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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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Polar Bear thermal storage system installed at California winery

Ben Welter - Monday, May 14, 2018

Ice Energy's newest ice-based thermal energy storage system has its first customer: Wilson Creek Winery of Temecula, Calif.

The Polar Bear, developed at Ice Energy's IdeaLAB in Riverside, is designed to reduce energy costs in supermarkets and other commercial refrigeration systems. Like the company's flagship Ice Bear product, the Polar Bear makes ice during off-peak hours for use in cooling during periods of peak energy demand. 

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins"Wilson Creek Winery [was] an early adopter of Ice Bears to cut their utility bill, and a first adopter of Polar Bears to help them cool their wine-making fermentation process," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "During the peak hours of the day, the Polar Bears come online and automatically augment the amount of cooling that is provided by the chiller or allow the chiller to either remain on standby/run at part-load, vastly increasing the operating efficiency of the plant."

Hopkins estimated the cost of installing the system in a typical 40,000-square-foot supermarket in Southern California at $40,000, "which would pay for two Polar Bears, fully installed."

Two competitors in the cold storage market, Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., and Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, say their saltwater- and salt-hydrate-based thermal storage systems can reduce a customer's energy costs by up to 40 percent. How does the Polar Bear compare?

"The Polar Bear is uniquely cost effective in reducing peak demand," Hopkins said. "Based on currently utility rates, the Polar Bear has a payback of less than one year in California and about two years in New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut. I am not aware of any energy storage including Axiom or Viking Cold that has paybacks close to ours."

Commercial rollout of the Polar Bear is planned for the fourth quarter of this year. IdeaLAB, meanwhile, is working on a larger-capacity Ice Bear, and the company is developing expansion plans.

"We will be entering markets outside the U.S. through distribution partners this year," Hopkins said. "We are planning to raise capital this summer to support our growth plans."

Research roundup: Comb-like polymeric phase change materials; energy-storing concrete; building-integrated solar thermal; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 09, 2018

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Thermal and electrical management of photovoltaic panels using phase change materials – A review

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Thermal performance and shape-stabilization of comb-like polymeric phase change materials enhanced by octadecylamine-functionalized graphene oxide

From Energy:

Front tracking in modelling of latent heat thermal energy storage: Assessment of accuracy and efficiency, benchmarking and GPU-based acceleration

From Construction and Building Materials:

Mechanical behavior, energy-storing properties and thermal reliability of phase-changing energy-storing concrete

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Building-integrated solar thermal system with/without phase change material: Life cycle assessment based on ReCiPe, USEtox and ecological footprint

From Case Studies in Thermal Engineering:

Magnetically stirring enhanced thermal performance of phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Numerical comparison between single PCM and multi-stage PCM based high temperature thermal energy storage for CSP tower plants

Patent application: Electronic device with protective shield containing PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180124945 (applicants French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and Airbus Operations SAS, France):

"An electronic device includes an electronic component and a protective shield including a phase change material having a phase change temperature of between 20 degrees C. and 90 degrees C., an antivibration gel having hyperelastic and/or viscoelastic behavior at 20 degrees C., and a separation barrier positioned so as to separate the phase change material and the antivibration gel. The antivibration gel is positioned, at least partly, in contact with the electronic component, and has a thermal conductivity of greater than 1 W/mK at 20 degrees C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180124945.pdf

Patent application: Mobile comfort units with PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180120873 (applicant University of Maryland, College Park, Md.):

"Despite otherwise uncomfortable conditions in a surrounding environment, a customizable microenvironment can be created around a user to maintain a comfortable temperature and/or humidity level using a [mobile] comfort unit [100]. For example, the environment may be an office building where conditions are out of the comfortable range to save on energy or for other reasons, a factory/shop environment that is poorly conditioned, or an outdoor location with little to no conditioning. A sensing unit  can monitor biometric and environmental data and can determine a comfort level of the user [300]. The comfort unit can then dynamically respond to the determined comfort level and adjust the microenvironment to improve the user's comfort level. The comfort unit can follow the user as the user moves within the macro-environment, or can otherwise move within the macro-environment to achieve certain functions, such as recharging or spatial shifting of thermal load within the overall macro-environment. ... [The system uses] a phase change material (PCM) that stores heat by changing phase."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180120873.pdf

Research roundup: HDPE graphite composite; PCM-integrated PV modules; solar domestic hot water tank with PCM in the mantle; more

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

From Particuology:

High density polyethylene (HDPE) — Graphite composite manufactured by extrusion: A novel way to fabricate phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Solar Energy:

Life cycle costing as a bottom line for the life cycle sustainability assessment in the solar energy sector: A review

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Improving the thermal regulation and efficiency enhancement of PCM-integrated PV modules using nano particles
Climatic behaviour of solar photovoltaic integrated with phase change material

From Energy and Buildings:

Thermal performance assessment and improvement of a solar domestic hot water tank with PCM in the mantle
Fabrication and characterization of fatty acid/wood-flour composites as novel form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Renewable Energy:

Possibility of using PCMs in temperature control and performance enhancements of free stand and building integrated PV modules
Performance evaluation of nano-enhanced phase change materials during discharge stage in waste heat recovery

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Microencapsulated n-eicosane PCM suspensions: Thermophysical properties measurement and modeling

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Numerical investigation of different PCM volume on cold thermal energy storage system

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Methods of heat transfer intensification in PCM thermal storage systems: Review paper

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

A Review on Thermal Management Methods for Robots

Cost-savings calculator opens doors to conversations about TES system

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

Case studies, white papers, product descriptions and “how it works” videos are effective ways to market thermal energy storage systems. But what potential customers really want to know is: “How much will your system save me?”

Viking Cold Solutions’ new web-based calculator can answer that question.

Viking makes TES systems designed to stabilize temperatures and reduce cold storage energy costs by up to 35 percent. The systems pair phase change material with intelligent controls and remote energy-monitoring software.

“It’s a new technology in an old industry,” said Damon Vance, who joined the Houston company last year as marketing director. “We use the tool as a starting point for conversations about what we could potentially save customers. It just helps open doors and start conversations.”

The calculator, www.vikingcold.com/estimate-energy-savings/calculator, is adapted from a more sophisticated tool used by the company for years to provide customers with detailed estimates of potential savings. The pared-down version asks users to provide freezer square footage, temperature set point, equipment type, condenser type, compressor load control, defrost type and average kWh rate. A summary of the results is displayed in the web browser. The user can fill out a form to get more detailed results.

Vance said several hundred visitors have completed the form since the tool was introduced a few months ago. More than half of requests, he said, have led to “legitimate customer conversations.”

“We’ve got good feedback on it,” he said. “We use it as a sales tool, but it also sets realistic expectations for customers and opens their eyes to the potential of the technology.”

Viking recently installed one of its systems at a Dreisbach Enterprises food warehouse in Richmond, Calif. The system is designed to ensure temperature stability in the freezer space while reducing the electricity demand by over 55 percent for 11 hours each day – from 850 kilowatts to 400 kilowatts – and reducing total electricity consumption in the 93,000-square-foot warehouse by as much as 35 percent.

www.vikingcold.com/estimate-energy-savings/calculator

PCM briefing: Job opening at Axiom Exergy; 1414 Degrees plans IPO

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

TJ Rizzo, senior vice president of international operations at Cold Chain Technologies, will give a presentation on "Temperature Excursion Analysis" at the Global Clinical Supplies Group conference in Atlanta April 30.  

• Axiom Exergy, maker of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems, has posted an opening for a director of business development.

• Thermal energy storage company 1414 Degrees is planning an initial public offering. The Australian company hopes to raise $30 million to $50 million AUD.

Yusuf Yusufoglu, R&D technology team leader at Arcelik, and Orkun Kaymakçı, R&D specialist at Arcelik, received the "Best PCM Paper Award" at EnerSTOCK 2018 in Turkey this week, according to a LinkedIn post. Their topic: "Application of Phase Change Materials in Household Appliances." I would provide a link to the EnerSTOCK 2018 website for those interested in learning more about the conference, but the site appears to have been hacked; visitors are redirected to a site flagged as "deceptive."

Neothermal Energy Storage Inc. is one of 16 Canadian tech startups selected to participate in the Volta Cohort Pitch Event May 16 in Halifax. Up to five companies will receive $25,000 in investment, mentorship and resources. The Halifax company's electric thermal storage heater is designed to supplement heating systems in residential housing. It takes advantage of time-of-day electricity rates to lower heating costs by up to 50 percent.

• Chicago-based NETenergy is one of 11 energy startups selected to participate in the VERGE Accelerate event in Hawaii in June. The finalists will pitch to a live audience of business leaders, government officials and investors, as well as to a global online audience. 

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Systems Market Professional Survey Report 2018" and "Global Temperature Controlled Pharmaceutical Packaging Market Research Report 2018"

• New from HTF Market Report: "Global Cold Chain Equipments Market Research Report 2018"

Patent application: Thermal management system for fuel cell vehicle

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180114998 (applicant Hyundai Motor Co., Seoul, South Korea):

"A thermal management system for a fuel cell vehicle includes a first line including a coolant pump and a fuel cell stack, a second line including a coolant heater and a phase change material (PCM) and connected to the first line to form a first loop in which the coolant pump, the stack, the coolant heater, and the PCM are arranged, a third line including a radiator and connected to the first line to form a second loop in which the coolant pump, the stack, and the radiator are arranged, and an opening and closing valve opening and closing each of the first line, the second line, and the third line to allow the coolant to circulate in at least one of the first loop and the second loop, wherein the PCM is configured to be heat-exchanged with the coolant heater and the coolant."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180114998.pdf

Patent application: Compositions comprising latent heat storage materials

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180112114 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, compositions are described herein. In some embodiments, a composition comprises a latent heat storage material having a solid-to-gel transition between about 50° C. and about 100° C. at 1 atm. In some embodiments, a composition comprises a foam and a latent heat storage material dispersed in the foam, the latent heat storage material having a solid-to-gel transition between about −50° C. and about 100° C. at 1 atm."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180112114.pdf

PCM keeps Embry-Riddle’s EcoCAR entry running cool

Ben Welter - Monday, April 30, 2018

Batteries used in hybrid and electric cars work hard and run hot. Traditional cooling systems use an array of pumps, heat exchangers, cooling fans and hoses to manage that heat. Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University needed something lighter and simpler for its entry in the Department of Energy’s EcoCAR 3 competition.

The solution: an aluminum cooling plate filled with biobased phase change material.

A team of mechanical engineering students at the school designed and built the plate under the direction of Sandra Boetcher, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The school’s EcoCAR entry required that the plate use a PCM with a peak melting point of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F). To achieve that temperature, the team selected two commercially available PCMs – PureTemp 37 and PureTemp 48 – and mixed them together.

Embry-Riddle cold plateBoetcher explains the photo at right:

“That’s the inside of the plate before we sealed the aluminum lid on it. On the inside is a copper tube. At the time we put this in the car, we were under a strict deadline and did not have time to redo the bending of the copper tube. The copper tube feeds a cold ethylene-glycol/water mixture as backup for when the PCM has completely melted and needs to resolidify while the car is driving.

“I was concerned that the copper tube didn’t provide enough coverage of the area, but that cold plate has been in the car for the past 2.5 years and it works great. Actually, the back-up pump that runs the ethylene-glycol/water through the copper tube rarely even turns on which means that under our test-driving conditions, the cold plate is acting 100 percent passive. The terrible part of the PCM is that it loves to leak. We feel that there has been some leaking.”

The plate is lighter and simpler than a water-cooled system. “It doesn’t take any energy to run,” said Patrick Currier, an associate professor who advises the EcoCAR team. “We’re not wasting power cooling things. This is a totally passive system, so unless it leaks, it can’t fail.”

Embry-Riddle filed for a U.S. patent on the device in 2015.

“The diagrams in the patent are similar to what we have in the EcoCAR right now, although the geometry is a little different,” Boetcher said. “The research we are conducting is still on-going. The applications we envision could be anything that requires PCM – battery cooling, building technologies, etc.”

Embry-Riddle is one of 16 North American universities challenged to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car to reduce environmental impact, while maintaining the “muscle and performance” the car is known for. 

The teams have had four years to develop their entries. The cars will be put to the test in a variety of events in Arizona and California in May. Winners will be chosen in 40-plus categories at an awards ceremony in Hollywood on May 22, with more than $100,000 in prize money at stake.

Embry-Riddle EcoCAR entry

https://news.erau.edu/headlines/shape-shifters-lightweight-technology-keeps-batteries-cool-supporting-eco-vehicles