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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 briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

PCM briefing: 'Array' radiator featured at Dutch Design Week; DLR's Sundharam among speakers at green tech conference

Ben Welter - Monday, October 29, 2018

Array radiator

• What happens when designers and scientists collaborate on new materials? Ten teams set out to answer that question over a six-month period. The results were on display at Dutch Design Week 2018 earlier this month. A metallic radiator filled with phase change materials and nanowires was one of 10 projects featured in the "What Matter_s" exhibition in Eindhoven. The "Array" radiator, the work of furniture designer Amy Wang, architect Tim Söderström and two nanotechnologists, Professor Magnus Borgström and Dr. Vilgailè Dagytè, is designed to absorb and disperse heat in reaction to changing ambient temperatures.

Prem Sundharam, global sustainability leader for DLR Group, will be among the speakers at this week's California Green Technology Schools and Community College Conference in Pasadena. "Looking forward to discussing about Zero-Net Energy Buildings, California's Duck-Curve and the application of Phase Change Materials (PCM) as an effective solution," he wrote on LinkedIn last week. "Bonus: Also sharing how to integrate innovative energy technology (PCM) into school curriculum and have students be active participants in this cutting-edge research!"  

EnergyNest thermal battery EnergyNest of Norway is partnering with the Italian utility Enel to analyze the potential for integrating industrial-scale thermal batteries into Enel’s thermal power plants. EnergyNest's battery, right, consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in Heatcrete, a special type of concrete developed in partnership with HeidelbergCement.

• New from QY Research: "Global (United States, European Union and China) Salt Hydrate Market Research Report 2018-2025"

• As the solar industry has grown, the market has been flooded with cheaply made Chinese panels. The panels are wearing out in as little as five years, the Verge reports, and recycling isn’t economically viable right now. “It’s going to be a major problem,” said Mary Hutzler, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.  

Vertellus, the specialty chemicals company based in Indianapolis, has named John Van Hulle its new chief executive officer. He previously served as president of global color and additives for Ohio-based PolyOne, and CEO of Wisconsin-based chemical supplier ChemDesign

PureTemp LLC is moving its Minnesota administrative office from Plymouth to Minneapolis, effective Oct. 31. The new address: 4232 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

• SolarReserve has been selected to receive a $2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office to advance concentrating concentrating solar power research and development. SolarReserve's CSP technology uses molten salt as a heat transfer fluid and thermal energy storage medium. 

Patent application: Battery module and use of a propagation protection element

Ben Welter - Monday, October 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180309177 (applicant Robert Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany):

"A battery module comprising at least one battery cell, wherein the battery module further comprises a propagation protection element which is connected in a thermally conductive manner to the battery cell and which is designed in such a way that, when a specific value for a temperature of the at least one battery cell is exceeded, an endothermic process which is being executed within the propagation protection element absorbs heat which is given off by the at least one battery cell."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180309177.pdf

Patent application: Flexible phase change material composite for thermal management systems

Ben Welter - Monday, October 22, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180298261 (applicant AllCell Technologies, Chicago, Ill.):

"A thermal management composite, comprising a phase change material within a carbon or graphite matrix. The matrix is coated with a polymer coating to improve flexibility. The matrix can be a molded carbon or graphite material or a carbon or graphite cloth."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180298261.pdf

PCM briefing: Traction battery for electric vehicles; Ember mug available in Apple stores

Ben Welter - Friday, October 19, 2018

• The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt, Germany, has developed a traction battery that can use thermal energy as a heat source in electric vehicles. A new type of fiber-reinforced composite sandwich housing protects the battery from temperature fluctuations. The phase change material composite system is designed to precondition the battery at low outside temperatures and reduce heat generation during rapid charging. The system was developed as part of the European Union's Optimized Energy Management and Use project. "We've developed material, structural and process technologies that can guarantee drivers a more reliable and uniform range for their battery-powered vehicles," said Felix Weidmann, project manager at Fraunhofer LBF.

Airec AB of Sweden has joined the EU Horizon 2020 project SWS-Heating. The project's goal is to develop seasonal thermal storage of solar energy. The energy will be stored in phase change materials. Airec will develop heat exchangers for the project. 

A process for extracting a biodegradable polymer from crustaceans is among the winners of this year's Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The awards were formerly known as the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute has collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to manage the awards since their inception in 1995. The EPA dropped out this year, citing long-term certainty about the program’s financial situation.  

Ember temperature-control tumblerEmber Technologies' temperature-control mugs are now available in Apple stores and on apple.com. The travel version right, uses phase change material to bring hot beverages down to a drinkable temperature. Earlier this year, Nordstrom began selling the mugs online and in Nordstrom popup stores.

Capstone Turbine Corp. and Argonne National Laboratory have received funding from U.S. Department of Energy to refine Argonne’s high-efficiency, fast-charging and fast-discharging thermal energy storage system for use in combined heat and power systems. The system, originally developed for use in concentrated solar power applications, will use phase change material to capture waste heat from industrial manufacturing processes. The goal is to integrate Argonne's technology into a Capstone C200 CHP system.

• New from Persistence Market Research"Global Market Study on Salt Hydrate: Pharmaceutical Industry to Remain Dominant Consumer Through 2026"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status And Forecast 2025"

• New from Maia Research: "Inorganic PCMs Market Analysis, Market Size, Application, Analysis, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies And Forecasts, 2018 -2025"

• At the World Energy Engineering Congress in Charlotte, N.C., this week, Mark Richards of Phase Change Energy Solutions reports that the company demonstrated "a mini PhaseStor tank in action with 1/2 ton chiller and small heater (system hand made by Scott Queen) to charge and discharge the tank and includes on board DAQ system to show tank thermal performance." Richards presented at a panel discussion Friday, "Justifying HVAC Energy Savings in Buildings Using Phase Change Materials - A Debate with a Skeptical Engineer." Also presenting were Guy Frankenfield, energy division manager at DN Tanks Inc. ("Thermal Energy Storage - Uncovering the Value of Ice and Chilled Water TES Systems") and Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins ("Thermal Energy Storage in Package Units? Yes, it is Here").

Patent application: Thermal interface composite material

Ben Welter - Friday, September 28, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180277910 (applicant Regents of the University of California, Oakland, Calif.):

"A composite thermal interface material and methods are shown. Devices such as lithium ion batteries incorporating composite thermal interface materials show significant improvement in cooling performance. In one example, composite thermal interface materials shown provide cooling through both a phase change mechanism, and a heat conducting mechanism which directs heat away from the device to be cooled, such as electrochemical cells in a battery, to an external housing and/or a coupled heat exchange device such as radiating fins."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180277910.pdf

Research roundup: Heat capacities of potential organic PCMs; asphalt binders; novel smart textile; modeling hysteresis; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

From Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics:

Heat capacities of potential organic phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Effects of microencapsulated phase change materials on the performance of asphalt binders
An improved, generalized effective thermal conductivity method for rapid design of high temperature shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage systems
Multi-objective optimisation of thermal energy storage using phase change materials for solar air systems

From Energy:

A comprehensive study of properties of paraffin phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Evaluation of a novel solar driven sorption cooling/heating system integrated with PCM storage compartment

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Shape-stabilized phase change materials based on porous supports for thermal energy storage applications
Novel smart textile with phase change materials encapsulated core-sheath structure fabricated by coaxial electrospinning

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental research on the effective heating strategies for a phase change material based power battery module
Modeling hysteresis in the phase transition of industrial-grade solid/liquid PCM for thermal energy storages

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Determination of heat transfer coefficients in direct contact latent heat storage systems

PCM briefing: UCF wins $360,000 grant to develop solar storage module; Nike unveils prototype cooling vest

Ben Welter - Monday, September 17, 2018

• The University of Central Florida was awarded a $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation last month to develop and commercialize a grid-connected solar storage module. UCF is partnering with battery maker AllCell Technology to develop the system, known as iPV++. The system will use smart inverters and battery management to deliver stable and predictable PV-based solar power for grid-tied applications. AllCell phase change composite material will provide passive thermal management of the system's lithium-ion battery modules. Dr. Issa Batarseh, UCF electrical engineering professor and the project principal investigator, says use of the material "guarantees the safety of the battery modules, simplifies the installation and maintenance, and significantly increases lifetime due to temperature control.”

Nike prototype cooling vest• A prototype cooling vest developed by the Nike Sport Research Lab made its public debut at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., earlier this month. Scorching heat and high humidity marked the tennis tournament's later rounds, prompting players to do whatever they could to stay cool. Rafael Nadal, right, was among the players seen wearing the vest courtside. The form-fitting vest features four cooling packs -- two in the front and two in the back -- to quickly cool down players between sets and before and after matches. Nike declined to answer questions about the vest, but it appears similar to phase change vests already on the market, including versions made by TechNiche and Glacier Tek.

Peli BioThermal, the temperature-controlled packaging company, has opened a service center in Indianapolis. The company says the 50,000-square-foot facility will be one of the largest in Peli's Credo on Demand network.

Registration is open for the next ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10, 2019. The 10th annual conference and technology showcase will "bring together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways." 

• Australian energy storage startup 1414 Degrees began trading on the Australian Securities Exchange last week after raising $16.3 million AUS as part of its initial public offering. The company's technology stores electricity as thermal energy by heating an melting containers full of silicon at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries.

NETenergy, a Chicago startup that licenses technology developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago, plans to commercialize its hybrid air-conditioning system with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The $500,000 grant was awarded to NETenergy's partner, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The International Copper Association and Ingersoll-Rand are commercial partners on the grant, which will provide cash and in-kind matching funds. The technology uses phase change composites to store cold energy, allowing customers to shift A/C production to off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper. 

• Costs for U.S. chemical distributors could rise by nearly $1.3 billion if the United States imposes tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods from China, according to an analysis by John Dunham & Associates. Job losses could top 5,900, the analysis said.

Research roundup: Thermoplastic polyurethane blends; simulation of supercooling and convection; battery thermal management; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From Frontiers in Materials:

Thermoplastic polyurethane blends with thermal energy storage/release capability

From Energies:

Review of Reactors with Potential Use in Thermochemical Energy Storage in Concentrated Solar Power Plants

From Progress in Computational Fluid Dynamics:

Towards the simulation of supercooling and convection in phase change materials using a thermal lattice Boltzmann method

From Nanomaterials:

Palm Kernel Shell Activated Carbon as an Inorganic Framework for Shape-Stabilized Phase Change Material

From Journal of Power Sources:

A comprehensive review on a passive (phase change materials) and an active (thermoelectric cooler) battery thermal management system and their limitations

From Applied Energy:

Process integration of thermal energy storage systems – Evaluation methodology and case studies

From Journal of Nanomaterials:

Effects of Biceramic AlN-SiC Microparticles on the Thermal Properties of Paraffin for Thermal Energy Storage

PCM briefing: AOCS issues call for papers; EnergyNest making thermal batteries in Rotterdam

Ben Welter - Monday, September 10, 2018

• The American Oil Chemists' Society has issued a call for papers for its 2019 meeting and expo, May 5-8 in St. Louis, Mo. Topics include new technologies for oil processing; oleochemicals and green chemistry; and advanced methods of analysis, including automation. The deadline for priority consideration is Nov. 1. After that date, submissions will be considered as time and space permit.

EnergyNest thermal batteryEnergyNest announced that manufacturing of its industrial-scale thermal batteries has begun at the company's new hub in Rotterdam. The battery, shown at right, consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in Heatcrete, a special type of concrete developed in partnership with HeidelbergCement

• A number of prospective postdoc researchers and their advisors are exploring the possibility of remote work, citing work/life balance and other advantages. "The setup is not without challenges," The Scientist reports, "from simple communication difficulties to feelings of isolation, leaving postdocs to come up with bespoke solutions to their unusual situations." 

Registration is open for the 2019 ASHRAE Winter Conference, to be held Jan. 12-16 in Atlanta. The conference's technical program will feature more than 100 sessions and 300 speakers. Five full-day and 15 half-day seminars will be offered, including "Advanced Designs for Net Zero Buildings," "Solar PV & Thermal System Analysis and Design" and "Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning."

Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd. of Pune has won the second edition of the FedEx India Small Business Grant Contest 2018. The grant is worth about $21,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms. The system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

• The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has developed self-learning artificial neural networks for the control of solar thermal heating systems. Fraunhofer said the savings potential, compared to an optimized conventional regulation for existing buildings, is at least 7 percent.

• Registration is open for Advancements in Thermal Management 2019, to be held Aug. 7-9 in Denver. Topics will include thermal modeling, emerging technologies, market opportunities, and thermal sensing and measurement. 

• Mounting trade tensions between China and the United States have plunged global shipping markets into a continuing state of uncertainty. Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at international shipping association Bimco, said in an interview with World Grain that the trade war could “derail the current global” upswing in shipping, the highest since 2011. The American Chemistry Council, meanwhile, released a study showing that moving forward with the latest round of tariffs would spark retaliation from China that would put nearly 55,000 jobs and around $18 billion in U.S. domestic activity at risk.