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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.

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Exergy founder on PC heat generation: 'We can put this in every house in the U.S.'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Henry, Project Exergy prototype computerIn an interview with Public Radio International, Project Exergy founder Lawrence Orsini talks about his vision of harnessing the heat generated by computers.

Henry, the project's liquid-cooled, high-performance prototype, generates far more heat than a typical computer. It's made from off-the-shelf parts and is slight bigger than a tower PC. The main difference: It's paired with a small thermal storage tank filled with phase change material. The tank can hold a temperature of 93º Celsius.

“We can put this [technology] in every house in the U.S.," Orsini says. "In fact, if we did that and we distributed the two to three percent of energy that is being used in data centers, some of our rough calculations say we can probably heat nearly 80 million houses."

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-02-18/someday-we-may-be-heating-homes-and-businesses-personal-computers

New hybrid approaches aim to boost the economics of energy storage

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Greentech Media reports that interest is growing in hybrid approaches to energy storage. European companies such as Bosch and Younicos are working on projects that combine different battery technologies in a single system. Others are combining entirely different technologies, including phase change material. One example: 

"Fraunhofer ISE says it has successfully tested a hybrid system that combines thousands of batteries and heat storage systems into a virtual storage system. The agent-based operation system has been developed and tested within the institute’s SmartEnergyLab facility.

"There, agent-based controllers manage a co-generation plant that also includes water storage, a heat pump with phase-change storage, and a lithium-ion battery system."

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/how-hybridization-can-boost-the-economics-of-energy-storage

Navy seeks bids for 'solid type' thermal storage system in Monterey

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., is seeking bids on a thermal storage system for its Turbo Propulsion Laboratory.

"As part of the ONR funded ESTEP (Energy Systems Technology Evaluation Program) a heating system with thermal storage is being set up. The ESTEP program is designed to implement technologies that have the capability of reducing Navy and wider DoD facilities energy costs.

"The system is designed to match demand with available renewable supply and store the excess heating in a thermal storage system for use later. The technology that will be investigated uses solid inert materials rather than liquids as they are potentially simpler to use.

"The system forms an integral part of the Naval Postgraduate School’s energy curriculum. It is being used as a thesis project and will also be used in a planned renewable energy course within the [Mechanical and Astronautical Engineering Department] department."

https://www.neco.navy.mil/synopsis/detail.aspx?id=422272

Research roundup: Polyethylene-paraffin composites; horizontal tanks; activated carbon; DSC; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

  • Polyethylene/paraffin binary composites for phase change material energy storage in building: A morphology, thermal properties, and paraffin leakage study [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

  • Experimental determination of the heat transfer and cold storage characteristics of a microencapsulated phase change material in a horizontal tank [Energy Conversion and Management]

  • Activated carbon derived from peat soil as a framework for the preparation of shape-stabilized phase change material [Energy]

  • Thermal analysis by DSC of phase change materials, study of the damage effect [Journal of Building Engineering]

  • Characterization and thermal performance of nitrate mixture/SiC ceramic honeycomb composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

  • Design of an ice thermal energy storage system for a building of hospitality operation [International Journal of Hospitality Management]

  • Research roundup: Nanoparticle-enhanced PCMs; amphiphilic block copolymers; more

    Ben Welter - Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Energy storage system based on nanoparticle-enhanced phase change material inside porous medium [International Journal of Thermal Sciences]

  • Highly Stable Phase Change Material Emulsions Fabricated by Interfacial Assembly of Amphiphilic Block Copolymers during Phase Inversion [American Chemical Society]

  • Improving thermal conductivity phase change materials—A study of paraffin nanomagnetite composites [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

  • Energy and economic analysis of a building air-conditioner with a phase change material [Energy Conversion and Management]

  • Inside Federal Center South, an ASHRAE award-winning project

    Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    Tom Boysen Jr.In December, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office building in Seattle was one of nine projects recognized for innovative design with an ASHRAE Technology Award. Federal Center South received first place in the new commercial buildings category. 

    The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce takes a closer look at the project, including the months of tweaking needed to reach the energy-use guarantees made by the general contractor, Sellen Construction.

    “This is not your father's 1960s pickup truck,” said Tom Boysen, senior project manager. “This thing has at least four gears of cooling and two gears of heating.”

    The complex system includes heat-recovery chillers that extract heat from a thermal storage tank to warm the building in the morning, when demand is high. The rooftop tank is filled with 2-foot-long panels containing phase change material that freezes and thaws at 55 degrees, serving as a battery for storing heat.

    https://www.djc.com/news/en/12074091.html

    Research roundup: Under-floor heating; fire retardants; even-numbered n-alkanes; more

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

  • Effect of thermal conductivities of shape stabilized PCM on under-floor heating system [Applied Energy] 

  • Fire Retardant for Phase Change Material [Engineering Materials]

  • Temperature-dependent thermal properties of solid/liquid phase change even-numbered n-alkanes: n-Hexadecane, n-octadecane and n-eicosane [Applied Energy]

  • Numerical analysis on thermal behavior of solid–liquid phase change within copper foam with varying porosity [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

  • Thermal behaviour of insulation and phase change materials in buildings with internal heat loads: experimental study [Energy Efficiency]

  • Resource and revenue potential of California residential load participation in ancillary services [Energy Policy]

  • A review of large-scale electrical energy storage (including a mathematical model for thermal energy storage as a battery) [Energy Research]

  • Research roundup: Polyurethane embedded graphite; gypsum board; nanoparticle PCM slurry; more

    Ben Welter - Monday, February 09, 2015

  • Electro/photo to heat conversion system based on polyurethane embedded graphite [Applied Energy]

  • Thermal evaluation of laminated composite phase change material gypsum board under dynamic conditions [Renewable Energy]

  • Different energy balances for the redesign of nearly net zero energy buildings: An Italian case study [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

  • Experimental study on the influence of nanoparticle PCM slurry for high temperature on convective heat transfer and energetic performance in a circular tube under imposed heat flux [Applied Thermal Engineering]

  • Mortars based in different binders with incorporation of phase-change materials: Physical and mechanical properties [European Journal of Environmental and Civil Engineering]

  • A new approach to theoretical modeling of heat transfer through fibrous layers incorporated with microcapsules of phase change materials [Thermochimica Acta]
  • Research roundup: Organogel; mobilized thermal storage container; passive solar wall

    Ben Welter - Thursday, February 05, 2015

  • Organogel used as phase change material: solvent effects on structure, leakage and thermal performance [RSC Advances]

  • Experimental study on melting and solidification of phase change material in indirect contact mobilized thermal energy storage container [Chemical Industry and Engineering Progress]

  • Thermal behavior of a passive solar wall with silica aerogel and phase change materials [Proceedings of Energy Forum on Advanced Building Skins]

  • Effect of internal void placement on the heat transfer performance – Encapsulated phase change material for energy storage [Renewable Energy]
  • Project Exergy aims to tap cloud computing's excess heat

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 03, 2015

    Lawrence OrsiniCloud-based data centers generate a lot of excess heat. Can it be harnessed to heat homes? New York inventor Lawrence Orsini thinks so. He has proposed installing distributed supercomputers in homes and offices to reduce heating bills and energy consumption. Orsini's Project Exergy seeks to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter. 

    A prototype of the heat storage system uses a water tank. A future version will use phase change material to store the heat.