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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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Patent application: Support tool for composite parts

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170291404 (applicant Boeing Co., Chicago, Ill.):

"Systems and methods are provided for forming composite parts. One embodiment is an apparatus that includes a forming tool. The forming tool includes a body, which includes an exterior that defines a shape for forming a laminate that will be cured into a composite part. The body also includes elements of phase change material that provide rigidity to the body below a threshold temperature, and that exhibit a phase change above the threshold temperature causing the body to become pliable. Further, the body includes flexible material that encloses the elements of phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170291404.pdf

Paraffin-enhanced concrete shows promise in melting ice, snow

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

PCM LWA video

Dr. Yaghoob Farnam has spent four years combining concrete and phase change material in various ways in a quest to develop a durable paving material that can melt ice and snow. 

Farnam, an assistant professor in Drexel University’s College of Engineering, has previously measured the effectiveness of paraffin oil and methyl laurate, materials that have relatively high heat storage capacity (about 130 to 170 joules per gram) and a suitable phase transformation temperature (about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius). Both showed promise when contained in plastic tubes embedded in concrete. But the paraffin oil proved to be far more effective than methyl laurate in concrete made of lightweight aggregate infused with the PCMs. Chemical reactions between the methyl laurate and materials in the cement rendered that PCM ineffective and also appeared to cause cracks in the concrete.

In his latest paper, published in Cement and Concrete Composites, Farnam's research team focused on paraffin oil. The team used concrete slabs to compare two methods of deploying the PCM. Steel pipes filled with paraffin and sealed with PVC caps were embedded in one slab. A second slab was made of porous lightweight aggregate infused with paraffin. A third slab, containing no paraffin, served as a reference point. Each slab was sealed in an insulated container and then covered with about 5 inches of shaved ice.

DrexelNow describes what happened in two tests:

"With temperatures inside the boxes held between 35-44 degrees Fahrenheit, both of the paraffin-treated slabs were able to completely melt the snow within the first 25 hours of testing, while the snow on the reference sample remained frozen. The slab with the paraffin-filled tubes melted the snow slightly faster than the one composed of paraffin-treated aggregate. Farnam suggests that this is because the paraffin inside the tubes is able to solidify more quickly — thus releasing its energy — because of the regular diameter of the pipes. While the diameter of the pores of the aggregate vary in size.

"But in the group’s second experiment, in which the ambient air temperature in the box was lowered to freezing before the snow was added, the paraffin-treated aggregate was more effective than the embedded pipes. This is because the capillary pore pressure delayed the freezing of the paraffin, thus allowing it to release its heat energy over a longer period of time." 

The research is of particular importance to the airline industry, which has a keen interest in finding cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to clear runways of ice and snow. The Federal Aviation Administration has supported Farnam's work with nearly $500,000 in grants through its PEGASAS program.

Farnam says additional research is needed to better understand how the addition of PCM affects pavement durability, skid resistance and long-term stability.  

http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2017/September/self-melting-concrete-roads/

PCM briefing: A baby manikin that sweats; a salt and antifreeze TES system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

Alphabet Inc.'s secretive development lab is developing a system for storing renewable energy in tanks filled with salt and antifreeze. "The system takes in energy in the form of electricity and turns it into separate streams of hot and cold air," Bloomberg reports. "The hot air heats up the salt, while the cold air cools the antifreeze, a bit like a refrigerator. ... Flip a switch and the process reverses. Hot and cold air rush toward each other, creating powerful gusts that spin a turbine and spit out electricity when the grid needs it. Salt maintains its temperature well, so the system can store energy for many hours, and even days, depending on how much you insulate the tanks."

Thermetrics baby manikinThermetrics LLC has introduced an 11-zone thermal baby manikin that features a thermally conductive carbon-epoxy shell, a “sweating skin system” and internal heater elements and temperature sensors. Nicknamed “Ruth,” the manikin can be used to evaluate the thermal properties of clothing, diapers, bedding, car seats and strollers.

Axiom Exergy and Ice Energy are on a list of 25 companies notable for developing innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption in commercial and industrial buildings.  

Croda International has announced the acquisition of Enza Biotech AB, a research enterprise established as a spin-out company from Lund University in Sweden.

AkzoNobel has announced the winners of its 2017 Imagine Chemistry initiative, recognizing and supporting efforts to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and to uncover sustainable opportunities for the company’s specialty chemicals business. Among the winners is Industrial Microbes of Emeryville, Calif., for its work on the biocatalysis of ethylene to ethylene oxide.

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins and Magnum CAES CEO Richard Walje will be among the speakers at the Energy Storage North America conference in San Diego next week. 

ONE Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., has selected Acme Aerospace to provide lithium ion battery systems to be used in ONE’s “Project Canada” aircraft. The Acme system features a proprietary phase change material to improve battery performance.

Reuters reports that Dow Chemical and DuPont are seeing increased benefits in developing sustainable "green" products, as the chemical giants seek new areas of growth and build a stronger connection with millennials.

TemperPack, a Virginia-based manufacturer of sustainable packaging for perishable goods, has raised $10 million in an investment round that will help it further expand operations and add jobs.

Digital strategies “will have a significant impact on many areas of the chemical industry, with the potential to change value chains, lead to higher productivity and more innovation, and create new channels to market,” according to a McKinsey & Co. analysis.

• The Bioencapsulation Research Group has posted the program for the 3rd Latin-America Symposium on Microencapsulation, to be held in Chile Nov. 27-29.

1414 Degrees, the Australian startup that has developed a way to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, has posted openings for a chief financial officer and an energy storage and power network system analyst.

• New from QY Research: "Global Inorganic Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market Research Report 2017"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Energy Harvesting Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2014 - 2020" and "Chilled Water Storage System Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 – 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017 – 2027"

ThermoSafe ChillTechSonoco ThermoSafe has launched a new range of reusable, universal solutions for the pharmaceutical and biologics markets. ChillTech is a pre-qualified range of 2°C to 8°C PCM systems providing temperature control from two days up to six days for payloads from 4L to 40L. The range uses Laminar Medica’s ChillPhase paraffin phase change material.

• A new reference manual for the oleochemical industry is now available. "Fatty Acids: Chemistry, Synthesis, and Applications" presents new information on industrially important fatty acids including detailed descriptions of fatty acid crystallization, enzymatic synthesis and microbial production.

Pluss Advanced Technologies has received a 50 lakh grant (about $78,000 USD) under India’s Millennium Alliance Program to promote the use of the company’s MiraCradle cooling device in hospitals and neonatal care units across India. The device uses phase change material to treat birth asphyxia in newborns. 

• Why haven't phase change materials taken off in the UK construction industry? Ian Biggin of Phase Energy Ltd., which is developing novel shape-stabilized technologies, says the industry needs to address what he calls the "4Ps": price, performance, proof and promotion.

Patent application: Heat and humidity removal unit for a self-contained breathing apparatus

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170143933 (applicant Paragon Space Development Corp., Tucson, Ariz.):

"This disclosure relates to a regenerable, heat-abating, humidity-neutralizing, carbon dioxide removal system for a self-contained breathing apparatus. The self-contained breathing apparatus can include a carbon dioxide removal unit that scrubs carbon dioxide out of exhaled air from a user to provide humidified, scrubbed exhaled air. The self-contained breathing apparatus can further include a heat and humidity removal unit that is configured to receive the humidified, scrubbed exhaled air, and is configured to remove water vapor and heat associated with the water vapor from the humidified, scrubbed exhaled air in order to provide cooled, dehumidified inhalation air. The cooled, dehumidified air can be supplemented with oxygen and returned to the user at a comfortable temperature. In some implementations, the heat and humidity removal unit can replace conventional heat exchange and energy storage units, including heat exchange and energy storage units that use phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170143933.pdf

PCM briefing: Managing heat in low-orbit satellites; Expert Forum on VDI 2164 canceled

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Roccor LLC of Longmont, Colo., is using phase change material in a device designed to manage internal heat in low-orbit satellites. “We have one product with paraffin wax inside a flat structure. When the spacecraft is hot, it dumps heat into that paraffin wax and turns that into a liquid — basically a store of energy,” Chris Pearson, Roccor’s vice president of space programs, said in an interview with Via Satellite. The heat is later released into the satellite to keep temperatures stable.

• A new research portal for energy-optimized construction summarizes some of the funding measures of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under one umbrella. The German-language site, www.projektinfos.energiewendebauen.de, also has research on thermal energy storage and provides examples of projects and activities that apply PCM to optimize the energy needs of buildings.

Lloyds reports that Maersk Line is planning to make advanced monitoring data on premium perishables and pharma products available to its shipping customers later this year. 

• New from Research and Markets: "Global District Cooling Market By Type and Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2012-2026"

• New from HJResearch: "Global Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Industry Market Research 2017"

Pluss Advanced Technologies of Gurgaon, India, is seeking candidates for the position of research associate to design and perform experiments for the development of inorganic and organic phase change materials.

• The Swedish environmental group ChemSec has launched a free website linking companies selling alternatives to hazardous chemicals with those seeking to buy them. The first product request posted on The Marketplace: Clothing retailer H&M is looking for alternatives to the bisphenol A used in thermal paper for cash register and credit card receipts.

Celsia Inc.'s redesigned website, celsiainc.com, features a heat pipe performance calculator, a spreading delta-T calculator and a heat sink size calculator.

Glacier Tek, maker of cooling vests powered by PureTemp phase change material, has launched a redesigned website at www.glaciertek.com. The new site features improved navigation, fresh photography and a new tagline: "Prepare to be Cool."

• The City Council of Goderich, Ontario, has approved a proposal by NRStor to build a 1.75-megawatt compressed air energy storage plant in an unused salt cavern. The electricity created will feed into Ontario's energy grid.

• The Expert Forum on VDI Guideline 2164, scheduled for June 20 in Düsseldorf, Germany, has been canceled. The forum, organized by the Association of German Engineers' building and building technology group in cooperation with the RAL Quality Association PCM, may be held at a later date.

Patent application: Integrated multi-chamber heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Monday, March 27, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170082371 (applicant Lockheed Martin Corp., Owego, N.Y.):

"A one-piece heat exchanger manufactured using an additive manufacturing process is described. The heat exchanger includes a plurality of channels formed therein. At least some of the plurality of channels may be configured to provide structural support to the heat exchanger to reduce its weight. Different coolant media may be used in a first set and a second set of the plurality of channels to provide different types of cooling in an integrated one-piece heat exchanger structure. ... [A] phase change material coolant (e.g., paraffin that changes state between a solid and a liquid) may provide both steady state cooling using the fluid coolant channels and transient cooling using the phase change material coolant channels to effectively provide cooling for a component or components that generate both steady state heat and occasional, transient, spikes in heat."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170082371.pdf

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.