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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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PCM-powered actuator is finalist for $50,000 Hackaday Prize

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

A thermal actuator that uses the power of phase change material to displace fluids and perform work is a finalist in the 2018 Hackaday Prize competition. 

Andrew BensonThe actuator, designed by Andrew Benson of Denver, Colo., is competing in the power harvesting category. The challenge: Build a module that harvests ambient power and show the module powering a project. Benson's actuator retracts and expands as the PCM freezes or melts. The concept is described on the competition's website, hackaday.com.

"Thermal actuators are generally inefficient, but extraordinarily reliable," Benson wrote in his contest entry. "This inefficiency can be overlooked when the thermal actuator is powered by waste or ambient heat. They are often used as thermal feedback mechanisms, such as the wax thermostat found in many water cooled engines. Environmental control systems can be created where a thermal actuator reacts to the environment, such as a shade device that deploys when ambient temperature rises above the melting temperature of the PCM."

The five Hackaday Prize winners will be announced at the Hackaday Superconference in early November. The grand prize: $50,000.

https://hackaday.com/2018/08/02/thermal-actuators-hydraulic-motors-that-feed-on-temperature-changes/

PCM briefing: PureTemp blog is finalist for industry award; ACC urges Trump to remove all chemicals from tariffs list

Ben Welter - Friday, July 27, 2018

• The Phase Change Matters blog is a finalist in the 2018 PR News Platinum and Agency Elite Awards. Other finalists in the blog category include Shopfloor (National Association of Manufacturers), The Blonde Abroad (R&R Partners) and Transform (Microsoft Inc.). Winners will be announced at a luncheon in New York City on Sept. 21.

Phase Change Material Products Ltd. and Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE will be among the exhibitors at Chillventa 2018. The trade show for refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation and heat pumps will be held Oct. 16-18 in Nuremberg, Germany. 

FLIR One Pro LTFlir Systems has released the One Pro LT thermal image camera for the iPhone. The new model has many of the core features of the popular One Pro model but at a lower price: $299.

Ed Brzytwa, the American Chemistry Council's director of international trade, has urged the Trump administration to remove all chemicals and plastics products, valued at $2.2 billion, from a list of Chinese goods subject to possible increased tariffs. In testimony before officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative this week, Brzytwa said higher tariffs on those products “has the potential to harm America’s manufacturing renaissance and is counterproductive to U.S. economic interests.” 

• The program for the 13th Conference on Advanced Building Skins has been posted. The event will be held Oct. 1-2 in Bern, Switzerland. Last year's conference included at least 10 presentations on phase change material. "Phase change" appears just twice in this year's program. A presentation by Jose Manuel Montes Donaire of AKT II Envelopes, London, "Thermal tuning of envelopes and its use as a parametric design tool," will address the topic of energy buffering with phase change materials. A presentation by Annie Shaw of Manchester School of Art on the architectural potential of knitted textiles will explore "three-dimensional seamlessness and stretch, phase-change form-finding and form-fixing."

• Pillow talk: Phase change material is no longer enough. Manufacturers like Tulo and Blu Sleep are turning to titanium particles and essential oils in an effort to stand out it in the crowded pillow market.

Pelican BioThermal's newest temperature-control bulk shipper, the CoolPall Flex, is now available for purchase. The CoolPall Flex, unveiled in Milan in March, has a capacity range of 140 to 767 liters. Options include standard insulation or vacuum insulated panels and water-based or PCM coolants in single or double coolant configurations.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and United Cargo announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from United Cargo.

PCM briefing: New EU energy standard takes effect; new research on inorganic phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, July 09, 2018

• The new version of the European Union's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive takes effect July 9. The directive is the EU's main legislative instrument designed to promote improved energy performance of buildings. Member states will have 20 months to transpose the new elements into national law.

• A proposal to use microencapsulated phase change material to help motor vehicles run smoothly in extreme cold has won the ClimateLaunchpad competition in Azerbaijan. A team of chemical engineering students from Baku Higher Oil School developed the concept. The team will represent Azerbaijan at the ClimateLaunchpad finals in Scotland Nov. 1-2, 2018.

• New from Research Reports: "2018 Global Inorganic PCMs Industry Report – History, Present and Future"

Solar-powered concept camper uses PCM to keep passengers comfortable

Ben Welter - Monday, July 02, 2018

Dethleffs' e.home concept camperDethleffs GmbH & Co.'s solar-powered concept camper, introduced last year, is one of four winners in the transportation category of the German Innovation Award 2018. The "e.home" features 334 square feet of thin solar panels and a heating system that uses phase change materials to absorb heat when the outside temperature rises above 79° F. Fully equipped, its driving range on a full charge is just over 100 miles.

Christoph Gawalleck, technical director at Dethleffs, oversaw the two-year development of the e-home. He answered a few question via email:

Q: Describe the phase change material used in the vehicle.

A: “The PCM is Micronal from BASF. But BASF sold this business unit to Microtek Laboratories in May 2017. It is a paraffin. The melting point is 26°C, the solidification takes place at 23° C.”

Cross section of PCM panel used in Dethleffs e.homeQ: How is the PCM contained?

A: “The PCM is in aluminum plates that are shaped like corrugated cardboard [right]. So the heat can be passed very quickly to the PCM. The plate contains 4 kilograms of Micronal per square meter.”

Q: How much PCM is used in the camper?

A: “Approximately 35 kilograms.”

Q: Have you collected data on how well the PCM manages temperatures in the camper? Has it met expectations?

A: “The vehicle was at many shows last year, so the tests are still running at the moment.”

Q: What was the development team's great challenge?

A: “The biggest challenge was to get access to the battery capacity of the vehicle in addition to the solar cells.”

Q: Are there plans to commercialize the e.home camper?

A: “The vehicle was meant to present our ideas to customers and match them with their wishes. Of course, various individual elements, such as connectivity, will be incorporated into production vehicles.”

Q: Are there plans to use PCM technology in other Dethleffs campers?

A: “This is not known until the tests have been completed.”

PCM briefing: Ecozen Solutions wins Ashden Award; Fraunhofer researchers among winners in Imagine Chemistry challenge

Ben Welter - Monday, June 11, 2018

Ecozen cold storage unit

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, is one of six international winners in the 2018 Ashden Awards competition. The Ecofrost system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather. The organizations will be honored at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday, June 14. 

Axel Kraft and Martin Peters of Fraunhofer UMSICHT are among the winners of the 2018 AkzoNobel Imagine Chemistry challenge. Kraft and Peters will receive support from LuxResearch to further develop a catalytic process for making alcohols from more sustainable raw materials. Overall, 10 startups and researchers were chosen as winners from a group of 20 finalists at a three-day event held at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden.

A call for papers has been issued for the 10th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation and Energy Conservation in Buildings. Topics include ventilation strategies and measurement techniques; HVAC systems; smart technologies for zero-energy buildings; and design and energy modeling. Abstracts are due by Nov. 1. The conference will be held Sept. 5-7, 2019, in Bari, Italy.  

• Researchers at the Jülich Solar Tower test facility in Germany have reached a milestone in the development of a new receiver concept for solar tower power plants. During a test of the centrifugal receiver CentRec for the generation and storage of solar high temperature heat, an average particle temperature of 965 degrees Celsius has been measured at the receiver outlet. The bauxite particles used in the system are available at prices that enable cost-effective thermal storage. “The proof of the high operating temperature is an essential condition for the targeted commercialization of this new receiver concept,” said Dr. Reiner Buck, head of solar tower systems at the DLR Institute of Solar Research

• June 15 is the last day to get the early bird rate for this year's Advancements in Thermal Management Conference (Denver, Aug. 8-9). Topics include thermal materials, thermal imaging, thermal characterization, modeling, battery cooling and thermal simulation. Joe Kelly, senior materials scientist at Outlast Technologies, is among the speakers. His topic: "Enhancing Thermal Stability and Performance of Lithium-ion Batteries using Latent Heat Storage (LHS) Technology."

Axiotherm data cooling center concept honored at Future Thinking conference

Ben Welter - Friday, May 18, 2018

A data center cooling concept developed by Axiotherm GmbH and Frigoteam Handels GmbH was among the technologies honored at last month's Future Thinking conference in Darmstadt, Germany.

The concept, "Security of supply and emergency operation in data centers by integration of PCM cold storage," took third place in the energy technology category. Based on Axiotherm's HeatSel thermal storage technology, the system is designed to ensure the cooling of data centers in the event of a power outage. At the same time, the use of photovoltaic power and free cooling can increase system efficiency and reduce emissions during regular operations.

Dirk BüttnerAxiotherm, a subsidiary of ESDA Technologie GmbH, specializes in developing macro-encapsulation of phase change materials for various applications. Dirk Büttner, Axiotherm's chief research officer, answered a few questions about the technology by e-mail: 

Q: The award is based on a data center cooling concept, not a working model or pilot project, correct?

A: "Correct, the award is based on a cooling concept, but there have already been diverse Frigoteam cooling systems with the Axiotherm PCM-Storage implemented, only for other fields of application."

Q: Is this the system that you and Yvonne Reimann of Croda gave a presentation on at the 5th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage in Lucerne in January?

A: "Yes, the Axiotherm Hybrid-PCM-Storage was the central element of the presentation in Lucerne."

Q: Is CrodaTherm specified as the PCM used in the data cooling center concept?

A: "No, in this system a subzero PCM developed by Axiotherm."

Axiotherm thermal storage tankQ: What are the peak melting points and energy storage capacities of the PCMs available for use in the system?

A: "Starting at -33°C up to +12°C. The storage capacity of the Hybrid-PCM-System is typically approximately 50 kWh /m3 (@dT = 10 K)."

Q: What are the dimensions of the HeatSel discs, and what are they made of?

A: There are two types of HeatSels, one with a diameter of 180 mm for smaller tanks, and one with a diameter of 270 mm for big tanks (with a diameter >1,20 m). The maximum layer thickness in both cases is less than 30 mm, therefore, compared to classical spherical elements, a four times higher thermal output power can be achieved. The (diffusion resistant) encapsulation material depends on the operating temperature, the basis are e.g. PP or PE-HD.

Q: What are the next steps in the development of this system, technically and commercially speaking?

A: "First step was the successful proof of concept and initial market entry through launching customers, like Frigoteam. 

"The next step is the extension of distribution network through fast-following customers. Here we are looking for further potential strategic partnerships with fast-following customers, like tank manufacturers and manufacturers of cooling/heating systems.

"Another step is the diversification of customers for further applications, such as for industries working with process heat and cooling as well as manufacturers of air conditioning and further cooling systems."

PCM keeps Embry-Riddle’s EcoCAR entry running cool

Ben Welter - Monday, April 30, 2018

Batteries used in hybrid and electric cars work hard and run hot. Traditional cooling systems use an array of pumps, heat exchangers, cooling fans and hoses to manage that heat. Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University needed something lighter and simpler for its entry in the Department of Energy’s EcoCAR 3 competition.

The solution: an aluminum cooling plate filled with biobased phase change material.

A team of mechanical engineering students at the school designed and built the plate under the direction of Sandra Boetcher, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The school’s EcoCAR entry required that the plate use a PCM with a peak melting point of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F). To achieve that temperature, the team selected two commercially available PCMs – PureTemp 37 and PureTemp 48 – and mixed them together.

Embry-Riddle cold plateBoetcher explains the photo at right:

“That’s the inside of the plate before we sealed the aluminum lid on it. On the inside is a copper tube. At the time we put this in the car, we were under a strict deadline and did not have time to redo the bending of the copper tube. The copper tube feeds a cold ethylene-glycol/water mixture as backup for when the PCM has completely melted and needs to resolidify while the car is driving.

“I was concerned that the copper tube didn’t provide enough coverage of the area, but that cold plate has been in the car for the past 2.5 years and it works great. Actually, the back-up pump that runs the ethylene-glycol/water through the copper tube rarely even turns on which means that under our test-driving conditions, the cold plate is acting 100 percent passive. The terrible part of the PCM is that it loves to leak. We feel that there has been some leaking.”

The plate is lighter and simpler than a water-cooled system. “It doesn’t take any energy to run,” said Patrick Currier, an associate professor who advises the EcoCAR team. “We’re not wasting power cooling things. This is a totally passive system, so unless it leaks, it can’t fail.”

Embry-Riddle filed for a U.S. patent on the device in 2015.

“The diagrams in the patent are similar to what we have in the EcoCAR right now, although the geometry is a little different,” Boetcher said. “The research we are conducting is still on-going. The applications we envision could be anything that requires PCM – battery cooling, building technologies, etc.”

Embry-Riddle is one of 16 North American universities challenged to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car to reduce environmental impact, while maintaining the “muscle and performance” the car is known for. 

The teams have had four years to develop their entries. The cars will be put to the test in a variety of events in Arizona and California in May. Winners will be chosen in 40-plus categories at an awards ceremony in Hollywood on May 22, with more than $100,000 in prize money at stake.

Embry-Riddle EcoCAR entry

https://news.erau.edu/headlines/shape-shifters-lightweight-technology-keeps-batteries-cool-supporting-eco-vehicles

PCM briefing: Monodraught wins a Queen's Award; Dulas delivers 50 PCM-equipped solar refrigerators to Pakistant

Ben Welter - Monday, April 30, 2018

John Curley, former technical sales manager at Conex Bänninger and Viega Ltd., has rejoined Monodraught Ltd. as technical consultant. 

• Monodraught, of High Wycombe, United Kingdom, won a Queen's Award for Enterprise this week for its Cool-phase system, which provides "intelligent control of ventilation and cooling using phase change materials." Peli BioThermal of Bedfordshire also received a Queen's Award. The temperature-control packaging company was honored for its "export expertise." 

Dulas Ltd. has delivered 50 of its VC110SDD solar-powered refrigerators to Pakistan. The 110-liter refrigerators, accredited by the World Health Organization, use paraffin-based phase change material to keep vaccines at temperatures ranging from 5°C to 43°C. Renewable Energy Magazine reports that the U.K. company has also launched a temperature-monitoring device that can record and transmit the performance of the refrigerators in real time at any location in the world. 

Andrew Michler's MARTaK Passive House in Colorado has been named the overall winner in Green Builder's 10th annual Green Home of the Year Awards. Natural, nontoxic and recycled materials are used throughout the 1,200-square-foot house. Biobased phase change material with a melt point of 23º C is used to help even out temperature spikes. Five hundred square feet of ENRG Blankets made by Phase Change Energy Solutions is installed a south-facing interior wall. 

• The agenda has been released for the next Cold Chain Global Forum, set for Sept. 24-27 in Philadelphia. The lineup includes discussions on "CRT Product Solutions: How Can We Use Phase Change Materials or Water-based Refrigerants to Successfully Ship Compliance Ready Materials?" and "How Can We Achieve Sustainability & Environmental Packaging Designs in Temperature Controlled Packaging?" Also on the agenda are sessions on "Improving Sustainability & Environmental Packaging to Reduce Waste and Ensure Temperature Compliant Packaging Designs" and "Maintaining Temperature Control Distribution with New Reduced Delivery Targets" and a master class, "Certification Program: Life-Cycle Development of Temperature Assurance Packaging." 

Safer Chemicals in Products 2018 will be held in Boston Sept. 17-18. Topics include "Making the Business Case for Safer Chemicals" and "Substitution Strategies in Europe and Canada."

• New from QY Research: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product, By Type, By Region, By Application, Competitive Landscape, And Segment Forecasts 2018-2025"

PCM briefing: Thermal storage in focus at Energy Storage Europe; SaltX, Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop insulation paper

Ben Welter - Monday, March 12, 2018

• "Life Cycle Assessment of Thermal Energy Storage Materials, Components and System Concepts" (Björn Nienborg, Fraunhofer ISE) and "Development of PCM Based on the Prediction of Phase Diagrams of Salt Hydrate Mixtures" (Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern) are among more than a dozen presentations on thermal storage at this week's Energy Storage Europe expo and conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• The energy storage company SaltX Technology will collaborate with specialty paper producer Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop a large-scale manufacturing method for graphene-coated insulation paper. The paper will carry SaltX's patented nano coated salt, increasing the heat conductivity of the SaltX material by up to five times. 

• The March 2018 issue of the CIBSE Journal features a continuing professional development module sponsored by Monodraught: "Operating and enhancing PCM-cooled ventilation systems in office applications.

• New from Persistence Market Research: "Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020" and "Global Insulated Shipping Containers Market Research Report 2018"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"

• Registration is open for an Industrial Fabrics Association International webinar on recent smart fabric applications used in a number of government, commercial, medical and consumer market segments. The cost for the March 15 webinar, initially presented in January, is $29 for association members, $79 for non-members. 

Arizona State University researchers have shed new light on the anomalous properties of water, using specially treated water mixed with another chemical. "As they changed the temperature at high pressures," Gizmodo reports, "they noticed a sharp change in the water's molecular behaviour as it seemed to change phases - from a liquid to a liquid."  

• The first Lego blocks made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane will go on sale later this year. Lego’s current blocks are made from oil-based plastics.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking bids to replace a chiller at the department's Washington, D.C., headquarters. The chiller was originally installed in 1995 to make ice at night for a thermal energy storage system.

Sunamp Ltd. is among 35 finalists preparing to pitch to investors at Cleantech Innovate in London on March 20.

GTI, a not-for-profit research organization based in Illinois, has been invited to present its hybrid solar energy system project at ARPA-E's Congressional Showcase March 12. The system stores thermal energy in inert particles for on-demand use.

PCM briefing: Maryland launches energy storage tax credit; Viessmann system wins German innovation prize

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

• A business opportunity at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash: "Acquisition of a thermal energy ice storage system (TESS) that will be integrated with an existing chilled water distribution loop serving one building." Bids are due March 8.

Stefan Braun, SmartCAE managing director• In a pair of LinkedIn articles, SmartCAE's Stefan Braun shares his company's approach to preparing PCM bricks for cold-chain shipments. "Our recommendation is to precondition PCMs outside the phase change range," he writes. "This way, the PCM bricks are always in a well-defined state, providing their full latent heat rather than some undefined fraction. A repeatable, well-defined preconditioning process is a prerequisite for a robust box design."

• The Maryland Energy Administration is accepting applications for its new Energy Storage Tax Credit Program, which offers up to $750,000 to residential and commercial customers who install qualified systems. "The rules specify that projects can store electrical energy: mechanical and chemical including electrochemical energy, in addition to thermal energy that 'was once electrical energy,' " Utility Dive reports. "The rules also say all storage systems must store energy either for use as electrical energy at a later date or in a process that offsets electricity use at peak times.​"

Viessmann’s ESyCool Green propane-based heat pump refrigeration system has been awarded the government-backed German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment. The system includes an ice thermal storage component.