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 bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

RECENT POSTS

TAGS

ARCHIVE

Patent application: Utilizing PCM, heat pipes and fuel cells for aircraft applications

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 29, 2016

Boeing patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20160380279 (applicant The Boeing Co., Chicago, Ill.):

"A heat transfer system includes a fuel cell module that produces heat and water, and a thermal energy storage module that stores the heat produced by the fuel cell module. The thermal energy storage module includes a phase-change material. A conduit couples the fuel cell module to the thermal energy storage module. The conduit is oriented to channel the water produced by the fuel cell module through the thermal energy storage module."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160380279.pdf

PCM briefing: Space station gets water-based heat exchanger; China gets molten salt solar power plant

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 28, 2016

• An experimental PCM heat exchanger has been installed aboard the International Space Station. The device is designed to help maintain safe temperatures for crew members and equipment. The device uses a water-based PCM to remove heat from areas that must be cooled and move it into areas that must be warmed.

China News Service reports that Asia's first molten salt solar power plant has been connected to the grid and will begin operations next week in northwestern China. The 10-megawatt plant, run by Beijing Shouhang Resources Saving Co., generates electricity from solar power 24 hours a day. It will provide electricity for 30,000 households during its initial phase.

• A cooling technology that can operate without a constant power supply will undergo pilot trials in Dubai. Sure Chill's water-based system is used in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for a grid-based electricity. The Welsh company signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-run Dubai Electricity and Water Authority after taking part in the 12-week Dubai Future Accelerators Program.

• In a decision involving a patent on phase change material, a U.S. appeals court has reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision to exclude certain e-mails used as evidence of an earlier conception date in REG Synthetic Fuels LLC v. Neste Oil OYJ. The court found that the board had improperly excluded the emails as hearsay.

• Noting recent acquisitions by FedEx and UPS, Pelican Biothermal VP Kevin Lawler lists consolidation among the key trends likely to shape the temperature-controlled logistics market in 2017.

Patent application: PCM heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 15, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160363387 (applicant Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International Inc. (Windsor Locks, Conn.):

PCM heat exchanger patent drawing

"A phase-change material heat exchanger includes a frame configured to define a chamber therein and house a first fluid, the first fluid being water. At least one heat exchange element is configured to have a second fluid pass through an interior of the heat exchange element, the at least one heat exchange element moveably retained within the chamber. When the second fluid passes through the heat exchange element at a first temperature, the first fluid changes from a liquid to a solid, and the second fluid exits the heat exchange element at a second temperature that is higher than the first temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160363387.pdf

PCM briefing: Papers sought for thermal management conference; Ice Energy has eyes on Australia

Ben Welter - Friday, December 09, 2016

• Registration is open for the Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held in Denver Aug. 9-10, 2017. Organizers have issued a call for papers; the deadline for submitting an abstract is Feb. 17. Companies attending past conferences include Croda, Outlast Technologies, Phase Change Materials Ltd., Microtek LaboratoriesC-Therm Technologies and Entropy Solutions.

Ice Energy of Glendale, Calif., is looking for distributors in Australia to extend the reach of the company's ice-based energy storage systems. The Ice Bear and smaller Ice Cub store cooling energy by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. 

• The use of phase change material in infant warmers (Little Lotus) and temperature-control fabrics (Outlast Technologies) is featured in NASA's Spinoff 2017. The annual report highlights technologies developed for the space program.

Tata Steel is integrating Energy Nest's thermal energy storage system into one of the steelmaker's plants in the Netherlands. The system captures waste heat in a special concrete and stores it for later use. 

A new technical report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examines the possibility of replacing fossil-fuel combustion in industry with small nuclear reactors, solar thermal and geothermal energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Phase change materials that exploit the relatively high energy involved in melting or freezing a material" are identified as among the thermal energy storage options critical to such a strategy.  

PCM briefing: E-motorcycle girdles the globe; Spanish students test PCM on zero-g flight

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

• A Lehigh University student has been honored for his research on the use of phase change materials to improve the efficiency of power plants and reduce the pollutants they emit. Joshua Charles, who is pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering, received a scholarship from the Air Pollution and Educational Research Grant program. He is experimenting with several variations of hydrated salt to improve the performance of the air-cooled condensers used in some power plants.

Storm Wave e-motorcycle outside the White House• The Storm Wave, the electric motorcycle developed by a team at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, completed an around-the-world tour last month, covering 23,000 kilometers in 80 days. The Wave features swappable 28.5 kWh lithium-ion battery packs cooled by phase change material. Team members showed off the bike last week on "Zapplive," a Dutch television show.  

Greentech Media's Jason Deign lists Eco-Tech Ceram of France as one of 12 European energy storage startups to watch. ETC says its ceramic thermal storage medium is 92 percent efficient. The technology could be used to capture some of the 3,500 terawatt-hours of heat lost from industrial processes every year.

• New from QYResearch: "United States Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market Report 2016."

• A team from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain recently got a taste of zero gravity aboard an A310 Airbus as part of the European Space Agency's "Fly Your Thesis" program. The team developed an experiment to analyze the melting process of phase change materials in weightlessness conditions.

PCM briefing: Argonne developing cheaper TES system; registration open for ARPA-E summit

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 15, 2016

Argonne National Laboratory mechanical engineer Wenhua Yu prepares to test a prototype thermal energy storage system.• Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory have developed a prototype of an inexpensive thermal energy storage system that will be significantly smaller and more efficient than current systems. The Argonne system combines salt-based phase change material with high-conductivity graphite foam. The porous foam traps the PCM in pores, enabling rapid melting and freezing.

• In a new report from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, "Advancing the Biobased Economy," McKinsey & Co. estimates that biobased products will make up 11 percent of the $3.4 trillion global chemical market by 2020. [pdf] 

• "Designing superior phase change materials from lipids," by Dr. Michael Floros, appears in this month's issue of INFORM magazine, published by the American Oil Chemists' Society. In recent studies, he writes, PCMs made from saturated lipids outperformed their paraffin counterparts. Floros is a postdoctoral researcher in the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research at Trent University in Canada. 

• Registration for the 2017 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is now open. The summit will be held Feb. 27 to March 1, 2017, at the Gaylord Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. The summit is aimed at industry experts, thought leaders and decisionmakers focused on moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market. An agenda will be posted later this fall.

David Bergeron, founder and CEO of SunDanzer, is featured in a Houston Chronicle piece on NASA spinoff technologies. SunDanzer makes solar-powered refrigerators that use phase change material to keep vaccines and other temperature-sensitive payloads at the right temperature. Who knew that Bergeron, who was once an engineer at NASA, spent 18 years designing satellites?  

Pelican BioThermal is expanding manufacturing capabilities at its Minnesota facility. The goal is to better serve customers of its single-use temperature-controlled shippers in North and South America. The shippers have been manufactured exclusively in the United Kingdom.

Canada's wheelchair rugby team won its opening match in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, defeating host Brazil 62-48 on Wednesday. The Canadians are using PCM-equipped cooling vests developed by two recent graduates of Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. The vests were reportedly referred to, incorrectly, as "Kevlar" in TV coverage of the match.

PCM briefing: Job openings at ARPA-E; PCM heat exchanger arrives at space station

Ben Welter - Saturday, July 23, 2016

Peli BioThermal has expanded its temperature-control packaging operations in Asia, teaming up with Pharmaserv Express of the Philippines and CMC Element of China.

Anne J. McNeil, a chemistry professor at the University of Michigan, is among the growing number of academics who use the Slack messaging app to communicate with team members. In a typical week, her team uses the software to send about 400 messages and 70 files. The advantages over e-mail: speed and searchability.

• Thermal storage pioneer CALMAC has posted a new white paper: "Ice Storage or Chilled Water Storage. Which one is right for the job?

• Eight years after construction began, Abu Dhabi's vision for a bustling, energy-efficient city in the desert remains largely unrealized. Masdar City, a planned community initially designed to accommodate 50,000 citizens, sits mostly empty, with only a few hundred residents. French photographer Etienne Malapert has documented the futuristic city's eerie landscape.

ARPA-E is accepting applications for two-year fellowships in Washington, D.C. ARPA-E fellows focus on identifying breakthrough energy technologies through technical and economic analyses. The application deadline is Sept. 1, 2016. The agency also has openings for program directors and technology-to-market advisors.

NASA's experimental PCM heat exchanger arrived at the International Space Station this week.

Plaza Provision Co., a food distributor based in Puerto Rico, has purchased its fourth thermal energy storage system from Viking Cold Solutions. Houston-based Viking says the three PCM-based systems installed earlier have saved Plaza Provision $650,000 in energy costs since 2010.

• The American Chemistry Council’s Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index fell by 0.4% in June, the third consecutive monthly decline for the U.S. market.

PCM briefing: Infinite R presentation in Kansas City; key changes in Washington state energy code

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Innovative Solutions Corp., maker of Infinite R phase change material, will hold a presentation titled "Improving Your Building's Envelope," in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 9. The presentation will cover how PCMs can increase occupant comfort while dramatically reducing heating and cooling costs. Cost: $5.

PCM heat exchangerInverse.com has posted a fresh photo of PCM HX, one of the NASA experiments headed for the International Space Station next week aboard SpaceX

SolarReserve's Crescent Dunes CSP plant is profiled in a Scientific American piece this week. The Nevada plant, which uses molten salt to store more than 10 hours of electricity and make it available on demand, "has achieved what engineers and proponents of renewable energy have struggled with for decades: providing cheap, commercial-scale, non–fossil fuel electricity even when winds are calm or the sun is not shining." 

• In an interview with Sustainable Brands, Dow Chemical's chief sustainability officer says the company has significantly increased sales of products that use sustainable chemistry over the past 10 years.

• In a LinkedIn post, DLR Group engineer Steve Reigh notes that significant changes are taking shape in Washington state's energy code. Starting in July 2017, air-handling units in high-efficiency variable air volume systems "must have either a maximum size of 20% of the total cooling capacity (5 chillers!), OR thermal storage sized for a minimum of 20% of the total cooling capacity! It shows that the energy code writing groups are thinking about thermal storage, and it may start to creep into other parts of the energy code in future iterations."

Roccor to develop flexible PCM panels for miniature satellites

Ben Welter - Friday, April 29, 2016

A proposal by Roccor LLC of Louisville, Colo., to develop lightweight, flexible thermal energy management panels for CubeSats and other small satellites is one of 399 projects selected by NASA this week to support future missions into deep space. The thermal panels incorporate paraffin phase change material inside a metal case with an internal metal woven mesh to protect the electronics aboard miniaturized satellites.

Roccor's proposal describes the potential applications:

"The primary NASA target application for the proposed space-rated PCM panel technology is future NASA CubeSat and SmallSat spacecraft for which thermal control of on-board electronics is a major bottleneck in the system design. In particular, the proposed technology will enable efficient thermal control by maintaining a constant temperature heat sink or heat source for a range of electronic components in rapidly changing thermal environments. The PCM panel is being designed as a lightweight and flexible component, yet having high thermal capacity, requiring less mass and volume than currently used carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb composite panels."

Two other Roccor proposals were approved for Phase I development. Each will receive six-month contracts valued at up to $125,000. Watch the video below to learn more about the CubeSats being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California.

PCM briefing: NASA testing PCM heat exchanger for Orion spacecraft; 'too much' renewable energy in Texas, California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 13, 2016



NASA has partnered with the International Space Station to test the next generation of phase change material heat exchangers for use aboard the Orion spacecraft. The PCM HX helps maintain a comfortable environment by absorbing and ejecting excess heat. The test platform pumps a mix of propylene glycol and water through the PCM HX at temperatures between -10º and 30º Celsius. The wax PCM was developed by UTC Aerospace Systems.

ARPA-E is looking for input on the development of low-cost occupancy sensors to help minimize the energy used to heat and cool buildings.

• A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that many developing nations that now rely on a "high share of renewable energy in their power mix" are increasingly turning to fossil fuels to meet growing demand for cheap electricity.

• The world's renewable energy capacity grew by a record 152 gigawatts in 2015, or about 8.3 percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Solar capacity grew by 47 gigawatts, or 26 percent, as the cost of PV panels continued to fall.

• Appearing at last month's Solar Heating and Cooling Workshop in Melbourne, Frank Bruno, associate research professor at the University of South Australia, said phase change material thermal storage is cheaper than batteries for solar storage, costing around $200 (AUD) per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, compared to $1,500/kWh for batteries.

Installer magazine takes a close look at Viessmann's Ice Store home heating and cooling system.

• A provocative headline in the MIT Technology Review last week: "Texas and California Have Too Much Renewable Energy." The rapid growth of wind and solar, with no large-scale storage in place, has made a mess of energy prices in those states.