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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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Patent application: Cables made of phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170045301 (applicant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"Disclosed is a cable comprising a core and a PCM layer surrounding the core wherein the PCM layer consists of a PCM composition wherein the PCM composition comprises a PCM and an ethylene copolymer; and the core consists of a yarn, strand, or wire each made of a natural or synthetic polymeric material or a metal. The invention is useful for thermal management in a variety of applications in such as, for example, automotive, building, packaging, garments, and footwear."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170045301.pdf

Research roundup: New way to measure specific heat capacity; PCM underfloor heating; metal foams; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New proposed methodology for specific heat capacity determination of materials for thermal energy storage (TES) by DSC [Journal of Energy Storage]

Thermal diffusivity measurement of erythritol and numerical analysis of heat storage performance on a fin-type heat exchanger [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Benefits of PCM underfloor heating with PCM wallboards for space heating in winter [Applied Energy]

Non-steady experimental investigation on an integrated thermal management system for power battery with phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental investigation on heat transfer characteristics during melting of a phase change material with dispersed TiO2 nanoparticles in a rectangular enclosure [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Numerical method and model for calculating thermal storage time for an annular tube with phase change material [Journal of Central South Florida]

Stratified Laboratory Thermal Energy Storage (LabTES) Tank Experiments: Sensible Only and Sensible Augmented with PCM-Filled Tubes [University of Cincinnati master's thesis]

Development and optimization of PCM-based technology for cooling applications for improvement of fuel efficiency in commercial vehicle [SAE World Congress Experience]

Establishment and experimental verification of TRNSYS model for PCM floor coupled with solar water heating system [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal Performance Enhancement of Phase Change Materials (PCMs) by Using Metal Foams [Al-Nahrain Journal for Engineering Sciences]

Budding engineers ride their PCM idea to state tournament

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Even with windows open, dogs left in hot cars are in danger of overheating. Ten schoolchildren from Fox Valley Christian Academy in Neenah, Wis., have developed a winning solution: a rubber-and-foam mat filled with biobased phase change material.

The team is one of thousands participating in FIRST LEGO League, an international competition designed to get elementary and middle school students interested in science and technology. This year’s theme, “Animal Allies,” challenged students to bridge the gap between humans and animals through scientific research and robotics design.

The Fox Valley students, ages 8 to 13, began their work in September and decided to find a way to keep dogs cool in hot cars. Their research led them to a variety of PCM options. Because the application involves pets, the students chose to focus on nontoxic material for use in their “LayCool” device.

The final design stacks PCMs with three different transition temperatures atop the rubber mat: Ice in plastic blocks at the base, then two Entropy Solutions formulations – PureTemp 18 and PureTemp 23 – contained in film pouches. The PCM core is surrounded by foam and a fabric cover. The “LayCool” concept includes a temperature-sensing collar that sends a text message to the dog’s owner when heat approaches dangerous levels.

“The team really liked that the PCMs were nontoxic, safe, biodegradable,” said adviser Scott Wenzel, a parent of two team members. “You never know when your dog will try to eat the LayCool. We also loved the fact that the PCMs were encased in a mat, which we were able to cut to size and place in the LayCool.”

Wenzel, a technical leader in formulation science at Kimberly-Clark, described the prototyping process as collaborative: “Ideas were gathered on the best way to layer PCMs to keep cool the longest and try to keep dog comfortable.”

The collaborative effort is paying off. The team won first place in the research category in two competitions, including last month’s sectional tournament, where Fox Valley beat 47 other teams. They earned a trip to the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 26 in Janesville, Wis.

Patent application: HVAC systems for electrically powered vehicles

Ben Welter - Monday, December 12, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160355068 (applicant BorgWarner Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.):

"A heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system for an electrically-powered vehicle (EV) having an electric motor powered by at least one battery, comprising: a blower; a conduit configured to carry air from the blower to vents leading to a passenger cabin of the EV; an electric heater positioned in the conduit and configured to heat the air; and a thermal reservoir heater positioned in the conduit and including a second electric heater powered by the battery and a phase change material (PCM) in heat exchange relation to the second electric heater and the air, the PCM surrounding the second electric heater and being configured to absorb and store heat from the second electric heater, the PCM being further configured to release heat into the air without using power from the battery."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160355068.pdf

Patent application: Storage evaporator having PCM for use in vehicle A/C system

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 07, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160347146 (inventors Lim Wijaya and Nickolaos Economou, Auburn Hills, Mich.):

Vehicle evaporation system patent drawing"A storage evaporator for an air conditioning system in a vehicle is provided that includes phase change material-containing tubes arranged side-by-side in contact with refrigerant-containing tubes. The storage evaporator includes an upper coolant tank, a lower coolant tank, refrigerant-containing tubes fluidly connecting said tanks; and phase change material-containing tubes provided in contact with said refrigerant tubes. The refrigerant tubes have flat sides and the phase change material-containing tubes have flat sides. The flat sides of the refrigerant tubes are attached to the flat sides of said phase change material-containing tubes. The phase change material may be any of several materials and may [be a] eutectic, a salt hydrate, and an organic material. In operation, cold energy is stored in the phase change material when the air conditioning compressor is in its “On” position. This cold energy is released from the phase change material when the compressor is in its “Off” position."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160347146.pdf

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: Croda earns EcoVadis Gold Status; case study on heat flux sensor use

Ben Welter - Friday, November 04, 2016

Croda, the U.K.-based specialty chemicals company whose product line includes biobased CrodaTherm phase change material, has earned EcoVadis Gold Status for the third year running, placing in the top 1 percent of all chemical companies evaluated. The designation is based on a company's environmental, labor, fair business and sustainable procurement practices. 

CIC Energigune is seeking candidates for a postdoctoral position in the thermal energy storage group for research focused on materials development and characterization. The research center, based in Spain's Basque Country, also has openings for a lab technician and a TES group leader. 

• Australia's National Solar Energy Centre is seeking a Ph.D. student to join a research team studying high-temperature solar thermal energy storage. Areas of research may include novel thermal processes and energy storage systems; process dynamic simulation and integration; and computational modeling of particulate flow.  

GreenTEG has posted a case study explaining how heat flux sensors can help construction planners better understand how phase change materials perform in building materials.

Dr. Barbara Pause, president of Textile Testing and Innovation LLC, talked about the potential for phase change materials in automotive applications at last month's Industrial Fabric Association International Expo in North Carolina. She presented data showing that PCM embedded in adhesives and fabrics can reduce the temperature inside a parked car from as high as 180º F down to under 120º F over a two-hour period.  

Cardinal Health Inc. will give a presentation on its award-winning packaging solutions at Pack Expo International in Chicago on Tuesday. The Reusable Packaging Association recently honored Cardinal for its innovative approach to ensuring the safe, efficient and sustainable delivery of refrigerated pharmaceuticals. In partnership with Sonoco ThermoSafe, Cardinal switched from water-based coolant gel packs within its reusable plastic totes to plant-based PureTemp phase change materials. The change helped Cardinal reduce product spoilage by 90 percent.

• New from Wise Guy Reports: "Global Eutectic PCMs Sales Market Report 2016," "Global Salt Hydrates Sales Market Report 2016," "Global Inorganic PCMs Sales Market Report 2016," "Global Non-Paraffin Compounds Sales Market Report 2016" and "Global Paraffin Compounds Sales Market Report 2016."

• On the agenda for the International District Cooling Conference in Dubai Nov. 13-15: Steve Benz of EVAPCO will talk about thermal energy storage types and best practices for optimizing chilled water dispatch. Henry Johnstone of GLHN Architects & Engineers will address the question of managing Delta T in buildings.

Patent application: Electric vehicle battery thermal management device

Ben Welter - Friday, September 16, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160264018 (applicant Renault SAS, France):

Renault patent drawing"The invention relates to a device for the thermal management of a battery of electric accumulator cells assembled within a rigid casing, said device comprising thermal storage means incorporated into said battery comprising a chamber containing a phase-change material and having a volume for exchange of heat with said accumulator cells which is delimited by at least part of said casing, the melting of the phase-change material being able to store heat, and the solidification of the phase-change material being able to release the heat previously stored. According to the invention, said chamber is equipped at its distal end with an expansion vessel able to absorb the expansions of said phase-change material as it changes phase."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160264018.pdf

Patent application: HVAC system for electric vehicle with driving range extension

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 01, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160250906 (applicant Mahle International GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany):

"A heat pump cooling and heating system for an electric vehicle includes a range extending PCM heat exchanger, with a single acting phase change material with a melt temperature between the two comfort temperatures associated with cooling and heating, respectively. In a charging mode, as the vehicle batteries are charged, the same exterior current source runs the compressor, charging the PCM exchanger with heat or 'cold.' During an initial range extending mode, the PCM exchanger/reservoir serves as the heat source or heat sink. The PCM material does not directly heat or cool the air, as is conventional, allowing a single reservoir material to be used in both heating and cooling modes."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160250906.pdf

PCM briefing: Phase change material in concept motorcycle and automotive interiors

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Can-Am Spyder e-motorcycle• Bombardier Recreational Products of Canada has produced an electric version of its three-wheel Can-Am Spyder motorcycle. The concept vehicle is equipped with a 16 kWh battery and has a range of about 170 km (106 miles). Phase change material is used to cool the lithium-ion batteries. No word on whether a production model is planned.

Dr. Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Industrial Fabrics Association International Expo in Charlotte, N.C. The topic of her Oct. 18 presentation: "Taking the heat – thermal control of the automotive interior with phase change material."

CALMAC is applauding the Massachusetts Legislature for approving an "energy diversity" bill that promotes the use of renewable energy sources and energy storage technologies. The legislation, signed into law Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, requires the state to seek long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and 1,200 MW of hydropower. Its broad definition of energy storage includes distributed thermal energy storage such as CALMAC's IceBank system. "It is unrealistic to believe that renewable energy will align itself perfectly with the demand of the power grid and consumers without adding energy storage," said Mark McCracken, the company's CEO. "Massachusetts has taken great steps to create a more reliable, smarter grid to adapt to future needs.”

• Got a big tank to clean? You might want to contact CYC International of Singapore. The plant maintenance company has created a snake-like robot to clean tanks at oil refineries. CYC says use of the remote-controlled robot reduces the number of workers needed to clean a tank, lowering health and safety risks and improving productivity.