 speakers. Five full-day and 15 half-day seminars will be offered, including "Advanced Designs for Net Zero Buildings," "Solar PV & Thermal System Analysis and Design" and "Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning."

Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd. of Pune has won the second edition of the FedEx India Small Business Grant Contest 2018. The grant is worth about $21,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms. The system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

• The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has developed self-learning artificial neural networks for the control of solar thermal heating systems. Fraunhofer said the savings potential, compared to an optimized conventional regulation for existing buildings, is at least 7 percent.

• Registration is open for Advancements in Thermal Management 2019, to be held Aug. 7-9 in Denver. Topics will include thermal modeling, emerging technologies, market opportunities, and thermal sensing and measurement. 

• Mounting trade tensions between China and the United States have plunged global shipping markets into a continuing state of uncertainty. Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at international shipping association Bimco, said in an interview with World Grain that the trade war could “derail the current global” upswing in shipping, the highest since 2011. The American Chemistry Council, meanwhile, released a study showing that moving forward with the latest round of tariffs would spark retaliation from China that would put nearly 55,000 jobs and around $18 billion in U.S. domestic activity at risk.

Biobased PCM is put to the test at new high school in Arizona

Ben Welter - Monday, September 10, 2018

A pilot study is underway to gauge the effectiveness of phase change material to reduce and shift HVAC load at a new high school outside Phoenix, Ariz.

Canyon View High School, which opened last month in Waddell, features a number of energy-saving technologies and products, including BioPCM mats made by Phase Change Energy Solutions. Two nearly identical buildings – one with BioPCM installed in walls and ceilings, one without  will allow the effect of PCM to be measured. Each building is roughly 30,000 square feet and each has two levels of classroom spaces.

DLR Group, which designed Canyon View, funded the pilot study, with contributions by Phase Change Energy Solutions and Chasse Building Team. During the yearlong study, HVAC energy use and interior temperatures will be recorded in both the test and the control buildings.

Mark E. RichardsMark E. Richards, right, served as project manager, applications engineer and systems installer for Phase Change Energy Solutions. He answered questions about the project.

Q: What factors did you consider in developing a plan for PCM type, quantities and location?

A: "Available space for PCM to fit within the architectural requirements. Also the HVAC loads as well as design temperature criteria."

Q: Describe the BioPCM products chosen for this project (peak melt points, thermal storage capacity, containment media).

A: "ENRG Blanket powered by BioPCM Q23M27 and Q23M51."

Q: How are the BioPCM mats recharged? Using the HVAC system, nighttime air, or other means?

A: "Initially we will be using the HVAC system. The purpose of the study is to experiment and determine the most economical solution. The second floor can do a night purge more effectively since it has large air-handling unit. The first-floor systems are 2 pipe fan coils."

Installation of BioPCM matsQ: Describe the equivalent (non-PCM) spaces in the control building. Were standard construction materials and techniques used in walls and ceilings?

A: "The test spaces are of equivalent construction, use and orientation. Metal frame, with rigid and batt insulation, plaster (stucco) exterior and drywall interior. Roof is metal deck with foam on top. See CVHS BioPCM Test Rooms. These show the rooms that have all six surface temperatures monitored as a part of the thermal comfort analysis."

Q: Describe the two types of HVAC systems used in each building.

A: "Chiller water fan coils with electric heat serve first-level zones and a single chilled water air handler with variable air volume boxes with electric resistance reheat per zone serves the second level."

Q: What modifications are needed to typical HVAC systems used in this type of building to optimize the performance of the BioPCM products?

A: "No physical changes required. We will experiment with building management system sequence of operations to determine optimal settings."

Q: ENRG Blanket is produced in three fire class ratings, Class A, Class C and Plenum. Which were used in this project? Did local building codes present any special challenges in material selection or deployment?

A: "We used class A material as required by International Building Code and look at authority having jurisdiction. There was no material installed in a return air plenum."

Q: Have you used thermal modeling to project the level of cost savings?

A: "No."

DAQ system panelQ: How will energy savings be calculated?

A: "Since we are measuring HVAC energy for the chilled water and electrical power in five-minute intervals we can monetize easily based on the local tariffs and compare the PCM building directly to the non-PCM building. We have separate HVAC power metering for each floor."

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add about the project?

A: "DLR Group, specifically Premnath ‘Prem’ Sundharam, global sustainability leader for DLR, came up with the concept to leverage a DLR Group innovations grant funding opportunity to test BioPCM not previously been done at this scale. This pilot study, known as Thermal Mass 2.0, would not have been possible without his enthusiasm and vision. The Agua Fria Unified School District is also to be recognized for being a willing partner in this effort as well as Chasse Building Team for helping coordinate the installation of the data acquisition system (DAQ).

"The installation of DAQ system was challenging and costly. Phase Change Energy Solutions provided the BioPCM, the DAQ equipment and labor to install it significantly below cost. Dr. Reyad Sawafta, chief technology officer, and Scott Queen, VP sales, should be recognized for their commitment to proving PCM performance at this scale. We should have a pretty good idea how the two buildings compare to each other by the end of the year and look forward to analyzing the data.

"We are also studying the thermal comfort effects of BioPCM by monitoring surface temperature in two classrooms in each building of the same, type, use and occupancy. All six surfaces of each room are logged every five minutes. We monitored room temperatures during construction before the HVAC systems were active and after the PCM was installed to see how the PCM performed in a passive application. The PCM rooms were on average 2.1 F cooler than non PCM spaces pre-HVAC system operation. See chart."