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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: Refrigerated container

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170292759 (applicant XALT Energy, Midland, Mich.):

"A transport vehicle having a refrigerated container and system of refrigeration is provided. ... The reefer, system, and method according to the present invention is also related to a reefer, system, and method having a plurality of energy supply units each having a battery, an electric compressor along with a condenser and evaporator and/or a heat pump, a system of tubes carrying a refrigerant, a refrigerant, sensors and a controller, and potentially having an engine exhaust system generator and or a panel having a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170292759.pdf

New version of EnergyPlus features updated PCM module

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The latest version of EnergyPlus modeling software includes an updated module for measuring the impact of phase change material on energy use in buildings.
 
Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, EnergyPlus is an energy simulation program that can be used to calculate heating and cooling load in a building, based on detailed information about the building’s physical make-up and mechanical systems.
 
With the support of a $100,000 grant from the Department of Energy, Jeremiah Crossett, chief technology officer of NRGsim Inc., worked with Dr. Edwin Lee of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to incorporate the updated PCM module into EnergyPlus.
 
The PCM module was originally developed more than five years ago by Ramprasad Chandrasekharan, then a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Oklahoma State University. Crossett assumed responsibility for the module soon after, debugging the FORTRAN code and modifying the logic to include the effects of subcooling and hysteresis. He began using the module in a customized version of EnergyPlus on all PCM modeling projects he worked on. The module, however, was not compatible with public versions of EnergyPlus, which was converted to the C++ programming language in 2014.
 
Jeremiah CrossettCrossett, right, sought the DOE grant to fund the conversion of the PCM module to C++ so that it could be incorporated into EnergyPlus. The module features two major improvements to the original PCM module.
 
“The new model includes the effects of hysteresis,” Crossett said. “The input object is called Material Property Phase Change Hysteresis and includes two [temperature/enthalpy] curves. Instead of going up and down in the slope of a single curve, the model either stores the energy in the storage range and then releases it when the model hits the heating curve. Or the model hits the heating curve immediately, depending on the properties of the actual phase change material. This model takes into account the histories of building surface temperatures, on into the current. It does a better job of accounting for the phase change material’s performance over time.
 
“In the previous version, what would happen is any time temperatures would fall and then rise again, and rise and then fall again, any time temperatures were not fully linear, [the module] would show additional energy consumption. Essentially, you had this single curve and as it would get cooler it would drop the heat back into the space. So say your material’s melting at 74, 75 Fahrenheit, and you’re saving on cooling energy, and then it drops down to 73, and now it drops all the heat right back into the space. So now you’ve got more energy you’ve got to deal with in your cooling system. That’s not how it actually works in the real world. …
 
“That caused a whole lot of studies, done by many, many different people over the years, to be wrong. It essentially gave a false indication that phase change materials don’t work nearly as well as they really do. …
 
“[The new module also] models subcooling and supercooling. Each PCM has a theoretical melt and freeze point. That’s normally how these products are rated. Some companies call it a Q-value. Other companies just say it as a number, such as a phase change 23 or a phase change 29 in degrees Celsius. But in the real world, how these products actually perform is that there’s some amount of subcooling: the freezing point is not identical to the melting point. You can have supercooling as well, where once your material is frozen, you have to reach a point above the theoretical melting point in order to melt it. This model allows the thermal simulation to have different melting and freezing points. ...         

"Now that EnergyPlus can accurately model PCM's performance in real buildings," Crossett said, "it is well-suited for evaluation of PCM technologies for energy codes such as California's Title 24 and green building standards such as ASHRAE 189.1."

Here's a screen grab of a portion of the new EnergyPlus PCM module:

Crossett and Lee completed work on the module in August. Version 8.8.0, released on Sept. 30, is available for free at https://energyplus.net/downloads. They plan to publish a paper on their work later this year.

Over the next six months NRGsim plans to work with PCM manufacturers to add their products to a database for the EnergyPlus program, based on the ASTM C1784-14 protocol, "Standard Test Method for Using a Heat Flow Meter Apparatus for Measuring Thermal Storage Properties of Phase Change Materials and Products."

Research roundup: Personalized cooling; hybrid nanoparticles; PCM-mortar based construction materials for energy efficient buildings

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 12, 2017

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Personalized cooling as an energy efficiency technology for city energy footprint reduction

From International Journal of Mechanical Sciences:

Melting of Nanoparticles-Enhanced Phase-Change Materials in an Enclosure: Effect of Hybrid Nanoparticles

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical simulation and experimental verification of constrained melting of phase change material in inclined rectangular enclosures
A comparative study on the performances of different shell-and-tube type latent heat thermal energy storage units including the effects of natural convection

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Experimental verification of theoretically estimated composition and enthalpy of fusion of eutectic salt mixtures
Preparation, characterization and thermal regulation performance of cement based-composite phase change material

From Energy and Buildings:

PCM-mortar based construction materials for energy efficient buildings: A review on research trends

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Water and phase change material based photovoltaic thermal management systems: A review

From Case Studies in Construction Materials:

Experimental study of thermal properties of a new ecological building material based on peanut shells and plaster

From Computational Thermal Sciences:

Numerical simulation of melting and solidification of different kinds of phase change materials (PCM) encapsulated in spherical nodules in a water flow

Patent application: Immersion cooling systems and methods

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170290205 (applicant Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., Charlotte, N.C.)

"An electronics cooling arrangement includes a housing, an electronic device disposed within the housing, and a solid-liquid phase change material disposed within the housing and is in thermal communication with the electronic device to absorb heat generated by the electronic device. A method of cooling an electronic device and a vehicular electronics cooling system are also described."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170290205.pdf

Patent application: Controlled release microcapsules

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170281985 (applicant Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.):

"A method of forming microcapsules having improved physical properties and release control as well as the microcapsules formed by the process wherein the capsule wall is formed by the concurrent polymerization of monomers, oligomer and/or prepolymers on the inside of the capsule wall and different monomers, oligomers and/or prepolymers on the exterior of the capsule wall as it forms. ... Microcapsules containing phase change materials according to the present invention are prepared using a process with a two-part water phase and a single core phase."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170281985.pdf

PCM briefing: Energy storage tax incentive advances in U.S. Senate; how to make your startup pitch shine

Ben Welter - Monday, October 09, 2017

• A bill that would create a tax credit for the purchase of energy storage systems, including thermal systems, is advancing in the U.S. Senate. The bill, known as the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act of 2017, is sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).  The bill was first floated last year and gained support from both Democrat and Republican senators, Energy Storage News reports.

Bloomberg BNA News reports that states could soon respond quicker to chemical accidents armed with information on file at the Environmental Protection Agency has. But first, they’ll have to prove they can protect chemical manufacturers' trade secrets.

• Looking to pitch your next big idea? David Beckett, an Amsterdam-based Brit who has coach more than 500 startups, has a few tips for you. No. 1: Memorize the first 60 seconds of your pitch. That'll keep you on track until that mind-numbing adrenaline wears off.  

Simba Hybrid pillow• The Simba Hybrid, the latest high-tech pillow to feature Outlast phase change material, hit stores last week. The price tag: $125. 

• Bedding foam producers are stepping up their research-and-development efforts and rolling out PU foams with improved performance, BedTimes Magazine reports. Temperature regulation remains among the most sought-after features among consumers, according to research conducted by FXI, a PU foam specialist based in Media, Penn.

Peli BioThermal has announced the expansion of its European manufacturing capabilities in France to produce CoolPall Vertos, the cold chain company's single-use bulk thermal shipper. 

• U.K.-based Softbox Systems has launched AEON, a line of reusable temperature-control parcel shippers that feature vacuum insulation panels and phase-change modules. Initially, AEON will be sold in three payload sizes for 2º C to 8º C temperature control. Other temperature ranges (15⁰ C to 25⁰ C and -20⁰ C) will be launched in December. 

Grzyb is president of new PCM manufacturers association

Ben Welter - Monday, October 09, 2017

Joe GrzybJoe Grzyb, CEO of Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., has been chosen to lead the new Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

Members of the association, gathered for the association's inaugural meeting in Boston, Mass., on Thursday, approved bylaws, outlined goals and created committees to develop strategies to pursue those goals. The eight founding members attending the meeting were Phase Change Energy Solutions; Microtek Labs, Dayton, Ohio; Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.; Outlast LLC, Golden, Colo.; Croda Inc., Edison, N.J.; Insolcorp Inc., Las Vegas, Nev.; Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.; and Entropy Solutions, Plymouth, Minn. 

The meeting, hosted by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, was led by the association's newly elected executive director, Jan Kosny, who heads Fraunhofer's Building Enclosures & Materials group. Also attending were representatives of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office; as well as David Yarbrough of R&D Services Inc., Cookeville, Tenn.

The association's mission is to promote the development and use of phase change material in North America. It has been established as a not-for-profit corporation in the state of Delaware. 

After much discussion, members approved the formation of committees to focus on four key areas and selected chairmen to lead them: PR/communications (Mark Hartmann, director of research and development at Outlast); government/policy (Tim Riazzi, CEO at Microtek); technical (Reyad Sawafta, chief scientific officer at Phase Change Energy Solutions); and codes/standards (Joe Grzyb).

Four membership types were approved:

General: Companies that manufacture PCMs; supply raw materials or processing equipment used in the PCM industry; or use PCMs in their products. General members have all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of membership, including the right to hold office and vote on matters put before the association. Annual dues: $2,000.

Associate: Businesses or individuals performing work related to phase change material. Associate members cannot vote or hold office. Annual dues: $1,000.

Academic/research: Organizations or individuals performing research related to phase change material. Such members cannot vote or hold office. Annual dues: $50.

Honorary: Persons who by virtue of their contributions to the industry and who are no longer employed by a general member are eligible for honorary membership. Such members will pay no dues.

The association tentatively plans to meet again in six months. Organizations or individuals interested in joining or working with the association should contact Jan Kosny at jkosny@cse.fraunhofer.org or Joe Grzyb at jgrzyb@phasechange.com

PCMIA inaugural toast

A champagne toast followed the PCM Industry Association's inaugural meeting.

Patent application: Micro environmental control system

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170276408 (applicant Hussein Ezzat Khalifa, Manlius, N.Y.):

"A micro environmental control system that can remove or add 30W from or to the near range personal microenvironment of a user. For cooling, the μX uses a micro vapor compression system during the un-occupied period to freeze a phase-change-material in a thermal storage module. A fan then moves air over the phase-change-material to deliver cooled air. Heating is delivered by a small electric heater integrated into a condensing unit. The resulting system is inexpensive to build and uses a limited amount of energy."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170276408.pdf

Patent application: Evaporator and refrigerator using the evaporator

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170276419 (applicant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea):

"Disclosed are an evaporator, a refrigerator using the evaporator, and a method for controlling the refrigerator. The evaporator includes a refrigerant evaporation unit in which a flow passage where a refrigerant evaporates is formed, and a phase change material (PCM) accommodation unit that is coupled to the refrigerant evaporation unit and accommodates the PCM whose phase is changed according to latent heat absorbed by the refrigerant, wherein the PCM is brought into direct contact with an outer surface of the refrigerant evaporation unit inside the PCM accommodation unit."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170276419.pdf

PCM briefing: Presentation on effect of carbon-based networks on energy storage materials; webinar on ambient temperature profiles

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

Dr. Amy Fleischer• Dr. Amy Fleischer, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at Villanova University, will give a presentation this month on the effect of carbon-based networks on enhanced energy storage materials. The presentation is set for Oct. 20 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. From the abstract: "Many common PCMs have high energy storage capacity but low thermal conductivity so much work has been done to improve their system performance by using nanoscale inclusions intended to increase the effective thermal conductivity. The work presented here shows that in certain situations, not only does the thermal conductivity increase, but also the latent heat. This effect is explored to understand the physical phenomena in order to harness the effect for advanced materials design."

• Registration is open for "Ambient Temperature Profiles," Sonoco ThermoSafe's next webinar on temperature assurance packaging. It will be held on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Iftekhar Ahmed, R&D team leader at ThermoSafe, and Bernard McGarvey, senior engineering advisor at Eli Lilly & Co., will lead the session. Participants will learn about "standard ambient profiles, vendor and published profiles and how others even develop their own profiles using empirical temperature data and distribution steps."

• New from Grand View Research: "Thermal Energy Storage Market Analysis By Type, 2014-2025"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market 2017 Share, Size, Forecast 2022"

• Scientists working on the International Energy Agency’s Solar Heating and Cooling Programme Task 53 have compared the cost, efficiency and adaptability of solar cooling storage solutions. The researchers examined both thermal and electricity storage systems and are now creating guidelines for choosing the most fitting solution to heat and cool buildings. But the group will not, according to solarthermalworld.org, issue a recommendation favoring either storage system. “There are too many unknowns. Apart from technical considerations, you need to look at each country’s legislative framework and feed-in tariffs," said Elena-Lavinia Niederhäuser, author of the report and director of the Energy Institute at Fribourg’s College of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland. 

Homemade a/c unit• When a recent heat wave turned his elementary school into a sauna, a resourceful fourth-grader in Michigan built a home-made air conditioner for his classroom, using a plastic tub, an electric fan and bottles filled the world's cheapest phase change material: water. Abram Barker said he got the idea from YouTube but used a larger base and added towels to insulate the frozen water bottles and soak up condensation.

• Registration is open for "Cone Calorimeter: Quantifying Easily Flammability & Heat Release Rate," an online course offered by SpecialChem.com. The instructor is T. Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire. The course will be held at 10 a.m. EST on Oct. 12. The cost is $307 for three participants on a single connection.

• The Phase Change Materials Industry Association, which will hold its inaugural meeting in Boston Oct. 5, has been registered as a corporation in the United States. Its official name: the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America Inc. Representatives of more than a dozen companies are scheduled to attend this week's meeting.