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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: 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 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").

Ice Cub is now available to California homeowners, builders

Ben Welter - Friday, October 12, 2018

The Ice Cub, Ice Energy's hybrid air-conditioning and thermal energy storage system, is now available for purchase by California homeowners and homebuilders.

The solar PV-compatible unit replaces a conventional 5-ton outdoor condensing unit and is designed to work seamlessly with home HVAC systems. The Ice Cub functions like a typical condensing unit, but it also makes ice to store up to four hours' worth of cooling.

"For homes with solar PV," Ice Energy says, "a full tank of ice can be made and stored during the day, using what would otherwise be surplus solar generation."

The Ice Cub retails for $15,000. But Ice Energy says two government incentives potentially reduce the cost of purchase and installation to below that of a conventional air conditioning system. The Ice Cub qualifies for California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program rebate and, for homes with solar PV, the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit. Ice Energy says the payback period for an Ice Cub installed in a California home with solar PV is less than one year.

The company, based in Southern California, says it is in the early stages of recruiting regional project partners such as homebuilders and HVAC installers.

“Conventional AC units in California have become increasingly expensive to operate as the state’s new time-of-use rates take effect,” said Joseph Draper, executive chairman of Ice Energy. “The Ice Cub, by contrast, reduces consumption of expensive electricity and can save homeowners as much as $1,500 a year on their utility bill. The smart, energy-efficient Ice Cub is a true consumer product with real potential to render conventional home AC units obsolete. We are very excited to make it available for immediate delivery to homeowners and builders here in California.”

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions to install system in Mexico; Pluss reaches distribution deal with Ferro-Plast of Italy

Ben Welter - Friday, October 12, 2018

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has reached a deal to install its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in one of Red de Frios' frozen food warehouses in Monterrey, Mexico. Viking systems are designed to reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The German Aerospace Center, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Stuttgart have signed an agreement to build a research facility in Germany to develop an efficient, cost-effective and "virtually loss-less" heat-based electrical storage technology. At this week's signing ceremony in Stuttgart, Stanford University Professor Robert B. Laughlin, right, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics, explained why he thinks heat storage will play a key role in the energy landscape of the future.

• The Conductive Plastics conference in Vienna Nov. 6-7 will include sessions on "Challenging the boundaries in thermally conductive and electrically conductive polyamides," "Boron nitride filler materials for high-performance thermal management applications," "Mineral flame retardants and metal oxides as thermally conductive fillers," "Investigating the effect of material molecular orientation on thermal conductivity of polymeric products" and "Thermally conductive materials based on synthetic rubber."

• In a LinkedIn post, Pluss Advanced Technologies of India announced it has reached a deal with Ferro-Plast Srl of Italy to distribute Pluss products in Europe.

• New from "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Trends, Applications, Analysis, Growth, And Forecast: 2018 To 2027"

• New from Invant Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Study 2015-2025"

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

• New from Polaris Market Research: "Fatty Acid Esters Market, [By Product Type (Glycerol Monostearate, Medium Chain Trigylcerides, Isopropyl Esters (Myrsitate & Palmitate) and Others); By Application (Lubricants, Pharmaceuticals, Personal care & Cosmetics, Surfactants and Others); By Regions]: Market size & Forecast, 2018 – 2026"

Peli BioThermal has opened service centers in Basel and Berlin to support the company's line of Credo reusable temperature-control shippers.

• Nominations are being accepted for Metrohm USA's Young Chemist Award 2019. Entrants submit an abstract of their research for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to PITTCON 2019. The contest is limited to undergrad, grad, post-grad and doctoral students in the United States and Canada. Entrants must demonstrate novel research or a novel methodology using titration, ion chromatography, electrochemistry and/or spectroscopy. Applications are due by Dec. 31, 2018.

Sonoco ThermoSafe, a global provider of temperature assurance packaging in the life sciences sector, has an opening for a sales director, responsible for sales growth in North America.

• Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the next Leading Minds Seminar, to be held Nov. 6-7 in London. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

ASHRAE Learning Institute will offer 20 courses during the 2019 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo. The conference will be held in Atlanta Jan. 12-16. Courses include "Advanced Designs for Net Zero Buildings," "Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning" and "Solar PV and Thermal System Analysis and Design."

Research roundup: Ternary hydrated salt mixture; earth-air heat exchanger; shape-stabilized fly ash composite PCM; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 01, 2018

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Two types of composite phase change panels containing a ternary hydrated salt mixture for use in building envelope and ventilation system
Research on cooling performance of phase change material-filled earth-air heat exchanger
An experimental investigation of the phase change process effects on the system performance for the evacuated tube solar collectors integrated with PCMs

From Solar Energy:

Carbon based material included-shaped stabilized phase change materials for sunlight-driven energy conversion and storage: An extensive review

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental Study of Water Solidification Phenomenon for Ice-on-Coil Thermal Energy Storage Application Utilizing Falling Film

From Powder Technology:

Preparation and thermal properties of stearic acid-benzamide eutectic mixture/expanded graphite composites as phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental and numerical study of melting of the phase change material tetracosane

From Particuology:

Effect of particle size on the thermal performance of NaNO3/SiO2/C composite phase-change materials

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Low-cost, shape-stabilized fly ash composite phase change material synthesized by using a facile process for building energy efficiency

From Construction and Building Materials:

Preparation and thermal properties of encapsulated ceramsite-supported phase change materials used in asphalt pavements

From Applied Energy:

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: Impact of doping on bonding energy hierarchy; battery thermal management; more

Ben Welter - Friday, September 07, 2018

From Journal of Applied Physics:

Impact of doping on bonding energy hierarchy and melting of phase change materials

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Two zone model for mushy region of solid–liquid phase change based on Lattice Boltzmann method

From Applied Sciences:

Synthesis and Investigation of Thermal Properties of Highly Pure Carboxylic Fatty Esters to Be Used as PCM

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Fabrication of novel slurry containing graphene oxide-modified microencapsulated phase change material for direct absorption solar collector

From Buildings:

Potential of Thermal Energy Storage Using Coconut Oil for Air Temperature Control

From International Journal for Research in Engineering Application and Management:

Development of Phase Change Material/ Cooling Plate Coupled Battery Thermal Management System Using CFD

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

A novel graphite-PCM composite sphere with enhanced thermo-physical properties

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Building-integrated solar thermal system with/without phase change material: Life cycle assessment based on ReCiPe, USEtox and Ecological footprint

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:

Heat and flow analysis of a water droplet on hydrophobic and hydrophilic phase change material

Research roundup: Shape-stable PCMs in building enclosures; eutectic fatty acid/damar gum; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

A review on applications of shape-stabilized phase change materials embedded in building enclosure in recent ten years

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Microencapsulation of eutectic and hyper-eutectic Al-Si alloy as phase change materials for high-temperature thermal energy storage

From Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics:

Thermal analysis and heat capacity study of polyethylene glycol (PEG) phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications

From Exergy for A Better Environment and Improved Sustainability:

Investigation of Thermal Characteristic of Eutectic Fatty Acid/Damar Gum as a Composite Phase Change Material (CPCM)

From Composites Part B: Engineering:

Fabrication, morphology and thermal properties of octadecylamine-grafted graphene oxide-modified phase-change microcapsules for thermal energy storage

From Chemical Engineering Transactions:

Study on the Temperature Characteristics of Phase-change Energy Storage Building Materials Based on ANSYS [pdf]

From International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies:

Free cooling using phase change material for buildings in hot-arid climate

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Experimental study on cold storage box with nanocomposite phase change material and vacuum insulation panel

Patent application: Phase change compositions

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 23, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180237676 (applicant Sunamp Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland):

"There are herein described phase change materials containing sodium acetate trihydrate having improved homogeneity, a process for the preparation of said materials, and their utility in phase change systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to the use of phase change compositions comprising sodium acetate trihydrate, at least one alkali soluble polymer for inhibition of sodium acetate anhydrous crystal formation in sodium acetatetrihydrate containing phase change materials, and at least one sodium acetate trihydrate nucleation promoter, and, if a lower phase change temperature is required, at least one melting point depressing agent."

Patent application: Renewable energy heater

Ben Welter - Saturday, August 18, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180231332 (inventors Momoe Anno, Miri Yasuda, Nidhi Jaju, Mai Morita and Youkie Shiozawa, Tokyo, Japan):

"A portable heating device that includes a phase changing material mixture to absorb and release thermal energy and warm a space via convection heating. The phase changing material mixture includes sodium sulfate decahydrate, sodium chloride, and sodium polyacrylate. The phase changing material mixture is contained in portable aluminum capsules. A holder, also made of aluminum, can be used to carry one or more of the aluminum capsules."