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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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PCM briefing: New oil palm varieties show sharply increased yields; thermal energy workshop in Germany

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

Dr. Halime Paksoy, EnerSTOCK 2018 chair, reports that the energy storage conference has received more than 200 abstracts. Acceptance notifications will be sent out at the end of June. The conference will be held April 25-28, 2018, at Cukurova University in Adana, Turkey. 

• A workshop on “Thermal Energy Storage System for Energy Efficient Buildings" will be held June 22 at Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany. The workshop, which will be conducted in English, is part of the EU-supported project TESSe2b.

• Ryan Adelman, formerly chief commercial officer at Axiom Exergy, is now executive sales director for distributed energy at Direct Energy Business.

• New industry analysis from McKinsey & Co.: "What to do when a specialty chemical business gets commoditized."

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Sales Market Report 2017"

KOTUG International BV has been nominated for a Maritime Innovation Award for its zero-emission heat recycling system, which uses phase change material to store and regenerate heat on tugboats. The annual award is presented by Netherlands Maritime Technology.

• Dutch food supplier Huuskes is using BoTemp's “Cold Battery” in cold chain logistics.
The refrigerated transport system, which does not require continuous electrical power, uses phase change material to remove heat in the cargo space and maintain a temperature anywhere from -20º C to +4º C.

Two new varieties of oil palm developed in Indonesia will increase crude palm oil yields by up to double current levels, says SMART Tbk, a subsidiary of Golden-Agri Resources. The two clones of oil palm planting material – called Eka 1 and Eka 2 – were approved for use in April by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. The new varieties also have a quicker time to harvest – 24 months – compared to the industry average of 30 months.

Sunamp Ltd.'s PCM heat battery system was featured in a BBC News piece this week: "From hand-warmer to house-warmer for tech firm."

PCM wood flooring concept is finalist for Schweighofer Prize

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

A Canadian Ph.D. student who wants to develop PCM-enhanced engineered wood flooring is one of six finalists for the 2017 Schweighofer Prize Student Award. 

Damien Mathis of Laval University in Quebec proposes flooring with a layer of solid-solid PCMs, which would allow the boards to be cut and installed without the risk of leakage associated with solid-liquid PCMs. He envisions a product with four times the thermal mass of standard EWF.

"I'm planning to use new solid-solid PCMs that are currently in development," he said in an interview. "It's nonflammable white powder with a PC enthalpy of ~100 J/g."

The Schweighofer Prize recognizes innovative ideas, technologies, products and services aimed at strengthening Europe's wood products industry. The winner in the student category, which will be determined in part by online voting, will be honored at an awards ceremony June 20 in Vienna. A prize of 5,000 euros accompanies the award.  

https://www.schweighofer-prize.org/student_award/?lang=EN

PCM-enhanced table selected for French accelerator program

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

Table ClimatiqueA table designed to reduce energy costs by absorbing heat when indoor temperatures rise above a comfortable level is among 25 innovations chosen for FAIRE Paris, an accelerator program supporting "innovative urban design and architecture projects" in France. 

"Table Climatique," designed by Jean-Sébastien Lagrange and Raphaël Ménard, contains microencapsulated Micronal phase change material within triangular folds of lightweight anodized aluminum. The PCM has a melting point of 22º Celsius. It releases heat when temperatures fall below a comfortable level.

"The waved geometry of the conductive aluminum fosters thermal exchanges between the room and the PCMs located inside the Climatic Table," according to the creators' website. "The folds of the light-weight sheet of aluminum give also an excellent structural rigidity and carrying strength. Thus, the plateau might have a very large span."

Ménard and Lagrange hope to develop a line of "zero energy furniture" products based on the table.  

http://www.faireparis.com/en/

Patent application: Person support system with cooling features

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

U.S. patent 20170135884 (applicant Hill-Rom Services Inc., Batesville, Ind.):

Hill-Rom patient support system patent drawing"Embodiments provide a person support system including support pads having cooling features. According to one embodiment, a person support system may include a longitudinal frame comprising at least one side rail. A support pad may be positioned on the longitudinal frame. The support pad may comprise a thermally conductive core portion comprising a support matrix and at least one thermally conductive element. ... The thermally conductive core portion may be constructed from different phase change materials (or even different combinations of phase change materials) to achieve different degrees of cooling."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170135884.pdf

PCM briefing: Tessol featured in Forbes India; Terrafore Technologies selected for Argonne program

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

Thermal Energy Service Solutions, maker of a PCM-based "plug-and-chill" refrigeration system for delivery trucks, is profiled in this month's issue of Forbes India. The system's heat exchanger is designed to keep the refrigerator on the truck within the optimal temperature range for a full day’s operation without drawing power from the engine. The heat exchanger can be fully charged in about six hours at any power outlet.

C-Therm Technologies will be among the exhibitors the Techtextil North America trade show in Chicago June 20-22. The company will demonstrate its non-destructive TCi Property Analyzer, which is designed to characterize the thermal performance (the “warm feel” or “cool touch”) of textiles, fabrics and apparels.

Terrafore Technologies of Minneapolis is one of seven small businesses recently selected to collaborate with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory as part of the Department of Energy's Small Business Vouchers program. Terrafore and Argonne will test the reliability of phase change salt capsules for a compact high-temperature thermal energy storage system for concentrated solar power.

SpecialChem is offering an online course titled "How to Search & Map U.S. Patents for Patentability." The 90-minute course, scheduled for June 28, is designed to for R&D people "looking to avoid patent infringement by enhancing their patent searching and mapping skills." The cost for three attendees on one connection is 300 euros.

Patent application: Support cushion cover assemblies for removing heat, humidity

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

U.S. patent 20170150822 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

Tempur-Pedic patent drawing"A support cushion cover assembly for removing humidity and heat from a contact surface of a support cushion is provided. The support cushion cover assembly comprises a support cushion cover that includes an upper panel having a top surface, a bottom surface, and a middle spacer layer positioned between the top surface and the bottom surface. The support cushion cover further includes an amount of hygroscopic material and at least one flexible tube that defines a plurality of fenestrations. Each fenestration is in fluid communication with the middle spacer layer of the upper panel. An air pump is further included in the cover assembly and is operably connected to the flexible tube, such that an amount of air is delivered into the flexible tube and the middle spacer layer of the cover. Methods for removing humidity from a contact surface of a support cushion are also provided."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170150822.pdf

PCM replacement cap keeps insulin pens at the right temperature

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

VIVA insulin cap

Insulin pens must be kept between 15° and 30° Celsius to ensure safe and effective injection. An Israeli company has developed a cap that combines phase change material with monitoring electronics to keep these pens from overheating in hot environments.

TempraMed’s first-generation Vivi Cap1 fits over any type of insulin pen and adjusts constantly to keep the insulin at the higher end of room temperature. When the device is exposed to temperatures above 29° C, the bio-based PCM begins to absorb heat and change from solid to liquid. When the ambient temperature falls below 28° C, the PCM starts to return to its solid state, allowing it to regain its heat-absorbing property. A push of a button at the base allows the user to confirm that the insulin is at the proper temperature.

“We are not aware of similar products that are available on the market,” said Ron Nagar, TempraMed president and CEO. “Until now, most commonly used products for ‘keeping insulin cool’ use water evaporation technology, which requires frequent user intervention, and is not effective in closed bags (where medication is commonly carried) or in humid environments.

“With the insulation and PCM we use, we offer very compact solutions (slightly larger than current insulin pen cap) which can maintain the proper conditions for time durations that are typically longer than the exposure expected during daytime or when outdoors, and allow recovery during the night or when back indoors, without user intervention.”

TempraMed is based in Tel Aviv with an office in Washington State. The products are manufactured in Israel.

The FDA- and CE-registered Vivi Cap1 is available now on the company’s website, www.my-vivi.com, at a cost of $49.90. The next generation of Vivi products will be available in the fall: Vivi Epi for epinephrine pens; Vivi Vial for insulin vials; and Vivi Cool 8° C and Vivi Vial 8° C for storing insulin at lower temperatures.

Nagar said TempraMed is working with several distributors to make the products widely available, including retail chains.

http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/insulin-cooling-tempramed-giveaway

Research roundup: Shape-stabilized PCM in epoxy matrix; myristyl alcohol/metal foam for solar thermal storage; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 01, 2017

Illustration of shape-stabilized PCM in epoxy matrix

Novel shape stabilized phase change material based on epoxy matrix with ultrahigh cycle life for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thermal and electrical performance of a PV module integrated with double layers of water-saturated MEPCM [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Investigation on thermal and mechanical characteristics of concrete mixed with shape stabilized phase change material for mix design [Construction and Building Materials]

Thermal properties and thermal conductivity enhancement of composite phase change materials using myristyl alcohol/metal foam for solar thermal storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Experimental and Numerical Study on Energy Performance of Buildings Integrated with Phase Change Materials [Energy Procedia]

Evaluation on Performance of a Phase Change Material Based Cold Storage House [Energy Procedia]

Using Phase Change Materials to Reduce Overheating Issues in UK Residential Buildings [Energy Procedia]

Effect of Supercooling on the Solidification Process of the Phase Change Material [Energy Procedia]

Experimental Investigation of a Spiral Tube Embedded Latent Thermal Energy Storage Tank Using Paraffin as PCM [Energy Procedia]

Investigation of specific heat and latent heat enhancement in hydrate salt based TiO2 nanofluid phase change material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Modeling and investigation of high temperature phase change materials (PCM) in different storage tank configurations [Journal of Cleaner Production]

Lauric acid/modified sepiolite composite as a form-stable phase change material for thermal energy storage [Applied Clay Science]

Patent application: Hybrid solar reactor and heat storage system

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170146262 (applicants University of Colorado, Denver; and Harper International Corp., Buffalo, N.Y.)

"A hybrid solar reactor and a heat storage system are disclosed. The hybrid solar reactor includes one or more heaters and a solar light guide assembly coupled to a shell of the reactor. The solar light guide assembly includes a solar light guide to direct solar energy to, for example, one or more reactor tubes within the shell. ... Further embodiments of the disclosure relate to energy storage systems in which solar energy is used to heat a medium, such as phase change material (e.g., material that changes phase at or about 700° C.). The phase change material can be used to store heat that can be used when, for example, the energy storage system is off sun."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170146262.pdf

Patent application: Tank for coolant liquid of a heat engine

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170145897 (applicant Hutchinson, Paris, France)

"A tank stores a coolant liquid and an engine and/or transmission lubricant for a motor vehicle heat engine, as well as a circuit for the cooling and heat regulation of that engine. The tank has a thermally insulating outer wall including an inlet and an outlet for this liquid, and inside the wall, it comprises heating means that are able to preheat this liquid for the cold engine start of the vehicle. ... According to one particularly advantageous embodiment of the invention, the tank comprises two other said compartments that are respectively made up of a first other compartment suitable for storing said engine lubricant and second other compartment suitable for storing said transmission lubricant, which each contain said at least one phase change material and which are separated from one another by another tight partition."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170145897.pdf

Related: Exhaust heat regenerator for vehicle (Hanon Systems, South Korea)