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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: Temperature control device with PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180347869 (inventors Anthony Boule, Toulouse, France; Pierre Lapalus, Marseille, France):

"The invention relates to a portable device for regulating the temperature of an element, comprising: an engagement part adapted to be placed in contact with the element, a temperature regulation unit comprising a thermoelectric module having two sides (41, 42), a first side (41) of the thermoelectric module being thermally coupled with the engagement part (2). The device further comprises: a reception part (5) adapted to removably receive a phase change material (PCM) (6), a second side (42) of the thermoelectric module being thermally coupled with the reception part (5), such that a phase change material (PCM) (6) provided in the reception part will also be thermally coupled with the second side (42) of the thermoelectric module."

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 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." 

Patent application: Device and method for cooling a liquid

Ben Welter - Friday, December 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180347870 (applicant Gerrit Sonnenrein, Paderborn, Germany):

"A device, for cooling a liquid, especially a beverage, comprising a cold accumulator and a thermal line, the cold accumulator and the liquid to be cooled being thermally connected by means of the thermal line, and the cold accumulator comprising a phase change material, the device also comprising means for dissipating heat from at least the thermal line, and the cold accumulator comprising a carrier material into which the phase change material is integrated."

Patent application: In-flight service cart

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 06, 2018

DHL in-flight cart patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180346122 (applicants Tower Cold Chain Solutions Ltd. and DHL Supply Chain Ltd., Great Britain):

"An in-flight service cart for use on an aircraft for maintaining a payload such as foodstuffs and the like within a selected temperature range, said in-flight service cart including: a housing (3) having a storage volume; and at least one thermally insulated container (5) removably mounted within the housing, said container having an outer casing, a thermally conductive inner casing, thermal insulation located between the outer casing and the inner casing, said thermal insulation including at least one vacuum insulation panel, a payload volume for storing foodstuffs, an opening providing access to the payload volume, a closure member for closing the opening, at least one thermal energy storage unit located within the inner casing, said thermal energy storage unit(s) including a phase change material that is arranged to change phase at a temperature greater than or equal to -10° C.; wherein the inner casing and closure member  define the payload volume for storing the foodstuffs, and the thermal energy storage unit(s) is positioned in thermal contact with the inner casing, the arrangement being such that the inner casing provides a thermally conductive pathway for conducting heat entering the container to the thermal energy storage unit."

Patent application: Shipping system for temperature-sensitive materials

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Cold Chain Technologies patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180328644 (applicant Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.):  

"Shipping system for storing and/or transporting temperature-sensitive materials. In one embodiment, the system includes an outer box having four side walls, bottom closure flaps, and top closure flaps. A vacuum insulated panel (VIP) is detachably coupled to one of the top closure flaps and is removably covered by a cover. An insulation unit is removably positioned within the outer box, the insulation unit including a plurality of VIPs arranged to define a cavity bounded by a bottom wall and four side walls. A disposable liner is removably mounted on the insulation unit. The liner may be a thermoformed sheet and may cover the interior and top surfaces of the insulation unit. A plurality of temperature-control members and a product box may be removably positioned in the liner."

Research roundup: Dynamic building envelope; multilayer glazing facades; spherical capsule with pin-fins; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 05, 2018

From Applied Energy:

Form-stable and thermally induced flexible composite phase change material for thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Influence of the storage period between charge and discharge in a latent heat thermal energy storage system working under partial load operating conditions
Dynamic building envelope with PCM for cooling purposes – Proof of concept

From Air Force Research Laboratory:

High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) [pdf]

From Solar Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of sensible thermal heat storage mixture containing phosphate compound of cobalt and sodium
Thermal performance of non-ventilated multilayer glazing facades filled with phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Charging nanoparticle enhanced bio-based PCM in open cell metallic foams: An experimental investigation
Thermal performance analysis and optimization of a spherical PCM capsule with pin-fins for cold storage
A phase change material with enhanced thermal conductivity and secondary heat dissipation capability by introducing a binary thermal conductive skeleton for battery thermal management

From Materials:

Characterization of MgCl2·6H2O-Based Eutectic/Expanded Perlite Composite Phase Change Material with Low Thermal Conductivity

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Size controlled lauric acid/silicon dioxide nanocapsules for thermal energy storage

From Energy Procedia:

Life Cycle Assessment of thermal energy storage materials and components

From MATEC Web of Conferences:

A Numerical Method for Analysing Heat Conduction in Composites Containing Encapsulated Phase Change Materials [pdf]

From Journal of Building Engineering:

Agenda set for 6th Swiss symposium on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, December 03, 2018

The agenda is confirmed for the 6th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage, to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2019. The symposium will focus on seasonal storage systems and the sector coupling of power and heat. Here are the speakers and topics:

• "Heat Storage in Switzerland": Elimar Frank, Frank Energy GmbH, Switzerland

• "Thermal Energy Storage, one Key Element to link Energy Sectors": Peter Schossig, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany

• "Enhanced Phase-Change Materials for Heat-Storage applications": Colin Pulham, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

• "High-Temperature Latent Heat Storage and Applications": Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stuttgart, Germany

• "High-Temperature Phase Change Materials": Yulong Ding, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

• "Network Convergence and Sector Coupling at St. Galler Stadtwerke": Simon Schoch, St. Galler Stadtwerke, Switzerland

• "Heat4Cool – Multienergy Solutions for Heating & Cooling": Marcello Aprile, Politecnico di Milano and Philipp Schütz, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Large-Scale Thermal Energy Storage and Multi-Energy Networks in Vienna": Robert Hammerling, Wien Energie GmbH, Austria

• "Current and Future Use of Seasonal Thermal Storage in Ground Heat Exchangers": A Swedish Perspective: José Acuña, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

• "Avoided System Cost for Grid Reinforcement and Peaker Plants by using Ecovat Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage": Aris de Groot, Ecovat Renewable Energy Technologies, Netherlands

• "Optimization of Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Buildings": Willy Villasmil, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Seasonal Hot Water Storage with Vacuum Super Insulation": Matthias Demharter, Bayerisches Zentrum für Angewandte Energieforschung ZAE, Germany

The registration fee is 300 Swiss francs. Lunch is included. The 2018 symposium drew more than 100 participants.

PCM briefing: RSPO orders ban on deforestation; ESA calls on Congress to clarify tax credit

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

• The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has ordered a total ban on deforestation by its members, amid growing pressure from both companies and consumers. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban at the group’s annual general assembly in Malaysia Nov. 15. The ban is now part of the RSPO core standards, which member companies must comply with for their products to be certified “sustainable.”

Sunamp Ltd. reports that it has received $2.8 million in new seed funding. The latest round of investors includes Scottish Investment Bank, Equity Gap, PAR Equity and the Japanese energy utility Osaka Gas. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently signed a memo of understanding with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

• From Andreas Hauer, head of ZAE Bayern's Energy Storage Division; via LinkedIn: "The Progress Report for the working group 'Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage' ( has been approved by the Executive Committee of #IEA #EnergyStorage programme. One more year for international collaboration and inspiring discussions among material experts and applied scientist on advanced thermal energy storage!" Task 58 Annex 33 deals with advanced materials for latent and chemical thermal energy storage, PCMs and thermochemical materials.

• Registration is open for an all-day Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The free event "will present and discuss current innovations within the field of energy storage and efficiency in the built environment. Joining together industry and academia for discussions focussing on integrated solutions for residential, commercial and public buildings using renewable sources. Results will be presented from the ongoing TESSe2b European project, as well as results from other projects in the field of energy efficiency, generation & storage in buildings." 

AQUACHILL Cool Coating, a water-based phase change material coating for bedding materials and other cooling applications, is among six Dow technologies to make R&D Magazine's 2018 R&D 100 list. The awards recognize "revolutionary technologies" introduced during the past year. 

• The RAL Quality Association PCM's next meeting has been set for April 2, 2019, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• A coalition led by the Energy Storage Association is calling on Congress to clarify that energy storage systems qualify for the Investment Tax Credit. The ESA said bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would "ensure a level playing field" for storage resources. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded nearly $2.8 million to develop a system for grid electricity storage and power generation. The system includes a high-temperature charging device, low-cost thermal energy storage modules, a high-performance heat exchanger, and a closed-loop Brayton cycle turbine. 

Ecozen Solutions of India has won Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The award recognizes innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. Ecozen, one of five finalists, won both the Jury’s Prize of $15,000 and the Audience’s Prize of $5,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Energy Storage News reports that Lumenion's new storage technology, now being trialled in Berlin by Vattenfall, can store energy in steel structures for up to 48 hours. The technology is designed to provide low-cost energy storage for combined heat and power applications, using steel as the medium. The steel modules store energy thermally at up to 650 degrees Celsius.

Research roundup: Thermo-regulating bamboo fabric; PCM emulsions; nanoparticle-enhanced composite; more

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Autonomous greenhouse microclimate through hydroponic design and refurbished thermal energy by phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Development of heat accumulation unit based on heterogeneous structure of MF/PCM for cogeneration units

From Textile Research Journal:

Preparation and evaluation of thermo-regulating bamboo fabric treated by microencapsulated phase change materials

From International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology:

Development of thermo-regulating fabrics using PCM microcapsules with poly(methyl methacrylate-co-2-hydroxy ethyl methacrylate) shell and n-alkane core

From Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress:

Preparation and Properties of Nanoparticle-enhanced Composite Phase Change Material with Ceramic Porous Media

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A comprehensive review on phase change material emulsions: Fabrication, characteristics, and heat transfer performance

From 59th Conference on Simulation and Modelling:

Convective Melting Modeling Approach for Phase Change Materials with Variable Boundary Heating

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Simultaneous energy storage and recovery in the triplex-tube heat exchanger with PCM, copper fins and Al2O3 nanoparticles

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Operation strategies guideline for packed bed thermal energy storage systems [pdf]

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Solidification process of hybrid nano-enhanced phase change material in a LHTESS with tree-like branching fin in the presence of thermal radiation

From Energy:

Experiment study on thermal performance of building integrated with double layers shape-stabilized phase change material wallboard

Patent application: Apparatus for controlling environmental conditions of substances

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180333330 (inventor Ron Nagar, Tel Aviv, Israel):

"An apparatus, comprising an environmental control element configured to control at least one environmental condition of a substance contained within a chamber, the environmental control element includes a thermal insulator configured to provide a thermal shield to the substance and a phase change material (PCM) configured to thermally regulate at least one environmental condition. The environmental control element is configured to control the environmental condition without use of an external power source, thereby allowing the apparatus to be thermally self-recharging."