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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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Research roundup: Accumulation panels and thermoelectric cooling; flat-plate and triplex-tube heat exchangers; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

State-of-the-Art for the use of Phase-Change Materials in Tanks Coupled with Heat Pumps [Energy and Buildings]

Phase Change Material Based Accumulation Panels in Combination with Renewable Energy Sources and Thermoelectric Cooling [Energies]

A phenomenological approach of solidification of polymeric phase change materials [Journal of Applied Physics]

Analysis of the thermal performance of flat plate PCM heat exchangers for heating systems [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Numerical investigation of a triplex tube heat exchanger with phase change material: Simultaneous charging and discharging [Energy and Buildings]

Empirical Validation of Heat Transfer Performance Simulation of Graphite/PCM Concrete Materials for Thermally Activated Building System [pdf] [International Journal of Polymer Science]

Lineup set for Energy Innovation Summit's Technology Showcase

Ben Welter - Monday, January 23, 2017

The 2017 Energy Innovation Summit will be held Feb. 27-March 1 in Washington, D.C. The Technology Showcase highlights the work of recent ARPA-E awardees and a select group of other companies and research organizations. This year's showcase participants include:

• Electric Power Research Institute, "Indirect Dry Cooling Using Recirculating Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials"
• General Electric, "Electrothermal Energy Storage With A Multiphase Transcritical CO2 Cycle"
• University of Cincinnati, "Enhanced Air-Cooling System With Optimized Asynchronously-Cooled Thermal Energy Storage"
• Outlast Technologies, "Li-ion Battery Thermal Management using LHS Materials"
• Advanced Cooling Technologies, "Heat-Pipe PCM Based Cool Storage for ACC Systems"

http://www.arpae-summit.com/Showcase/Showcase-Participants

Patent application: Devices, systems and kits for regulating skin temperature for mammals

Ben Welter - Monday, January 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170014266 (applicant Slumber Science LLC, Sunnyvale, Calif.):

"A heat transfer system may include a heat transfer machine adapted to thermally couple to an heat transfer pack housed within an heat transfer device and transfer heat from the heat transfer pack using a power supply. The heat transfer device may include a housing and a heat transfer pack. The heat transfer pack may be adapted to thermally couple to the heat transfer machine, transfer heat to the heat transfer machine while thermally coupled to the heat transfer machine, and transfer heat from a mammal's skin when the heat transfer device is in contact with the mammal's skin and uncoupled from the heat transfer machine. ... The heat transfer pack may include one or more phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170014266.pdf

Patent application: Cooling agent for cold packs and beverage containers

Ben Welter - Monday, January 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170016664 (applicant Frosty Cold LLC, Overland Park, Kansas):

"Safe, stable, non-toxic and recyclable cooling agent compositions comprising solid particulate compounds undergo an endothermic process when mixed with water such that the resulting mixture is useful for cooling surfaces, liquids and solids. The mixtures include ammonium nitrate in an amount of at least 45 wt % of the mixture. Total nitrogen—containing salts exclusive of phosphates are present in an amount less than 68% by weight of the composition. A phosphate salt is also present in an amount as needed to stabilize the composition against detonation. A balance of additional salts is formulated to provide the mixture with a cooling capacity of at least 240 kJ/kg of the mixture."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170016664.pdf

PCM briefing: Stanford energy hub wins AIA award; is that PCM atop a Japanese greenhouse?

Ben Welter - Friday, January 20, 2017

Stanford University's new Central Energy Facility, the heart of a campus-wide energy system, has won a 2017 Institute Honor Award, the American Institute of Architects' highest recognition for design excellence. A 2.5-million-gallon hot water tank in the courtyard showcases the energy plant’s mission.

Greenhouse in Yamaguchi Prefecture• A strawberry-cultivation system that stores excess solar heat in a tank filled with cobblestones reduced heating costs by 80 percent at a greenhouse in Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture. "A mat-like heat-insulating material" – phase change material, perhaps? – atop the greenhouse, right, is rolled up during the day to let in sunlight.

A power plant under construction in Kiel, Germany, will be able to store more than 1,500 megawatt hours of heat in a 60-meter-high water tank, ensuring the supply of more than 70,000 district heating customers for up to eight hours. The gas-fired Stadtwerke Kiel will simultaneously generate electricity and heat through cogeneration.

• New from QYResearch: "Europe Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Market Report 2017" and "Global Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Market Professional Survey Report 2017."

• The Industrial Fabrics Association International has issued a call for presenters for the IFAI Advanced Textiles Conference, to be held Sept. 26-29 in New Orleans. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Feb. 5.

• In partnership with Technical University Hamburg Harburg and Hamburg Energie, Siemens AG is developing a thermal storage system that will convert excess wind energy to heat and store it in rock fill. A steam turbine will convert the heat energy back to electricity on demand. The full-size system will be able to store about 36 MWh of energy in a container filled with 2,000 cubic meters of rock.

• The global market for thermal energy storage is projected to reach a value of $1.8 billion by 2020, Transparency Market Research reports. Latent heat and thermochemical storage technologies are expected to grab market share from sensible heat technology, which is now the dominant technology in the market.

Pluss Advanced Technologies has an opening for a quality assurance manager at its facility in Bawal, India. The quality manager is responsible for overall development, implementation and maintenance of the quality management system for the company's polymer and PCM business units.

Warmilu infant blankets are headed to Kenya for testing

Ben Welter - Friday, January 20, 2017

Grace Hsia, co-founder and CEO of Warmilu LLC, reports that her Michigan startup shipped three infant warming blankets to Kenya this week for regulatory review. 

Warmilu infant warmerThe IncuBlanket, designed to help preterm infants born in remote parts of developing countries, will undergo testing by Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board. Once approval is granted, the nonprofit Relief for Africa Foundation, based in Ann Arbor and Nairobi, plans to distribute between 2,500 and 5,000 IncuBlankets throughout the East African nation. Hsia says Warmilu is close to signing distribution agreements with two other medical device distributors.

The IncuBlanket, which has been successfully tested in clinical trials in India, uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours.

Warmilu recently moved from a small incubator space into a 2,000-square-foot production facility in Ann Arbor.

"It has been just an amazing dream come true, opening this space up and being able to cut and sew our IncuBlankets here," said Hsia, whose company now has six employees. "[We will] be able by March to make all of our InstaWarmer packs here." 

Patent application: Enclosure temperature control system

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 19, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170013789 (applicant Sustainable Energy & Agriculture Technology, Sahuarita, Ariz.):

SEAT patent application drawing"An enclosure temperature control system utilizes a renewable power source and a thermal sink to reduce the overall power requirements from a power grid. A renewable power source, such as a solar panel may provide power that drives the components required to maintain the greenhouse temperature within upper and lower limits, including a HVAC system and/or a heat transfer system coupled with a thermal sink. The thermal sink includes a phase change material that releases heat when it solidifies and this heat can be used to heat the greenhouse. Likewise, the phase change material absorbs heat during the day to reduce the temperature within the greenhouse. A heat transfer system may be coupled with the phase change material and a solid conductor component within the tank of a phase change material may increase thermal transfer rate."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170013789.pdf

Research roundup: Nano-sized phase change emulsions; porous triamide-linked polymers; thermoregulation of fabric; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 19, 2017

Preparation and characterization of nano-sized phase change emulsions as thermal energy storage and transport media [Applied Energy]

Largely enhanced thermal conductivity of poly (ethylene glycol)/ boron nitride composite phase change materials for solar-thermal-electric energy conversion and storage with very low content of graphene nanoplatelets [Chemical Engineering Journal]

Effect of an increased thermal contact resistance in a salt PCM-graphite foam composite TES system [Renewable Energy]

Experimental investigation on potential of a concentrated photovoltaic-thermoelectric system with phase change materials [Energy]

PEG encapsulated by porous triamide-linked polymers as support for solid-liquid phase change materials for energy storage [Chemical Physics Letters]

Morphological characterization and applications of phase change materials in thermal energy storage: A review [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review]

Preparation and thermal properties of short carbon fibers/erythritol phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

Preparation and properties of fatty acid eutectics/expanded perlite and expanded vermiculite shape-stabilized materials for thermal energy storage in buildings [Energy and Buildings]

Thermoregulation in Thermo-regulating Fabric: An Overview [pdf] [International Journal of Scientific Research in Science, Engineering and Technology]

Patent application: Heat deformable material for face seal

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170007861 (applicant Scott Technologies Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.):

Respirator patent application drawing"Thermally deformable face seals and respirators including such face seals. The thermally deformable face seal structures comprise composite phase change materials that mold to the face of a user to provide a personalized but one-size-fits-all facial fit having excellent shape retention after use and long term durability. The phase change material is applied onto a base component to cover all or substantially all of the surface area of the base component and adapts to the face of the user to provide a secure, leak-free seal."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170007861.pdf

Patent application: Concentrated solar power system receiver

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170010023 (applicant Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.):

"Systems and methods for concentrating and storing solar energy are provided. A solar energy receiver for use with the systems and methods may include a container for holding a solar absorption material, such as a phase change material, and a cooled cover disposed above the container for condensing and collecting vaporized phase change material collected along an underside of the cover."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170010023.pdf