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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.




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."

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.”

Patent application: Economized cycle with thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170307266 (applicant Carrier Corp., Farmington, Conn.):

"In one aspect, an air conditioning system is provided. The air conditioning system includes a refrigeration circuit having a refrigerant and an economizer circuit, and a subcooling circuit thermally coupled to the refrigeration circuit, the subcooling circuit including a thermal energy storage (TES) unit and a phase change material (PCM) for thermal exchange with the refrigerant."

Sunamp expands factory, warehouse space

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sunamp Ltd. is moving its phase change production unit into a 15,000-square-foot factory and warehouse space near the company's headquarters in East Lothian, Scotland. The new space is three times the size of Sunamp's current production space and will allow the company to bring in test rigs and a vehicle lift to meet the needs of its automotive division. Sunamp says the move will free up "much needed lab space at headquarters to expand our current chemical material and HVAC product R&D operations."

Other recent developments at Sunamp:

Sunamp EV• The company showcased its cooling system for refrigerated vans at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle event in Millbank, England, last month. The system, developed with bodybuilder Paneltex, route optimization software maker Route Monkey and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, integrates low-temperature PCMs in electric delivery vans for supermarket deliveries. It was among the winners in a proof of concept competition sponsored by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK.

• Along with other companies involved in the Smart Islands Energy Systems (SMILE) initiative, Sunamp is gearing up for the implementation phase of the Orkney pilot project, starting in November. Sunamp's heat batteries are among nine smart-grid technologies to be demonstrated in the four-year SMILE project, launched in May 2017 and funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

• Sunamp's PCM heat batteries were featured this week on the UK television show "Grand Designs."

Research roundup: TES in Toronto high-rises; rotary desiccant cooling systems; natural convection characterization; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Experimental investigation of latent thermal energy storage in high-rise residential buildings in Toronto [Energy Procedia]

Study on the Performance of Heat Storage and Heat Release of Water Storage Tank with PCMs [Energy and Buildings]

Design of effective fins for fast PCM melting and solidification in shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage through topology optimization [Applied Energy]

Integrating photovoltaic thermal collectors and thermal energy storage systems using phase change materials with rotary desiccant cooling systems [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Development of thermal energy storage cementitious composites (TESC) containing a novel paraffin/hydrophobic expanded perlite composite phase change material [Solar Energy]

Experimental analysis of solar photovoltaic unit integrated with free cool thermal energy storage system [Solar Energy]

Natural convection characterization during melting of phase change materials: Development of a simplified front tracking method [Solar Energy]

Thermal behavior of latent thermal energy storage unit using two phase change materials: Effects of HTF inlet temperature [Case Studies in Thermal Engineering]

Experimental Investigation of a New Passive Thermal Management System for a Li-Ion Battery Pack Using Phase Change Composite Material [Electrochimica Acta]

Patent application: Micro environmental control system

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170276408 (applicant Hussein Ezzat Khalifa, Manlius, N.Y.):

"A micro environmental control system that can remove or add 30W from or to the near range personal microenvironment of a user. For cooling, the μX uses a micro vapor compression system during the un-occupied period to freeze a phase-change-material in a thermal storage module. A fan then moves air over the phase-change-material to deliver cooled air. Heating is delivered by a small electric heater integrated into a condensing unit. The resulting system is inexpensive to build and uses a limited amount of energy."

PCM briefing: Presentation on effect of carbon-based networks on energy storage materials; webinar on ambient temperature profiles

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

Dr. Amy Fleischer• Dr. Amy Fleischer, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at Villanova University, will give a presentation this month on the effect of carbon-based networks on enhanced energy storage materials. The presentation is set for Oct. 20 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. From the abstract: "Many common PCMs have high energy storage capacity but low thermal conductivity so much work has been done to improve their system performance by using nanoscale inclusions intended to increase the effective thermal conductivity. The work presented here shows that in certain situations, not only does the thermal conductivity increase, but also the latent heat. This effect is explored to understand the physical phenomena in order to harness the effect for advanced materials design."

• Registration is open for "Ambient Temperature Profiles," Sonoco ThermoSafe's next webinar on temperature assurance packaging. It will be held on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Iftekhar Ahmed, R&D team leader at ThermoSafe, and Bernard McGarvey, senior engineering advisor at Eli Lilly & Co., will lead the session. Participants will learn about "standard ambient profiles, vendor and published profiles and how others even develop their own profiles using empirical temperature data and distribution steps."

• New from Grand View Research: "Thermal Energy Storage Market Analysis By Type, 2014-2025"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market 2017 Share, Size, Forecast 2022"

• Scientists working on the International Energy Agency’s Solar Heating and Cooling Programme Task 53 have compared the cost, efficiency and adaptability of solar cooling storage solutions. The researchers examined both thermal and electricity storage systems and are now creating guidelines for choosing the most fitting solution to heat and cool buildings. But the group will not, according to, issue a recommendation favoring either storage system. “There are too many unknowns. Apart from technical considerations, you need to look at each country’s legislative framework and feed-in tariffs," said Elena-Lavinia Niederhäuser, author of the report and director of the Energy Institute at Fribourg’s College of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland. 

Homemade a/c unit• When a recent heat wave turned his elementary school into a sauna, a resourceful fourth-grader in Michigan built a home-made air conditioner for his classroom, using a plastic tub, an electric fan and bottles filled the world's cheapest phase change material: water. Abram Barker said he got the idea from YouTube but used a larger base and added towels to insulate the frozen water bottles and soak up condensation.

• Registration is open for "Cone Calorimeter: Quantifying Easily Flammability & Heat Release Rate," an online course offered by The instructor is T. Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire. The course will be held at 10 a.m. EST on Oct. 12. The cost is $307 for three participants on a single connection.

• The Phase Change Materials Industry Association, which will hold its inaugural meeting in Boston Oct. 5, has been registered as a corporation in the United States. Its official name: the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America Inc. Representatives of more than a dozen companies are scheduled to attend this week's meeting.

Research roundup: Silk hydrogel as packaging material; interfacial polymerization; ecodesign of cladding system with PCM; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Silk hydrogel illustration

Temperature buffering capacity of silk hydrogel: A useful packaging material [Materials Letters]

Preparation and Characterization of Cross-linked Polyurethane Shell Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials by Interfacial Polymerization [Materials Letters]

Environmental and spatial assessment for the ecodesign of a cladding system with embedded Phase Change Materials [Energy and Buildings]

Novel shapeable phase change material (PCM) composites for thermal energy storage (TES) applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Novel approaches and recent developments on potential applications of phase change materials in solar energy [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Study of thermal conductive enhancement mechanism and selection criteria of carbon-additive for composite phase change materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Natural aging of shape stabilized phase change materials based on paraffin wax [Polymer Testing]

Multiphase transport phenomena in composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [13th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics]

Numerical investigation of cylindrical and spherical encapsulated thermal energy storage system with phase change materials [Transylvania Review]

Temperature Dependence of the Enthalpy of Alkanes and Related Phase Change Materials [Enthalpy and Internal Energy: Liquids, Solutions and Vapours]

Heat transfer enhancement of phase change materials by fins under simultaneous charging and discharging [Energy Conversion and Management]

Patent application: Air-conditioning system for a machine

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170267066 (applicant Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.):

"An air-conditioning system including a primary circuit and a secondary circuit is provided. The primary circuit includes a flow of refrigerant, an evaporator and a chiller configured to exchange heat between a coolant and the refrigerant. The secondary circuit includes a heat exchanger in fluid communication with the chiller to receive the coolant. The heat exchanger includes a phase change material in heat exchange relationship with the coolant, such that the coolant exchanges heat with the phase change material to store thermal energy in the phase change material. The air-conditioning system is implemented in a machine in which during an idle-off state, the stored energy in the heat exchanger is discharged to provide an air-conditioning effect."

Research roundup: PCM wallboard; composite Trombe solar wall; indoor thermal comfort; more

Ben Welter - Friday, September 15, 2017

Energetic performance of two different PCM wallboards and their regeneration behavior in office rooms [Energy Procedia]

Correlation between energy efficiency in buildings and comfort of the users [Energy Procedia]

Numerical study of a composite Trombe solar wall integrating microencapsulated PCM [Energy Procedia]

Design of High Temperature Thermal Energy Storage for High Power Levels [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Numerical analysis of heat transfer processes in a low-cost, high-performance ice storage device for residential applications [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Solid-liquid phase change investigation through a double pipe heat exchanger dealing with time-dependent boundary conditions [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Evaluation of energy efficient hybrid hollow plaster panel using phase change material/xGnP composites [Applied Energy]

Indoor thermal comfort assessment using different constructive solutions incorporating PCM [Applied Energy]

The experimental phase diagram study of the binary polyols system erythritol-xylitol [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Multifunctional poly (melamine-urea-formaldehyde)/graphene microcapsules with low infrared emissivity and high thermal conductivity [Materials Science and Engineering: B]