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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: Solidification/subcooling in spherical capsule; cement-based thermal storage; heat transfer in flexible container; more

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Experimental studies on solidification and subcooling characteristics of water-based phase change material (PCM) in a spherical encapsulation for cool thermal energy storage applications

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermal energy storage characterization of cement-based systems containing microencapsulated-PCMs

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Seasonal thermal energy storage system for cold climate zones: A review of recent developments

From Heat and Mass Transfer:

Analysis of heat transfer in latent heat thermal energy storage using a flexible PCM container

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Plate type heat exchanger for thermal energy storage and load shifting using phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental studies on the charging performance of single-tank single-medium thermal energy storage
Investigation of thermal energy storage properties of a microencapsulated phase change material using response surface experimental design methodology
Financial and energetic evaluation of solar-assisted heat pump underfloor heating systems with phase change materials

From IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering:

Thermal Performance Through the Use of Radiant Barrier and Phase Change Material in Concrete Flat Roofs

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Synthesis of novel form-stable composite phase change materials with modified graphene aerogel for solar energy conversion and storage

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Development of vacuum impregnation equipment and preparation of mass/uniform shape-stabilized phase change materials

Patent application: Implantable thermal therapy devices

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180360652 (applicant Medicool Technologies Inc., Rochester, Minn.):

"Implantable thermal therapy devices, systems, and methods are provided for the treatment of pathological conditions including arrhythmias and trauma. The implantable thermal therapy devices and systems are specifically structured to deliver transient cooling to a target tissue, and to gradually dissipate the heat energy transferred from the target tissue to other body masses in a controlled and delicate manner. In some examples, a phase change material can be used to accomplish such a gradual dissipation of the heat."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180360652.pdf

Patent application: Insulating container and transportation device

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180362243 (applicant Solee Science & Technology Co. Ltd., Wuhan, China):

"An insulating container comprises a container body and a container cover connected to the container body. The container both and the container cover each comprises a frame and a plate arranged on the frame. The plate comprises, from inside out, an external high strength sheet, an extruded polystyrene sheet, phase-change insulating sheets made of phase-change material, and an internal sheet. A phase-change process of the phase-change insulating sheets cooperates with a refrigeration system of the transportation device to precisely control the temperature of the insulating container and a refrigerator truck to be near a phase-change temperature. In the present disclosure, the phase-change insulating sheets made of the phase-change material remain to be in a solid state before or after occurrence of a phase change, so that the structure of the insulating container does not change with the phase change and a leakage problem of the phase-change material does not exist."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180362243.pdf

Most-viewed blog posts of 2018: New coffee mug, new testing protocol

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

News about a new coffee mug and a new way to measure the cooling capacity of PCM-enhanced fabrics tops the list of most-viewed Phase Change Matters blog posts in 2018:

1. ThermAvant's new coffee mug is designed to get the 'burn' out faster (Aug. 27)

2. Alexium says it's working to establish wide acceptance of new testing protocol  (June 8)

3. Fluorination process enhances barrier properties of HDPE (Jan 12)

Marxer Haus4. Inspired by nature, 'active energy building' takes wing in Liechtenstein (Feb. 8)

5. Patent application: Thermal battery with encapsulated PCM (Jan. 3)

6. Alexium International CEO Dirk Van Hyning resigns (June 1)

7. PCM heat-recycling system keeps tugboats ready for action (Jan. 19)

8. Phase change material ensures a hot shower from the start (April 20)

9. PCM-equipped heat exchanger designed for use in reefer trucks, cold rooms (Sept. 14)

10. Sunamp, Trina Solar sign deal to combine thermal batteries with heat pumps (Nov. 5)

The PureTemp website welcomed visitors from 166 countries and more than 6,000 cities this year. The top 10 countries:

1. United States
2. India
3. United Kingdom
4. Canada
5. Germany
6. China
7. Australia
8. France
9. Netherlands
10. South Korea

Illustrating the breadth of interest in phase change material, each dot on the map below represents a city that generated one or more visits to puretemp.com in 2018.

PCM briefing: McGill joins Phase Change Energy Solutions as CEO; Croda is No. 3 on Britain's Most Admired Companies list

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Dennis McGillDennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors, has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions as chief executive officer and chairman of the board. McGill, right, has more than 30 years of experience in senior financial and executive leadership roles. For the past three years, he has been the CEO and chairman of the board for ReCommunity Recycling of Charlotte, N.C. 

Malta Inc., a spinoff of Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, has raised $26 million in Series A funding. The Massachusetts company is developing an electro-thermal energy storage system that stores energy in the form of the thermal differential between hot and cold storage media. 

Croda International, maker of phase change materials and other specialty chemicals, is No. 3 on Management Today's list of Britain's Most Admired Companies 2018. Diageo and McDonald's took the top two spots.

• From Andrew Chang, regional operations director at Ice Energy, on LinkedIn: "Today was a major milestone for Ice Energy. We commissioned our 100th Ice Bear in the SCE LCR program in #OrangeCounty! We are currently offsetting about 1.5MW for 4 hours every day in Orange County."

MIT researchers have developed a way to use light to trigger the storage and release of waste heat from car engines and other sources. "Once melted and activated by ultraviolet light, the [phase change] material stores the absorbed heat until a beam of visible light triggers solidification and heat release," Phys.org reports. "Key to that control are added molecules that respond to light by changing shape from one that impedes solidification to one that permits it."

Nebu Block T10• Via LinkedIn: "It might not look like it, but this is how VIPs help to store energy. Vacuum insulated panels, that is. ZAE Bayern cooperates with va-Q-tec, Nebuma GmbH, Verallia, and Lungmuß Feuerfest to make industrial high-temperature energy storages more efficient and less hard to find." Nebuma's 20-foot mobile container, shown at right, is designed to store about 16 MWh of heat at a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Dr. Yixiang Gan of the University of Sydney is among 11 researchers to win fellowships from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund for 2019. His focus: "Optimizing thermal energy storage with phase change materials: with applications to solar energy storage in Australia and India." 

• Registration is open for the 44th Stanford Geothermal Workshop, to be held Feb. 11-13 at Stanford University in California.

• Registration is open for Energy Storage Europe, "the leading international trade fair for energy storage," to be held March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

• The 14th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29, 2019, in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. The deadline for submissions is June 1. Registration for the conference is expected to open once the program is published in April. 

Pelican BioThermal has appointed Lynaye Reynolds as worldwide director of quality. She joined the company three years ago as the quality manager at its site in Leighton Buzzard in the United Kingdom.

1414 Degrees’ molten silicon biogas energy storage system will be installed at a wastewater treatment plant in South Australia. The $3.2 million (AUS) pilot project is a joint effort of 1414 Degrees and SA Water.

Patent application: Temperature control device with PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180347869 (inventors Anthony Boule, Toulouse, France; Pierre Lapalus, Marseille, France):

"The invention relates to a portable device for regulating the temperature of an element, comprising: an engagement part adapted to be placed in contact with the element, a temperature regulation unit comprising a thermoelectric module having two sides (41, 42), a first side (41) of the thermoelectric module being thermally coupled with the engagement part (2). The device further comprises: a reception part (5) adapted to removably receive a phase change material (PCM) (6), a second side (42) of the thermoelectric module being thermally coupled with the reception part (5), such that a phase change material (PCM) (6) provided in the reception part will also be thermally coupled with the second side (42) of the thermoelectric module."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180347869.pdf

PCM briefing: Virginia Tech takes first place in Solar Decathlon; Pluss is expanding R&D team

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS team has won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The lone American team topped 14 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants. The team said its use of phase change material in the solar-powered home set it apart from the competition. Look for an interview with Joseph Wheeler, an architecture professor who directs Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS research program, in the next issue of Phase Change Matters.

• Via LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is hashtag#Expanding its hashtag#Research team for hashtag#PCM Business. Chemistry Graduates with 0-2 years of experience preferred. However, others will be considered too. Usual job descriptions apply! Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at jobs@pluss.co.in. Hurry! The vacancies are limited."

• U.S. and German researchers who have studied a PCM alloy made from germanium, antimony and tellurium say liquid water and liquid PCMs may have the same underlying physics. "The experiments reveal that the so-called Stokes-Einstein relation, which connects the viscosity of a liquid to the diffusion coefficient of its molecules, appears to break down above the melting point of the material and at very low viscosities – just as in water," Physics World reports. "The result will be important when making phase-change memories from GeSbTe alloys and related PCMs in the future."

CleanTechnica's Tina Casey takes a deep dive into the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to develop next-generation, long-duration energy storage systems. Her conclusion: "The new R&D program practically guarantees that the hurt will continue for coal miners, their families and their communities long after Trump leaves office."  

kW Engineering of Oakland, Calif., offers tips on how to use a famously complex energy modeling program: "Best Practices for Successful Building Energy Modeling with EnergyPlus." 

Patent application: Device and method for cooling a liquid

Ben Welter - Friday, December 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180347870 (applicant Gerrit Sonnenrein, Paderborn, Germany):

"A device, for cooling a liquid, especially a beverage, comprising a cold accumulator and a thermal line, the cold accumulator and the liquid to be cooled being thermally connected by means of the thermal line, and the cold accumulator comprising a phase change material, the device also comprising means for dissipating heat from at least the thermal line, and the cold accumulator comprising a carrier material into which the phase change material is integrated."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180347870.pdf

Patent application: In-flight service cart

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 06, 2018

DHL in-flight cart patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180346122 (applicants Tower Cold Chain Solutions Ltd. and DHL Supply Chain Ltd., Great Britain):

"An in-flight service cart for use on an aircraft for maintaining a payload such as foodstuffs and the like within a selected temperature range, said in-flight service cart including: a housing (3) having a storage volume; and at least one thermally insulated container (5) removably mounted within the housing, said container having an outer casing, a thermally conductive inner casing, thermal insulation located between the outer casing and the inner casing, said thermal insulation including at least one vacuum insulation panel, a payload volume for storing foodstuffs, an opening providing access to the payload volume, a closure member for closing the opening, at least one thermal energy storage unit located within the inner casing, said thermal energy storage unit(s) including a phase change material that is arranged to change phase at a temperature greater than or equal to -10° C.; wherein the inner casing and closure member  define the payload volume for storing the foodstuffs, and the thermal energy storage unit(s) is positioned in thermal contact with the inner casing, the arrangement being such that the inner casing provides a thermally conductive pathway for conducting heat entering the container to the thermal energy storage unit."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180346122.pdf

Patent application: Shipping system for temperature-sensitive materials

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Cold Chain Technologies patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180328644 (applicant Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.):  

"Shipping system for storing and/or transporting temperature-sensitive materials. In one embodiment, the system includes an outer box having four side walls, bottom closure flaps, and top closure flaps. A vacuum insulated panel (VIP) is detachably coupled to one of the top closure flaps and is removably covered by a cover. An insulation unit is removably positioned within the outer box, the insulation unit including a plurality of VIPs arranged to define a cavity bounded by a bottom wall and four side walls. A disposable liner is removably mounted on the insulation unit. The liner may be a thermoformed sheet and may cover the interior and top surfaces of the insulation unit. A plurality of temperature-control members and a product box may be removably positioned in the liner."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180328644.pdf