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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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Research roundup: Thermally modulated fiber sorbents; metamaterial-based radiative cooling; stearic–capric acid/porous nanoceramics; more

Ben Welter - Friday, January 04, 2019

From Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research:

Development of Phase-Change-Based Thermally Modulated Fiber Sorbents

From ChemistrySelect:

Preparation and Thermal Properties of 1‐Hexadecanol‐Palmitic Acid Eutectic Mixture/Activated Carbon Composite Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage

From Energies:

Thermal Conductivity Enhancement of Phase Change Materials for Low-Temperature Thermal Energy Storage Applications [pdf]
Metamaterial-Based Radiative Cooling: Towards Energy-Free All-Day Cooling [pdf]

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

A review and evaluation of thermal insulation materials and methods for thermal energy storage systems

From Materials Letters:

Stearic–capric acid/porous nanoceramics as a novel form-stable composite phase change material (FSPCM) for thermal energy storage

From International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference:

Analysis of TES with PCM (Solid/Liquid) Integrated in a Residential System
Experimental Study on Portable Air-Conditioning System with Enhanced PCM Condenser

Patent application: Fibrous structures comprising phase change materials

Ben Welter - Friday, January 04, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190002747 (applicant Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, Ohio):

"Fibrous structures, for example sanitary tissue products, such as toilet tissue, having one or more neat, endothermic phase change materials on at least one exterior surface, methods for making same, and methods for eliciting a sensation on a user's skin are provided. ... The fibrous structure according to claim 1 wherein the neat, endothermic phase change material is selected from the group consisting of: hydrocarbons, waxes, oils, natural butters, fatty acids, fatty acid esters, dibasic acids, dibasic esters, 1-halides, primary alcohols, aromatic compounds, anhydrides, ethylene carbonates, polyhydric alcohols, and mixtures thereof."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190002747.pdf

Patent application: Thermal storage system and temperature controlled container

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190003781 (applicants University of Ghent, Belgium; Colruyt Group, Halle, Belgium):

"Passive thermal storage systems and methods comprising at least one thermal storage module for storing thermal energy in a predetermined temperature range, are disclosed. The thermal storage module comprises an FT unit and a Heat Storage (HS) unit at least partially filled with a first Phase Change Material (PCM). The HS unit comprises a container. The thermal storage module may be in the form of a stacked structure comprising the FT unit having a first wall with a first heat exchange surface and the HS unit having a second wall with a second heat exchange surface, the first and second heat exchange surfaces being in thermal contact with each other. The thermal storage system may be used to maintain the temperature of the payload of a temperature controlled container at a predetermined value or within a predetermined range."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190003781.pdf

Patent application: Inverse latent heat thermal energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190003782 (applicant UChicago Argonne LLC, Chicago, Ill. ):

UChicago Argonne patent drawing"The invention provides a method for storing and releasing heat having the steps of thermally contacting thermal transfer fluid to a mixture of foam and phase change material for a time sufficient for the material to change from a first phase to a second phase during a time when electricity rates are at a first price point; maintaining said material in the second phase until electricity rates are at a second point, wherein the second point is higher than the first price point; and thermally contacting the thermal transfer fluid to the composite in the second phase for a time sufficient for the material to change from the second phase to the first phase. The invention also provides an energy storage module having a mixture of phase change material and high surface area substrate."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190003782.pdf

Patent application: Heat exchanger with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190003369 (applicant Castrol Ltd., Pangbourne, Great Britain):

"In one embodiment, there is provided a heat exchanger for equipment, having: at least one phase change material; and at least one heat exchange interface for heat exchange between the phase change material and a fluid flowing within, into and/or from a replaceable fluid container for the equipment, the replaceable fluid container having at least one fluid port adapted to couple to a fluid circulation system of the equipment when the replaceable container is coupled to a dock."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190003369.pdf

Patent application: Load bearing structure with PCM

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 02, 2019

U.S. patent application 20180370681 (applicant Airdex Corp., Newport Beach, Calif.):

"The present invention provides a movable load bearing structure having indentations, grooves, valleys, channels or other similar depressions on its underside. These depressions are mated with corresponding features for improved loading bearing capabilities. The load bearing structure may be a dunnage platform or a container for storing and/or shipping cargo. ... In an embodiment of the invention ... pockets may be used to locate phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180370681.pdf

Patent application: Surgical instrument with phase change cooling

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Covidien patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20180375402 (applicant Covidien LP, Mansfield, Mass.):

"Systems and methods are discussed herein for cooling a surgical handset using a phase-change material. A container filled with a phase-change material may be telescoped over a heat-generating mechanism of a surgical handset, such as a battery and/or a motor. When the surgical handset is activated, the heat generated by the heat-generating mechanism is absorbed by the phase-change material in the container, which transitions from a first phase to a second phase."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180375402.pdf

Research roundup: Transparent insulation material wall with PCM; industrial waste heat recovery; cotton-derived carbon sponge; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 26, 2018

From Energy:

Energy performance and economic analysis of a TIM-PCM wall under different climates

From Applied Energy:

A modeling study on the heat storage and release characteristics of a phase change material based double-spiral coiled heat exchanger in an air source heat pump for defrosting
Dynamic thermal management for industrial waste heat recovery based on phase change material thermal storage

From Solar Energy:

Modeling of solidification including supercooling effects in a fin-tube heat exchanger based latent heat storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Experimental study on thermal properties and thermal performance of eutectic hydrated salts/expanded perlite form-stable phase change materials for passive solar energy utilization
Cotton-derived carbon sponge as support for form-stabilized composite phase change materials with enhanced thermal conductivity
Enhanced thermal conductivity of microencapsulated phase change materials based on graphene oxide and carbon nanotube hybrid filler
A novel core-shell structural montmorillonite nanosheets/stearic acid composite PCM for great promotion of thermal energy storage properties

From Energy and Buildings:

Numerical analysis for maximizing effective energy storage capacity of thermal energy storage systems by enhancing heat transfer in PCM
Optimization of phase change materials (PCMs) to improve energy performance within thermal comfort range in the South Korean climate

From Journal of King Saud University - Science:

Exact and approximate solutions of a phase change problem with the moving phase change material and variable thermal coefficients

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Preparation and thermophysical properties of low temperature composite phase change material octanoic-lauric acid/expanded graphite

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Supercooling characteristics of phase change material particles within phase change emulsions
Enhancement of ice formation around vertical finned tubes for cold storage applications

Incubator uses PCM to keep lab samples at optimum temperatures

Ben Welter - Saturday, December 22, 2018

Intellectual Ventures’ Global Good fund has signed a licensing agreement with JP Selecta of Spain to manufacture and distribute a microbiological incubator for laboratories in areas with unreliable electrical power.

Incudigit SV 30LThe body of the Incudigit-SV 30L is lined with phase change material, enabling the device to maintain a user-adjustable temperature setpoint of 35° C, 36° C or 37° C for at least eight hours without power. 

“This incubator will help frontline health workers perform important culture-based microbiological tests in places where power is unreliable – a critical step in managing diseases like tuberculosis, sepsis, enteric and diarrheal diseases, and sexually-transmitted bacterial infections,” said Maurizio Vecchione, executive vice president of Global Good.

Three members of the Intellectual Ventures team that developed the incubator (Michael Friend, principal investigator; Simon Ghionea, senior researcher and electrical engineer; and Andy Miller, senior researcher and mechanical engineer) fielded questions about the device.

Q: What was your role in the development of the Incudigit-SV 30L?

A: The team came up with the initial concept, analyzed and designed the first-generation prototype, tested in the lab and the field and then transitioned the device to JP Selecta for the product development cycle. After the first product units were developed, the team then verified the performance of the units.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in developing the device?

Drawing of Incudigit SV 30 prototypeA: The device has to be able to support power blackouts which could occur with ambient conditions above and below the temperature setpoints (of which there are three), so developing a method to properly assess the state of the PCM was a challenge. Additionally, while the initial PCM chosen for the device had great performance at first, it was discovered that after repeated deep cycling that the enthalpy was depleting. This PCM could be recharged using an overheat procedure; however this imposed an unacceptable impact on the use case. We wound up having to change to a more stable PCM with slightly less performance than the original.

Q: Describe the typical user of the device.

A: The typical user is a medical technician/microbiologist in a laboratory which does not have reliable power. In most countries in the developing world this may be all the labs with the exception of the national reference laboratory.

Q: When will manufacturing/distribution begin?

A: With product launch this week, manufacturing/distribution is just beginning. The first units will be delivered to Doctors Without Borders for pilot tests in South Sudan and Niger in January as well as the African Medical and Research Foundation and the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital Wellcome Trust Research Unit. As this is allowing microbial culture to take place in labs where it previously could not occur, it will be difficult to estimate quantities.

Q: Describe how the device functions, especially how PCM is used. Does the device include a battery to provide active cooling and power the electronics when external power is not available?

A: The device uses PCM as a “thermal storage battery” in order to control the temperature (see reference paper http://medicaldevices.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/article.aspx?articleid=2718461). A key feature is to maintain the PCM in a state such that it can maintain incubation setpoint temperatures at 35, 36, and 37 C during power blackouts with ambient conditions that can be above or below the setpoints. No active heating or cooling is used, only a small battery to maintain the electronics to perform temperature and power monitoring. [see YouTube video]

Q: What are the specs on the phase change material?

A: It's a paraffin with a peak melt point of 37 C and a thermal storage capacity of 160 joules per gram.

Q: How much PCM is used in each device?

A: 19 liters.

Horwath is new president of North American PCM manufacturers association

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Peter Horwath, chairman and CEO of Insolcorp. LLC of New London, N.C., has been chosen to lead the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

Peter HorwathRepresentatives of eight founding companies elected Horwath, right, in an e-mail vote completed this week. He replaces Joseph A. Grzyb, who announced his resignation from the post earlier this year.

The association was founded in October 2017. Its mission is to promote the development and use of phase change material in North America.

“Phase change materials have the ability to impact many industries and lives in a very positive way," Horwath said. "Our industry is growing exponentially and a manufacturers association has been much needed to create awareness, improve standardization and help drive market growth. I’m looking forward to helping launch the new association. It is an honor to work with such a great group of people and companies helping to move this industry forward.”

The association's founding members are Insolcorp; Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.; Microtek Laboratories, Dayton, Ohio; Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.; Outlast LLC, Golden, Colo.; Croda Inc., Edison, N.J.; Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.; and PureTemp LLC, Minneapolis, Minn.