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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.




Research roundup: Variable conductance heat pipe; micro-nanoencapsulated n-eicosane with PMMA shell; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Experimental investigation into the feasibility of using a variable conductance heat pipe for controlled heat release from a phase-change material thermal store

From Thermochimica Acta:

Form-stable phase change nanocomposites for thermal energy storage based on hypercrosslinked polymer nanospheres

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Non-monotonously tuning thermal conductivity of graphite-nanosheets/paraffin composite by ultrasonic exfoliation

From Sustainable Computing: Informatics and Systems:

A review of thermal management and innovative cooling strategies for data center

From Renewable Energy:

Numerical analysis of a latent heat thermal energy storage system under partial load operating conditions

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Graphene embedded form stable phase change materials for drawing the thermo-electric energy harvesting

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Performance of novel Na2SO4-NaCl-ceramic composites as high temperature phase change materials for solar power plants (Part II)

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Synthesis and Characterization of Micro-Nanoencapsulated n-eicosane with PMMA Shell as Novel Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage

PMMA shell as novel phase change material

PCM briefing: Sunamp's copper heat exchangers; renewable energy's 'next big thing'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

• The industry group Copper Alliance takes a look at Sunamp Ltd.'s use of copper heat exchangers in its PCM-equipped heat battery systems: "Copper has a few properties that make it ideal for this application, including high thermal conductivity, lack of corrosion when in contact with the PCM, and the ability to satisfy potable water regulations required to fully certify Sunamp’s products."    

Bloomberg's David Fickling explains why the development of lower-cost energy storage technologies will be renewable energy's "next big thing."

• Swedish researchers have produced a bio-based material that is reported to be stronger than spider silk and all other known bio-based materials, whether fabricated or natural. Working with cellulose nanofiber, the essential building block of plants, researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed larger, lightweight materials for use in airplanes, cars, furniture and other products.

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes PCM-equipped portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, was profiled this week in India Climate Dialogue

• New from Global Info Research: "Global Microencapsulation Technology Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023"

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market Research Report - Forecast to 2027"

• New from HongChun: "2018 Global Molten Salt Solar Energy Thermal Storage and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Industry Depth Research Report"

Horizon 2020's RealValue group has released findings on its three-year, small-scale energy storage project. The group, led by Glen Dimplex and consisting of 13 partner organizations, installed smart electric thermal storage systems in 750 commercial and residential properties in Ireland, Germany and Latvia. Among the findings: "Smart control of SETS devices simultaneously reduces charging costs of the devices while improving the thermal comfort of the end user. It also has potential to manage congestion." 

PCM briefing: Texas undergrads win ASHRAE equipment grant; 1414 Degrees among exhibitors at Australia energy storage conference

Ben Welter - Monday, May 21, 2018

• A University of North Texas research project, “Design of Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger Coupled with Phase Change Materials for Building Temperature Control,” is one of 25 undergraduate projects awarded a 2018 equipment grant from ASHRAE. The grants, totaling more than $113,000, will help the winning students complete undergraduate projects at schools around the world.

• New from HTF Market Intelligence: "United States Cold Chain Equipments Market Report 2018"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Salt Hydrate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017-2027"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"


• The retail market is full of PCM-topped mattresses, pillows and seat cushions. Here's the first fold-out couch we've seen that features the temperature-control technology. The CouchBed, made by an Arizona company, is a 10-inch memory foam mattress that’s “made with 100% CertiPur certified ultra-dense memory foam, combined with phase change material to actively cool the sleeping surface."

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $72 million for new projects to advance high-temperature concentrating solar power technologies. The high-temperature thermal storage systems targeted by this program seek to achieve at least 700 degrees C, which would boost the efficiency and lower the cost of electricity. Awardees include Brayton Energy, Hampton, N.H, $7.6 million; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., $7 million; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., $9.5 million.

• Under a new joint development agreement, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy will join Cleanergy AB's board of directors and help the Swedish firm advance its concentrated solar power and storage technology. The agency will fund a “substantial part” of Cleanergy's research and development work on thermal energy storage. Cleanergy, in turn, will be able to test its technology using the agency's facility in Ouarzazate, Morocco.

• A Ph.D. candidate at Delft University of Technology outlines a strategy to maximize the potential of aquifer thermal energy storage and phase out the use of natural gas in the Netherlands.

• Thermal energy storage company 1414 Degrees will be among more than 60 companies from around the world scheduled to attend the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition May 23-24 at the Adelaide Convention Center. Other exhibitors include Tesla, Toshiba, GE and Victron Energy.

Research roundup: Thermoelectric generator system; solar chimney; novel thermal management system for lithium-ion battery pack; more

Ben Welter - Friday, May 18, 2018

From Energy:

Protection and Thermal Management of Thermoelectric Generator System Using Phase Change Materials: An Experimental Investigation
Performance analysis of a novel thermal management system with composite phase change material for a lithium-ion battery pack

From Solar Energy:

Efficient energy storage technologies for photovoltaic systems
The experimental appraisement of the effect of energy storage on the performance of solar chimney using phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Improving thermal management of electronic apparatus with paraffin (PA)/expanded graphite (EG)/graphene (GN) composite material
Experimental exploration of incorporating form-stable hydrate salt phase change materials into cement mortar for thermal energy storage

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Role of Metallic Foam in Heat Storage in the Presence of Nanofluid and MicroEncapsulated Phase Change Material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical investigation of thermal and optical performance of window units filled with nanoparticle enhanced PCM

From Applied Energy:

Cost estimation and sensitivity analysis of a latent thermal energy storage system for supplementary cooling of air cooled condensers
Influence of design on performance of a latent heat storage system at high temperatures

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Preparation and investigation of distinct and shape stable paraffin/SiO2 composite PCM nanospheres

From Energy and Buildings:

Parametric Analysis of Using PCM Walls for Heating Loads Reduction

Research roundup: Comb-like polymeric phase change materials; energy-storing concrete; building-integrated solar thermal; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 09, 2018

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Thermal and electrical management of photovoltaic panels using phase change materials – A review

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Thermal performance and shape-stabilization of comb-like polymeric phase change materials enhanced by octadecylamine-functionalized graphene oxide

From Energy:

Front tracking in modelling of latent heat thermal energy storage: Assessment of accuracy and efficiency, benchmarking and GPU-based acceleration

From Construction and Building Materials:

Mechanical behavior, energy-storing properties and thermal reliability of phase-changing energy-storing concrete

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Building-integrated solar thermal system with/without phase change material: Life cycle assessment based on ReCiPe, USEtox and ecological footprint

From Case Studies in Thermal Engineering:

Magnetically stirring enhanced thermal performance of phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Numerical comparison between single PCM and multi-stage PCM based high temperature thermal energy storage for CSP tower plants

Research roundup: HDPE graphite composite; PCM-integrated PV modules; solar domestic hot water tank with PCM in the mantle; more

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

From Particuology:

High density polyethylene (HDPE) — Graphite composite manufactured by extrusion: A novel way to fabricate phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Solar Energy:

Life cycle costing as a bottom line for the life cycle sustainability assessment in the solar energy sector: A review

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Improving the thermal regulation and efficiency enhancement of PCM-integrated PV modules using nano particles
Climatic behaviour of solar photovoltaic integrated with phase change material

From Energy and Buildings:

Thermal performance assessment and improvement of a solar domestic hot water tank with PCM in the mantle
Fabrication and characterization of fatty acid/wood-flour composites as novel form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Renewable Energy:

Possibility of using PCMs in temperature control and performance enhancements of free stand and building integrated PV modules
Performance evaluation of nano-enhanced phase change materials during discharge stage in waste heat recovery

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Microencapsulated n-eicosane PCM suspensions: Thermophysical properties measurement and modeling

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Numerical investigation of different PCM volume on cold thermal energy storage system

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Methods of heat transfer intensification in PCM thermal storage systems: Review paper

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

A Review on Thermal Management Methods for Robots

PCM keeps Embry-Riddle’s EcoCAR entry running cool

Ben Welter - Monday, April 30, 2018

Batteries used in hybrid and electric cars work hard and run hot. Traditional cooling systems use an array of pumps, heat exchangers, cooling fans and hoses to manage that heat. Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University needed something lighter and simpler for its entry in the Department of Energy’s EcoCAR 3 competition.

The solution: an aluminum cooling plate filled with biobased phase change material.

A team of mechanical engineering students at the school designed and built the plate under the direction of Sandra Boetcher, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The school’s EcoCAR entry required that the plate use a PCM with a peak melting point of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F). To achieve that temperature, the team selected two commercially available PCMs – PureTemp 37 and PureTemp 48 – and mixed them together.

Embry-Riddle cold plateBoetcher explains the photo at right:

“That’s the inside of the plate before we sealed the aluminum lid on it. On the inside is a copper tube. At the time we put this in the car, we were under a strict deadline and did not have time to redo the bending of the copper tube. The copper tube feeds a cold ethylene-glycol/water mixture as backup for when the PCM has completely melted and needs to resolidify while the car is driving.

“I was concerned that the copper tube didn’t provide enough coverage of the area, but that cold plate has been in the car for the past 2.5 years and it works great. Actually, the back-up pump that runs the ethylene-glycol/water through the copper tube rarely even turns on which means that under our test-driving conditions, the cold plate is acting 100 percent passive. The terrible part of the PCM is that it loves to leak. We feel that there has been some leaking.”

The plate is lighter and simpler than a water-cooled system. “It doesn’t take any energy to run,” said Patrick Currier, an associate professor who advises the EcoCAR team. “We’re not wasting power cooling things. This is a totally passive system, so unless it leaks, it can’t fail.”

Embry-Riddle filed for a U.S. patent on the device in 2015.

“The diagrams in the patent are similar to what we have in the EcoCAR right now, although the geometry is a little different,” Boetcher said. “The research we are conducting is still on-going. The applications we envision could be anything that requires PCM – battery cooling, building technologies, etc.”

Embry-Riddle is one of 16 North American universities challenged to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car to reduce environmental impact, while maintaining the “muscle and performance” the car is known for. 

The teams have had four years to develop their entries. The cars will be put to the test in a variety of events in Arizona and California in May. Winners will be chosen in 40-plus categories at an awards ceremony in Hollywood on May 22, with more than $100,000 in prize money at stake.

Embry-Riddle EcoCAR entry

Research roundup: Concrete as thermal mass material; nanoparticle-enhanced PCM; moisture migration in porous building materials; more

Ben Welter - Friday, April 27, 2018

Concrete as a thermal mass material for building applications - A review [Journal of Building Engineering]

Effects of nanoparticle-enhanced phase change material (NPCM) on solar still productivity [Journal of Cleaner Production]

Effect of moisture migration and phase change on effective thermal conductivity of porous building materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Fabrication and characterization of poly(melamine-formaldehyde)/silicon carbide hybrid microencapsulated phase change materials with enhanced thermal conductivity and light-heat performance [Solar Materials and Solar Cells]

Research roundup: Solar absorption cooling systems; air-PCM storage unit; cement slurry; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Performance enhancement of solar absorption cooling systems using thermal energy storage with phase change materials [Applied Energy]

Experimental validation of an air-PCM storage unit comparing the Effective Heat Capacity and Enthalpy methods through CFD simulations [Energy]

Controlling the heat evaluation of cement slurry system used in natural gas hydrate layer by micro-encapsulated phase change materials [Solar Energy]

Thermal properties and thermal conductivity enhancement of composite phase change material using sodium acetate trihydrate–urea/expanded graphite for radiant floor heating system [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Study on heat-transfer mechanism of wallboards containing active phase change material and parameter optimization with ventilation [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Life Cycle Assessment of Innovative Materials for Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings [Procedia CIRP]

Research roundup: Fabrication of shape-stable composite PCMs; battery thermal management; segmented heat storage; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fabrication of shape-stable composite phase change materials based on lauric acid and graphene/graphene oxide complex aerogels for enhancement of thermal energy storage and electrical conduction [Thermochimica Acta]

Performance analysis of PCM based thermal energy storage system containing nanoparticles [International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology]

Cold temperature performance of phase change material based battery thermal management systems [Energy Reports]

Design and functionality of a segmented heat-storage prototype utilizing stable supercooling of sodium acetate trihydrate in a solar heating system [Applied Energy]

Macro-encapsulation and characterization of chloride based inorganic phase change materials for high temperature thermal energy storage systems [Applied Energy]

Parametric analysis of a residential building with phase change material (PCM)-enhanced drywall, precooling, and variable electric rates in a hot and dry climate [Applied Energy]

Fabrication of high thermal conductive shape-stabilized polyethylene glycol/silica phase change composite by two-step sol gel method [Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing]

Performance enhancement of cold thermal energy storage system using nanofluid phase change materials: A review [International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer]

Development of form stable Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) coated thermal phase change material for solar water heater applications [IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science]