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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: 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."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180017337.pdf

Patent application: Heating water with refrigerant and PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 11, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180010822 (applicant Rheem Manufacturing Co., Atlanta, Ga.):

"An apparatus for heating water has a tank for storing water and an air conditioning system that defines a refrigerant flow path through which refrigerant flows. The refrigerant flow path passes through a heat exchanger so that refrigerant heat is contributed to the tank. The heat exchanger houses a phase change material. A controller controls operation of the water heating apparatus."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180010822.pdf

Research roundup: Fresh air cooling systems; CuO-nanoparticle concentration; Stefan problems and solutions; more

Ben Welter - Friday, January 05, 2018

Energy efficiency of PCM integrated in fresh air cooling systems in different climatic conditions [Applied Energy]

Effect of temperature and CuO-nanoparticle concentration on the thermal conductivity and viscosity of an organic phase-change material [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Stefan problems for moving phase change materials and multiple solutions [International Journal of Thermal Sciences]

Thermodynamic analysis of directionally influenced phase change material embedded building walls [International Journal of Thermal Sciences]

The role of vegetable oil in water based phase change materials for medium temperature refrigeration [Journal of Energy Storage]

Performance analysis of incorporating phase change materials in asphalt concrete pavements [Construction and Building Materials]

Electric vehicles batteries thermal management systems employing phase change materials [Journal of Power Sources]

Research roundup: Erythritol in spheres; triplex-tube TES system enhancement; spray freezing of PCM; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Theoretical and numerical analysis on phase change materials (PCM): A case study of the solidification process of erythritol in spheres [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Optimisation analysis of PCM-enhanced opaque building envelope components for the energy retrofitting of office buildings in Mediterranean climates [Applied Energy]

Solidification enhancement of PCM in a triplex-tube thermal energy storage system with nanoparticles and fins [Applied Energy]

System-Level Analysis of a Novel Air-Cooled Condenser using Spray Freezing of Phase Change Materials [Applied Thermal Energy]

Analysis of operational performance of a mechanical ventilation cooling system with latent thermal energy storage [Energy and Buildings]

Evaluation of two cooling devices for construction workers by a thermal manikin [Fashion and Textiles]

Study on improving the heat storage property of Ba(OH)2 • 8H2O with paraffin [Materials Research Express]

FloraHolland offices retrofitted with PCM-based induction units

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Two years ago, Orange Climate Autarkis and Verkade Klimaat began installing PCM-based induction units in one floor of Royal FloraHolland’s 10-story office building in Naaldwijk, Netherlands. Known as Crystal Beam Modules, the Autarkis units are designed to enhance occupant comfort and reduce cooling costs by 20 percent.

Royal FloraHolland office building
Royal FloraHolland office building in Naaldwijk, Netherlands.

Walter van Kampen, Autarkis commercial adviser, says the flower industry trade organization liked the results and asked his company to retrofit additional floors. So far, Crystal Beam Modules have been installed on five floors. On another, a modular, PCM-based Crystal Climate Ceiling has been installed. Each floor is about 500 square meters.

“We changed from PCM beam modules to the Crystal Climate Ceiling on the eighth floor because more ventilation air was needed (it’s a mainly a big conference floor with meeting rooms) and because the customer wanted a different look,” van Kampen said.

How do the systems work?

“The building’s big chillers are only cooling down the fresh air to about 16-18 Celsius,” he explained. “Total cooling is achieved by the smaller chillers and the PCM material. Our customer compared the indoor to ‘a turtle.’ It remains nice and stable for a very long time and it does so every day.”

Royal FloraHolland office building
PCM panels are mounted above suspended ceilings.

Autarkis hopes to convert more floors next year. In an email interview, he provided additional information about the project and his company.

Q: Tell me about the history of Orange Climate Autarkis.

A: Orange Climate Autarkis has been focusing on PCM to air systems since 2009, mainly in the Netherlands. We have our own testing facilities (laboratory) in the town of Holten.

Our main focus is using PCM in three main areas:

1. Offices, micro datacenter and residential houses. In office buildings to reduce power, energy and CO2 emissions. We are able to do that with the highest standards in thermal comfort and a healthy (fresh air) working environment.

2. For micro datacenters we have a 90% energy reducing, without any HCFC or CFC. It’s an eco-friendly method of cooling smaller datacenters. These MER / SER datacenters are everywhere: in office buildings, in power plants in hospitals and so on.

3. We supply a PCM floor heating system that in combination with a heat pump and solar panels can store solar energy in the thermal "PCM battery" inside the floor heating system. All our products are installed and mounted by us with the help of our PCM knowledge partners.

Q: What is your role at the company?

Royal FloraHolland office building
An inorganic salt-hydrate PCM is stored inside HDPE containers.

I am a specialist in a lot of building-related topics – energy, ventilation, HVAC, cooling, heating, sustainability and so on. My role is both technical and commercial. I got intrigued by PCM because of the simplicity of the idea. All of the products and PCM services we deliver have been co-created by my colleagues Harry Schmitz (R&D), Henk Willem van Dorp (owner) and myself. I am also the only (lonely) person who travels to customers to see how our PCM solutions can help them with their efforts to create a sustainable solution.

Q: Who makes the PCM you use in your products?

A: PCM Technology produces our PCM and our PCM storage panels. It is co-owned by Salca BV and Autarkis. We mainly use an inorganic salt-hydrate stored inside a HDPE container.

Q: Do you or Verkade Klimaat have data quantifying the effect of your technology on energy consumption and cost?

A: We have not quantified the data in that way. We kept the main power for cooling and heating to basic levels and added PCM to create the most perfect and comfortable indoor climate. Without adding to the energy bill. And no complaints from people at all.

Patent application: Free cooling in high humidity environments

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170347499 (applicant Amazon Technologies Inc., Seattle, Wash.):

Amazon patent drawing"A data center includes heat producing components and an air handling system that provides reduced relative humidity air to cool the heat producing components. The air handling system includes a thermal storage unit [section shown at right] that removes thermal energy from incoming air under a given set of ambient air conditions and releases thermal energy into incoming air under another set of ambient air conditions. Under the given set of ambient air conditions, the thermal storage unit cools the incoming air and causes water vapor to condense out of the incoming air. Under the other set of ambient air conditions, the thermal storage unit releases thermal energy into the incoming air, thus heating the incoming air. ... [The] thermal storage unit may include a phase change material such as a paraffin wax, salt solution, an inorganic phase change material, or other suitable material with a high heat of fusion."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170347499.pdf

Research roundup: Direct evaporative cooling unit; diatomite-stabilized paraffin; hyperbranched polyurethane; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Enhancement in free cooling potential through PCM based storage system integrated with Direct Evaporative Cooling (DEC) unit [Energy]

A Numerical Study on Phase Change Inside a Spherical Capsule [Exergetic, Energetic and Environmental Dimensions]

Performance of a thermal energy storage composite by incorporating diatomite stabilized paraffin as phase change material [Energy and Buildings]

Phase Change Materials for Application in Energy-Efficient Buildings [Cost-Effective Energy Efficient Building Retrofitting]

Thermal energy storage using poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) incorporated hyperbranched polyurethane as solid-solid phase change material (PCM) [Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research]

Comparative Research on Solar Phase Change Material Storage Wall Systems under Different Summer Working Conditions [Energies]

The Application of Carbon Materials in Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage (LHTES) [Thermal Transport in Carbon-Based Nanomaterials]

H2O2-microwave treated graphite stabilized stearic acid as a composite phase change material for thermal energy storage [Royal Society of Chemistry]

Sodium acetate–urea composite phase change material used in building envelopes for thermal insulation [Building Services Engineering Research & Technology]

Integration of Pore Confinement and Hydrogen-Bond Influence on the Crystallization Behavior of C18 PCMs in Mesoporous Silica for Form-Stable Phase Change Materials [Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering]

Patent application: Forced air thermal energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170321912 (applicant Viking Cold Solutions Inc., Houston, Texas):

Viking Cold Solutions patent drawing"A system including a chilled air generation system, a forced air convection system, one or more phase change material (PCM) modules, and a controller. The controller is configured to regulate the temperature of a facility by selectively utilizing the chilled air generation system and the forced air convection system based on multiple factors, which may include energy source type(s), relative costs of the energy from the source(s), availability of energy from the source(s), facility temperature, PCM module temperature, and/or temperature of goods stored within the facility, among other considerations. The controller may thus advantageously and cost-effectively control the periods of time during which the chilled air generation system is used and those during which the thermal energy stored in the PCM modules is used."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170321912.pdf

Trane acquires CALMAC, maker of ice-based energy storage systems

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Trane Inc. has acquired CALMAC Corp., a New Jersey company that specializes in ice-based energy storage systems.

CALMAC systems create and store ice when energy demand is low and then use the ice to cool buildings during periods of peak demand. The systems are integrated with Trane commercial HVAC systems.

CALMAC systems help cool more than more than 4,500 buildings worldwide, including the corporate headquarters of JC Penney, Marriott and Google.

"CALMAC is pleased to be part of Trane,” said Mark MacCracken, chief executive officer of the privately held CALMAC. “We know that with the support and investments from Trane and its parent, Ingersoll Rand, CALMAC can expand the availability and distribution of our products, serving new and existing customers with the energy storage and ice solutions they demand.”

https://www.achrnews.com/articles/135959-trane-acquires-calmac-corp-an-energy-storage-co