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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: Thermal storage capacity on the rise; clinical trial for prosthetics liner

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

• Thermal energy storage exceeds the capacity of battery storage now in operation, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. Greentech Media reports that a recent resurgence in concentrated solar power development promises to increase that advantage.

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022"

• New from Persistence Market Research: "Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020"

Alpha SmartTemp liner• The effectiveness of a PCM-infused prosthetics liner made by Ohio Willow Wood Co. will be put to the test in a two-year clinical trial. The liner is designed to absorb heat and reduce sweating where a prosthesis meets skin. The study, funded by a $140,000 Department of Defense grant, will be conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and Widener University.

• Registration is open for "2-8°C Solutions: Design variables and constraints," the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and Lisa Barbieri Moher, North American head of distribution packaging and graphics at Sanofi, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Nov. 14.

Sonoco ThermoSafe's development of the LD7 Quarter PMC pallet shipper won first place for Excellence in Collaboration at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Global Forum in Chicago last month. ThermoSafe's ChillTech reusable PCM system was runner-up in the Excellence in Technological Innovation category.

In a recent interview with Innovation in Textiles, CEO Dirk Van Hyning of PCM-maker Alexium International discussed U.S. efforts to curb the use of halogenated flame retardants.

Research roundup: TES in Toronto high-rises; rotary desiccant cooling systems; natural convection characterization; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Experimental investigation of latent thermal energy storage in high-rise residential buildings in Toronto [Energy Procedia]

Study on the Performance of Heat Storage and Heat Release of Water Storage Tank with PCMs [Energy and Buildings]

Design of effective fins for fast PCM melting and solidification in shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage through topology optimization [Applied Energy]

Integrating photovoltaic thermal collectors and thermal energy storage systems using phase change materials with rotary desiccant cooling systems [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Development of thermal energy storage cementitious composites (TESC) containing a novel paraffin/hydrophobic expanded perlite composite phase change material [Solar Energy]

Experimental analysis of solar photovoltaic unit integrated with free cool thermal energy storage system [Solar Energy]

Natural convection characterization during melting of phase change materials: Development of a simplified front tracking method [Solar Energy]

Thermal behavior of latent thermal energy storage unit using two phase change materials: Effects of HTF inlet temperature [Case Studies in Thermal Engineering]

Experimental Investigation of a New Passive Thermal Management System for a Li-Ion Battery Pack Using Phase Change Composite Material [Electrochimica Acta]

Research roundup: Carbon-based nanoenhanced PCM; copper-powder-sintered frame/paraffin form stable PCM; thermoelectric harvester; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Experimental set-up for testing active and passive systems for energy savings in buildings – Lessons learnt
Review on thermal conductivity enhancement, thermal properties and applications of phase change materials in thermal energy storage

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Preparation and thermal performance of methyl palmitate and lauric acid eutectic mixture as phase change material (PCM)

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

A novel heat transfer model of a phase change material using in solar power plant

From Energy Procedia:

Experimental investigation of flow rate impact on thermal accumulation system with PCM

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Experimental and numerical investigation on the performance of carbon-based nanoenhanced phase change materials for thermal management applications

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Thermal management of lithium ion batteries using graphene coated nickel foam saturated with phase change materials 

From Applied Energy:

Preparation of novel copper-powder-sintered frame/paraffin form-stable phase change materials with extremely high thermal conductivity
Experimental investigations of charging/melting cycles of paraffin in a novel shell and tube with longitudinal fins based heat storage design solution for domestic and industrial applications
A novel thermoelectric harvester based on high-performance phase change material for space application

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental Investigation of Phase Change Materials for Insulation of Residential Buildings
A comparison of battery and phase change coolth storage in a PV cooling system under different climates

Research roundup: Personalized cooling; hybrid nanoparticles; PCM-mortar based construction materials for energy efficient buildings

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 12, 2017

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Personalized cooling as an energy efficiency technology for city energy footprint reduction

From International Journal of Mechanical Sciences:

Melting of Nanoparticles-Enhanced Phase-Change Materials in an Enclosure: Effect of Hybrid Nanoparticles

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical simulation and experimental verification of constrained melting of phase change material in inclined rectangular enclosures
A comparative study on the performances of different shell-and-tube type latent heat thermal energy storage units including the effects of natural convection

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Experimental verification of theoretically estimated composition and enthalpy of fusion of eutectic salt mixtures
Preparation, characterization and thermal regulation performance of cement based-composite phase change material

From Energy and Buildings:

PCM-mortar based construction materials for energy efficient buildings: A review on research trends

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Water and phase change material based photovoltaic thermal management systems: A review

From Case Studies in Construction Materials:

Experimental study of thermal properties of a new ecological building material based on peanut shells and plaster

From Computational Thermal Sciences:

Numerical simulation of melting and solidification of different kinds of phase change materials (PCM) encapsulated in spherical nodules in a water flow

PCM briefing: Presentation on effect of carbon-based networks on energy storage materials; webinar on ambient temperature profiles

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

Dr. Amy Fleischer• Dr. Amy Fleischer, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at Villanova University, will give a presentation this month on the effect of carbon-based networks on enhanced energy storage materials. The presentation is set for Oct. 20 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. From the abstract: "Many common PCMs have high energy storage capacity but low thermal conductivity so much work has been done to improve their system performance by using nanoscale inclusions intended to increase the effective thermal conductivity. The work presented here shows that in certain situations, not only does the thermal conductivity increase, but also the latent heat. This effect is explored to understand the physical phenomena in order to harness the effect for advanced materials design."

• Registration is open for "Ambient Temperature Profiles," Sonoco ThermoSafe's next webinar on temperature assurance packaging. It will be held on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Iftekhar Ahmed, R&D team leader at ThermoSafe, and Bernard McGarvey, senior engineering advisor at Eli Lilly & Co., will lead the session. Participants will learn about "standard ambient profiles, vendor and published profiles and how others even develop their own profiles using empirical temperature data and distribution steps."

• New from Grand View Research: "Thermal Energy Storage Market Analysis By Type, 2014-2025"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market 2017 Share, Size, Forecast 2022"

• Scientists working on the International Energy Agency’s Solar Heating and Cooling Programme Task 53 have compared the cost, efficiency and adaptability of solar cooling storage solutions. The researchers examined both thermal and electricity storage systems and are now creating guidelines for choosing the most fitting solution to heat and cool buildings. But the group will not, according to, issue a recommendation favoring either storage system. “There are too many unknowns. Apart from technical considerations, you need to look at each country’s legislative framework and feed-in tariffs," said Elena-Lavinia Niederhäuser, author of the report and director of the Energy Institute at Fribourg’s College of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland. 

Homemade a/c unit• When a recent heat wave turned his elementary school into a sauna, a resourceful fourth-grader in Michigan built a home-made air conditioner for his classroom, using a plastic tub, an electric fan and bottles filled the world's cheapest phase change material: water. Abram Barker said he got the idea from YouTube but used a larger base and added towels to insulate the frozen water bottles and soak up condensation.

• Registration is open for "Cone Calorimeter: Quantifying Easily Flammability & Heat Release Rate," an online course offered by The instructor is T. Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire. The course will be held at 10 a.m. EST on Oct. 12. The cost is $307 for three participants on a single connection.

• The Phase Change Materials Industry Association, which will hold its inaugural meeting in Boston Oct. 5, has been registered as a corporation in the United States. Its official name: the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America Inc. Representatives of more than a dozen companies are scheduled to attend this week's meeting.

Research roundup: Graphene oxide; PV/PCM integration in glazed building; porous plaster board; more

Ben Welter - Friday, September 29, 2017

Microencapsulated phase change material modified by graphene oxide with different degrees of oxidation for solar energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

PV-PCM integration in glazed building. Co-simulation and genetic optimization study [Building and Environment]

Performance study on different location of double layers SSPCM wallboard in office building [Energy and Buildings]

Facile Preparation of Porous Plaster Board Containing Phase Change Capsules Using Gel Template [Energy and Buildings]

Preparation and properties of capric-stearic acid/White Carbon Black composite for thermal storage in building envelope [Energy and Buildings]

Development of a hybrid solar thermal system with TEG and PEM electrolyzer for hydrogen and power production [International Journal of Hydrogen Energy]

Research roundup: Silk hydrogel as packaging material; interfacial polymerization; ecodesign of cladding system with PCM; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Silk hydrogel illustration

Temperature buffering capacity of silk hydrogel: A useful packaging material [Materials Letters]

Preparation and Characterization of Cross-linked Polyurethane Shell Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials by Interfacial Polymerization [Materials Letters]

Environmental and spatial assessment for the ecodesign of a cladding system with embedded Phase Change Materials [Energy and Buildings]

Novel shapeable phase change material (PCM) composites for thermal energy storage (TES) applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Novel approaches and recent developments on potential applications of phase change materials in solar energy [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Study of thermal conductive enhancement mechanism and selection criteria of carbon-additive for composite phase change materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Natural aging of shape stabilized phase change materials based on paraffin wax [Polymer Testing]

Multiphase transport phenomena in composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [13th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics]

Numerical investigation of cylindrical and spherical encapsulated thermal energy storage system with phase change materials [Transylvania Review]

Temperature Dependence of the Enthalpy of Alkanes and Related Phase Change Materials [Enthalpy and Internal Energy: Liquids, Solutions and Vapours]

Heat transfer enhancement of phase change materials by fins under simultaneous charging and discharging [Energy Conversion and Management]

PCM briefing: Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

• Alas, no chemistry prize was handed out at the Ig Noble awards ceremony at Harvard University earlier this month. The annual "Igs," first awarded in 1991, are designed to recognize research efforts that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." This year's physics prize was awarded to Marc-Antoine Fardin, a physicist at Paris Diderot University, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?" His conclusion: Yes.

• The World Wildlife Fund has partnered with the American Chemistry Council, Recycling PartnershipOcean Conservancy, Target, Nestle and other organizations to find opportunity and economic value in expanding the availability and use of secondary material. Members of the initiative, known as the Cascading Materials Vision, introduced the concept of "cascading value" in two sessions at this week's Verge Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

• New from COMSOL: Modeling a novel PCM-enhanced plaster with numerical simulation 

• New from QY Research: "2017 Market Research Report on Global Energy Storage Devices Industry"

Paraffin-enhanced concrete shows promise in melting ice, snow

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

PCM LWA video

Dr. Yaghoob Farnam has spent four years combining concrete and phase change material in various ways in a quest to develop a durable paving material that can melt ice and snow. 

Farnam, an assistant professor in Drexel University’s College of Engineering, has previously measured the effectiveness of paraffin oil and methyl laurate, materials that have relatively high heat storage capacity (about 130 to 170 joules per gram) and a suitable phase transformation temperature (about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius). Both showed promise when contained in plastic tubes embedded in concrete. But the paraffin oil proved to be far more effective than methyl laurate in concrete made of lightweight aggregate infused with the PCMs. Chemical reactions between the methyl laurate and materials in the cement rendered that PCM ineffective and also appeared to cause cracks in the concrete.

In his latest paper, published in Cement and Concrete Composites, Farnam's research team focused on paraffin oil. The team used concrete slabs to compare two methods of deploying the PCM. Steel pipes filled with paraffin and sealed with PVC caps were embedded in one slab. A second slab was made of porous lightweight aggregate infused with paraffin. A third slab, containing no paraffin, served as a reference point. Each slab was sealed in an insulated container and then covered with about 5 inches of shaved ice.

DrexelNow describes what happened in two tests:

"With temperatures inside the boxes held between 35-44 degrees Fahrenheit, both of the paraffin-treated slabs were able to completely melt the snow within the first 25 hours of testing, while the snow on the reference sample remained frozen. The slab with the paraffin-filled tubes melted the snow slightly faster than the one composed of paraffin-treated aggregate. Farnam suggests that this is because the paraffin inside the tubes is able to solidify more quickly — thus releasing its energy — because of the regular diameter of the pipes. While the diameter of the pores of the aggregate vary in size.

"But in the group’s second experiment, in which the ambient air temperature in the box was lowered to freezing before the snow was added, the paraffin-treated aggregate was more effective than the embedded pipes. This is because the capillary pore pressure delayed the freezing of the paraffin, thus allowing it to release its heat energy over a longer period of time." 

The research is of particular importance to the airline industry, which has a keen interest in finding cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to clear runways of ice and snow. The Federal Aviation Administration has supported Farnam's work with nearly $500,000 in grants through its PEGASAS program.

Farnam says additional research is needed to better understand how the addition of PCM affects pavement durability, skid resistance and long-term stability.

Research roundup: Rubber sealing materials; pork fat as novel PCM; thermal inertia of buildings; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Feasibility of Using Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials as Filler for Improving Low Temperature Performance of Rubber Sealing Materials [Soft Matter]

Evaluation of the nanofluid and nano-PCM based photovoltaic thermal (PVT) system: An experimental study [Energy Conversion and Management]

Investigation of pork fat as potential novel phase change material for passive cooling applications in photovoltaics [Journal of Cleaner Production]

Superwetting polypropylene aerogel supported form-stable phase change materials with extremely high organics loading and enhanced thermal conductivity [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Polyethylene glycol-enwrapped silicon carbide nanowires network/expanded vermiculite composite phase change materials: Form-stabilization, thermal energy storage behavior and thermal conductivity enhancement [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Solar desalination using solar still enhanced by external solar collector and PCM [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Using Thermal Inertia of Buildings with Phase Change Material for Demand Response [Energy Procedia]

Preparation of microencapsulated phase change materials (MEPCM) for thermal energy storage [Energy Procedia]

Study of thermal conductive enhancement mechanism and selection criteria of carbon-additive for composite phase change materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]