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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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Patent application: Devices for use with refrigeration devices

Ben Welter - Monday, April 02, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180087831 (Tokitae LLC, Bellevue, Wash.):

"A refrigeration device includes a thermal transfer unit with an evaporative region, an adiabatic region, and a condensing region with a reversible valve attached to the adiabatic region. The device includes a container sealed around PCM, with a set of refrigeration coils of a compressor unit in thermal contact with the PCM. A storage region is in thermal contact with the evaporative region of the thermal transfer unit. A controller is operably connected to the reversible valve and the refrigeration compressor unit. The storage region can be used to store cold packs within a predetermined temperature range for medical outreach."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180087831.pdf

Research roundup: Personal cooling device; China's cold chain; prismatic lithium ion batteries; more

Ben Welter - Friday, March 16, 2018

"Preparation and Characterization of Modified Porous Wood Flour/Lauric-Myristic Acid Eutectic Mixture as a Form-Stable Phase Change Material" [Energy & Fuels]

A novel phase based cooling system for prismatic lithium ion batteries [Institut International du Froid]

Optimization of solar photovoltaic system integrated with phase change material [Solar Energy]

A novel heat transfer enhancement technique for performance improvements in encapsulated latent heat storage system [Solar Energy]

Experimental and numerical investigation of a solar collector/storage system with composite phase change materials [Solar Energy]

Enhanced thermal conductivity of phase change material nanocomposites based on MnO2 nanowires and nanotubes for energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Enhancing the Thermosiphon-Driven Discharge of a Latent Heat Thermal Storage System used in a Personal Cooling Device [International Journal of Refrigeration]

An Overview of Current Status of Cold Chain in China [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Applications of Thermal Analysis to the Study of Phase-Change Materials [Handbook of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry]

Thermo-physical characteristics, mechanical performance and long-term stability of high temperature latent heat storages based on paraffin-polymer compounds [Thermochimica Acta]

High thermal conductive paraffin/calcium carbonate phase change microcapsules based composites with different carbon network [Applied Energy]

PCM briefing: Axiom lowers energy costs at Whole Foods store; EnergyNest has opening for senior engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 19, 2018

• Nearly a year ago, a Whole Foods in Los Altos, Calif., connected a thermal battery system made by Axiom Exergy to the store's refrigeration system. Whole Foods pays Axiom a monthly fee for the saltwater-based technology. Axiom says that payment, coupled with a lower monthly power bill, amounts to less than what the grocer was paying its utility before the batteries were installed. 

• Thermal battery maker EnergyNest AS of Norway is looking to hire a senior engineer to work in its main office outside Oslo.  

• The schedule has been posted for the 2018 GlobalChem Conference & Exhibition in Washington, D.C., Feb. 28-March 2. Most of the sessions focus on the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Global Harmonized System of Classification and other regulatory topics. 

Applications are being accepted for the Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Grant Program (WAMS). The program supports research and extension projects that will increase participation by rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

• CONTISOL, a solar reactor that can run day or night, is being tested by researchers in Germany. The reactor uses concentrated solar power and thermal energy storage.

Registration is still open for the second annual European Chemistry Partnering event, to be held Feb. 23 in Frankfurt, Germany. It's a chance to pitch innovations and connect with investors and decision-makers in the chemical industry.

• U.K.-based Sure Chill Co., whose water-based refrigeration technology is used to keep vaccines cool without the need for grid-based electricity, has been shortlisted for a 2018 St. David Award in Innovation, Science and Technology. 

• The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has voted to clear a path for energy storage projects in the capacity, energy and ancillary services markets. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur noted that newer technologies “like some of the batteries, flywheels, compressed air, new forms of thermal storage, are rapidly gaining commercial viability and scale.”

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, www.crodatherm.com. 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. 

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens North American headquarters; Viking Cold Solutions begins Phoenix-area installation

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG officially opened its new North American headquarters in Langhorne, Penn., this week. Va-Q-tec will use the 20,000-square-foot facility to showcase new products and to manufacture its small temperature-control shipping containers. The location will also serve as a hub for the company's rental and repair operation. “The investment in this new facility is a testament to our commitment to grow the business and expand our footprint in North America," said CEO Dr. Joachim Kuhn.

Drones that deliver sterile mosquitoes in the fight against the Zika virus will be field tested in Latin America early this year. The system, developed by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture's Insect Pest Control Laboratory, uses phase change material to keep the mosquitoes inactive during transportation. 

• New from Greentech Media: "The Next Five Years in Energy Storage According to 500 Energy Professionals"

• New from Global Info Research: "North America Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2022"

• New from Technavio: "Global Advanced Phase Change Materials Market 2017-2021

Viking Cold Solutions has begun installing its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in a 10,000-square-foot freezer at the Bashas food distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system, which consists of salt-hydrate-filled panels suspended from warehouse ceilings, is designed to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The cost of renewable energy is falling so fast that it should be a consistently cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuels by 2020, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency

Utility Dive takes a close look at Nantucket Island's "hybrid" plan to add energy storage, including thermal storage, to stave off expensive grid enhancements.

PCM briefing: Cleanergy to develop solar TES in Morocco; SpaceX has opening for a thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Friday, January 12, 2018

Cleanergy AB of Sweden and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy have agreed on a framework to jointly develop a thermal energy storage system using Cleanergy's Stirling-based solar electricity technology.

• Applications are being accepted for the World Materials Forum Startup Challenge. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for the competition, which recognizes technical or organizational breakthroughs in one of five categories, including materials composition, product design and 3D manufacturing. The winning company will receive a 50,000 euro award at the World Materials Forum in June in Nancy, France.

Grace Hsia, co-founder and CEO of Warmilu LLC, is among 14 entrepreneurs in the running for the $1 million top prize in the WeWork Creator Awards Global competition. The winner will be announced in New York City on Jan. 17.

• Prize money totaling 52,500 euros, financed by Germany's National Climate Initiative, is up for grabs in the German Refrigeration Prize 2018 competition, honoring innovations in air conditioning and refrigeration. The entry deadline is Jan. 31. Winners will be announced at the Berlin Energy Days conference in May.

SpaceX is seeking candidates for the position of thermal engineer.  

Pacific Gas & Electric will introduce a new electric time-of-use rate in April. The California utility says the optional rate will make energy use more efficient and minimize peak demand challenges. The peak pricing will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bain & Co. has analyzed how chemical companies can "demystify" the R&D process. Among the three common "failure modes" Bain identified: "strong team running in too many directions."

Buro Happold associate Mark Dowson will speak on the topic of "phase change materials for ultimate thermal efficiency" at the 2018 Materials for Architecture conference in London in April.

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]

PCM briefing: Pitt professor gets $500,000 grant to study effectiveness of prosthetic liners

Ben Welter - Friday, December 22, 2017

Goeran FiedlerGoeran Fiedler, assistant professor of prosthetics and orthotics at the University of Pittsburgh, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study temperature control liners for prosthetics. The liners use phase change material to reduce the body’s tendency to sweat. The study will follow participants over 12 months to determine whether the liners decrease the risk of pressure sores, accidental falls and other problems.

Axiom Exergy has been named to Food Logistics' FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers list. The award recognized Axiom for its PCM-based "refrigeration battery," now in operation at a Whole Foods Market in Los Altos, Calif., and scheduled for installation at a Walmart store in San Diego.

HeatVentors has won 2017’s international PowerUp! competition for innovative energy start-ups. The Hungarian company's PCM-based thermal energy storage system is designed to cut energy use by up to 40 percent.

A thousand tons of rock will be used to store excess thermal energy in Siemens Gamesa's Future Energy System under construction in Hamburg, Germany.

• Registration is open for the Unleashing Innovation Summit 2018 to be held March 12-13 in Amsterdam. The goal of the event is to  "bring together cross-industry innovation leaders to share information on the latest trends and strategies relating to creating an ecosystem and culture of innovation within an organisation."

• The agenda has been posted for the Smart Fabrics Summit in Washington, D.C.  The April 24 event is hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Industrial Fabrics Association International. Topics include "Smart Fabrics Standards: A Government Regulator’s Perspective" and  "Trends in Public-Private R&D Partnerships on Smart Fabrics."

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a Kenya-based journalist and blogger, offers a fresh take on Warmilu's IncuBlanket. The product uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours.

Research roundup: Enthalpy-temperature plots; solar wall collector; vertical U-tube heat exchanger; more

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Enthalpy-temperature plots to compare calorimetric measurements of phase change materials at different sample scales
Preparation and enhanced thermal performance of novel (solid to gel) form-stable eutectic PCM modified by nano-graphene platelets

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

An implicit algorithm for melting and settling of phase change material inside macrocapsules

From Energy Procedia:

Experimental study of a solar wall collector with PCM towards the natural ventilation of model house
Experimental Study of Solar - Phase Change Material Wall for Domestic Hot Water Production under the Tropical Climate

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Efficiency analysis of utilizing phase change materials as grout for a vertical U-tube heat exchanger coupled ground source heat pump system

From Sustainable Cities and Societies:

PCM Thermal Energy Storage in Solar Heating of Ventilation Air—Experimental and Numerical Investigations

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Evaluation of thermophysical properties of refrigerant clathrates with additives

From Solar Energy:

A comprehensive study on the effect of hot water demand and PCM integration on the performance of SDHW system

Patent application: Refrigerator with a phase change material as a thermal store

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170314839 (applicant Enviro-Cool Commercial Ltd., Tonbridge, Great Britain):

"A refrigerator having a thermal store comprising a phase change material is disclosed. The refrigerator has a cooling chamber for containing an object to be cooled, and a vapor compression refrigeration system including a first evaporator for cooling the cooling chamber and a second evaporator for cooling the phase change material. A valve is provided to control the flow of refrigerant to the first and second evaporators depending on the cooling load on the refrigerator. When the refrigerator is subject to a relatively low cooling load, refrigerant flows to the second evaporator to cool the phase change material and, when the refrigerator is subject to a relatively high cooling load, refrigerant flows to the first evaporator such that increased cooling is provided to the cooling chamber by the first evaporator and the phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170314839.pdf