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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: Waste heat extraction; thermal sintering Pickering emulsion-based colloidosomes; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Micro-encapsulated phase change material (MPCM) slurries: Characterization and building applications [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Coupling waste heat extraction by phase change materials with superheated steam generation in the steel industry [Energy]

Large-scale high-temperature solar energy storage using natural minerals [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Hierarchical nano-activated silica nanosheets for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Microencapsulation through thermal sintering Pickering emulsion-based colloidosomes [Soft Matter]

Preparation of polyurea microcapsules containing phase change materials in a rotating packed bed [RSC Advances]

Dynamic measurement of the thermal conductivity of phase change materials in the liquid phase near the melting point [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Investigation of Energy Performance in Conventional and Lightweight Building Components with the use of Phase Change Materials (PCMS): Energy Savings in Summer Season [Procedia Environmental Sciences]

Novel synthesis of cobalt/poly vinyl alcohol/gamma alumina nanocomposite for catalytic application [Applied Physics A]

Research roundup: Solar PCM storage wall system; novel caprylic acid/nonanoic acid mix; double glazing units; more

Ben Welter - Monday, April 17, 2017

Experimental study of a modified solar phase change material storage wall system [Energy]

A novel binary mixture of caprylic acid/nonanoic acid as latent heat storage for air conditioning and cooling [Energy and Buildings]

A General Method for Retrieving Thermal Deformation Properties of Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials or Other Particulate Inclusions in Cementitious Composites [Materials and Design]

Effect of PCM thickness and melting temperature on thermal performance of double glazing units [Journal of Building Engineering]

New presentation on PCM calorimetry compares RAL, IEA standards

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dr. Harald Mehling, an expert in thermal energy storage and a RAL Quality Association PCM consultant, has prepared a 37-minute presentation on phase change material calorimetry. It is intended for people starting to work in the field as well as for people who already have experience.

Dr. Harald MehlingThe presentation consists of three parts:

1. Introduction. Historic background and a general introduction to standards.

2. The RAL industry standard. Required data, resolution and accuracy; a survey of common measurement techniques; and results of an internal comparison test.

3. The International Energy Agency standard for research and development using differential scanning calorimetry, which is based on the RAL standard, including its background, the standard and achieved improvements.

The video is available for download at www.pcm-ral.org/pcm/en/quality-association-pcm/consultants/harald-mehling/ and can be viewed on Vimeo as well.

Research roundup: Cenospheres in concrete; form-stable composites with polyacrylic; rice bran distilled fatty acid; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Numerical studies on thermal and electrical performance of a fully wetted absorber PVT collector with PCM as a storage medium [Renewable Energy]

Integrating phase change materials into concrete through microencapsulation using cenospheres [Cement and Concrete Composites]

Testing and performance analysis of micro encapsulated rice bran distilled fatty acid [International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology]

Enhanced thermal management with microencapsulated phase change material particles infiltrated in cellular metal foam [Energy]

Thermal performance study of form-stable composite phase change material with polyacrylic [AIP Conference Proceedings]

Design and Preparation of Carbon Based Composite Phase Change Material for Energy Piles [Materials]

Single-walled carbon nanotube for shape stabilization and enhanced phase change heat transfer of polyethylene glycol phase change material [Energy Conversion and Management]

Applications of Nanocomposite-Enhanced Phase-Change Materials for Heat Storage [Materials Science Forum]

Fatty acids and related phase change materials for reliable thermal energy storage at moderate temperatures [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

A study of a eutectic salt of lithium nitrate and sodium chloride (87–13%) for latent heat storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Thermal stabilization and permanent deformation resistance of LWA/PCM-modified asphalt road surfaces [Construction and Building Materials]

PCM briefing: A call for presentations on renewable heating and cooling; EnergyNest, Tata team up on demo project

Ben Welter - Friday, April 07, 2017

Frank Bruno, leader of the Thermal Energy Storage Group at the University of South Australia, talks about the advantages of thermal storage in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

Robert Riebolge, chief network analyst of the Adelaide-based energy storage company 1414 Degrees, tells Ecogeneration magazine that storage is “quite clearly” the solution to the intermittency problem of wind and solar. But, he says, the way in which the Australian market is constructed and the regulatory system is set up doesn’t allow for its easy introduction.

• The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has teamed with Basque technology company Tecnalia to develop On Site Robotics, a 3D printing construction project in which sustainable, low-cost buildings can be built on-site with a special clay-based material made of natural, biodegradable, recyclable and locally sourced materials.

• Get the latest information on the Toxic Substances Control Act in a free webinar April 19. The presentation by Mark N. Duvall of the environmental law firm Beveridge & Diamond will identify the principal amendments, discuss the impact on manufacturers and compare the amended TSCA to the European Union's REACH regulation.

• In a video posted on YouTube, Adam Tetz of Pelican BioThermal and other industry experts discuss the future of temperature controlled logistics at last month's Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe 2017.

• The Eu­ro­pean Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Plat­form on Re­new­able Heat­ing & Cool­ing has issued a call for presentations to be made at the group's an­nual event in Brus­sels June 20. Topics include biomass; district heating and cooling; solar thermal heating and cooling; hybrid systems; and thermal energy storage. Applications are due by May 22. 

Tata Steel and EnergyNest have begun work on a thermal energy storage demo project at Tata's plant in IJmuiden, Netherland. EnergyNest's concrete-based TES system will store exhaust heat from steel production to cover some of the plant's energy demands. EnergyNest, meanwhile, won the top prize in the 2017 Nordic Cleantech Open last week. The contest, organized by Cleantech Scandinavia, consisted of several competitive rounds in which hundreds of companies applied.

Chris Pais has joined Axiom Exergy as director of field operations. Pais was previously director of system architecture at LightSail Energy. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" system, aimed at supermarkets and cold storage warehouses, stores water chilled at night, when electricity is cheapest, to take the load off condensers and compressors during the day.

Vaibhav Bahadur, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of eight faculty members at the university to receive National Science Foundation early career development awards totaling more than $2 million. Bahadur received funding for his project “Influence of electric fields on liquid-to-solid phase change associated with clathrate hydrate formation.”

• In a piece posted on LinkedIn, Liam Holmes, Europe and Asia engineering team lead at Sonoco ThermoSafe, writes about the role of industrial design in the temperature-assurance packaging industry's shift from single-use products to modular reusable green systems.

Research roundup: SiO2 nanoparticles; multilayer wall thermal performance; spherical shells

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Effects of SiO2 nanoparticles on structure and property of form-stable phase change materials made of cellulose acetate phase inversion membrane absorbed with capric-myristic-stearic acid ternary eutectic mixture [Thermochimica Acta]

Influence of the PCM Layer Location on the Multilayer Wall Thermal Performance [Open Journal of Energy Efficiency]

Numerical Model for Solidification and Melting of PCM Encapsulated in Spherical Shells [Energy Procedia]

Inspired by nature: PCM capsules shaped like red blood cells show promise in study

Ben Welter - Monday, April 03, 2017

Capsules fabricated for use in Chinese study

Phase change material used in latent thermal energy storage systems must, of course, be encapsulated. The stiff containers, often made of high-density polyethylene, come in a variety of familiar shapes. The two most common are cylinders and spheres. Fins and dimples can be added to improve melting and solidification rates.

Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China say they have identified a better shape. They found it in the circulatory systems of mammals.

Red blood cells, or RBCs, are filled with hemoglobin, not PCMs, and their purpose is to deliver oxygen, not thermal energy. Still, the researchers wondered, is the distinctive biconcave shape conducive to more effective heat transfer?

In a paper recently accepted for publication in Applied Thermal Engineering, “Thermal performance analysis of a novel PCM capsule in red blood cell shape,” Xiwen Cheng and Xiaoqiang Zhai described their investigation, in which they compared the RBCs with four other shapes by experimental and simulation methods. 

All five tested shapes – RBCs, spheres, cylinders, drums and ring-shaped capsules – were sized to contain 25.5 grams of PCM (capric acid, lauric acid, palmitic acid). The sphere’s interior diameter was 40 mm. The shell material was nylon 12 with a thickness of 1.5 mm.

The researchers found that the RBC-shaped capsule performed significantly better than the other shapes. The average charging rate of the RBC capsule, for example, was twice as fast as that of the sphere. 

Dr. William R. Sutterlin, Entropy Solutions’ chief science officer, who was not involved in this research, said he was intrigued by the results. "Until good alternatives are established to increase the thermal conductivity of the PCMs themselves,” he said, “novel designs such as these, which increase surface area, are welcome developments."

Research roundup: Capsule in shape of red blood cell; helical fin; graphene-enhanced enhanced myo-inositol; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thermal performance analysis of a novel PCM capsule in red blood cell shape [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Experimental demonstration, modeling and analysis of a novel latent-heat thermal energy storage unit with a helical fin [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Preparation, characterization and thermal properties of fatty acid eutectics/bentonite/expanded graphite composites as novel form–stable thermal energy storage materials [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Parametric study and approximation of the exact analytical solution of the Stefan problem in a finite PCM layer in a steady periodic regime [International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer]

Synthesis, characterization and applications of microencapsulated phase change materials in thermal energy storage [Energy and Buildings]

Graphene nanoplatelets enhanced myo-inositol for solar thermal energy storage [Thermal Science and Engineering Progress]

Research roundup: Fast charging with expanded graphite; rebar corrosion in PCM-enhanced concrete; hybrid cooling vest; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fast charging of thermal energy storage systems enabled by phase change materials mixed with expanded graphite [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Synthesis and characterization of a narrow size distribution nano phase change material emulsion for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Analysis of the effects of use of thermal energy storage device (TESD) in solar air heater [Alexandria Engineering Journal]

Experiment and simulation of thermal management for a tube-shell Li-ion battery pack with composite phase change material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Novel model for the prediction of SSLE temperatures and crystallization paths of any mixture containing palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid [Thermochimica Acta]

A review on recent advancements in photovoltaic thermal techniques [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

A comparative study on corrosion behavior of rebar in concrete with fatty acid additive as phase change material [Construction and Building Materials]

Novel phase change materials based on fatty acid eutectics and triallyl isocyanurate composites for thermal energy storage [Journal of Applied Polymer Science]

Optimal cooling intervention for construction workers in a hot and humid environment [Building and Environment]

PCM briefing: India startup wins Energy Transition award; new market research on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, March 27, 2017

Thermal Energy Service Solutions, maker of a PCM-based "plug-and-chill" refrigeration system, was one of six startup companies honored at Tech Festival 2017 in Berlin last week. The Indian company's cooling technology is designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels in storing and transporting food. The Startup Energy Transition Awards competition, sponsored by the German Energy Agency, drew more than 500 applications from 66 countries.

Machine learning tools can help researchers analyze sustainable products and chemicals more easily, but as with all computing, data quality is important, writes Christina Valimaki, senior director of chemicals at Elsevier's R&D Solutions.

• New from MarketsandMarkets: "Thermal Energy Storage Market by Technology (Sensible, Latent, and TCS), Storage Material (Water, Molten Salt, and PCM), Application (Power Generation, District Heating & Cooling, and Process Heating & Cooling), End-User, and Region - Global Forecast to 2022"

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have shown that it is possible to convert solar energy directly into energy stored in the bonds of a chemical fluid. The system is based on the organic compound norbornadiene, which upon exposure to light converts into quadricyclane.