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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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New dorm at Massachusetts college features 18,000+ square feet of PCM mats

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 15, 2019

Garfield passive house elements

A new dormitory at Williams College in Massachusetts is equipped with 18,200 square feet of mats filled with phase change material.

Garfield House, completed in time for the first students to move in this month, is designed to achieve Passive House PHIUS+ certification and LEED Gold certification. It features R-38 walls, R-60 roofs, triple-pane windows, high-efficiency energy recovery ventilation units, drainwater heat recovery and a 50 kw photovoltaic array.

The Infinite R PCM mats, made by Insolcorp LLC of New London, N.C., will help keep the passively cooled building comfortable when the weather is warm. The PCM is a salt hydrate with a peak melting point of 73 degrees F and a thermal storage capacity of about 170 joules per gram. The mats are deployed within Garfield's interior walls and above ceilings.

Jacob Higginbottom Jacob Higginbottom, director of higher education design at SGA Architects in Boston, was project manager. He first learned about the potential use of phase change material in building envelopes and interiors in March 2018.

"A member of our team had run across the Infinite R product at a trade show and our client was looking for ways to introduce passive cooling techniques since it’s their campus standard to build residence halls without active cooling," said Higginbottom, right. "Upon research we convinced the client that this could help and they decided to give it a try."

Garfield House has no active cooling system. Did that present any special challenges?

"The fact that Garfield did not have cooling wasn’t necessarily a challenge for the PCM, but perhaps was more of an opportunity for the project itself," said Mick Dunn, Insolcorp president. "The project wasn’t without a cooling source altogether. The design team implemented well-designed ERV/ventilation to leverage cool overnight temperatures. As part of the Passive House design process, some issues were identified with cooling and being able to maintain comfort without the introduction of A/C. So we worked with them to analyze a suitable amount of PCM to help address that cooling issue and help negate the need for investment in mechanical cooling other than ventilation.

"We’ve had numerous applications where the PCM has been used with no active cooling. Most of these have been very large industrial applications where the PCM has been used to control peak plant temperatures in buildings with very high internal heat loads. The results have been very good, and we’ve seen reductions as much as 10 to 15F compared with baseline temps. Sometimes we’ll be using a higher temp PCM to promote natural re-freezing. In more conventional occupied office/housing applications we’d typically still be looking for some kind of mechanical cooling mechanism such as ventilation if air conditioning is not present. And we’d probably be more likely to consider this as a viable strategy in climates such as California or New England than say Florida where humidity and overnight temperatures are very high."

The engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti of New York conducted whole building energy modeling in WUFI Passive, the program required by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). The models project cooling demand of 0.74 kBtu per square foot per year and a cooling load of 1.64 Btu per hour per square foot. A PCM thermal simulation model projects a peak cooling reduction of 10 degrees F.

Will the building's actual performance be measured against these metrics in the first year of occupancy?

Elsa Mullin, senior sustainability consultant at Thornton Tomasetti, says PHIUS "does not require post-occupancy measurement and verification after initial occupancy."

Higginbottom said LEED certification for the design portion is completed. All construction requirements have been submitted and he expects a LEED Gold certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council by the end of the month.

He said the use of PCM won't be a factor in the certification process.

"A building like this can easily achieve LEED Gold without the use of this material," he said. "PCM was introduced to address thermal comfort. Active cooling does not dramatically affect the building energy consumption in a use type like this (most loads come from domestic HW and plug loads and ventilation fans which are still required irrespective of cooling design)."

It's the first time Higginbottom has used PCM in a project. He hopes to use it in future projects.

"The interesting part about this product is the ability to fine-tune a building towards net zero or net positive and also to flatten out the demand for cooling and possibly downsize equipment in the future and save money on operating and up front costs," he said. "We would like to have more research to back that up, but it’s a speculation on our part that this would be a benefit to building owners’ first costs and life-cycle costs."

Research roundup: Analysis of hysteresis method in EnergyPlus; pinecone biochar; passive cooling; thermal responses of concrete slabs; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 15, 2019

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Application and sensitivity analysis of the phase change material hysteresis method in EnergyPlus: A case study

From Scientific Reports:

A promising form-stable phase change material prepared using cost effective pinecone biochar as the matrix of palmitic acid for thermal energy storage

From Applied Energy:

Geometry-induced thermal storage enhancement of shape-stabilized phase change materials based on oriented carbon nanotubes
Passive cooling through phase change materials in buildings. A critical study of implementation alternatives

From Cement and Concrete Composites:

Thermal responses of concrete slabs containing microencapsulated low-transition temperature phase change materials exposed to realistic climate conditions

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Preparation and thermal properties of low melting point alloy/expanded graphite composite phase change materials used in solar water storage system
Frost and high-temperature resistance performance of a novel dual-phase change material flat plate solar collector

From Energy:

Novel micro-encapsulated phase change materials with low melting point slurry: Characterization and cementing application

From IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering:

Thermal performances and characterization of microencapsulated phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Journal of Physics: Conference Series:

Effect of thermal performance on melting and solidification of lauric acid PCM in cylindrical thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:A sodium acetate trihydrate-formamide/expanded perlite composite with high latent heat and suitable phase change temperatures for use in building roof

From Materials Research Express:

Investigation of magnesium nitrate hexahydrate based phase change materials containing nanoparticles for thermal energy storage

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

Selection of phase change material for solar thermal storage application: a comparative study

From Renewable Energy:

Experimental study on the thermal performance of a grey water heat harnessing exchanger using phase change materials

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Climate applicability study of building envelopes containing phase change materials

Research roundup: Diatomite‐based hydrated salt composites; zinc oxide coating of hermetically encapsulated paraffins; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 25, 2019

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Design of diatomite‐based hydrated salt composites with low supercooling degree and enhanced heat transfer for thermal energy storage

From Journal of Physical Chemistry B:

Clusters in Liquid Fatty Acids: Structure and Role in Nucleation

From Construction and Building Materials:

Development of thermal energy storage lightweight structural cementitious composites by means of macro-encapsulated PCM
Preparation of microencapsulated phase change materials used graphene oxide to improve thermal stability and its incorporation in gypsum materials

From Journal of Power and Energy:

Numerical modelling of phase change material melting process embedded in porous media: Effect of heat storage size

From Advanced Materials Interfaces:

Phase Change Materials: Doubly Coated, Organic–Inorganic Paraffin Phase Change Materials: Zinc Oxide Coating of Hermetically Encapsulated Paraffins

From NASA Technical Reports Server:

Utilization of Micro Tube Heat Exchanger for Next Generation Phase Change Material Heat Exchanger Development

From SN Applied Sciences:

Encapsulation of paraffin wax by rigid cross-linked poly (styrene divinylbenzene-acrylic acid) and its thermal characterization

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Transient performance of a Peltier super cooler under varied electric pulse conditions with phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal optimization of a kirigami-patterned wearable lithium-ion battery based on a novel design of composite phase change material
An experimental and theoretical study of the solidification process of phase change materials in a horizontal annular enclosure

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Enhancement of the thermal energy storage capacity of a parabolic dish concentrated solar receiver using phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Numerical simulation on the thermal performance of a PCM-containing ventilation system with a continuous change in inlet air temperature

From Energy Fuels:

Graphene modified hydrate salt/UV-curable resin form-stable phase change materials: continuously adjustable phase change temperature and ultrafast solar-to-thermal conversion

From Journal of Industrial and Chemical Engineering:

Thermal performance enhancement of a phase change material with expanded graphite via ultrasonication

From Chemistry Select:

Microencapsulation of Stearic Acid into Strontium Titanate Shell by Sol‐Gel Approach for Thermal Energy Storage

Research roundup: Foamed cement blocks; polyethylene glycol/wood flour composites; radiant ceiling panels; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 11, 2019

From Trends in Food Science & Technology:

Micro/nano-encapsulated phase change materials (PCMs) as emerging materials for the food industry

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A foamed cement blocks with paraffin/expanded graphite composite phase change solar thermal absorption material
Solvent-free preparation of bio-based polyethylene glycol/wood flour composites as novel shape-stabilized phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage
Spray-graphitization as a protection method against corrosion by molten nitrate salts and molten salts based nanofluids for thermal energy storage applications
Preparation and characterization of microencapsulated phase change materials containing inorganic hydrated salt with silica shell for thermal energy storage
Enhancing thermal conductivity of paraffin wax 53–57 °C using expanded graphite

From Solar Energy:

Simultaneous charging and discharging of phase change materials: Development of correlation for liquid fraction

From Energy and Buildings:

Numerical study of the electrical load shift capability of a ground source heat pump system with phase change thermal storage

From International Conference on Materials, Environment, Mechanical and Industrial Systems:

Simulation-based analysis of the use of PCM and shading devices to improve the thermal comfort in buildings

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental study of a pilot-scale fin-and-tube phase change material storage
On-demand Intermittent Ice Slurry Generation for Subzero Cold Thermal Energy Storage: Numerical Simulation and Performance Analysis
Atomistic modelling of water transport and adsorption mechanisms in silicoaluminophosphate for thermal energy storage

From Clima 2019, 13th REHVA World Congress:

Experimental comparison of radiant ceiling panels and ceiling panels containing phase change material (PCM)

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Review of stability and thermal conductivity enhancements for salt hydrates
Characterisation of promising phase change materials for high temperature thermal energy storage

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Self-assembly of 3D-graphite block infiltrated phase change materials with increased thermal conductivity

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Thermal Performance Difference of Phase Change Energy Storage Units Based on Tubular Macro-encapsulation

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

State-of-technology review of water-based closed seasonal thermal energy storage systems

From Applied Energy:

Thermal energy storage in district heating and cooling systems: A review

From Polymers:

Fabrication and Characterization of Novel Shape-Stabilized Phase Change Materials Based on P(TDA-co-HDA)/GO Composites 

Research roundup: Spent coffee grounds; tropical tree fruit oils; natural rubber composites; more

Ben Welter - Friday, July 05, 2019

From Chemosphere:

Spent coffee grounds as supporting materials to produce bio-composite PCM with natural waxes

From Biotechnology Reports:

Novel phase change materials for thermal energy storage: evaluation of tropical tree fruit oils

From Construction and Building Materials:

Compressive strength and hygric properties of concretes incorporating microencapsulated phase change material
Thermal enhanced cement-lime mortars with phase change materials (PCM), lightweight aggregate and cellulose fibers

From Case Studies in Thermal Engineering:

Optimal fin parameters used for enhancing the melting and solidification of phase-change material in a heat exchanger unite

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Porous geopolymer as a possible template for a phase change material

From Journal of Physics: Conference Series:

Thermophysical Characteristics of VCO-Soybean Oil Mixture as Phase Change Material (PCM) using T-History Method

From Rubber Chemistry and Technology:

Phase-Change Material: Natural Rubber Composites for Heat Storage Applications

From Powder Technology:

An enthalpy based discrete thermal modelling framework for particulate systems with phase change materials

From Chemistry Select:

Carbon Soot/n–carboxylic Acids Composites As Form‐stable Phase Change Materials For Thermal Energy Storage

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental study of thermo-physical properties and application of paraffin-carbon nanotubes composite phase change materials
High thermal response rate and super low supercooling degree microencapsulated phase change materials (MEPCM) developed by optimizing shell with various nanoparticles

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Design optimization of the phase change material integrated solar receiver: A numerical parametric study

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Synthesis and characterization of ditetradecyl succinate and dioctadecyl succinate as novel phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Advanced Materials Interfaces:

Doubly Coated, Organic–Inorganic Paraffin Phase Change Materials: Zinc Oxide Coating of Hermetically Encapsulated Paraffins

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Heat transfer enhancement of charging and discharging of phase change materials and size optimization of a latent thermal energy storage system for solar cold storage application

Research roundup: Form-stable PCM; polyethylene glycol/quartz composites; fuzzy clustering; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

A N-octadecane/hierarchically Porous TiO2 Form-Stable PCM for Thermal Energy Storage

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Hybrid solar parabolic dish power plant and high‐temperature phase change material energy storage system

From Journal of Applied Polymer Science:

Thermal and dynamic mechanical properties of polyethylene glycol/quartz composites for phase change materials

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Using fuzzy clustering and weighted cumulative probability distribution techniques for optimal design of phase change material thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermoregulation effect analysis of microencapsulated phase change thermoregulation agent for asphalt pavement

From Applied Energy:

Residential cooling using separated and coupled precooling and thermal energy storage strategies

Research roundup: Surface functionalization of composite PCM; EnergyPlus optimization; direct expansion solar heat pump; more

Ben Welter - Friday, April 26, 2019

From Applied Surface Science:

Effects of surface functionalization on thermal and mechanical properties of graphene/polyethylene glycol composite phase change materials

From Applied Energy:

Facile flexible reversible thermochromic membranes based on micro/nanoencapsulated phase change materials for wearable temperature sensor
Shape-remodeled macrocapsule of phase change materials for thermal energy storage and thermal management
Investigation on the thermal performance of a high temperature packed bed thermal energy storage system containing carbonate salt based composite phase change materials
Toward a new method for the design of combined sensible/latent thermal-energy storage using non-dimensional analysis
Strategic control and cost optimization of thermal energy storage in buildings using EnergyPlus
Adaptive measures for mitigating urban heat islands: The potential of thermochromic materials to control roofing energy balance

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Poly(styrene-co-divinylbenzene-co-acrylamide)/n-octadecane microencapsulated phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Recent advances in direct expansion solar assisted heat pump systems: A review
Review on nanoporous composite phase change materials: Fabrication, characterization, enhancement and molecular simulation

From Energy and Buildings:

Experimental Testing of Phase Change Materials in a Warm-Summer Humid Continental Climate

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Development of pentadecane/diatomite and pentadecane/sepiolite nanocomposites fabricated by different compounding methods for thermal energy storage

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Heat transfer performance of graphene nano-platelets laden micro-encapsulated PCM with polymer shell for thermal energy storage based heat sink

From Journal of Applied Polymer Science:

Investigations on thermal properties of microencapsulated phase‐change materials with different acrylate‐based copolymer shells as thermal insulation materials

From Solar Energy:

Experimental investigation on the impact of thermal energy storage on the solar still performance coupled with PV module via new integration

From Thermochimica Acta:

Nanoencapsulated phase change material with polydopamine-SiO2 hybrid shell for tough thermo-regulating rigid polyurethane foam

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Optimization of the detailed factors in a phase-change-material module for battery thermal management

From Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering :

A review on the best practices in concrete pavement design and materials in wet-freeze climates similar to Michigan

From Case Studies in Thermal Engineering:

Study of a passive solar air heater using palm oil and paraffin as storage media

From Acta Microscopica:

Preparation of Graphene Hybrid Material and Thermal Properties of Polymer Composites

Research roundup: Hydrophobic lauric acid; paraffin in heat exchanger; EnergyPlus vs. IES; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 10, 2019

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Preparation of hydrophobic lauric acid/SiO2 shape-stabilized phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Development of paraffin wax as phase change material based latent heat storage in heat exchanger

From Renewable Energy:

Characterization and stability study of a form-stable erythritol/expanded graphite composite phase change material for thermal energy storage

From Journal of Building Engineering:

Comparison of EnergyPlus and IES to model a complex university building using three scenarios: Free-floating, ideal air load system, and detailed

From 4th International Conference on Renewable Energies for Developing Countries :

Phase Change Materials in a Domestic Solar Hot Water Storage Tank of the Lebanese Market
Numerical and experimental investigations of a PCM integrated solar chimney
Integrating a High Solar Combi-Plus System using PCM Storage in a Smart Network: KSA Case Study

From International Journal of Advanced Research In Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology:

Solar Cooker with Heat Storage System: A Review [pdf]

From Energy and Buildings:


From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Bio-based poly (lactic acid)/high-density polyethylene blends as shape-stabilized phase change material for thermal energy storage applications

From Construction and Building Materials:

Microstructure-guided numerical simulation to evaluate the influence of phase change materials (PCMs) on the freeze-thaw response of concrete pavements

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Thermal management of Li-ion battery pack with the application of flexible form-stable composite phase change materials
Experimental investigation on cylindrically macro-encapsulated latent heat storage for space heating applications

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental investigation on using a novel phase change material (PCM) in micro structure photovoltaic cooling system
Experimental investigation on a novel composite heat pipe with phase change materials coated on the adiabatic section

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

PCM briefing: Virginia Tech takes first place in Solar Decathlon; Pluss is expanding R&D team

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS team has won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The lone American team topped 14 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants. The team said its use of phase change material in the solar-powered home set it apart from the competition. Look for an interview with Joseph Wheeler, an architecture professor who directs Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS research program, in the next issue of Phase Change Matters.

• Via LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is hashtag#Expanding its hashtag#Research team for hashtag#PCM Business. Chemistry Graduates with 0-2 years of experience preferred. However, others will be considered too. Usual job descriptions apply! Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at jobs@pluss.co.in. Hurry! The vacancies are limited."

• U.S. and German researchers who have studied a PCM alloy made from germanium, antimony and tellurium say liquid water and liquid PCMs may have the same underlying physics. "The experiments reveal that the so-called Stokes-Einstein relation, which connects the viscosity of a liquid to the diffusion coefficient of its molecules, appears to break down above the melting point of the material and at very low viscosities – just as in water," Physics World reports. "The result will be important when making phase-change memories from GeSbTe alloys and related PCMs in the future."

CleanTechnica's Tina Casey takes a deep dive into the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to develop next-generation, long-duration energy storage systems. Her conclusion: "The new R&D program practically guarantees that the hurt will continue for coal miners, their families and their communities long after Trump leaves office."  

kW Engineering of Oakland, Calif., offers tips on how to use a famously complex energy modeling program: "Best Practices for Successful Building Energy Modeling with EnergyPlus." 

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: