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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.




Research roundup: Heat transfer enhancement of PCMs; CuO/palmitic acid composite; cooking applications; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Investigation of thermal performance by applying a solar chimney with PCM towards the natural ventilation of model house under Climate of Thailand
Study of Solar– PCM Walls for domestic hot water production under the tropical climate of Thailand
Improved Performance of Composite Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage
Experimental investigation on freezing/melting characteristics of two different phase change materials
Review on Heat Transfer Enhancement of Phase Change Materials (PCMs)
Experimental Investigation of Improved Thermal Characteristics of Al2O3/Barium Hydroxide Octa Hydrate as Phase Change Materials (PCMs)
Improved Thermal Energy Storage Behavior of CuO/Palmitic acid Composite as Phase Change Material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

An Experimental Investigation of the Melting Process of a Bio-based Nano-PCM filled Vertical Cylindrical Thermal Energy Storage System

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental investigation of the effects of mass fraction and temperature on the viscosity of microencapsulated PCM slurry

From Journal of the Brazilian Society of Mechanical Sciences and Engineering:

Rapid thermal cycling of three phase change materials (PCMs) for cooking applications

From 3rd Thermal and Fluids Engineering Conference:

Use of Wood/Phase Change Material Composite in the Building Envelope for Building Thermal Control and Energy Savings

Research roundup: N-octadecane/polystyrene/expanded graphite composites; decorative wood-based panels for thermal energy storage; more

Ben Welter - Monday, June 11, 2018

From Energy:

Experimental investigation on n–octadecane/polystyrene/expanded graphite composites as form–stable thermal energy storage materials

From Green Energy and Environment:

Thermal characterization of bio-based phase changing materials in decorative wood-based panels for thermal energy storage

From Chemical Engineering Science:

Melt-Front Propagation and Velocity Profiles in Packed Beds of Phase-Change Materials Measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Employment of Finned PCM Container in a Household Refrigerator as a Cold Thermal Energy Storage System

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Melting and solidification of PCM embedded in porous metal foam in horizontal multi-tube heat storage system
Evaluation of paraffin infiltrated in various porous silica matrices as shape-stabilized phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Potential applications of phase change materials to mitigate freeze-thaw deteriorations in concrete pavement
A practical ranking system for evaluation of industry viable phase change materials for use in concrete
Experimental and numerical study of thermal performance of the PCM wall with solar radiation
Utilizing blast furnace slags (BFS) to prepare high-temperature composite phase change materials (C-PCMs) 

From International Journal of Thermophysics:

Behavior of a PCM at Varying Heating Rates: Experimental and Theoretical Study with an Aim at Temperature Moderation in Radionuclide Concrete Encasements

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."

Phase change composite shows potential to double AC compressor efficiency

Ben Welter - Friday, June 01, 2018

Using a phase change composite material, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a novel thermal energy storage system that has the potential to downsize conventional air-conditioner compressors by 50 percent and double compressor efficiency during off- and mid-peak hours.

The research is described in a paper titled “Design and optimization of a hybrid air conditioning system with thermal energy storage using phase change composite,” recently accepted for publication in Energy Conversion and Management. One of the authors, Said Al-Hallaj, a research professor of chemical engineering at UI-Chicago and CEO of AllCell Technologies LLC, answered a few questions by e-mail.

Q: Who led the research team, and how long did the project take?

A: “It is an ongoing project since 2015 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I work as a Research Professor of Chemical Engineering, and part of the PhD thesis for my graduate student Ahmed Aljehani.”

Q: Who funded the project? 

A: “Ahmed has a scholarship from his government in Saudi Arabia and we get technical support from our industry partners NETenergy and AllCell Technologies LLC.”

Q: Who supplied the PCM?

A: “I believe it is n-tetradecane (C14H30) PCM that we bought from a distributor and not sure about actual source.”

28 slabs of phase change composite materialQ: What is its peak melting point? 

A: “4-6 degrees Celsius.”

Q: What is its thermal storage capacity?

A: “180 kJ/kg (78% PCM, 22% graphite).”

Q: Describe the benchtop PCC/TES system size, components and functionality.

A: “The actual 4 kWh PCC-TES structure is made of 28 slabs of PCC [right]. The whole PCC-TES structure is thermally insulated with building insulation materials. Each slab represents a graphite structure that has been soaked into n-tetradecane for at least 24 h until impregnated with n-tetradecane. The slabs are numbered from top to bottom; top being number 1. The second component is the copper tubes or the copper coils, which pass back and forth in between the 28 slabs. The copper tubes enter the PCC-TES structure from the top and exits from the bottom of the structure.”

Q: Is the concept intended mainly for commercial AC systems, or could it be adapted for residential use?

A: “It should work for both, but commercial AC applications are more economically beneficial due to rate structure and peak demand requirements.”

Q: What are the next steps in developing this concept?

A: “NETenergy, our technology commercialization partner, is partnering with National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a major OEM to build and test a full-scale prototype at NREL facilities in the next year or so.”

Research roundup: Nanofluid-based PCMs; microencapsulation of n-alkanes; finned solar PV PCM; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, May 31, 2018

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Glycolysis of Advanced Polyurethanes Composites containing Thermoregulating Microcapsules

From Applied Thermal Engineering:
From Applied Energy:

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

From Chemical Engineering Science:

Research roundup: Variable conductance heat pipe; micro-nanoencapsulated n-eicosane with PMMA shell; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Experimental investigation into the feasibility of using a variable conductance heat pipe for controlled heat release from a phase-change material thermal store

From Thermochimica Acta:

Form-stable phase change nanocomposites for thermal energy storage based on hypercrosslinked polymer nanospheres

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Non-monotonously tuning thermal conductivity of graphite-nanosheets/paraffin composite by ultrasonic exfoliation

From Sustainable Computing: Informatics and Systems:

A review of thermal management and innovative cooling strategies for data center

From Renewable Energy:

Numerical analysis of a latent heat thermal energy storage system under partial load operating conditions

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Graphene embedded form stable phase change materials for drawing the thermo-electric energy harvesting

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Performance of novel Na2SO4-NaCl-ceramic composites as high temperature phase change materials for solar power plants (Part II)

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Synthesis and Characterization of Micro-Nanoencapsulated n-eicosane with PMMA Shell as Novel Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage

PMMA shell as novel phase change material

PCM briefing: Sunamp's copper heat exchangers; renewable energy's 'next big thing'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

• The industry group Copper Alliance takes a look at Sunamp Ltd.'s use of copper heat exchangers in its PCM-equipped heat battery systems: "Copper has a few properties that make it ideal for this application, including high thermal conductivity, lack of corrosion when in contact with the PCM, and the ability to satisfy potable water regulations required to fully certify Sunamp’s products."    

Bloomberg's David Fickling explains why the development of lower-cost energy storage technologies will be renewable energy's "next big thing."

• Swedish researchers have produced a bio-based material that is reported to be stronger than spider silk and all other known bio-based materials, whether fabricated or natural. Working with cellulose nanofiber, the essential building block of plants, researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed larger, lightweight materials for use in airplanes, cars, furniture and other products.

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes PCM-equipped portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, was profiled this week in India Climate Dialogue

• New from Global Info Research: "Global Microencapsulation Technology Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023"

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market Research Report - Forecast to 2027"

• New from HongChun: "2018 Global Molten Salt Solar Energy Thermal Storage and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Industry Depth Research Report"

Horizon 2020's RealValue group has released findings on its three-year, small-scale energy storage project. The group, led by Glen Dimplex and consisting of 13 partner organizations, installed smart electric thermal storage systems in 750 commercial and residential properties in Ireland, Germany and Latvia. Among the findings: "Smart control of SETS devices simultaneously reduces charging costs of the devices while improving the thermal comfort of the end user. It also has potential to manage congestion." 

PCM briefing: Texas undergrads win ASHRAE equipment grant; 1414 Degrees among exhibitors at Australia energy storage conference

Ben Welter - Monday, May 21, 2018

• A University of North Texas research project, “Design of Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger Coupled with Phase Change Materials for Building Temperature Control,” is one of 25 undergraduate projects awarded a 2018 equipment grant from ASHRAE. The grants, totaling more than $113,000, will help the winning students complete undergraduate projects at schools around the world.

• New from HTF Market Intelligence: "United States Cold Chain Equipments Market Report 2018"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Salt Hydrate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017-2027"

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


• The retail market is full of PCM-topped mattresses, pillows and seat cushions. Here's the first fold-out couch we've seen that features the temperature-control technology. The CouchBed, made by an Arizona company, is a 10-inch memory foam mattress that’s “made with 100% CertiPur certified ultra-dense memory foam, combined with phase change material to actively cool the sleeping surface."

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $72 million for new projects to advance high-temperature concentrating solar power technologies. The high-temperature thermal storage systems targeted by this program seek to achieve at least 700 degrees C, which would boost the efficiency and lower the cost of electricity. Awardees include Brayton Energy, Hampton, N.H, $7.6 million; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., $7 million; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., $9.5 million.

• Under a new joint development agreement, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy will join Cleanergy AB's board of directors and help the Swedish firm advance its concentrated solar power and storage technology. The agency will fund a “substantial part” of Cleanergy's research and development work on thermal energy storage. Cleanergy, in turn, will be able to test its technology using the agency's facility in Ouarzazate, Morocco.

• A Ph.D. candidate at Delft University of Technology outlines a strategy to maximize the potential of aquifer thermal energy storage and phase out the use of natural gas in the Netherlands.

• Thermal energy storage company 1414 Degrees will be among more than 60 companies from around the world scheduled to attend the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition May 23-24 at the Adelaide Convention Center. Other exhibitors include Tesla, Toshiba, GE and Victron Energy.

Research roundup: Thermoelectric generator system; solar chimney; novel thermal management system for lithium-ion battery pack; more

Ben Welter - Friday, May 18, 2018

From Energy:

Protection and Thermal Management of Thermoelectric Generator System Using Phase Change Materials: An Experimental Investigation
Performance analysis of a novel thermal management system with composite phase change material for a lithium-ion battery pack

From Solar Energy:

Efficient energy storage technologies for photovoltaic systems
The experimental appraisement of the effect of energy storage on the performance of solar chimney using phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Improving thermal management of electronic apparatus with paraffin (PA)/expanded graphite (EG)/graphene (GN) composite material
Experimental exploration of incorporating form-stable hydrate salt phase change materials into cement mortar for thermal energy storage

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Role of Metallic Foam in Heat Storage in the Presence of Nanofluid and MicroEncapsulated Phase Change Material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical investigation of thermal and optical performance of window units filled with nanoparticle enhanced PCM

From Applied Energy:

Cost estimation and sensitivity analysis of a latent thermal energy storage system for supplementary cooling of air cooled condensers
Influence of design on performance of a latent heat storage system at high temperatures

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Preparation and investigation of distinct and shape stable paraffin/SiO2 composite PCM nanospheres

From Energy and Buildings:

Parametric Analysis of Using PCM Walls for Heating Loads Reduction

Polar Bear thermal storage system installed at California winery

Ben Welter - Monday, May 14, 2018

Ice Energy's newest ice-based thermal energy storage system has its first customer: Wilson Creek Winery of Temecula, Calif.

The Polar Bear, developed at Ice Energy's IdeaLAB in Riverside, is designed to reduce energy costs in supermarkets and other commercial refrigeration systems. Like the company's flagship Ice Bear product, the Polar Bear makes ice during off-peak hours for use in cooling during periods of peak energy demand. 

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins"Wilson Creek Winery [was] an early adopter of Ice Bears to cut their utility bill, and a first adopter of Polar Bears to help them cool their wine-making fermentation process," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "During the peak hours of the day, the Polar Bears come online and automatically augment the amount of cooling that is provided by the chiller or allow the chiller to either remain on standby/run at part-load, vastly increasing the operating efficiency of the plant."

Hopkins estimated the cost of installing the system in a typical 40,000-square-foot supermarket in Southern California at $40,000, "which would pay for two Polar Bears, fully installed."

Two competitors in the cold storage market, Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., and Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, say their saltwater- and salt-hydrate-based thermal storage systems can reduce a customer's energy costs by up to 40 percent. How does the Polar Bear compare?

"The Polar Bear is uniquely cost effective in reducing peak demand," Hopkins said. "Based on currently utility rates, the Polar Bear has a payback of less than one year in California and about two years in New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut. I am not aware of any energy storage including Axiom or Viking Cold that has paybacks close to ours."

Commercial rollout of the Polar Bear is planned for the fourth quarter of this year. IdeaLAB, meanwhile, is working on a larger-capacity Ice Bear, and the company is developing expansion plans.

"We will be entering markets outside the U.S. through distribution partners this year," Hopkins said. "We are planning to raise capital this summer to support our growth plans."