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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.




PCM briefing: Sonoco ThermoSafe partners with Cargolux; Axiom Exergy partners with Leap

Ben Welter - Friday, March 22, 2019

Amrit RobbinsAxiom Exergy has announced a partnership with Leap, a technology company that serves as an aggregator of flexible power loads in California. Axiom says the arrangement will unlock grid services revenue for its customers, including three Whole Foods Market facilities in Northern California.

Axiom's "Refrigeration Battery" system is designed to reduce a supermarket's peak power use by up to 40 percent and provide backup cooling during power outages. It uses the excess capacity of existing refrigeration systems to "store cooling" at night by freezing tanks of salt water.  

"Axiom Exergy is excited to announce that Whole Foods has connected three of their buildings to our platform, which will serve as our first Virtual Power Plant," Axiom CEO Amrit Robbins wrote in a LinkedIn post Friday. "Axiom’s platform will intelligently manage 340 kW of dispatchable load across these facilities in order to generate more value for Whole Foods and to help stabilize California’s electricity grid."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has announced a global partnership agreement with Cargolux for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from the all-cargo airline based in Luxembourg.

• On LinkedIn this week, Ice Energy posted an update on its 5 MW contract with Riverside Public Utilities in California: "We are working to install 9 Ice Bear thermal #energystorage batteries and 13 rooftop units with Inland Mechanical Services Inc. at a car dealership in Riverside."

• A high-temperature thermal energy storage system inaugurated in Denmark this week stores heat in stones. The test system uses surplus wind power to generate hot air, which heats up small stones in an insulated container to 600 degrees. The stored heat is used to generate electricity when the wind doesn't blow. The system was developed by the energy company Seas-NVE, in collaboration with DTU Energy, Aarhus University Geoscience, Danish Energy, and Rockwool.

Alexium International CEO Bob Brookins was among the presenters at the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating in Berlin earlier this month. His topic: "Advanced applications of phase change materials."

• The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is investigating whether Germany’s coal plants can be refitted to serve as thermal energy storage sites. "The research body, which has a track record in concentrated solar power (CSP) development, is planning a pilot that will involve ripping out the boiler from an old coal plant and replacing it with a molten salt thermal storage tank that will be heated using excess renewable energy," Greentech Media reports. "If the concept works, then advocates say it could help safeguard coal generation jobs while giving Germany tens of gigawatts of storage capacity for renewable energy load-shifting on the German grid." DLR says it is preparing a commercial-scale pilot in association with an unnamed German utility.

Research roundup: Personal cooling system; optimization of active wall system; cement mortar; asphalt pavement; more

Ben Welter - Friday, March 15, 2019

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Experimental study of enhanced PCM exchangers applied in a thermal energy storage system for personal cooling

JMR illustration of microencapsulated n-octadecane with silk From Journal of Materials Research:

Fabrication and characterization of microencapsulated n-octadecane with silk fibroin–silver nanoparticles shell for thermal regulation

From IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Sciences:

Simple Thermal Energy Storage Tank for Improving the Energy Efficiency of an Existing Air-conditioning System
An optimization study into thermally activated wall system with latent heat thermal energy storage
Simulation of operation performance of a solar assisted ground heat pump system with phase change thermal storage for heating in a rural building in Xi'an
Experimental Study on the Demand Shifting Effects of PCM Integrated Air-Conditioning Duct

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Efficiency optimisation of the thermal energy storage unit in the form of the ceiling panel for summer conditions

From Materials Research Express:

Experimental study on thermal conductivity of composite phase change material of fatty acid and paraffin

From Energies:

Design Optimization of a Hybrid Steam-PCM Thermal Energy Storage for Industrial Applications

From Construction and Building Materials:

Analysis of thermoregulation indices on microencapsulated phase change materials for asphalt pavement

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental and numerical characterization of an impure phase change material using a thermal lattice Boltzmann method

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Experimental and numerical study of a vertical earth-to-air heat exchanger system integrated with annular phase change material

From Materials:

Thermal and Structural Characterization of Geopolymer-Coated Polyurethane Foam—Phase Change Material Capsules/Geopolymer Concrete Composites

From Applied Sciences:

Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Cement Mortar Containing Phase Change Materials

PCM briefing: Boston food bank installs Viking Cold TES system; 2-day workshop on microencapsulation

Ben Welter - Friday, March 08, 2019

The Greater Boston Food Bank is reporting a 75 percent reduction in energy use during targeted peak hours since the beginning of the year after installing a Viking Cold Solutions thermal energy storage system for the refrigeration units at its 117,000 square-foot, high-efficiency Yawkey Distribution Center.

Maria Telkes• To mark Women's History Month, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of "50 Things You Never Knew Were Invented by Women." MIT researcher Maria Telkes, a pioneer in the field of solar thermal storage, is on the list at No. 30. She created the first solar-heated system for her home in Dover, Mass., in 1947. The system used a phase change material, sodium sulfate decahydrate, to store solar heat.

• Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences say they have developed an inexpensive, flexible film that renders the objects it covers virtually invisible in infrared light. The film's main components are DuPont's Kevlar, a synthetic fiber with high tensile strength, and polyethylene glycol, a phase change material that can store heat. 

• French utility ENGIE has begun production at one of South Africa’s largest renewable energy projects, the 100MW Kathu Solar Park. The concentrated solar plant's molten salt storage system provides up to 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage.

• The Southwest Research Institute is hosting a two-day workshop on microencapsulation March 25-26 in San Antonio, Texas. The introductory course will cover topics such as atomization (spray drying, spray chilling, spray congealing) and spray coating (fluid bed coating, granulation). The cost is $950.

• The University of California is winning praise for its decision to end its subscription deal with Elsevier, the world’s biggest publisher of scientific journals. UC is the first major university system to push for open-access publishing. UC, which had been paying $11 million a year to Elsevier in subscription fees, generates about 10 percent of the research produced in the United States. “It’s ridiculous that, in this age of the internet, researchers are paying huge fees for access to academic papers and for publication of their own work,” the San Jose Mercury News said in a March 6 editorial.   

Patent application: Refrigeration device uses phase change material for cooling air

Ben Welter - Friday, March 01, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190063765 (inventor Ray Arjomand, Sparks, Nev.)

"A refrigeration device has a condenser coil that has periodic access to outside air. A time-activated thermostat controls the operation of an evaporator coil that is in thermal contact with a reservoir containing phase change material. A thermally conductive pipe containing antifreeze fluid is connected to a pump that circulates the antifreeze fluid inside the pipe. A first portion of the pipe is inside the reservoir in thermal contact with the phase change material and a second portion of the pipe is near an air fan or connected to a fan coil unit to exchange heat through the pipe between the reservoir and the air blown by the fan or the fan coil unit. The evaporator coil produces a phase change in the phase-changing material in the reservoir at night when outdoor temperature is colder than during day and the phase-change material is used during day to cool air blown by the air fan or the fan coil unit."

Research roundup: PCM wallboard; cement mortars; electric load shifting; red-mud geopolymer composite; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

Phase Change Material Wallboard (PCMW) melting temperature optimisation for passive indoor temperature control

From Cement and Concrete Research:

Multiphysics analysis of effects of encapsulated phase change materials (PCMs) in cement mortars

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Preparation and characterization of sodium sulfate pentahydrate/sodium pyrophosphate composite phase change energy storage materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Performance of heat pump integrated phase change material thermal storage for electric load shifting in building demand side management
Indoor thermal comfort assessment using PCM based storage system integrated with ceiling fan ventilation: Experimental design and response surface approach

From International Journal of Photoenergy:

Experimental Study on the Performance of a Phase Change Slurry-Based Heat Pipe Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal Cogeneration System

From Solar Energy:

Effects of sodium nitrate concentration on thermophysical properties of solar salts and on the thermal energy storage cost
Red-mud geopolymer composite encapsulated phase change material for thermal comfort in built-sector [pdf]

From Energies:

A Novel Encapsulation Method for Phase Change Materials with a AgBr Shell as a Thermal Energy Storage Material

From Advanced Composites and Hybrid Materials:

Latent heat and thermal conductivity enhancements in polyethylene glycol/polyethylene glycol-grafted graphene oxide composites

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Preparation and performance of form-stable TBAB hydrate/SiO2 composite PCM for cold energy storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Delignified wood/capric acid-palmitic acid mixture stable-form phase change material for thermal storage
Molten salt corrosion mechanisms of nitrate based thermal energy storage materials for concentrated solar power plants: A review

From Buildings:

Thermal Performance of Hollow-Core Slab Ventilation System with Macro-Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials in Supply Air Duct

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Heat transfer performance of the finned nano-enhanced phase change material system under the inclination influence

From Journal of the Electrochemical Society:

Effect of High Temperature Circumstance on Lithium-Ion Battery and the Application of Phase Change Material

From Energy:

High-temperature PCM-based thermal energy storage for industrial furnaces installed in energy-intensive industries

Research roundup: Self-luminous wood composite; palmitic acid/mullite composite; corrosion sensitivity of metal alloys; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

From Energy Storage Materials:

Self-luminous wood composite for both thermal and light energy storage

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

The thermal performances of a refrigerator incorporating a Phase Change Material

From Renewable Energy:

Enhanced thermal conductivity of palmitic acid/mullite phase change composite with graphite powder for thermal energy storage
An experimental study on the corrosion sensitivity of metal alloys for usage in PCM thermal energy storages

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Sorption thermal energy storage: Hybrid coating/granules adsorber design and hybrid TCM/PCM operation
Novel hybrid microencapsulated phase change materials incorporated wallboard for year-long year energy storage in buildings

From Thermochimica Acta:

Experimental Investigation on Thermal Properties of Sodium Acetate Trihydrate based Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage
The preparation of AgI/Au/foam-Cu as a framework of composite for water-based cool storage phase-change material with low supercooling

From Energy and Buildings:

Nano-encapsulation of phase change materials: from design to thermal performance, simulations and toxicological assessment
Investigation of phase change materials integrated with fin-tube baseboard convector for space heating

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Nano-enhancement of phase change material in a shell and multi-PCM-tube heat exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of phase change material thermal storage for space cooling

From Journal of Materials Chemistry A:

Vertically aligned carbon fibers as supporting scaffolds for phase change composites with anisotropic thermal-conductivity and good shape-stability

Patent application: PCM evaporator and heat dissipating apparatus

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 07, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190041144 (applicant Man Zai Industrial Co. Ltd., Tainan City, Taiwan):

Man Zai PCM evaporator drawing"A heat dissipating apparatus has a phase change material evaporator, a condenser, a refrigerant output tube, and a refrigerant input tube. The evaporator has a base having an evaporation chamber, a refrigerant inlet and a refrigerant outlet, a reinforcement panel mounted in the evaporation chamber and dividing the evaporation chamber into two spaces, and multiple heat conduction fins separately arranged in the two spaces. An opening area of the refrigerant outlet is larger than an opening area of the refrigerant inlet. The evaporator, the refrigerant output tube, the condenser and the refrigerant input tube form a closed refrigerant circulation loop with a refrigerant filled therein. Gas pressure of a gas-phased refrigerant in the two spaces can be increased. With pressure difference between the refrigerant outlet and the refrigerant inlet, the gas-phased refrigerant can be accelerated to flow toward the refrigerant outlet and flowability of the refrigerant can be increased."

PCM briefing: Sunamp among 'Scottish tech companies to watch' in 2019; C-Therm webinar on new thermal conductivity instrument

Ben Welter - Monday, January 07, 2019

Rail shipping container with PCM

• The University of Birmingham's Center for Energy Storage has teamed up with a Chinese railway equipment manufacturer to develop a shipping container that uses phase change materials to maintain a low temperature over several days without a power supply. "Once ‘charged’, PCM inside the container - which can be transferred from train to truck and vice versa - can keep the inside temperature between 5-12 ˚C for up to 120 hours," the university reports.

CNET's Scott Stein takes a close look at PowerStation, "a battery of sorts that can keep a low-power sensor running off the temperature differences in everyday weather conditions." The device, made by Matrix Industries of Menlo Park, Calif., stores heat in a substance the company calls "Luna Phase Change Material" and later releases the heat in the form of electricity.

Scottish Business Insider has named Sunamp Ltd. one of five Scottish tech companies to watch in 2019. "The £2.2m raised in its latest fundraising sets the company up for a Series A round in 2019 as it looks to expand its international footprint and further scale its operations," Insider writes. "Sunamp heat batteries have so far been installed in over a thousand homes across the UK." 

C-Therm managing director Adam Harris is hosting a webinar this week to introduce the company's new thermal conductivity instrument, the C-Therm Trident. Advance registration is required for the webinar, which will be held at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 10.

• At a business summit in Wisconsin last month, Encapsys President Mary Goggans said the Appleton-based company offers internships to students at regional colleges, including the children of employees. “The interns see the jobs and technologies they are interested in right here in the area,” Goggans said. “They realize they don’t need to get a job outside of the region to have the career they are looking for.”

Patent application: Thermal storage system and temperature controlled container

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190003781 (applicants University of Ghent, Belgium; Colruyt Group, Halle, Belgium):

"Passive thermal storage systems and methods comprising at least one thermal storage module for storing thermal energy in a predetermined temperature range, are disclosed. The thermal storage module comprises an FT unit and a Heat Storage (HS) unit at least partially filled with a first Phase Change Material (PCM). The HS unit comprises a container. The thermal storage module may be in the form of a stacked structure comprising the FT unit having a first wall with a first heat exchange surface and the HS unit having a second wall with a second heat exchange surface, the first and second heat exchange surfaces being in thermal contact with each other. The thermal storage system may be used to maintain the temperature of the payload of a temperature controlled container at a predetermined value or within a predetermined range."

Research roundup: Transparent insulation material wall with PCM; industrial waste heat recovery; cotton-derived carbon sponge; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 26, 2018

From Energy:

Energy performance and economic analysis of a TIM-PCM wall under different climates

From Applied Energy:

A modeling study on the heat storage and release characteristics of a phase change material based double-spiral coiled heat exchanger in an air source heat pump for defrosting
Dynamic thermal management for industrial waste heat recovery based on phase change material thermal storage

From Solar Energy:

Modeling of solidification including supercooling effects in a fin-tube heat exchanger based latent heat storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Experimental study on thermal properties and thermal performance of eutectic hydrated salts/expanded perlite form-stable phase change materials for passive solar energy utilization
Cotton-derived carbon sponge as support for form-stabilized composite phase change materials with enhanced thermal conductivity
Enhanced thermal conductivity of microencapsulated phase change materials based on graphene oxide and carbon nanotube hybrid filler
A novel core-shell structural montmorillonite nanosheets/stearic acid composite PCM for great promotion of thermal energy storage properties

From Energy and Buildings:

Numerical analysis for maximizing effective energy storage capacity of thermal energy storage systems by enhancing heat transfer in PCM
Optimization of phase change materials (PCMs) to improve energy performance within thermal comfort range in the South Korean climate

From Journal of King Saud University - Science:

Exact and approximate solutions of a phase change problem with the moving phase change material and variable thermal coefficients

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Preparation and thermophysical properties of low temperature composite phase change material octanoic-lauric acid/expanded graphite

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Supercooling characteristics of phase change material particles within phase change emulsions
Enhancement of ice formation around vertical finned tubes for cold storage applications