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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.




Research roundup: New device for characterizing PCMs; graphene paraffin nanocomposites; kaolinite-stabilized PCMs; more

Ben Welter - Friday, August 14, 2015

A new experimental device and inverse method to characterize thermal properties of composite phase change materials [Composite Structures]

Thermal properties measurement and heat storage analysis of paraffin-nanoparticles composites phase change material: comparison and optimization [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Molecular-dynamics calculation of the thermal conduction in phase change materials of graphene paraffin nanocomposites [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Kaolinite stabilized paraffin composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [Applied Clay Science]

Energy efficient bio-based PCM with silica fume composites to apply in concrete for energy saving in buildings [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Kaeser refrigeration air dryer has more compact design, thanks to PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kaeser Secotec refrigeration dryerHPC Kaeser's updated Secotec TF refrigeration air dryers feature an aluminum heat exchanger system filled with phase change material. The PCM has twice the thermal storage capacity of conventional storage media, allowing for a more compact design. According to the manufacturer:

"Thanks to the energy-saving control, reserve cooling performance can be temporarily accumulated in the thermal storage medium during partial load operation and can subsequently be used for drying purposes without the need for additional energy consumption. The rapid reaction Secopack LS heat exchanger system [the lighter-colored component shown at right] ensures stable pressure dew points at all times."

Refrigeration air dryers, which remove water vapor from compressed air, are used in a variety of industries, including textile manufacturing and pneumatic control systems.

District energy seen as essential way for cities to cut greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 13, 2015

A survey of low-carbon cities worldwide identifies district energy systems as an essential tool for local governments seeking to reduce greenhouse gases and improve energy efficiency.

U.N. Environment Program logoThe U.N. Environment Program report, "District Energy in Cities – Unlocking the Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy," calls for the accelerated deployment of district energy systems around the world. From the report's executive summary:

"The development of modern (i.e., energy-efficient and climate-resilient) and affordable district energy systems in cities is one of the least-cost and most-efficient solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy demand. A transition to such systems, combined with energy efficiency measures, could contribute as much as 58 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions required in the energy sector by 2050 to keep global temperature rise to within 2-3 degrees Celsius."

Paris, one of the 45 "champion" cities surveyed, developed Europe's first cooling network, part of which uses the Seine River. The Paris Urban Heating Co., which now serves the equivalent of 500,000 households, aims to use 60 percent renewable or recovered energy by 2020. Other cities in the report include TokyoMunichHong KongGuelph (Canada), Warsaw (Poland) and Christchurch (New Zealand).

Research roundup: PEG composite with radial mesoporous silica sphere; improving the performance of fluidized beds; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Enhanced thermal properties of novel shape-stabilized PEG composite phase change materials with radial mesoporous silica sphere for thermal energy storage [Scientific Reports]

Improving the thermal performance of fluidized beds for concentrated solar power and thermal energy storage [Powder Technology]

Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage: Effect of Metallic Mesh Size on Storage Time and Capacity [International Journal of Thermophysics]

Shape-stabilized phase change composite by impregnation of octadecane into mesoporous SiO2 [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Experimental Investigation of the Concentration Dependent Maximum Storage Capacity of Two Inorganic Phase Change Materials [Energy Procedia]

High Temperature Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Integration in a Co-gen Plant [Energy Procedia]

Behind-the-meter storage is among the topics at Energy Storage Summit

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The U.S. Energy Storage Summit's 2015 agenda is taking shape. The first day includes a morning session on the future of behind-the-meter storage in California: 

"California has emerged as the largest behind-the-meter storage market due to renewable energy growth, high electricity prices, state mandate, and the Self Generation Incentive Program. Southern California Edison's procurement decision of 150 megawatts behind-the-meter storage for its Local Capacity Requirement has been the first on at that scale by a utility."

An afternoon session will focus on deferral and capacity benefits. Greg Miller, Ice Energy's executive vice president of sales and market development, is on the panel.

The conference will be held Dec. 8-9 in San Francisco. Registration is open.

Malouf's new mattress protector features phase change technology

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Malouf Encase Omniphase pillow protectorBedding manufacturer Malouf has introduced the Encase Omniphase, a mattress protector featuring moisture-wicking Tencel fabric with Omniphase phase change technology. Malouf rolled out the Encase Omniphase and two other Sleep Tite mattress protectors at the Summer Las Vegas Market this month. The new Encase model retails for $224.99 (queen size).

Research roundup: Salt-based carbon nanotube nanomaterials; finned heat pipes; nitrate/expanded graphite composite PCM; more

Ben Welter - Monday, August 10, 2015

Effect of solvent on specific heat capacity enhancement of binary molten salt-based carbon nanotube nanomaterials for thermal energy storage [International Journal of Thermal Sciences]

Three-dimensional simulation of high temperature latent heat thermal energy storage system assisted by finned heat pipes [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental and numerical study of heat transfer performance of nitrate/expanded graphite composite PCM for solar energy storage [Energy Conversion and Management]

Investigation on the dynamic characteristics of a direct contact thermal energy storage charging process for use in conventional air-conditioning systems [Applied Thermal Engineering]

The form-stable phase change materials based on polyethylene glycol and functionalized carbon nanotubes for heat storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Studies on the effect of shape-stabilized PCM filled aluminum honeycomb composite material on thermal control [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Preparation and thermal properties of graphite foam/eutectic salt composite as a phase change energy storage material [Carbon]

Performance comparison of three models for thermal property determination from experimental phase change data [Thermochimica Acta]

Molecular-dynamics calculation of the thermal conduction in phase change materials of graphene paraffin nanocomposites [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Experimental investigations on the performance of a collector–storage wall system using phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental analysis, modeling and simulation of a solar energy accumulator with paraffin wax as PCM [Energy Conversion and Management]

Patent application: Heating and/or cooling assembly

Ben Welter - Friday, August 07, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150216721 (Darran Ainsley Thacker, Great Britain):

"The present invention relates to a heating and/or cooling assembly such as a heat pad. The assembly includes a plurality of modules articulated together by connection means so that the assembly can be manipulated by a user to adopt a desired profile. At least one of the modules contains a thermal store in the form of a solid, liquid or gel responsive to heating or cooling externally applied to the assembly so that the solid, liquid or gel is heated or cooled, respectively, and remains in a heated or cooled state for a prolonged period of time after the externally applied heating or cooling is removed."

'Post-occupancy evaluation' gains traction among sustainability architects

Ben Welter - Friday, August 07, 2015

Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Center

"Post-occupancy evaluation," the process of measuring a new building's actual performance, is an essential part of the design feedback loop. Is that impressive-looking thermal energy storage system delivering the projected energy savings? POE is gaining momentum among sustainability architects to address the frequent gap between promises and reality, Peter Fairley writes in this month's issue of Architectural Record. 

Does this scenario sound familiar?

"The value of getting feedback on projects hit home for [New Orleans–based Eskew+Dumez+Ripple] after the opening of its first LEED-certified building: the Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Center [show above] in Key West. The 30,000-square-foot multipurpose facility, occupied by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2006, was predicted to consume 735,000 kilowatt-hours per year—28 percent fewer than the ASHRAE baseline. In its first two years of operation, however, the LEED Silver building was consuming almost twice that amount.

"Faulty settings in the building-management system were the culprit: two months after commissioning, a software upgrade wiped out the settings tuned by the commissioning agent. A local consultant's efforts to fix the problem fell short. Ultimately, humidity and mold issues convinced the owner to bring Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and the commissioning agent back into the picture nearly two years later. The problems were then quickly resolved. Energy consumption immediately fell below what designers had originally predicted.

"Eskew+Dumez+Ripple determined that from that point forward they would attempt to track energy consumption of all their LEED projects. They wanted to understand the variables affecting performance and get a jump on any issues that arose. "