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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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Patent application: Composite foam and methods of preparation and use

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170072604 (applicant Empire Technology Development LLC, Wilmington, Del.):

"Composite foams having cells containing shape-stabilized phase change material (ss-PCM) particles are described. Composite foams may be made by contacting a plurality of ss-PCM particles and one or more pre-polymer reactants, wherein each ss-PCM particle can form a nucleation site for foam cell generation. The composite foams may be used in regulating the temperature of an article wherein the foam undergoes a phase transition as the surrounding temperature of the article approaches the foam's phase transition temperature. The thermostatic material may exchange heat with the article during the phase transition, resulting in regulation of the temperature of the article. The composite foams may be used as a thermostatic packaging material having a cavity for storing goods."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170072604.pdf

Research roundup: PCM compatibility with metals, plastic; desiccant packet for cooling vest; paraffin viscosity; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 23, 2017

Investigation of the corrosive properties of phase change materials in contact with metals and plastic [Renewable Energy]

Preparation and thermal properties of SAT-CMC-DSP/EG composite as phase change material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

A numerical study on the usage of phase change material (PCM) to prolong compressor off period in a beverage cooler [Energy Conversion and Management]

Abilities and limitations of thermal mass activation for thermal comfort, peak shifting and shaving: A review [Building and Environment]

Corrosion effect of phase change materials in solar thermal energy storage application [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

A review for phase change materials (PCMs) in solar absorption refrigeration systems [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Sodium nitrate – Diatomite composite materials for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Innovative PCM-desiccant packet to provide dry microclimate and improve performance of cooling vest in hot environment [Energy Conversion and Management]

Heat transfer study of phase change materials with graphene nano particle for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Energy performance evaluation of heat-storage gypsum board with hybrid SSPCM composite [Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry]

Empirical equation to estimate viscosity of paraffin [Journal of Energy Storage]

Yearly energy performance of a photovoltaic-phase change material (PV-PCM) system in hot climate [Solar Energy]

PCM briefing: Pluss VP honored as 'Innovator under 35'; BASF partners with Hewlett Packard Enterprise on new supercomputer

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ankit Jhanwar, VP for corporate planning and strategy at Pluss Advanced Technologies, was honored as one of 10 "Innovators under 35" at EmTech India 2017.

Sunamp Ltd., maker of PCM-based heat batteries, is one of eight finalists for an Ashden UK Award. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on June 15. The competition recognizes excellence in the field of green energy.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise will work with BASF to develop a supercomputer that will sharply reduce the time it takes to run simulations and modeling in chemical research. "The new supercomputer will promote the application and development of complex modeling and simulation approaches, opening up completely new avenues for our research at BASF,” said Dr. Martin Brudermueller, chief technology officer at BASF.

McKinsey & Co. analysts say a slowdown in the chemical industry's financial performance over the past five years reflects important changes in the industry’s fundamentals. One of their recommendations: "Incumbent specialty-chemical players must prepare for further encroachment of commoditization and erosion of their historical advantages when attackers from developing markets gain more experience and become increasingly technologically savvy."

California lawmakers have introduced legislation to encourage more clean energy resources to address peak load. The bills would require utilities to deploy clean energy during peak demand in order to meet the state's aggressive greenhouse gas and renewable energy goals. 

Patent application: Methods for making low remnant free formaldehyde microcapsules

Ben Welter - Friday, March 10, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170065956 (applicant Microtek Laboratories Inc., Dayton, Ohio):

"Methods for producing microcapsules begin by preparing an emulsion of a surfactant, core material, and water, followed by the addition of a crosslinking agent and a melamine formaldehyde prepolymer, which is subsequently polymerized. The crosslinking agent is added before the melamine formaldehyde prepolymer, with a first addition or a second addition of a melamine formaldehyde prepolymer, or is divided for addition with both a first addition and a second addition of melamine formaldehyde prepolymer."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170065956.pdf

Patent application: Thermal management system with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170067693 (General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

GE patent drawing"A thermal management system including a first vapor housing configured to receive a fluid that absorbs thermal energy from a first heat source, and a phase change material (PCM) housing thermally coupled to the first vapor housing, wherein the PCM housing is configured to receive a PCM that absorbs thermal energy from the first vapor housing, wherein the first vapor housing and the PCM housing are one-piece. ... As illustrated, the vascular network includes a plurality of conduits or passageways [52] that may vary in size, length, orientation, etc. throughout the PCM housing [30]. "

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170067693.pdf

Research roundup: Microcapsule-based composites; porous cellulose acetate films; underfloor heating; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Experimental study on effective thermal conductivity of microcapsules based phase change composites [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Multi-objective RSM Optimization of Fin Assisted Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage System Based on Solidification Process of Phase Change Material in Presence of Copper Nanoparticles [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Buildings cooling: An experimental study of phase change materials storage for low-energy buildings [2017 International Conference on Communication, Control, Computing and Electronics Engineering ]

Aluminum Mesh and Phase-Change Characteristics of n-Octadecane for Thermal Energy Storage [Journal of Thermophysics and Heat Transfer]

Analytical analysis of latent heat thermal energy storage model for solar thermal power plants [14th International Bhurban Conference on Applied Sciences and Technology]

Analysis of graphene-encapsulated polymer microcapsules with superior thermal and storage stability behavior [Polymer Degradation and Stability]

Experimental and numerical investigations on the thermal performance of building plane containing CaCl2·6H2O/expanded graphite composite phase change material [Applied Energy]

Fabrication and characterization of porous cellulose acetate films by breath figure incorporated with capric acid as form-stable phase change materials for storing/retrieving thermal energy [Fibers and Polymers]

In-situ preparation of a shape stable phase change material [Renewable Energy]

Proposal of a PCM Underfloor Heating System Using a Web Construction Method [pdf] [International Journal of Polymer Science]

PCM briefing: Sasol introduces Parafol 17; CIC Energigune seeks scientific director for energy storage group

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

• In a LinkedIn post, the chemicals giant Sasol has announced the development of a new phase change material, Parafol 17. The product has a melting range of 20-22º Celsius. Potential applications include building/construction and the transportation of temperature-sensitive goods. The company says the new PCM is commercially available, but it is not yet listed on the company's websites.

CIC Energigune is seeking candidates for the position of scientific director in its energy storage group, which is focused on the research of systems that can store heat from medium to high temperatures. The research center, based in Spain's Basque Country, also has a leadership opening in the TES group's device, prototype and testing area. 

• Want to learn how your company can include sustainability in its business goals? Stanford University's Center for Professional Development is offering a free webinar, "The Pursuit of Sustainability," at 11 a.m Pacific time March 14. 

GreenCE is offering an online course titled "Inspiration Green: Biomimicry, Climate & Culture." The course, sponsored by T. Stern Sustainability of Seattle, will cover strategies used in high-performance buildings to reduce environmental impact and earn LEED credits. The cost: $35.

• New from Transparency Market Research: "1-Tetradecanol Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast 2024"

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the results of an industry survey on the "current and future state" of clinical trial supplies. Half of those surveyed said they planned to adopt new supply chain technology within the next two years.

Finland's Team HeatStock is developing a novel PCM designed to lock in solar, waste heat for later use

Ben Welter - Monday, March 06, 2017

Researchers in Finland are developing a novel phase change material that combines sugar alcohols and sodium polyacrylate, the superabsorbent polymer used in disposable diapers. The material is designed to store solar heat collected in summer and release it for use in winter. The material could also be used to store industrial waste heat.

Team HeatStock, whose members include chemists, energy engineers and physicists from three universities, is one of 20 semifinalists in the 2017 Helsinki Challenge. Finalists, to be selected in June, will compete for a share of 375,000 euros in research funds. The winners will be announced in December.

Team HeatStock PCMTeam HeatStock presented its technology at the Helsinki Challenge pitch night last month.

“The charging of our storage happens by melting the active material of our solution,” said Aalto University research scientist Salla Puupponen. “However, when the melt material starts to cool, it doesn’t release the heat on crystallization as conventional phase change materials, but instead we can keep our material as low temperatures as we want, as long time as we want without losing the stored energy.”

In an interview with Phase Change Matters, team leader Ari Seppälä, a senior scientist at Aalto, describes the technology in further detail.

Q: On the Helsinki Challenge website, you mention that the material will be used to store heat from "solar collectors.” That’s solar thermal, not photovoltaic, correct?

A: Yes, that meant solar thermal collectors. But that is just a one possibility. Other options include such as storing waste heat from industrial processes and storing the surplus heat produced by CHPs (combined heat and power plants) during summertime. As CHPs are often linked with district heating systems (at least in Nordic countries) delivering hot water to residents, the surplus heat could also be exploited for charging the storages of residential buildings during summer for wintertime use.

Q: How is the project being funded now?

A: We have Aalto University strategic funding (Aalto Energy Efficiency Program) and also funding from Fortum Foundation. However, our funding ends during this year. Currently we are looking for new funding possibilities. We are also looking for more collaborators and community members for the research and the competition. So, experts, scientists, companies and organizations who are interested in our research are most welcome to join us!

Q: Your PCM sounds like a composite. What are its components and how are they combined?

A: Our PCM can be classified more likely as a mixture than as a composite. It is composed of a polyol in a cross-linked polyelectrolyte matrix.

Q: What is the PCM's melting point?

A: The melting point is about 100º C.

Q: What is the PCM’s thermal energy capacity in joules per gram?

A: The heat of melting is 180-280 J/g depending on the composition. The heat of crystallization of the material is currently approximately 140-170 J/g. We aim at developing the latent heat of our material further.

Q. You have describe the material as having “phase-change properties that had never been seen before with any material.” What are those properties?

A: Operation of our novel material is based on so-called cold-crystallization, in which the conventional melt-crystallization on cooling is prevented and the material crystallizes only on heating. Supercooled PCM does not seem to crystallize even with a seed crystal below the cold-crystallization temperature. Anomalously, the PCM seems to be stable also above the glass-transition temperature. The novel operation principle enables long-term storing of thermal energy, and discharge of the storage by a small heat pulse.

Cold-crystallization is previously observed also for hydrated polymers, in which water is absorbed by hydrophilic polymers. However, in these cases the amount of cold-crystallizing water is small and the crystallization properties are not conserved in the repeated melting-crystallization cycles. Our material instead can consist up to 90 percent of actual PCM and can be cycled without notable changes in phase change properties.

In addition, the cold-crystallization temperature can be adjusted by the changing the material composition.

Q: What are the key steps in your scale-up plans?

In the beginning, we aim at scaling-up our sample size from tens of milligrams to a kilogram scale. In the scale-up, it is crucial that the material properties, especially the stability of supercooled state, remain unaltered. That is of course an open question, as it is well known that the stability of metastable states decreases with increasing volume of the sample. However, our small, deeply supercooled samples did not crystallize even with seeds and thus the operation of our material differs substantially from conventional materials. After the scale-up process, we will study the triggering of the crystallization by the heat pulse. We also aim at building a practical demo linked with a heat loading and releasing system.

We will later also look for creating similarly behaving materials based on different PCMs.

Q: Have you published research papers on the material?

A: There are no published papers concerning this new material so far. The manuscript on this material, (Puupponen and Seppälä, Cold-crystallization of polyelectrolyte absorbed polyol for long-term storing of thermal energy) has just been submitted for review and a patent application is pending.

Here are links to recent journal papers related to our other PCM studies:

PCM for long-term storage:

Puupponen S, Mikkola V, Ala-Nissilä T, Seppälä A, (2016) Novel microstructured polyol–polystyrene composites for seasonal heat storage, Applied Energy 172 96–106.

Thermodynamics of solidification and melting:

Seppälä A., Irreversibility of solidification and of a cyclic solidification-melting process, (2012), International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 55 1582-1595.

Heat transfer nanofluids with PCM particles:

Puupponen, S., Seppälä, A., Vartia, O., Saari, K., Ala-Nissilä, T., Preparation of paraffin and fatty acidphase changing nanoemulsions for heat transfer (2015), Thermochimica Acta, 601, 33-38

Mikkola V, Puupponen S, Saari K, Ala-Nissila T, Seppälä A., Thermal properties and convective heat transfer of phase changing paraffin nanofluids, (2017), accepted for publication in International Journal of Thermal Sciences.

PCM briefing: Sunamp, University of Glasgow partner on Chinese power plant project; Reaxys PhD Prize entries due March 13

Ben Welter - Monday, March 06, 2017

Sunamp Ltd. is teaming up with Glasgow University and partners in China to boost the performance of Organic Rankine Cycle power plants that use renewable heat sources for distributed heat and power supply in China. The joint project has been awarded 2 million pounds in funding from the China-UK Research and Innovation Bridges program. Sunamp's PCM heat batteries will be integrated with ORC plants to store heat energy for power generation when the sun doesn’t shine. 

• Submissions for the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize close on March 13. The international competition is open to Ph.D. students or recent graduates conducting innovative research in synthetic chemistry. Forty-five finalists will present their research at the Reaxys Prize Symposium in Shanghai in October. Three winners will be selected, with each earning a $2,000 award.

• In an interview with Energy Storage Report, Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins says his company is looking to tie up partnerships with solar installers in regions where net metering is being phased out.

• Global chemicals production started the first quarter on a strong note, according to the American Chemistry Council. The council’s Global Chemical Production Regional Index showed that that headline global production rose 0.6 percent in January after a similar gain in December.

• Packaging giant Sonoco has again made Fortune magazine's list of most-admired companies, ranking second in the packaging/containers category. 

Alexium International has appointed Dirk Van Hyning as CEO, effective June 30. He will replace Nicholas Clark, who remains on the board and assumes a new role as executive director strategy. Former U.S. congresswoman Karen Thurman has joined Alexium's board as a non-executive director.  

Carnegie Mellon researchers have developed a thermally conductive rubber material that they’ve nicknamed “thubber.” The new material, which can stretch more than six times its initial length, is an electrically insulating composite. Potential applications include soft robotics and athletic wear.

• New from Wise Guy Reports: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market Research Report 2017"

Research roundup: Novel PCM plaster; chitosan-derived carbon aerogel; carboxylic esters; Trnsys simulation; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 02, 2017

Thermal effects of a novel phase change material (PCM) plaster under different insulation and heating scenarios [Energy and Buildings]

Form-stable phase change material embedded with chitosan-derived carbon aerogel [Materials Letters]

Investigation of Unbranched, Saturated, Carboxylic Esters as Phase Change Materials [Renewable Energy]

A simulation study of a solar collector using phase change materials for air heating application needs [AIP Conference Proceedings]

Intensification of monostearin (phase change material) synthesis in infrared radiated rotating reactor: Optimization and heterogeneous kinetics [Energy Conversion and Management]

Preparation research of novel composite phase change materials based on sodium acetate trihydrate [Applied Thermal Engineering]

The quasi-enthalpy based lattice Boltzmann model for solid-liquid phase change [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Synthesis and thermal properties of novel solid-solid phase change materials with comb-polyurethane block copolymer structure for thermal energy storage [Thermochimica Acta]

Synthesis of epoxy-loaded poly(melamine-formaldehyde) microcapsules: effect of pH regulation method and emulsifier selection [Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects]

Dual-encapsulation of octadecanol in thermal/electric conductor for enhanced thermoconductivity and efficient energy storage [Materials Chemistry Frontiers]

A Trnsys simulation of a solar-driven ejector air conditioning system with an integrated PCM cold storage [AIP Conference Proceedings]