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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: PureTemp blog is finalist for industry award; ACC urges Trump to remove all chemicals from tariffs list

Ben Welter - Friday, July 27, 2018

• The Phase Change Matters blog is a finalist in the 2018 PR News Platinum and Agency Elite Awards. Other finalists in the blog category include Shopfloor (National Association of Manufacturers), The Blonde Abroad (R&R Partners) and Transform (Microsoft Inc.). Winners will be announced at a luncheon in New York City on Sept. 21.

Phase Change Material Products Ltd. and Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE will be among the exhibitors at Chillventa 2018. The trade show for refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation and heat pumps will be held Oct. 16-18 in Nuremberg, Germany. 

FLIR One Pro LTFlir Systems has released the One Pro LT thermal image camera for the iPhone. The new model has many of the core features of the popular One Pro model but at a lower price: $299.

Ed Brzytwa, the American Chemistry Council's director of international trade, has urged the Trump administration to remove all chemicals and plastics products, valued at $2.2 billion, from a list of Chinese goods subject to possible increased tariffs. In testimony before officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative this week, Brzytwa said higher tariffs on those products “has the potential to harm America’s manufacturing renaissance and is counterproductive to U.S. economic interests.” 

• The program for the 13th Conference on Advanced Building Skins has been posted. The event will be held Oct. 1-2 in Bern, Switzerland. Last year's conference included at least 10 presentations on phase change material. "Phase change" appears just twice in this year's program. A presentation by Jose Manuel Montes Donaire of AKT II Envelopes, London, "Thermal tuning of envelopes and its use as a parametric design tool," will address the topic of energy buffering with phase change materials. A presentation by Annie Shaw of Manchester School of Art on the architectural potential of knitted textiles will explore "three-dimensional seamlessness and stretch, phase-change form-finding and form-fixing."

• Pillow talk: Phase change material is no longer enough. Manufacturers like Tulo and Blu Sleep are turning to titanium particles and essential oils in an effort to stand out it in the crowded pillow market.

Pelican BioThermal's newest temperature-control bulk shipper, the CoolPall Flex, is now available for purchase. The CoolPall Flex, unveiled in Milan in March, has a capacity range of 140 to 767 liters. Options include standard insulation or vacuum insulated panels and water-based or PCM coolants in single or double coolant configurations.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and United Cargo announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from United Cargo.

PCM briefing: New EU energy standard takes effect; new research on inorganic phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, July 09, 2018

• The new version of the European Union's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive takes effect July 9. The directive is the EU's main legislative instrument designed to promote improved energy performance of buildings. Member states will have 20 months to transpose the new elements into national law.

• A proposal to use microencapsulated phase change material to help motor vehicles run smoothly in extreme cold has won the ClimateLaunchpad competition in Azerbaijan. A team of chemical engineering students from Baku Higher Oil School developed the concept. The team will represent Azerbaijan at the ClimateLaunchpad finals in Scotland Nov. 1-2, 2018.

• New from Research Reports: "2018 Global Inorganic PCMs Industry Report – History, Present and Future"

PCM briefing: Cash infusion for Ice Energy; ASHRAE's new energy audit standard now available

Ben Welter - Monday, July 02, 2018

Ice Energy, make of the Ice Bear and other ice-based energy storage systems, is getting an infusion of cash from a private equity manager. The California startup will receive $40 million from Argo Infrastructure Partners to finance the delivery of its residential and commercial thermal storage contracts.

• "Chemistry for the Non-Chemist," a four-part online course offered by Chemical Watch, promises "a solid introduction to chemistry." The cost: $450.  

ASHRAE Standard 211 is now available for download. The standard "establishes consistent practices for conducting and reporting energy audits for commercial buildings. The standard defines the procedures required to perform Energy Audit Levels 1, 2, and 3; provides a common scope of work for these audit levels for use by building owners and others; c. establishes consistent methodology and minimum rigor of analysis required; and establishes minimum reporting requirements for the results of energy audits." 

Purchase College of New York will get a free replacement for its aging central heating plant, thanks to a collaborative thermal energy storage project from the New York Power Authority and Brenmiller Energy. The R&D project will investigate sensible thermal energy storage as a way to increase the efficiency of a standard combined heat and power system. The new system could save State University of New York $100,000 a year.

Fifty-four academic papers were presented at PCM 2018, the 12th IIR International Conference on Phase Change Materials and Slurries for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, held in Orford, Canada, last month. "Investigations on the stability of metallic cans for PCM macro-encapsulation," "Investigation of compatibility of organic and inorganic PCMs with the materials of containers" and "Life cycle assessment phase changes of materials, component and system concept" are among the papers posted on the International Institute of Refrigeration website. 

John Lerch, vice president of sales and marketing at thermal energy storage company Axiom Exergy, writes about "5 things utilities should consider for energy storage." 

Wilmar International said it has ceased sourcing from palm oil suppliers allegedly associated with Gama, a company that was accused by Greenpeace of causing deforestation in Indonesia. 

• The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and Canadian supply chain consultancy Ulula are collaborating to introduce a mobile phone app to report potential workers’ incidents and abuses on palm oil plantations. 

PCM-equipped personal air conditioner set for commercial release in 2019

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Developers of a personal air conditioner designed to reduce energy use in office buildings say they’re on track for commercial release next year. The “μX” micro climate system features a phase change material that solidifies at about 18 degrees C to store cooling generated at night for use during the day.

mX early version
The evolution of the μX: an early design ...
Dr. H. Ezzat Khalifa of Syracuse University led the development team, which includes Air Innovations, Cornell University, United Technologies Research Center and Bush Technical LLC. The team has been working on the system since 2015, funded in large part by a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided $400,000 in follow-on funding in 2016.

Sam Brown, OEM custom director at Air Innovations, is in charge of bringing the product to market. He and Michael Wetzel, president and CEO at Air Innovations, talked about their company’s role in the project.

Q: Describe the μX system size, components and functionality.

Brown: “The current unit is about twice size of a standard PC computer tower. The unit utilizes a phase change material that melts over time. We then run a fan over the material to create an active cooling effect. A compressor then re-solidifies the PCM in the off-peak hours for future on-demand needs.”

Q: Describe the phase change material used in the system: type, melt point, thermal storage capacity, amount used in each unit.

Brown:Rubitherm, 68F, 8-10 hours, 40 pounds.”

mX early version
... a version displayed at a recent conference ...
Q: Were different PCMs tested, or did the team focus on one from the start?

Wetzel: “Many PCMs were considered and analyzed before settling on Rubitherm, but no others were tested in operating systems.”

Q: Preliminary tests indicate the prototype can remove more than 32W of heat, surpassing the ARPA-E grant target of 23W. Is the final production model likely to hit that higher number?

Wetzel: “23 watts is the target heat removal directly from a person. Our manikin results showed us exceeding that number in all tests. We tested three different diffuser methods. Some achieved as high as 32 watts removed from the manikin. In all cases we are actually generating more than 500 watt-hours of cooling, enough to cool the airstream 8 degrees F for 10 hours.”

Q: The system is now known as "μX." Will that name be used for the commercial product?

Brown: “No, the commercialized name will more closely reflect the manner in which it's utilized.”

Q: What was the greatest technical hurdle the team faced in developing this product?

Wetzel: “There were many challenges on this project. Part of the program required the development of the world’s smallest scroll compressor. This also means that there was no performance data or design simulation data with which to develop the rest of the system. Our partners on the project had to develop simulation tools based on testing each new component. At Air Innovations our main challenges are designing for manufacturability and the integration and testing of off-the-shelf components as alternatives, as some of the elements of the ARPA-E units are not yet commercially available.”

mX early version
... and, finally, says Brown, "where we think the unit will potentially go in final production."
Q: What is happening with the project right now? Is it at the pilot stage?

Brown: “Currently, we are working through ARPA-E and New York State Energy grants to fully develop the technology. We are developing the unit for two scenarios. The primary is for 8-10 hours of cooling in any office environment. The other is for four hours to off-load the grid in metropolitan areas with peak power capacity concerns. Several units have been built and tested in controlled environments. We are currently seeking grant opportunities to support larger field trials.”

Q: Can you offer any details on the timeline, projected price, target market and sales projections?

Brown: “Further human testing will be necessary in order to right-size the final product. The unit will likely be ready for market sometime in 2019. The initial price point of the unit will be higher, and then come down based on quantity and market demand, settling around $2,500. It is our goal to bring to market 250-500 units in the first year.

“The exciting opportunity with the μX technology is that it further expands upon our existing Micro Environments product line. The commercialized unit will be able to control the users’ complete environment while not only offering active cooling and heating, but to control their entire surroundings as seen in our other models. Furthermore, our customers will see an ROI with the μX technology by allowing set points in the summer to run higher and temps to run cooler in the winter, reducing building HVAC power needs with a more personal temperature control directly at the desk. We believe this technology can improve worker productivity by allowing individual control, at all times, of their specific environment.”

Research roundup: Natural convection heat transfer; simulation of hysteresis effects; PCM in roofs; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Effect of using nanoparticles on the performance of thermal energy storage of phase change material coupled with air-conditioning unit
Numerical study on the effect of non-uniform magnetic fields on melting and solidification characteristics of NEPCMs in an annulus enclosure
Solidification behavior of binary eutectic phase change material in a vertical finned thermal storage system dispersed with graphene nano-plates

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

A method to evaluate natural convection heat transfer in microencapsulated phase change material (MPCM) slurry: An experimental study
Dynamic of plumes and scaling during the melting of a Phase Change Material heated from below

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental investigation of the thermal performance of heat pipe assisted phase change material for battery thermal management system
Low-temperature macro-encapsulated phase change material based thermal energy storage system without air void space design

From Energy and Buildings:

Modeling and experimental validation of an algorithm for simulation of hysteresis effects in phase change materials for building components
Thermal performance and numerical simulation of geopolymer concrete containing different types of thermoregulating materials for passive building applications

From Solar Energy:

How to enhance thermal energy storage effect of PCM in roofs with varying solar reflectance: Experimental and numerical assessment of a new roof system for passive cooling in different climate conditions

From Energy:

A facile approach to synthesize microencapsulated phase change materials embedded with silver nanoparticle for both thermal energy storage and antimicrobial purpose

From Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering:

Materials, Design and Development of Latent Heat Storage Systems for Medium and Large-Scale Applications: Issues and Challenges

From Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications:

Melting process in porous media around two hot cylinders: Numerical study using the lattice Boltzmann method

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Synthesis and characterization of chain-extended and branched polyurethane copolymers as form stable phase change materials for solar thermal conversion storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Investigation of different materials for macroencapsulation of salt hydrate phase change materials for building purposes

From Journal of Energy Storage:

CFD thermal energy storage enhancement of PCM filling a cylindrical cavity equipped with submerged heating sources
Performance analysis of industrial PCM heat storage lab prototype

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."

Patent application: Method for controlling the release of heat by a temperature control unit

Ben Welter - Monday, June 04, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180147916 (applicant Thermo King Corp., Bloomington, Minn.):

"[An] HVAC circuit for a temperature control unit, the HVAC circuit comprising: a phase change material (PCM) reservoir; wherein the HVAC circuit is configured to operate in a heat storage mode, whereby heat generated by the temperature control unit for providing temperature control within the internal space is stored in the PCM reservoir, and wherein the HVAC circuit is configured to operate in a heat release mode, whereby the heat generated by the temperature control unit for providing temperature control within the internal space is released to an ambient environment outside of the internal space."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180147916.pdf

PCM briefing: DowDuPont shifts to small-scale R&D projects; Viking Cold Solutions has opening for business development manager

Ben Welter - Monday, June 04, 2018

Arktek vaccine carrierWired takes a close look at Arktek, "the Ebola vaccine's high-tech thermos." The World Health Organization is using the PCM-equipped container to transport the temperature-sensitive vaccine to wherever it's needed, whatever the conditions. The container is designed keep payloads colder than -65 C for five days.

• With an eye toward increased profits, CEO Edward Breen says DowDuPont is moving away from large-scale R&D projects in favor of less risky initiatives of $30 million or less.

Viking Cold Solutions has posted an opening for a business development manager for the Northeastern United States.

ASHRAE has published a new standard describing a methodology to apply building energy modeling throughout the design process. ASHRAE Standard 209-2018 defines minimum requirements for providing energy design assistance using building energy simulation and analysis.

Pelican BioThermal is opening its first Canadian drop point for the Credo on Demand rental program. The new drop point, at ATS Healthcare headquarters in Toronto, offers customers an additional location to return temperature-control pallet and bulk shippers. 

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.”


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019689041830517X