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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.




PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens North American headquarters; Viking Cold Solutions begins Phoenix-area installation

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG officially opened its new North American headquarters in Langhorne, Penn., this week. Va-Q-tec will use the 20,000-square-foot facility to showcase new products and to manufacture its small temperature-control shipping containers. The location will also serve as a hub for the company's rental and repair operation. “The investment in this new facility is a testament to our commitment to grow the business and expand our footprint in North America," said CEO Dr. Joachim Kuhn.

Drones that deliver sterile mosquitoes in the fight against the Zika virus will be field tested in Latin America early this year. The system, developed by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture's Insect Pest Control Laboratory, uses phase change material to keep the mosquitoes inactive during transportation. 

• New from Greentech Media: "The Next Five Years in Energy Storage According to 500 Energy Professionals"

• New from Global Info Research: "North America Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2022"

• New from Technavio: "Global Advanced Phase Change Materials Market 2017-2021

Viking Cold Solutions has begun installing its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in a 10,000-square-foot freezer at the Bashas food distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system, which consists of salt-hydrate-filled panels suspended from warehouse ceilings, is designed to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The cost of renewable energy is falling so fast that it should be a consistently cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuels by 2020, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency

Utility Dive takes a close look at Nantucket Island's "hybrid" plan to add energy storage, including thermal storage, to stave off expensive grid enhancements.

Patent application: Thermal energy storage apparatus with PCM

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

Neothermal patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180017337 (applicant NeoThermal Energy Storage Inc., Timberlea, Canada):

"A thermal energy storage apparatus is disclosed. The apparatus includes a base and fluid flow plates which cooperate with the base to define a cavity; a phase change material contained within the cavity; an extendable extension spring [40] at least partially contained within the phase change material [14]; and end plates which cooperate with the fluid flow plates to define fluid flow channels. Inlet and outlet ports allow for the ingress and egress of a heat exchange fluid into the fluid flow channels. In operation, the extension of the extendable extension spring induces solidification of at least a portion of the phase change material from a supercooled liquid state to a solid state, releasing thermal energy, allowing for the transfer of thermal energy across the fluid flow plates from the phase change material to the heat exchange fluid."

Research roundup: Review of latent heat storage systems; triple-glazed window with PCM; myristic acid; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Design of a Latent Thermal Energy Storage System From Constructal Approach [ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition]

Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Systems with Solid–Liquid Phase Change Materials: A Review [Advanced Engineering Materials]

Simulation Research on the Dynamic Thermal Performance of a Novel Triple-glazed Window Filled with PCM [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Charging and Discharging Period Analysis of Myristic Acid as Phase Change Material [pdf] [International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology]

Solid-liquid phase equilibria of stearic acid and dicarboxylic acids binary mixtures as low temperature thermal energy storage materials [Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics]

Comparative study on the solar still performance utilizing different PCM [Desalination]

Temperature stabilization using salt hydrate storage system to achieve thermal comfort in prefabricated wooden houses [Energy and Buildings]

Multiobjective optimization of a building envelope with the use of phase change materials (PCMs) in Mediterranean climates [International Journal of Energy Research]

Experimental research in the phase change materials based on paraffin and expanded perlite [Phase Transitions]

Enhanced Thermal Conductivity and Thermal Performance of Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)/Modified SiO2 Composite Phase Change Material [Science of Advanced Materials]

PCM briefing: Cleanergy to develop solar TES in Morocco; SpaceX has opening for a thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Friday, January 12, 2018

Cleanergy AB of Sweden and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy have agreed on a framework to jointly develop a thermal energy storage system using Cleanergy's Stirling-based solar electricity technology.

• Applications are being accepted for the World Materials Forum Startup Challenge. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for the competition, which recognizes technical or organizational breakthroughs in one of five categories, including materials composition, product design and 3D manufacturing. The winning company will receive a 50,000 euro award at the World Materials Forum in June in Nancy, France.

Grace Hsia, co-founder and CEO of Warmilu LLC, is among 14 entrepreneurs in the running for the $1 million top prize in the WeWork Creator Awards Global competition. The winner will be announced in New York City on Jan. 17.

• Prize money totaling 52,500 euros, financed by Germany's National Climate Initiative, is up for grabs in the German Refrigeration Prize 2018 competition, honoring innovations in air conditioning and refrigeration. The entry deadline is Jan. 31. Winners will be announced at the Berlin Energy Days conference in May.

SpaceX is seeking candidates for the position of thermal engineer.  

Pacific Gas & Electric will introduce a new electric time-of-use rate in April. The California utility says the optional rate will make energy use more efficient and minimize peak demand challenges. The peak pricing will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bain & Co. has analyzed how chemical companies can "demystify" the R&D process. Among the three common "failure modes" Bain identified: "strong team running in too many directions."

Buro Happold associate Mark Dawson will speak on the topic of "phase change materials for ultimate thermal efficiency" at the 2018 Materials for Architecture conference in London in April.

Research roundup: Composite PCM/concrete wall; thermal inertia in buildings; multilayer roof with two PCMs; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 04, 2018

Thermal impact study of a bio-based wall coupled with an inner PCM layer [Energy Procedia]

Numerical study of the thermal behavior of a novel Composite PCM/concrete wall [Energy Procedia]

Phase change materials for improving the building thermal inertia [Energy Procedia]

Thermal behavior in dynamic regime of a multilayer roof provided with two phase change materials in the case of a local conditioned [Energy Procedia]

Composite phase change materials with good reversible thermochromic ability in delignified wood substrate for thermal energy storage [Applied Energy]

D-mannitol for medium temperature thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Novel metal coated nanoencapsulated phase change materials with high thermal conductivity for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

State and state of charge estimation for a latent heat storage [Control Engineering Practice]

Microencapsulated n-alkane eutectics in polystyrene for solar thermal applications [Solar Energy]

Improving thermal properties of shape-stabilized phase change materials containing lauric acid and mesocellular foam silica by assessing thermodynamic properties of the non-melting layer [Thermochimica Acta]

Research roundup: Eutectic fatty acids; review of automotive applications; expanded graphite composites; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Prediction of the Properties of Eutectic Fatty Acid Phase Change Materials [Thermochimica Acta]

Phase-change materials (PCM) for automotive applications: A review [Applied Thermal Engineering]

A polymer-coated calcium chloride hexahydrate/expanded graphite composite phase change material with enhanced thermal reliability and good applicability [Composites Science and Technology]

Synthesis and characterization of beeswax-tetradecanol-carbon fiber/expanded perlite form-stable composite phase change material for solar energy storage [Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing]

An energy-efficient composite by using expanded graphite stabilized paraffin as phase change material [Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing]

Synthesis and characterization of PEG/ZSM-5 composite phase change materials for latent heat storage [Renewable Energy]

Fabrication and characteristics of composite phase change material based on Ba(OH)2·8H2O for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Silica fume/capric acid-palmitic acid composite phase change material doped with CNTs for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Hybridizing graphene aerogel into three-dimensional graphene foam for high-performance composite phase change materials [Energy Storage Materials]

Phase Change in Spiral Coil Heat Storage Systems [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Thermal management performance of phase change materials with different thermal conductivities for Li-ion battery packs operated at low temperatures [Energy]

Geocooling with integrated PCM thermal energy storage in a Mediterranean climate [Energy]

Patent application: Thermal energy storage and heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 02, 2018

U.S. patent application 20170363368 (applicant EnergyNest AS, Billingstad, Norway):

"Thermal energy storage and heat exchanger, distinctive in that it comprises: a number of hardened concrete thermal energy storage elements; a housing, into which said elements have been arranged; an active heat transfer and storage medium in the volume between said elements and said housing, in the form of either: a stagnant liquid or phase change material, or a dynamic fluid arranged to flow in the volume between said elements and said housing; at least one means for delivery of thermal energy to the thermal energy storage; at least one means for taking out thermal energy from the thermal energy storage; and thermal insulation."

Research roundup: Cooling vests; palygorskite-based composites; convective solar crop dryer; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 21, 2017

An Optimal Two-Bout Strategy with Phase Change Material Cooling Vests to Improve Comfort in Hot Environment [Journal of Thermal Biology]

Preparation of palygorskite-based phase change composites for thermal energy storage and their applications in Trombe walls [Journal of Wuhan University of Technology]

Thermal performance of optimum thermal energy storage in natural convective solar crop dryer [Bhartiya Krishi Anusandhan Patrika]

Integrated Dispatch Model for Combined Heat and Power Plant with Phase-change Thermal Energy Storage Considering Heat Transfer Process [IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy]

Modeling of District Heating Networks for the Purpose of Operational Optimization with Thermal Energy Storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Study of Nusselt Number Evolution in PCM Shell-and-Tube Configuration [Euro-Mediterranean Conference for Environmental Integration]

Reduced-scale experiments to evaluate performance of composite building envelopes containing phase change materials [Construction and Building Materials]

Research roundup: Dynamic shading systems with PCM; mesoporous N-doped carbons; beeswax and photovoltaics; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Performance of a coupled transpired solar collector—phase change material-based thermal energy storage system [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal and optical characterisation of dynamic shading systems with PCMs through laboratory experimental measurements [Energy and Buildings]

Thermo-mechanical analysis of microcapsules containing phase change materials for cold storage [Applied Energy]

Introduction of organic-organic eutectic PCM in mesoporous N-doped carbons for enhanced thermal conductivity and energy storage capacity [Applied Energy]

Heat storage performance analysis and parameter design for encapsulated phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

Thermal performance of copper foam/paraffin composite phase change material [Energy Conversion and Management]

Numerical study of PCM integration impact on overall performances of a highly building-integrated solar collector [Renewable Energy]

Nanoparticles Enhanced Phase Change Material (NPCM) as Heat Storage in Solar Still Application for Productivity Enhancement [Energy Procedia]

Performance enhancement of the concentrated photovoltaic using different phase change material configurations [Energy Procedia]

Experimental Analysis of Using Beeswax as Phase Change Materials for Limiting Temperature Rise in Building Integrated Photovoltaics [Case Studies in Thermal Engineering]

PCM briefing: GE ice storage project wins $221,000 grant; IFAI offers webinar on smart fabrics

Ben Welter - Friday, December 15, 2017

• A plan to install an ice storage system at GE’s new headquarters in Boston has been awarded a $221,000 grant by Massachusetts' Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage program. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced up to $100 million in funding for new projects as part of ARPA‑E's latest OPEN funding opportunity. OPEN 2018 is looking for innovations "to transform the way we generate, store and use energy." The deadline for submitting a concept paper is Feb. 12, 2018.

• Early registration prices for the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit have been extended to Dec. 31. The summit, which showcases innovative energy technologies, will be held March 13-15 at the Gaylord Convention Center near Washington, D.C. The agenda is still "coming soon." The deadline to submit an application to exhibit in the Technology Showcase is Jan. 2.

• 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 Jan. 17 webinar is $29 for association members, $79 for non-members.

• Registration is open for the 34th Space Symposium, to be held April 16-19, 2018, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Exhibitors include Advanced Cooling Technologies and Aavid Thermacore Inc.

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins has accepted an invitation to become a member of the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board. The CED is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization founded in 1942.

• In an interview with Forbes, co-CEOs Bongani Nqwababa and Stephen Cornell explain Sasol's $11 billion bet on specialty chemicals.

• Registration is open for "Single-Use vs. Reusable Packaging: Providing value for your product," the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Chris Anderson, director of quality systems at Cardinal Health, and Vishal Khushalani, director of marketing and business development at Sonoco ThermoSafe, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Jan 9.

• The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, to be held in Philadelphia July 16-19, 2018, is seeking proposals for company and technical presentations. Presentations are 13 minutes long, including a brief introduction and Q&A with the audience. Proposals must be submitted by May 14.