Phase Change Matters RSS


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 monthly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.




Research roundup: Finned spherical capsule; review of PCM-based cold thermal storage; macroencapsulation of metallic PCM; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 09, 2016

An experimental and numerical investigation of constrained melting heat transfer of a phase change material in a circumferentially finned spherical capsule for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Physical-chemical properties evolution and thermal properties reliability of a paraffin wax under solar radiation exposure in a real-scale PCM window system [Energy and Buildings]

Phase change material based cold thermal energy storage: materials, techniques and applications - a review [International Journal of Refrigeration]

An investigation into the use of the heat pipe technology in thermal energy storage heat exchangers [Energy]

Macro-encapsulation of metallic phase change material using cylindrical-type ceramic containers for high-temperature thermal energy storage [Applied Energy]

Phase change materials based on polyethylene glycol supported by graphene-based mesoporous silica sheets [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Bermuda food distributor uses PCM thermal storage to cut refrigeration costs

Ben Welter - Friday, March 04, 2016

Thermal cells made by Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, have helped a food distributor in Bermuda reduce refrigeration costs by 40 percent. 

The thermal cells were installed in the ceiling of Butterfield and Vallis' 10,000-square-foot warehouse freezer in 2015. The cells consist of a salt hydrate solution contained in conductive thermal plastic tubes. The phase change material solidifies when the chillers are running. The PCM absorbs heat as it melts, allowing the chillers to run less frequently and still keep the warehouse within a few degrees of -18º Celsius. 

The system is among 20 built and installed by Viking in cold storage warehouses in Puerto Rico, Bermuda, St. Thomas, California, New Mexico and Texas. Collin Coker, Viking's vice president for sales and marketing, said his company is working on pilot grocery store installations in Texas and California.

Spencer Butterfield, chief operating officer at Butterfield and Vallis, says a 2013 tax break on the importation of energy-saving technology helped make the system economically feasible. He estimated that the system will pay for itself in four years. 

The design of Viking's thermal cells continues to evolve. Below: The system installed at New Mexico Foods in 2015 consists of film pouches suspended in steel racks. Bottom: The company's newest design consists of blow-molded HDPE bottles mounted on steel tubing.

Viking Cold Solutions installation in New Mexico  

Vikings Cold Solutions' newest thermal cell design (2016)

Research roundup: 3-tank latent heat storage system; water-based graphene nanofluid; life cycle assessment of PCMs for buildings

Ben Welter - Monday, February 22, 2016

The heat transfer mechanism study of three-tank latent heat storage system based on entransy theory [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Solidification characteristics of water based graphene nanofluid PCM in a spherical capsule for cool thermal energy storage applications [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Life cycle assessment (LCA) of phase change materials (PCMs) for building applications: A review [Journal of Building Engineering]

CI engine performance during cold weather condition using preheated air and engine by waste energy [International Journal of Ambient Energy]

Research roundup: Polyurea microencapsulated PCM; semi-clathrate hydrates; light-to-thermal energy storage; more

Ben Welter - Monday, February 08, 2016

Preparation and characterization of polyurea microencapsulated phase change material by interfacial polycondensation method [Powder Technology]

Characterisation of thermal properties and charging performance of semi-clathrate hydrates for cold storage applications [Applied Energy]

Hybrid graphene aerogels/phase change material composites: Thermal conductivity, shape-stabilization and light-to-thermal energy storage [Carbon]

Review on use of phase change materials in battery thermal management for electric and hybrid electric vehicles [International Journal of Energy Research]

Experimental study of the heat transfer characteristics of a new-type flat micro-heat pipe thermal storage unit [Energy Conversion and Management]

Melting and solidification characteristics of a mixture of two types of latent heat storage material in a vessel [Heat and Mass Transfer]

PCM briefing: A bioplastics breakthrough from DuPont/ADM; a revamped bedding line from Tempur-Pedic

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CleanTechnica takes a look at the DuPont-ADM "breakthrough" process for producing a high-performance, 100 percent biodegradable bioplastic. The companies' first project will use furan dicarboxylic methyl ester to produce polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate, which ADM says outperforms petroleum-based polymers in extending beverage shelf life.

•  Tempur-Pedic has revamped its Breeze line of cooler-sleep beds, fusing phase change material in the top Tempur foam layer to deliver “a significantly improved cooling effect,” the company said.

Composite sandwich panels containing phase change material are among 20 smart materials and structures identified by a European Union study with possible applications in the shipbuilding industry. The panels would minimize heat transfer and lower cooling costs on refrigerated cargo ships.  

• Sonoco ThermoSafe, Pluss Advanced Technologies, va-Q-tec AG, Peli BioThermal, Cryopak, AAR Cold Chain Solutions and Croda are among the companies exhibiting PCM-related products at the 15th annual Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe conference in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. 

PCM briefing: PCM-equipped heat pump is up for Dutch award; Axiom Exergy is looking for a product engineer

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Coolmark's TripleAqua heat pump, which uses phase change material to store hot and cold energy, is one of three finalists in the energy savings category of the 2016 VSK Awards. The awards honor Dutch innovation and initiative in engineering. Winners will be announced Feb. 3 at the VSK trade show in Utrecht.

California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of a "Refrigeration Battery" designed to reduce supermarket energy costs, has posted an opening for a product engineer. Candidates are invited to answer this question: "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?" 

Abu Dhabi International Airport's new district cooling plant, completed this week, has 18 chillers, two thermal energy storage tanks and a total capacity of 55,000 metric tons of refrigerant.

Restonic is infusing phase change material into the surface of the TempaGel memory foam used in the mattress maker's new ComfortCare Hybrid Signature line.

The $20 million Jemalong Solar Thermal Station, which uses molten salt as a thermal storage medium, has entered the commissioning phase, developer Vast Solar says. The grid-connected pilot plant in New South Wales, Australia, is expected to reach full operation as early as May. 

BoTemp, a Dutch company that produces cold storage systems for the transport and container industry, has added two eutectic systems to its product line: The on-board Cold Battery uses chilled air forced into the cargo area to give a wide controllable temperature range from -18º C to 4º C. The stationary Cold Charger can quickly charge multiple vehicles or containers at the same time.

Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, is on's list of 10 start-ups to watch in 2016.

Passive cooling device uses PCMs to keep vaccines cool in hot climates

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Arktek cooling device atop camel (Bill Gates Foundation photo)

The refrigeration needed to keep vaccines safe and effective can be hard to come by in rural Nigeria, Nepal and other remote parts of the world. Global Good — a collaborative effort between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures — has devised one solution. The Arktek passive cooling device uses phase change materials to hold temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius for a minimum of 35 days in a hot climate.

Research roundup: PCM solar passive buildings; solar air heaters; review of microencapsulated PCMs; more

Ben Welter - Monday, November 16, 2015

Application of weather forecast in conjunction with price-based method for PCM solar passive buildings – An experimental study [Applied Energy]

Thermal analysis of Al–Si alloys as high-temperature phase-change material and their corrosion properties with ceramic materials [Applied Energy]

Thermal performance of packed bed heat storage system for solar air heaters [Energy for Sustainable Development]

Comparative study on AL2O3 nanoparticle addition on cool storage system performance [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Types, methods, techniques, and applications for microencapsulated phase change materials (MPCM): A review [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Review on concentrating solar power plants and new developments in high temperature thermal energy storage technologies [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Corrosion evaluation and prevention of reactor materials to contain thermochemical material for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Heat loss from thermal energy storage ventilated tank foundations [Solar Energy]

Optimization of Medium-Deep Borehole Thermal Energy Storage Systems [Energy Technology]

Optimal Operation of Energy Systems Including Energy Storage Equipment under Different Connections and Electricity Prices [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Sensible heat thermal storage energy and exergy performance evaluations [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Registration open for PCM 2016 in Karlsruhe, Germany

Ben Welter - Friday, November 06, 2015

Registration is open for PCM 2016, the International Institute of Refrigeration's 11th conference on phase change materials and slurries for refrigeration and air conditioning. The conference will take place May 18-20, 2016, in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Themes include the thermophysical properties of PCMs and slurries, transport phenomena (mass, momentum and heat transfer); time-dependent behavior; applications and systems; and direct contact heat exchange.

The registration fee is 500 euros (400 euros for speakers and IIR members; 200 euros for students).

Research roundup: Economic analysis of CSP/TES systems; copper fins; ice storage AC systems; paraffin/palygorskite composite PCMs

Ben Welter - Monday, September 28, 2015

Methods for Analyzing the Economic Value of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage [NREL]

Heat Transfer Enhancement Through PCM Thermal Storage by Use of Copper Fins [Thermal Science]

Optimal Energy Reduction Schedules for Ice Storage Air-Conditioning Systems [Energies]

Paraffin/palygorskite composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]