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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: Thermal management system with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170067693 (General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

GE patent drawing"A thermal management system including a first vapor housing configured to receive a fluid that absorbs thermal energy from a first heat source, and a phase change material (PCM) housing thermally coupled to the first vapor housing, wherein the PCM housing is configured to receive a PCM that absorbs thermal energy from the first vapor housing, wherein the first vapor housing and the PCM housing are one-piece. ... As illustrated, the vascular network includes a plurality of conduits or passageways [52] that may vary in size, length, orientation, etc. throughout the PCM housing [30]. "

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170067693.pdf

Ice Energy developing line of ice batteries for commercial refrigeration

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ice Energy plans to introduce a line of ice-based thermal energy storage systems for the commercial refrigeration market. The new Polar Bear line, under development at the company’s IdeaLAB in Riverside, Calif., is designed for supermarkets and the general commercial refrigeration market.

A variety of Polar Bear models will support a range of storage capacities and application needs. They are expected to be available by the end of this year. No word yet on pricing.

The company says the systems will enable businesses with large refrigeration-based energy loads to reduce their peak electricity demand by up to 95 percent, shifting six hours of a building's refrigeration-based peak load to cheaper off-peak hours. 

“The Polar Bear ice battery will seamlessly integrate with existing supermarket or commercial refrigeration systems,” the company said in a press release. “It will also provide a smart-grid controller to monitor energy use and control performance.”

Axiom Exergy and Viking Cold Solutions also offer load-shifting systems for the large-scale refrigeration market. Axiom, of Richmond, Calif., says its saltwater-based “refrigeration battery” can save customers up to 40 percent in energy use during peak hours. Viking, of Houston, Texas, has reported that its PCM-based technology showed reductions in electricity consumption of 30 percent and 39 percent in two low-temperature cold storage facilities in the San Diego area.

http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/ice-energy-extends-award-winning-multi-patented-ice-battery-technology-commercial-refrigeration-2195752.htm

Patent application: Refrigeration system with PCM heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Friday, February 24, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170051954 (applicant Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, Georgia):

Coca-Cola patent drawing"The present application provides a refrigeration system. The refrigeration system may include a compressor and a condenser downstream of the compressor. The condenser may include a refrigerant tube (550), an outer jacket (510) surrounding the refrigerant tube, and a phase change material positioned between the refrigerant tube and the outer jacket and in contact with the refrigerant tube. ... The phase change material heat exchanger (500) may include a heat source, a phase change material surrounding the heat source in whole or in part, and an outer jacket surrounding the phase change material. The phase change material removes heat when the heat source is on by melting and releases heat to the ambient when the heat source is off by solidifying." 

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170051954.pdf

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec raises stake in polymer nanofoam company; Axiom installs system in Walmart store

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG is increasing its equity stake in SUMTEQ GmbH, a technology company that develops lightweight, durable polymer nanofoams for use as insulating material. 

• In tests conducted by San Diego Gas and Electric and ASWB Engineering, Viking Cold Solutions' PCM-based thermal energy storage system showed reductions in electricity consumption of 30 percent and 39 percent in two cold storage facilities in the San Diego area. Based on the results, SDG&E and ASWB recommended that California utilities include the technology in their Energy Efficiency and Demand Response incentive programs.

• The International Fabrics Association International has issued a call for presenters for its next trade show and expo. Possible topics include flame retardancy, moisture management, polymer innovations and thermal control. Submissions are due Feb. 9. The expo will be held Sept. 26-29, 2017, in New Orleans.

Greentech Media's Jason Deign takes a look at what energy insiders around the world are making of Donald Trump's victory.

Axiom Exergy is installing its "Refrigeration Battery" energy storage system at a San Diego Walmart store. Two of California's largest utilities are funding the demonstration project. The system stores water chilled at night, when electricity is cheapest, to take the load off condensers and compressors during the day.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2016."

SpecialChem is offering a 90-minute webinar on the impact of a new U.S. law on intellectual property. "U.S. Trade Secrets and How they are Protected: Easy to Understand Guide" will be held at 10 a.m. EST on Dec. 14. The cost is $268 for three participants on a single connection.

Research roundup: Commercialization of PCMs; nickel foam-paraffin composite; CFD simulation of spherical capsule; more

Ben Welter - Monday, September 19, 2016

Review of current state of research on energy storage, toxicity, health hazards and commercialization of phase changing materials [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Experimental investigation of a passive thermal management system for high-powered lithium ion batteries using nickel foam-paraffin composite [Energy]

Assessing the thermal performance of three cold energy storage materials with low eutectic temperature for food cold chain [Energy]

CFD simulation of melting process of phase change materials (PCMs) in a spherical capsule [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Thermophysical Properties of Multifunctional Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymer Composites Incorporating Phase Change Materials [Thermochimica Acta]

Experimental study of evacuated tube collector/storage system containing paraffin as a PCM [Energy]

Axiom to install $5 million worth of refrigerator battery systems in NYC

Ben Welter - Friday, September 09, 2016

Axiom Exergy is set to install $5 million worth of refrigerator battery systems in supermarkets and other cold storage facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, New York.

Axiom's refrigeration battery system is designed to reduce a supermarket's peak power use by up to 40 percent and provide backup cooling during power outages. It uses the excess capacity of a customer's existing refrigeration system to "store cooling" at night by freezing a tank of salt water. The frozen tanks supply refrigeration to the building during peak afternoon hours, eliminating the need to run energy-intensive compressors and condensers.

The businesses are eligible for incentives under Consolidated Edison's Neighborhood Program.

"We're thrilled to see that Con Edison is taking an innovative approach to help address surging power demand on its grid by working with grocery store and cold storage facility owners to reduce their energy bills and enhance their razor-thin profit margins," said Amrit Robbins, Axiom president. "By deploying refrigeration battery systems, these locations can convert power-hungry refrigeration systems into intelligent 'batteries' that can respond dynamically to the needs of the facility and the grid operator, taking into account energy prices, weather patterns, and grid programs like demand response."

http://fortune.com/2016/09/06/new-york-ice-batteries/

PCM briefing: Viking touts hybrid cooling system in Australia; thermodynamic law takes a hit in Japan

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 01, 2016

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston introduced its hybrid cooling system at an industry conference in Australia this week. The system, which combines rooftop photovoltaic panels and PCM-based thermal energy storage, is designed to reduce energy costs at supermarkets and cold storage facilities. 

Phase Change Energy Solutions, BASF Education Lab and CALMAC are among the exhibitors scheduled to attend the Greenbuild conference and expo Oct. 5-7 in Los Angeles.

Chart showing 4 phases of substance coexisting at thermal equilibrium• In research that appears to conflict with thermodynamic law, scientists at the University of Tokyo have run simulations showing that four phases of a substance can coexist at thermal equilibrium, where all parts are at the same temperature and pressure. The research "may prove useful in the development of functional phase change materials," according to a university news release, "as it demonstrates that multiple phase transformation can be induced through weak disturbance (perturbation) near the quadruple point."

Emerson is expanding its cold chain presence with the acquisition of two temperature-monitoring companies: Locus Traxx of Jupiter, Fla., and PakSense of Boise, Idaho. Terms were not disclosed.

Ravi Teja, an R&D associate specializing in phase change materials at Pluss Advanced Technologies in India, is a finalist for the Energy Institute's Young Energy Professional of the Year award.

Patent application: Portable temperature controlled container

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 25, 2016

DeltaTrak patent application drawing

U.S. patent application 20160243000 (applicant Deltatrak Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.):

"This invention relates to a portable temperature controlled container comprising a body having a storage compartment, an opening to permit access to the storage compartment and an insulated lid. The container comprises a fan, a heat sink and a thermoelectric device, as well as a first phase change material and a thermoelectric device in thermal communication with both the first phase change material and the storage compartment. The thermoelectric device in thermal communication with both the first phase change material and the storage compartment is operable to remove energy in the form of heat from one of the storage compartment and the first phase change material and transfer that energy in the form of heat to the other of the storage compartment and the first phase change material. In this way, the device will require less power, be highly robust, will operate across a range of temperatures, and will be cost effective to manufacture."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160243000.pdf

PCM briefing: TES tank cuts cooling costs at Shippensburg; flow chart shows how all energy in U.S. is used

Ben Welter - Friday, August 12, 2016

• Inventor-entrepreneur Saul Griffith has developed a really, really detailed flow chart showing how all the energy in the United States is used. "This is really the first time that all of this data is brought together in one flow diagram, which is important if you really want to understand the consequences through the whole economy of things like defense," Griffith says.

Bill Gould, chief technology officer at SolarReserve, explains why he believes in the future of concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage. "CSP with storage is set to realize falling installation costs as global deployment accelerates," he writes. "It is a relatively young technology, with a strong roadmap for performance improvements, optimization and cost reduction. Future projects are already seeing 30 percent reductions in capital costs."

Viking Cold Solutions, maker of a PV/PCM cooling system, is generating sales leads with an offer of a free energy analysis to owners of supermarkets and cold storage warehouses.

• The new 3,000-ton high-efficiency cooling plant at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania features a 1.7-million-gallon thermal energy storage tank. The tank stores water chilled during off-peak hours and provides up to four hours of full-load capacity without mechanical cooling. The system cut energy consumption during last year's cooling season by 12 percent — despite an 11 percent increase in cooling degree days.

PCM briefing: EU research focuses on energy retrofits; Axiom Exergy raises $2.5 million

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 02, 2016

• A European Union research project focused on retrofitting old buildings to meet EU efficiency standards is taking a close look at PCMs built into walls. “By using a phase change material which freezes at 18°C and melts at 25°C,” says Dr. Jürgen Frick, project coordinator, “we can regulate the temperature fluctuations of a room. If the temperature falls to 18°C, the PCM freezes and heats the room. When it rises to 25°, the PCM melts, energy is absorbed, and the room is cooled.”

Rally by Diamond Mattress• The latest entry in the bed-in-a-box mattress competition features open-cell foam infused with copper gel and phase change material to regulate temperature. Diamond Mattress of Rancho Dominguez, Calif., says the company's new Rally line will be sold online and in retail stores.

Eric Buchanan of the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minn., has posted an update on his net-zero dairy project. The system's key components so far include solar thermal panels, a heat pump, three heat exchangers and a 2,000-gallon water tank. Fifty-four kilowatts of solar PV and two 10-kW wind turbines are now being added to the system.

Axiom Exergy has raised $2.5 million from investors to help bring its refrigeration battery to supermarkets and cold storage facilities across the United States. The system uses a salt-based phase change material to reduce peak power usage by up to 40 percent and provide backup cooling during power outages.

• The University of Birmingham's Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage is setting up a joint lab on energy storage research with Global Energy Interconnection Research Institute Europe, an organization founded by China's state-run utility. The lab will focus on thermal and cryogenic energy storage systems and their application in energy networks.

• New from Accuray Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025"

• A research team at Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia, has selected PureTemp phase change material for use in a study of greenhouse thermal storage systems. "One of the engineering students is focusing on designing racks for the PCM bottles that will be specifically engineered to slow release and speed recharge of the bottles," writes Becky Mason, an instructor at Camosun who helped organize the research project. "This is intended to optimize use of PCM in off-grid greenhouses where electric fans are not used to circulate air around the PCM."