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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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Research roundup: Dynamic behavior of PCM-27; Al2O3, SiO2 and TiO2 nano-inclusions; coacervation microencapsulation; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 14, 2018

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

An experimental and a numerical analysis of the dynamic behavior of PCM-27 included inside a vertical enclosure: Application in space heating purposes

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Thermal conductivity enhancement in organic phase change material (phenol-water system) upon addition of Al2O3, SiO2 and TiO2 nano-inclusions

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental and numerical investigations of nano-additives enhanced paraffin in a shell-and-tube heat exchanger: A comparative study
Three-dimensional numerical and experimental investigation of the behavior of solar salts within thermal storage devices during phase change

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Formulation of a model predictive control algorithm to enhance the performance of a latent heat solar thermal system
Performance assessment of a new hydrogen cooled prismatic battery pack arrangement for hydrogen hybrid electric vehicles

From Carbohydrate Polymers:

Chitosan composite microencapsulated comb-like polymeric phase change material via coacervation microencapsulation

From Renewable Energy:

Analytical Considerations on Optimization of Cascaded Heat Transfer Process for Thermal Storage System with Principles of Thermodynamics

From Proceedings of Microscopy & Microanalysis 2018:

In-Situ TEM Observation of Crystallization in Phase-Change Material

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Fraunhofer LBF develops composite PCM to lower dashboard temperature

Ben Welter - Monday, August 13, 2018

Structure of Fraunhofer's Smart Cover Panel.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF in Darmstadt, Germany, have developed a new phase change composite material designed to reduce the surface temperature of dashboards in vehicles. 

Springer Professional of Germany has a good summary [translated from the German original]:

"The composite is suitable for a temperature phase transition and consists of a carrier material made of polyethylene, which can store energy. The filler graphite, on the other hand, ensures rapid heat dissipation. In a cyclic process of heating and cooling phases, the scientists were able to achieve a temperature reduction of 46 percent or 41 degrees Celsius compared to a conventional polypropylene-talc compound dashboard."

Fraunhofer, of course, offers a more detailed look [also translated from German]:

"To demonstrate the benefits of the new material, the scientists built this component into the dashboard of an electric vehicle to subsequently create a cycle of heating and cooling phases. The cooling was provided by Peltier elements. These electrothermal transducers are in turn cooled by external fans. The energy for Peltier elements and coolers comes from an additional 12 V battery powered by photovoltaic power.

"The energy released during the phase transition was used by the LBF researchers to switch on the Peltier elements only for a certain period of time. In this way, the fans do not have to constantly run at maximum power. By appropriate regulation, the cooling system is coupled to the temperature in the material. This should lead to a higher life expectancy of the electronic components. Thanks to a clever setting of the starting point of the working group, the Smart Cover Panel is controlled by the sunlight itself. This means that cooling only starts in hot summer days, and in winter the coveted warmth stays in the dashboard."

https://www.lbf.fraunhofer.de/de/presse/presseinformationen/phase-changing-material-mehr-komfort-und-reichweite-elektromobilitaet.html

Patent application: Cooling system for vehicle interior surfaces

Ben Welter - Sunday, August 12, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180222517 (applicant Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., Erlanger, Ky.):

"A vehicle component includes a first volume of phase change material and a second volume of phase change material spaced apart from the first volume of phase change material. The first volume of phase change material contains a greater mass of phase change material than the second volume of phase change material. The component also includes a thermally-conductive structure in direct contact with both the first volume of phase change material and the second volume of phase change material, so as to facilitate heat transfer between the first volume of phase change material and the second volume of phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180222517.pdf

Patent application: Thermal container insulated with phase change material

Ben Welter - Sunday, August 12, 2018

Solee patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180224178 (applicant Solee Science & Technology USA, Berkeley Heights, N.J.):

"A thermal container insulated with phase change material comprising a plurality of panels to form a body with a plurality of sides, a bottom and a lid, wherein each panel further comprises: a lining board, a phase change cold storage board, an insulation board; and a skin board. The phase change cold storage board further comprises an array of openings filled with solid-solid phase change material. The thermal container can maximize its storage capacity without compromising any volume for ice. It can maintain an accurate temperature range suitable for transportation. The container is reinforced at various locations to improve stability and structural integrity."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180224178.pdf

Patent application: Evaporative cooling system and device

Ben Welter - Sunday, August 12, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180224212 (inventor George Michael Kaler Jr., Trophy Club, Texas):

"An evaporative cooling system includes an indirect cooling coil containing a cooling fluid to be circulated and a blower assembly configured to generate an inlet air stream through the indirect cooling coil. The cooling fluid in the indirect cooling coil is a slurry of water and phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180224212.pdf

Patent application: Method for low-temperature microencapsulation of phase change material

Ben Welter - Sunday, August 12, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180223146 (inventors Mohammed Farid, Auckland, New Zealand, and Refat Al Shannaq, Shaheen Al-muhtaseb and Jamal Kurdi, Doha, Qatar):

Farid patent image"The method for low temperature microencapsulation of phase change materials or other components includes the following steps: (a) preparing a phase change emulsion including droplets of at least one active phase-change material in water with a surfactant; (b) adding a monomer of at least one encapsulating agent; (c) introducing the phase change emulsion into a UV reactor while stirring the emulsion; and (d) initiating the photo polymerization of monomers using at least one UV lamp inside the UV reactor for photo polymerization until the phase change material is encapsulated within a polymeric shell to form microcapsules. The microcapsules obtained by this process may have a diameter between about 0.5 to about 2 μm. Other sizes can also be obtained by changing stirring speed of the emulsion."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180223146.pdf

PCM briefing: Shipping costs rise for chemical companies; Inventure to build plant in China

Ben Welter - Saturday, August 11, 2018

Viking Cold Solutions founder and board chairman Paul Robbins, who retired as president at Caribbean Shipping Services in July, says he plans to resume a more active role in the day-to-day operations at Viking. The Houston company makes TES systems that pair phase change material with intelligent controls and remote energy-monitoring software to reduce commercial refrigeration costs.  

Chemical Week reports that shipping costs are on the rise for chemical companies as capacity tightens and truck traffic shifts to railroads.  

Inventure Renewables of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is partnering with Wilmar International and Desmet Ballestra Group on a new manufacturing plant in China's Jiangsu province, the Birmingham Business Journal reports. Construction is expected to begin in 2019. The plant will use Inventure’s soap carbonate technology to convert low-value processing residues into uncontaminated free fatty acids.

Maurizio ZaglioMaurizio Zaglio‎, right, international business development manager at Sunamp Ltd., was in Hangzhou, China, this week to present the company's new products at the 2018 China Heat Pump Annual Conference.

• New from Research and Markets: "Phase Change Materials (PCMs) - A Global Market Overview"

ARPA-E has issued a funding opportunity of up to $35 million for the High Intensity Thermal Exchange through Materials and Manufacturing Processes program, to develop new approaches and technologies for the design and manufacture of high-temperature, high-pressure, and highly compact heat exchangers. 

• The American Chemistry Council confirmed this week that high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is on the list of U.S. petrochemicals and plastics targeted for $16 billion in retaliatory tariffs from China. "Prospects of trade war are eroding business confidence from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," says the ACC's Kevin Swift. The U.S. economy is expected to grow by 2.4 percent in 2019, Morningstar reports, but economists have cut the average forecast for 2020 from 2 percent to 1.8 percent. 

Research roundup: Octadecanol/expanded perlite; PV/T system design; macroencapsulated PCM for pavement; more

Ben Welter - Friday, August 10, 2018

From Renewable Energy:

Experimental investigation on thermal properties and thermal performance enhancement of octadecanol/expanded perlite form stable phase change materials for efficient thermal energy storage
Effect of graphite mass concentrations in a mixture of graphite nanoparticles and paraffin wax as hybrid storage materials on performances of solar still

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

A review on recent development for the design and packaging of hybrid photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) solar systems

From Materials:

Mechanical and Thermal Performance of Macro-Encapsulated Phase Change Materials for Pavement Application

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Heat transfer behavior of elemental sulfur for low temperature thermal energy storage applications
A novel method for determining the melting point, fusion latent heat, specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity of phase change materials
Effect of microstructure on melting in metal-foam/paraffin composite phase change materials

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Flexible phase change materials for thermal storage and temperature control

From Construction and Building Materials:

Experimental investigation of thermal and mechanical properties of magnesium oxychloride cement with form-stable phase change material

From Solar Energy:

New insights into the corrosion mechanism between molten nitrate salts and ceramic materials for packed bed thermocline systems: A case study for steel slag and solar salt


PCM-powered actuator is finalist for $50,000 Hackaday Prize

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

A thermal actuator that uses the power of phase change material to displace fluids and perform work is a finalist in the 2018 Hackaday Prize competition. 

Andrew BensonThe actuator, designed by Andrew Benson of Denver, Colo., is competing in the power harvesting category. The challenge: Build a module that harvests ambient power and show the module powering a project. Benson's actuator retracts and expands as the PCM freezes or melts. The concept is described on the competition's website, hackaday.com.

"Thermal actuators are generally inefficient, but extraordinarily reliable," Benson wrote in his contest entry. "This inefficiency can be overlooked when the thermal actuator is powered by waste or ambient heat. They are often used as thermal feedback mechanisms, such as the wax thermostat found in many water cooled engines. Environmental control systems can be created where a thermal actuator reacts to the environment, such as a shade device that deploys when ambient temperature rises above the melting temperature of the PCM."

The five Hackaday Prize winners will be announced at the Hackaday Superconference in early November. The grand prize: $50,000.

https://hackaday.com/2018/08/02/thermal-actuators-hydraulic-motors-that-feed-on-temperature-changes/

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens Uruguay office; U.S. Army issues RFQ for 'cooling radio vest'

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

• A bipartisan bill promoting innovation in sustainable chemistry was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate last week. The bill is sponsored by Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Chris Coons, D-Del. Collins said the legislation "would create a coordinated national effort to support research and development in the sustainable chemistry field; provide grants, training, and educational opportunities for scientists and engineers; and support American jobs by maintaining our nation’s scientific leadership." 

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG is expanding its international presence with a new Latin American head office and operations facility in Montevideo, Uruguay. The new site will function as a hub for va-Q-tec’s pharma shipper rental service.

Sener and Acciona Industrial have begun the salt melting process at the 100MW Kathu concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province. The molten salt will be used to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered later to produce steam and generate electricity.

• In response to a U.S. threat to raise a proposed tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent, China has threatened to impose tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

• The U.S. Army is seeking proposals for a "cooling radio vest" that uses phase change material to keep the wearer at a comfortable 72 degrees F. The vest must include two radio pockets, a cell phone pocket, two utility pockets and space for a hydration panel. The list of requirements also specifies: "Cooling elements are a non-gel. Non ice mil spec aluminum packet consisting of a phase change material measuring 4.5" x 2.6" x 0.3." The deadline for proposals is Aug. 13. One other detail: Just 22 units are needed.