Phase Change Matters RSS


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 We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.




PCM briefing: Energy storage rebate falters in California Assembly; at Los Alamos lab, it's ice ice ice ice ice ice ice baby

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

• The California Assembly has essentially killed a bill to create a long-term energy storage rebate. The bill, known as SB 700, had earlier cleared the state Senate. Last week's unexpected move pushes consideration of the rebate, which would have applied to a wide range of technologies, including thermal energy storage, into next year. 

"Ice Energy and others interested in energy storage for the residential market have closely followed and supported SB 700," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "The Duck Curve problem is serious and storage is the solution. SB 700 would have significantly accelerated the solution so the delay is disappointing to anyone who cares about replacing fossil fuels with renewables, lowering the cost of power, and improving grid reliability. In the meantime, Ice Energy will continue to work with utilities and utilize SGIP to deliver cost effective and reliable energy storage to the residential market."

• For the first time, scientists have recorded water freezing into a structure called Ice VII under extreme, controlled conditions in the lab, Science Alert reports. "These experiments with water are the first of their kind, allowing us to witness a fundamental disorder-to-order transition in one of the most abundant molecules in the Universe," says geophysicist Arianna Gleason of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

• The Hohenstein Institute for Textile Innovation has developed a new method for measuring the cooling effect of intelligent textiles, a heat release tester called WATson. The institute's thermophysiological evaluation system "will compare the results of the WATson heat loss tester to data from experiments on subjects in a climate chamber under a range of ambient conditions," Advanced Textiles Source reports.   

• A team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has submitted a precise new calculation of a key formula to redefine the kilogram based on a fundamental universal constant. 

• California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems, has an opening for a computational thermal systems engineer. Axiom announced a deal last week to collaborate with Hillphoenix, a manufacturer of refrigeration equipment used in U.S. supermarkets. The two companies plan to develop and market storage-enabled refrigeration platforms.

Research roundup: Transient energy storage; metal alloys for high-temperature applications; low-cost PCM emulsion; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Transient thermal energy storage in partitioned enclosures packed with microencapsulated phase change materials [International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer]

Considerations for the use of metal alloys as phase change materials for high temperature applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Experimental analysis of a coiled stirred tank containing a low cost PCM emulsion as a thermal energy storage system [Energy]

Fabrication and characterization of novel shape-stabilized synergistic phase change materials based on PHDA/GO composites [Energy]

Fabrication of hard-shell microcapsules containing inorganic materials [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Systems [Energy]

Thermal Storage Capacity and Night Ventilation Performance of a Solar Chimney Combined with Different PCMs [International Journal of Photoenergy]

Preparation and characterizations of asphalt/lauric acid blends phase change materials for potential building materials [Construction and Building Materials]

Numerically Study the Performance of An Air—multiple PCMs unit for Free Cooling and Ventilation [Energy and Buildings]

Robot chemist shines in test against human counterparts

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A University of Glasgow team has developed a robot equipped with an algorithm that allows it to be more efficient than human chemists in some applications. The robot isn't likely to replace humans any time soon, Chemistry World reports, but it proved to be very effective at discovering and crystallizing gigantic self-assembling molecules.

"The robot extends the intuition of the human,’ said Dr. Lee Cronin, who led the team. "The robot frees the human from bias because it has more time to do reactions that a human wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. If you’re given a random set of reactions, you use your bias – or your training – to choose those reactions." 

Research roundup: Macro-packed fatty acid ester composites; selective laser sintering; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

From Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry:

Performance evaluation of macro-packed fatty acid ester composites using energy-efficient thermal storage systems

From Procedia Manufacturing:

Selective Laser Sintering of Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage Applications

From Applied Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of microencapsulated myristic acid–palmitic acid eutectic mixture as phase change material for thermal energy storage
Advances in thermal energy storage materials and their applications towards zero energy buildings: A critical review

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A new strategy for enhanced latent heat energy storage with microencapsulated phase change material saturated in metal foam
Preparation and characterization of hybrid nanocomposite embedded organic methyl ester as phase change material

From Renewable Energy:

Cutting copper fiber/paraffin composite phase change material discharging experimental study based on heat dissipation capability of Li-ion battery

From Lehigh University:

Numerical and Experimental Study of the Melting Process of a Phase Change Material in a Partically Filled Spherical Shell [thesis]

From IEEE Internet Computing:

Thermal Time Shifting: Decreasing Datacenter Cooling Costs with Phase Change Materials

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical modeling of solid-liquid phase change in a closed 2D cavity with density change, elastic wall and natural convection

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Evaluation of the suitability of different calorimetric methods to determine the enthalpy-temperature curve of granular PCM composites
Heat Transfer Enhancement during Freezing Process of Nano Phase Change Material (NPCM) In a Spherical Capsule
Numerical simulation on thermal characteristics of supercooled salt hydrate PCM for energy storage: Multiphase model

PCM briefing: Abstracts due for heat and thermal energy conference; chemical industry employment projections

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

• Abstracts are due July 14 for the 19th International Conference on Heat and Thermal Energy, to be held in London Sept. 20-21. Conference topics include novel storage concepts; thermal energy storage in buildings; thermal energy storage materials; polymeric materials; and micro- and macro-encapsulation methods. Researchers from  Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts will present their findings on "Unbranched, Saturated, Carboxylic Esters as Phase Change Materials."

• From Chem.Info: "How Much Will Chemical Industry Employment Grow By 2019?

• A mattress powered by Zotto's "ThermaPhase technology" is one of eight products on Forbes magazine's "Must Have Summer Tech Gift Guide." 

• Unrelated link of the week, from Bored Panda: "Architect Turns Old Cement Factory Into His Home, And The Interior Will Take Your Breath Away

Research roundup: INPATH-TES Ph.D. program; waste-to-energy plants; EnergyPlus-based building model; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 29, 2017

INPATH-TES: Innovative pathways to PhD research in thermal energy storage [Sustainable and Renewable Energy Engineering]

Application of high temperature phase change materials for improved efficiency in waste-to-energy plants [Waste Management]

Experimental investigation and EnergyPlus-based model prediction of thermal behavior of building containing phase change material [Journal of Building Engineering]

Experimental Analysis of Graphite Dispersed Salt Hydrates based Phase Change Materials to Determine Enhancement in their Thermophysical Properties [pdf] [Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences]

Use of phase change materials during compressed air expansion for isothermal CAES plants [35th UIT Heat Transfer Conference]

Simulation of Melting Process of a Phase Change Material (PCM) using ANSYS (Fluent) [pdf] [International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology]

Cellulose/Paraffin Composite Fibers for Thermal Energy Storage and Temperature Regulation [IUMRS International Conference in Asia]

Enhanced Specific Heat Capacity of Binary Chloride Salt by Dissolving Magnesium for High-temperature Thermal Energy Storage and Transfer [Journal of Materials Chemistry A]

Research roundup: Graphite particle fillers; sodium nitrate microcapsules; domestic space heating in UK; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Effect of temperature and graphite particle fillers on thermal conductivity and viscosity of phase change material n-eicosane [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Thermal stability of sodium nitrate microcapsules for high-temperature thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Phase change materials to meet domestic space heating demand in the UK - A numerical study [Journal of Fluid Flow, Heat and Mass Transfer]

Synthesis of three-dimensional graphene aerogel encapsulating n-octadecane for enhancing phase-change behavior and thermal conductivity [Journal of Materials Chemistry A]

A recyclable thermochromic elastic phase change oleogel for cold compress therapy [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Patent application: Temperature-staged TES enabling low thermal exergy loss

Ben Welter - Monday, June 26, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170179879 (applicant California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.):

"A structure comprising: a photovoltaic module; a reflux boiling chamber configured to store thermal energy, the reflux boiling chamber comprising a plurality of temperature staged thermal energy storage materials, each temperature staged thermal energy storage material comprising a porous phase change material and configured to operate at a different temperature range than other temperature staged thermal energy storage materials, the reflux boiling chamber further configured to contain a working fluid; a thermodynamic heat engine; and a solar concentrator configured to concentrate sunlight towards the photovoltaic module and the reflux boiling chamber, wherein the reflux boiling chamber is further configured to transfer the thermal energy to the thermodynamic heat engine through the working fluid."

Advanced Buildings Skins conference to feature 10+ sessions on PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, June 26, 2017

The agenda is taking shape for the 12th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 2-3 in Bern, Switzerland. More than 250 speakers from 40 nations will give presentations.

The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by June 30 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Presentations related to phase change material, all conducted in English, include:

• “Ventilation units with PCM for double-skin BIPV façades,” Jakub Curpek, faculty of Civil Engineering STU in Bratislava, Slovakia

Building skins conference photo• “PCM melting temperature optimization for passive cooling and heating,” Alvaro de Gracia, University Rovira i Virgili, Spain

• “Thermal properties of a four-pane window filled with PCM,” Martin Zalesak, Tomas Bata University, Czech Republic

• “PCM-enhanced mortar for thermally activated building components,” Lorenzo Olivieri, Instituto de Ciencias de la Construcción Eduardo Torroja, Spain

• “Thermal performance of multifunctional façade contained PCM,” Romeu Vicente, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Aveiro, Portugal

• “Microcapsulated PCM and geopolymer concrete,” Vinh Duy Cao, Østfold University College, Norway

• “Implementing hysteresis and subcooling in simulation of PCM panels,” Craig Farnham, Osaka City University, Japan

• “Lightweight building envelopes with PCM,” Ricardo Almeida, CI&DETS - Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, Portugal

• “Thermal Performance of Phase Change Materials for the Building Skin Granular phase change material composites,” Xiangyu Li, Taiyuan University of Technology, China

• “Numerical investigation of a ventilated façade with PCM for heating purposes,” Josep Ramon Castro, University of Lleida, Spain

Research roundup: Mid-temperature solar collector; PCM use in NZEB buildings; modeling of nitrate materials; more

Ben Welter - Friday, June 23, 2017

Experimental investigation and theoretical analysis on a mid-temperature solar collector/storage system with composite PCM [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Experimental and computational study of melting phase-change material in a triplex tube heat exchanger with longitudinal/triangular fins [Solar Energy]

Thermodynamic modeling of nitrate materials for hybrid thermal energy storage: Using latent and sensible mechanisms [Solar Energy]

Outdoor Characterization of Phase Change Materials and Assessment of Their Energy Saving Potential to Reach NZEB [Buildings]

Preparation and Supercooling Modification of Salt Hydrate Phase Change Materials Based on CaCl2·2H2O/CaCl2 [Materials]