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 weekly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.




A checklist for those considering an ice energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 19, 2015

CALMAC, maker of ice-based energy storage systems, offers a short checklist for building owners who are considering such a system:

• Check your utility's time-of-use rates, demand charges and incentives. Electricity is usually cheaper at night, but you might have to do a little digging to understand all the pricing factors.

• Check the amount of space available on your site. Ice storage tanks can be placed in basements, on roofs, in storerooms and in garages.

• Check the availability of contractors who can provide support before and after the system is installed.

Modular 'Aktivhaus' produces no emissions or waste, derives no energy from fossil fuel

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Aktivhaus modular home in Stuttgart, Germany

Architect/engineer Werner Sobek's latest creation, a prototype of a modular home that generates twice as much energy as it uses, is featured in a CNN piece this week. The 900-square-foot Aktivhaus dwelling in Stuttgart, Germany, can be assembled in a single day. It is designed to produce no emissions or waste and derive no energy from fossil fuel, a standard that Sobek refers to as "Triple Zero." The house is packed with energy-efficient features, including a rooftop solar system that produces electricity and heat, and a thermal-regulation system linked to an underground ice storage tank.

"In summer, the ice is used to cool the house. By melting, it absorbs heat energy," Sobek says. "In winter, it gradually freezes. Each time a chunk of water turns into ice, a certain amount of heat energy is released, which is then used to heat the house via a heat pump, which brings the energy to a higher temperature level."

Research roundup: Lime-pozzolan plaster; ATES systems; PEG/diatomite PCMs; eutectic mixture with polystyrene shell

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Characterization of a lime-pozzolan plaster containing phase change material [Proceedings of the International Conference on Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics]

Temperature boundary conditions for ATES systems [Proceedings of the International Conference on Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics]

Enhanced thermal conductivity of PEG/diatomite shape-stabilized phase change materials with Ag nanoparticles for thermal energy storage [Journal of Materials Chemistry A]

Micro/nano encapsulated n-tetracosane and n-octadecane eutectic mixture with polystyrene shell for low-temperature latent heat thermal energy storage applications [Solar Energy]

Research roundup: Macroencapsulated TES concrete; PCMEs; zinc particles; wearable product materials research; more

Ben Welter - Monday, March 16, 2015

Development, Mechanical Properties and Numerical Simulation of Macroencapsulated Thermal Energy Storage Concrete [Energy and Buildings]

Review of Phase change emulsions (PCMEs) and their applications in HVAC systems [Energy and Buildings]

Use of encapsulated zinc particles in a eutectic chloride salt to enhance thermal energy storage capacity for concentrated solar power [Renewable Energy]

Enhanced comprehensive performance of polyethylene glycol based phase change material with hybrid graphene nanomaterials for thermal energy storage [Carbon]

Preparation and Characterization of Side-chain Liquid Crystal Polymer/paraffin Composites as Form-stable Phase Change Materials [Journal of Materials Chemistry A]

Heat transfer fluids for concentrating solar power systems – A review [Applied Energy]

Research on Expanded Graphite/Nitrate High-Temperature Composite Phase Change Materials [Applied Mechanics and Materials]

Testing a model for wearable product materials research [International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education]

Thermal energy storage shows rapid growth since 2006

Ben Welter - Monday, March 16, 2015

Earlier this month, the BBC published a chart showing the top 10 energy storage nations, ranked by capacity. CleanTechnica's Sandy Dechert digs into the underlying data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy's Global Energy Storage Database. China (33,000 kW), Japan (29,000 kW), and the United States (22,000 kW) are the clear leaders. No other country can store more than 9,000 kW.

Breaking down the technology by type, CleanTechnica notes:

"Electromechanical sources dominated from 1978–2012, but their share of the pie has diminished. Electrochemical (think batteries) has grown rapidly since the turn of the millennium. Thermal storage has grown about twice as fast since 2006, overtaking electromechanical in 2013."

Research roundup: Encapsulated NaNO3; eutectic mixture with polystyrene shell; energy storage plants; more

Ben Welter - Friday, March 13, 2015

  • Experimental and computational study of thermal energy storage with encapsulated NaNO3 for high temperature applications [Solar Energy]

  • Micro/nano encapsulated n-tetracosane and n-octadecane eutectic mixture with polystyrene shell for low-temperature latent heat thermal energy storage applications [Solar Energy]

  • Controllable Thermal Rectification Realized in Binary Phase Change Composites [Scientific Reports]

  • Assessing the economics of large Energy Storage Plants with an optimisation methodology [Energy]
  • Patent application: Cooling apparatus using solid-liquid PCMs

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Patent application 20150060017: "The cooling apparatus includes a pipeline, a housing enclosing the pipeline, and the solid-liquid PCM filling in an interior of the pipeline and a space between the pipeline and the housing. The solid-liquid PCM can contact a heat source and absorb the heat generated by the heat source, so as to transform from solid state to liquid state. The solid-liquid PCM in the liquid state can circulate inside the pipeline and the space between the pipeline and the housing. Thus, the heat is dissipated by the means of thermal convection. Meanwhile, the heat also can be dissipated through the housing. Therefore, the heat dissipation can be achieved by thermal conduction and heat convection simultaneously."

    Ice Energy wins thermal energy storage contract with Riverside utility

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Ice Energy of Glendale, Calif., has been awarded a contract with Riverside Public Utilities to provide 5 megawatts of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage using Ice Energy's Ice Bear system. 

    The Ice Bear is a smart-grid-enabled technology that will help the California city better integrate its increasing reliance on renewable energy resources like wind, solar and geothermal systems to maintain low energy costs for its customers.

    The Ice Bear system makes ice at night, when electricity is cheaper, and uses it to cool buildings during the day. The company will provide the city with 40 Ice Bear units at a cost of $702,000. If energy-efficiency targets are met, the one-year pilot project could be extended by up to four more years.

    Chicago startup NETenergy advances in 2 energy challenges

    Ben Welter - Monday, March 09, 2015

    Chicago startup NETenergy, an energy storage and management service provider, has advanced to Phase II of the New Venture Challenge and is a finalist in the 2015 Clean Energy Challenge.

    "It’s been a busy three months for the Internet of Things (IoT) startup, which powers its intelligent energy management software with thermal storage hardware," writes ChicagoInno's Alice Zhang. "Using phase change composites, these storage units distribute and store cold energy in the form of latent heat when needed, allowing customers to shift their A/C consumption to cheap and efficient off-peak hours, while saving 30 percent or more on overall energy consumption."