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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.




Research roundup: Enhanced bulk-organic PCMs; cementitious composites; business clothing incorporating PCMs; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New formulation and characterization of enhanced bulk-organic phase change materials [Energy and Buildings]

Numerical analysis of the freeze-thaw performance of cementitious composites that contain phase change material (PCM) [Materials & Design]

Thermal Properties of Lauric Acid Filled in Carbon Nanotubes as Shape-stabilized Phase Change Materials [Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics]

Thermo-physiological comfort of business clothing incorporating phase change materials in a cold environment [International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology]

Phase change material thermal energy storage for a large scale ammonia chiller/heat pump system [International Institute of Refrigeration]

Case Study of Load Shifting Using Thermal Energy Ice Storage in Public Facilities [Journal of Facility Management]

Microencapsulated phase change materials with composite titania-polyurea (TiO2-PUA) shell [Applied Energy]

Numerical study on the effects of fins and nanoparticles in a shell and tube phase change thermal energy storage unit [Applied Energy]

Research roundup: Acrylic PCM microcapsules; paraffin-water nanoemulsion; two-tank molten salt TES; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Non-linear system identification of a latent heat thermal energy storage system [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Tailoring of bifunctional microencapsulated phase change materials with CdS/SiO2 double-layered shell for solar photocatalysis and solar thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Preparation of acrylic PCM microcapsules with dual responsivity to temperature and magnetic field changes [European Polymer Journal]

Paraffin wax–water nanoemulsion: A superior thermal energy storage medium providing higher rate of thermal energy storage per unit heat exchanger volume than water and paraffin wax [Energy Conversion and Management]

Preparation and characterization of stearic acid/polyurethane composites as dual phase change material for thermal energy storage [Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry]

Efficiency analyses of high temperature thermal energy storage systems of rocks only and rock-PCM capsule combination [Solar Energy]

Thermal performance analysis of PCM wallboards for building application based on numerical simulation [Solar Energy]

Thermal energy storage in district heating: Centralised storage vs. storage in thermal inertia of buildings [Energy Conversion and Management]

Two-tank molten salts thermal energy storage system for solar power plants at pilot plant scale: lessons learnt and recommendations for its design, start-up and operation [Renewable Energy]

PCM briefing: Croda merger talks reported; RAL PCM members to meet March 1

Ben Welter - Monday, February 12, 2018

• British specialty chemicals maker Croda International Plc has held unsuccessful talks with Ashland Global Holdings Inc. about a possible merger, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

Croda recently redesigned the CrodaTherm website, The new site offers improved navigation and searchability, a wider range of potential PCM applications and profiles of the CrodaTherm technical team. Visitors can register to log in and download datasheets and order samples. "We are excited to launch this new website, making it even easier for our customers to find us and the products they need," said Graeme Tweddle, global managing director for energy technologies at Croda.

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the phase change material industry, will meet in Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 1. On the agenda: Quality and testing specifications; improvements to the association's website; member content on the BUILD UP Web portal; promotion of PCMs in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States; and registration of RAL quality marks.   

Sonoco ThermoSafe is accepting registrations for the company's first Leading Minds Seminar, to be held June 6-7 in Philadelphia. 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. Day two includes a visit to ThermoSafe's design and testing lab in Montgomeryville, Penn.

Sonoco is No. 90 on Barron's inaugural list of "The 100 Most Sustainable Companies." 

• A "measurement and verification study" of a Viking Cold Solutions TES system installed in a 320-square-foot walk-in freezer at a supermarket in Fremont, Calif., showed an 18 percent net reduction in energy consumption.   

• The deadline is Monday, Feb. 12, to submit a concept paper for ARPA-E's OPEN 2018 competition. Up to $100 million is available for new projects that "transform the way we generate, store and use energy."

DLR Group, which part of a public-private collaboration working to develop PCM-based cooling and heating methods for Agua Fria Canyon View High School, has been named one of Arizona's "40 Companies to Watch" in 2018 by AZRE magazine. 

• Entries are being accepted for Bio-Based World News' 2018 Innovation Awards. The four categories are product of the year, chemical innovation of the year, best use of alternative feedstocks and industry story of the year. The entry deadline is Feb. 23. Winners will be honored March 20 at the World Bio Markets conference in Amsterdam. 

• Nantucket, Mass., has approved the installation of an Ice Bear thermal storage and air-conditioning unit in a building owned by the town. Last summer, Genbright won a $1.5 million grant from the state to install the units in more than 200 Nantucket homes, with the goal of reducing peak energy demand and staving off the need for a third undersea power cable for the island. But some residents voiced skepticism about the technology, prompting the town board to approve the test installation.

• Shippers have found that cocoa butter can be hard to contain on long ocean voyages. There have been reports of the material leaking out of containers as it changes phase, clogging bilges and generally making a mess. The Cargo Incident Notification System, established in 2011 to share information on all cargo-related incidents, has issued guidelines that recommend the material be shipped in refrigerated containers, particularly when passing through hot climate zones. 

Patent application: PCM compositions and methods of making the same

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 08, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180037788 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, compositions are described herein. In some embodiments, a composition comprises a phase change material, a hydrophobic sorption material, and a viscosity modifier. In some embodiments, a composition comprises a foam and a latent heat storage material dispersed in the foam, the latent heat storage material comprising a phase change material and a hydrophobic sorption material."

Inspired by nature, 'active energy building' takes wing in Liechtenstein

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 08, 2018

Marxer Haus, west side

The Marxer building on a rare sun-splashed January morning in Vaduz.

An “active energy building” bristling with new technology has officially spread its sophisticated wings in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

The six-year project was directed by Anton Falkeis and his wife, Cornelia Falkeis-Senn, world-renowned architects based in Vienna. Their client, Liechtenstein attorney and banker Peter Marxer, challenged them to design a sustainable apartment building that relies as much as possible on renewable energy.

A team that included energy experts from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts was assembled for the complex task. Countless hours of planning, research, design work, computer modeling and prototyping produced a number of innovations used in the 12-unit Marxer building, including:

• An array of 13 photovoltaic panels that rise from the roof and track the sun’s path across the sky, optimizing the collection of solar energy.

• Load-bearing structures that mimic nature in appearance and function.

• “Acoustically active” three-dimensional interior lighting elements that act as sound diffusors and absorbers.

Anton Falkeis and climate wing
Anton Falkeis and one of the PCM-filled climate wings.
• Seven “climate wings” that fold out of the building facade and absorb, store and release thermal energy as needed to keep the interior comfortable.

The computer-controlled solar panels, which measure up to 14 square meters, rise from the roof at sunrise and turn with the sun during the day. When night falls or inclement weather approaches, the panels automatically fold back into the roof. The system is said to collect nearly three times the solar energy of stationary panels.

Anton Falkeis described the project as a “prototype for a decentralized urban energy production system that’s part of a bigger network.”

“We created an energy cluster with the surrounding buildings, some of which are owned by the same client,” he said. “We share the energy generated by our PV trackers embedded in the roof structure first with the cluster. We sell any surplus to the grid. The utility can use the surplus to refill the hydro power plant storage.”

The climate wings contain 1.4 metric tons of Rubitherm PCM enclosed in aluminum tubes.

Climate wing detail
Each climate wing contains rows of PCM-filled aluminum tubes.

Four wings on the building’s western side are dedicated to heating. They are filled with PCM that has a melting point of 31 degrees Celsius. In cold months, these wings open during the day, exposing the PCM to solar radiation that melts the material. Each wing folds back at night and connects to ventilation systems in the adjoining apartments. The tubes release heat as the PCM solidifies, and low-power fans move the warm air throughout the apartments.

Three wings on the eastern side are dedicated to cooling. The PCM in these has a melting point of 21 degrees C. In summer, the wings open at night, allowing cool air to solidify the PCM. Each wing folds back against the building during the day and connects to the adjoining ventilation systems. Indoor air is cooled as it flows past the frozen PCM in the wing.

Climate wing detail
Ducts carry air warmed by PCM into the apartments.
With a surface area of 24 square meters, the western wings are said to generate about 10 percent of heating capacity. The eastern wings, with a surface of 15 square meters, generate around 16 percent of cooling capacity.

How did the team address flammability issues associated with biobased PCM?

“We developed the encapsulation so that no oxygen can come in contact with the PCM,” Falkeis said. “The whole thing was tested to 300 degrees Celsius, heating up, cooling down, heating up. And finally we got permission by the building commission, a Swiss testing certificate, to use it in the building envelope. Swiss testing accreditation is valid all over Europe.”

Aside from patent applications, what’s next for all this ground-breaking technology? 

“We need to reduce complexity and try to produce more standardized building envelope panels or systems that could be part of a regular building system,” Falkeis said. “This is our next step: Reducing the complexity in terms of form.”

He also hopes to spread awareness. "Active energy building" technology was on display at a New York City exhibition that ended in January. The exhibit opens in Los Angeles on March 1; after that, it will be on display in Vienna and Berlin.

Now that the complex project is complete and the first tenants have moved in, the architect says he is "very happy" with the results.

“There’s a lot of architectural and technological detailing,” he said. “There are more than 800 drawings just on detail. It’s very precise. It’s very well done. Very high standards. It’s really crazy how finally everything came out like we planned it.  It was six years of hard work, being on site, checking everything. …  It was a sort of never-ending ongoing research project. It was really exciting to be part of this.”

Marxer Haus, east side

The east side of Marxer building faces a small park, a biking trail and a creek.

Research roundup: Heat transfer model based on energy asymmetry; smart concretes; traction transient cooling; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A new heat transfer model of phase change material based on energy asymmetry [Applied Energy]

Multifunctional smart concretes with novel phase change materials: Mechanical and thermo-energy investigation [Applied Energy]

The melting of salt hydrate phase change material in an irregular metal foam for the application of traction transient cooling [Thermal Science and Engineering Progress]

Solar Energy Latent Thermal Storage by Phase Change Materials (PCMs) in a Honeycomb System [Thermal Science and Engineering Progress]

Fabrication and characterization of diethylene glycol hexadecyl ether-grafted graphene oxide as a form-stable phase change material [Thermochimica Acta]

One-dimensional model of a stratified thermal storage tank with supercritical coiled heat exchanger [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Using silicagel industrial wastes to synthesize polyethylene glycol/silica-hydroxyl form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Steam-PCM heat exchanger design and materials optimization by using Cr-Mo alloys [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Sodium acetate trihydrate-chitin nanowhisker nanocomposites with enhanced phase change performance for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Preparation and thermal properties of fatty acid/diatomite form-stable composite phase change material for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Research roundup: Eutectic organic PCMs; diatomite/CNTs/PEG composites; cellulose insulation; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

From Data in Brief:

Prediction of the Properties of Eutectic Organic Phase Change Materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Diatomite/CNTs/PEG composite PCMs with shape-stabilized and improved thermal conductivity: Preparation and thermal energy storage properties

From Solar Energy:

Thermal performance of phase change materials (PCM)-enhanced cellulose insulation in passive solar residential building walls

From Energy Procedia:

A Parametric Study about the Potential to Integrate Phase Change Material into Photovoltaic Panel
Investigations on thermal environment in residential buildings with PCM embedded in external wall
Passive Cooling Using Phase Change Material and Insulation for High-rise Office Building in Tropical Climate
A Study on Latent Heat Energy Storage Performance of Tetradecane
Erythritol-Vermiculite form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Modification of expanded graphite and its adsorption for hydrated salt to prepare composite PCMs

From Renewable Energy:

Experimental Investigation of Solar Chimney with Phase Change Material (PCM)
Effect of retrofitting a silver/water nanofluid-based photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) system with a PCM-thermal battery for residential applications

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Thermal charging performance of enhanced phase change material composites for thermal battery design

From Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects:

Preparation and characterization of high-temperature non-flowing SiO2/EG/paraffin composites by high-temperature refining

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Experimental analysis of thermal energy storage by phase change material system for cooling and heating applications

From Materials & Design:

Thermal conductivity enhancement of phase change materials with form-stable carbon bonded carbon fiber network

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental study on thermal performance improvement of building envelopes by integrating with phase change material in an intermittently heated room

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Phase-change thermal energy storage using spherical capsules: performance of a test plant

Research roundup: Review of latent heat storage systems; triple-glazed window with PCM; myristic acid; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Design of a Latent Thermal Energy Storage System From Constructal Approach [ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition]

Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Systems with Solid–Liquid Phase Change Materials: A Review [Advanced Engineering Materials]

Simulation Research on the Dynamic Thermal Performance of a Novel Triple-glazed Window Filled with PCM [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Charging and Discharging Period Analysis of Myristic Acid as Phase Change Material [pdf] [International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology]

Solid-liquid phase equilibria of stearic acid and dicarboxylic acids binary mixtures as low temperature thermal energy storage materials [Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics]

Comparative study on the solar still performance utilizing different PCM [Desalination]

Temperature stabilization using salt hydrate storage system to achieve thermal comfort in prefabricated wooden houses [Energy and Buildings]

Multiobjective optimization of a building envelope with the use of phase change materials (PCMs) in Mediterranean climates [International Journal of Energy Research]

Experimental research in the phase change materials based on paraffin and expanded perlite [Phase Transitions]

Enhanced Thermal Conductivity and Thermal Performance of Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)/Modified SiO2 Composite Phase Change Material [Science of Advanced Materials]

Research roundup: Non-eutectic PCM for cold storage; waste-to-energy plants; dynamic Kriging; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Non-eutectic Phase Change Materials for Cold Thermal Energy Storage [Energy Procedia]

Effects of void spaces in a phase change material based thermal energy storage system [Energy Procedia]

Preparation and Performance of Composite Building Materials with Phase Change Material for Thermal Storage [Energy Procedia]

Environmental performance assessment of the application of high temperature phase change materials in waste-to-energy plants [Energy Procedia]

Preparation and properties of fatty acids based thermal energy storage aggregate concrete [Construction and Building Materials]

Optimizing fin design for a PCM-based thermal storage device using dynamic Kriging [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

A new approach using un-encapsulated discrete PCM chunks to augment the applicability of solid gallium as phase change material in thermal management applications [Energy Conversion and Management]

Adjustment of thermal behavior by changing the shape of PCM inclusions in concrete blocks [Energy Conversion and Management]

Performance comparison of latent heat storage systems comprising plate fins with different shell and tube configurations [Applied Energy]

Characterization of microencapsulated and impregnated porous host materials based on calcium chloride for thermochemical energy storage [Applied Energy]

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]