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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 monthly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.




Patent application: PCM evaporator and heat dissipating apparatus

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 07, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190041144 (applicant Man Zai Industrial Co. Ltd., Tainan City, Taiwan):

Man Zai PCM evaporator drawing"A heat dissipating apparatus has a phase change material evaporator, a condenser, a refrigerant output tube, and a refrigerant input tube. The evaporator has a base having an evaporation chamber, a refrigerant inlet and a refrigerant outlet, a reinforcement panel mounted in the evaporation chamber and dividing the evaporation chamber into two spaces, and multiple heat conduction fins separately arranged in the two spaces. An opening area of the refrigerant outlet is larger than an opening area of the refrigerant inlet. The evaporator, the refrigerant output tube, the condenser and the refrigerant input tube form a closed refrigerant circulation loop with a refrigerant filled therein. Gas pressure of a gas-phased refrigerant in the two spaces can be increased. With pressure difference between the refrigerant outlet and the refrigerant inlet, the gas-phased refrigerant can be accelerated to flow toward the refrigerant outlet and flowability of the refrigerant can be increased."

PCM briefing: Sunamp among 'Scottish tech companies to watch' in 2019; C-Therm webinar on new thermal conductivity instrument

Ben Welter - Monday, January 07, 2019

Rail shipping container with PCM

• The University of Birmingham's Center for Energy Storage has teamed up with a Chinese railway equipment manufacturer to develop a shipping container that uses phase change materials to maintain a low temperature over several days without a power supply. "Once ‘charged’, PCM inside the container - which can be transferred from train to truck and vice versa - can keep the inside temperature between 5-12 ˚C for up to 120 hours," the university reports.

CNET's Scott Stein takes a close look at PowerStation, "a battery of sorts that can keep a low-power sensor running off the temperature differences in everyday weather conditions." The device, made by Matrix Industries of Menlo Park, Calif., stores heat in a substance the company calls "Luna Phase Change Material" and later releases the heat in the form of electricity.

Scottish Business Insider has named Sunamp Ltd. one of five Scottish tech companies to watch in 2019. "The £2.2m raised in its latest fundraising sets the company up for a Series A round in 2019 as it looks to expand its international footprint and further scale its operations," Insider writes. "Sunamp heat batteries have so far been installed in over a thousand homes across the UK." 

C-Therm managing director Adam Harris is hosting a webinar this week to introduce the company's new thermal conductivity instrument, the C-Therm Trident. Advance registration is required for the webinar, which will be held at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 10.

• At a business summit in Wisconsin last month, Encapsys President Mary Goggans said the Appleton-based company offers internships to students at regional colleges, including the children of employees. “The interns see the jobs and technologies they are interested in right here in the area,” Goggans said. “They realize they don’t need to get a job outside of the region to have the career they are looking for.”

Patent application: Thermal storage system and temperature controlled container

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190003781 (applicants University of Ghent, Belgium; Colruyt Group, Halle, Belgium):

"Passive thermal storage systems and methods comprising at least one thermal storage module for storing thermal energy in a predetermined temperature range, are disclosed. The thermal storage module comprises an FT unit and a Heat Storage (HS) unit at least partially filled with a first Phase Change Material (PCM). The HS unit comprises a container. The thermal storage module may be in the form of a stacked structure comprising the FT unit having a first wall with a first heat exchange surface and the HS unit having a second wall with a second heat exchange surface, the first and second heat exchange surfaces being in thermal contact with each other. The thermal storage system may be used to maintain the temperature of the payload of a temperature controlled container at a predetermined value or within a predetermined range."

Research roundup: Transparent insulation material wall with PCM; industrial waste heat recovery; cotton-derived carbon sponge; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 26, 2018

From Energy:

Energy performance and economic analysis of a TIM-PCM wall under different climates

From Applied Energy:

A modeling study on the heat storage and release characteristics of a phase change material based double-spiral coiled heat exchanger in an air source heat pump for defrosting
Dynamic thermal management for industrial waste heat recovery based on phase change material thermal storage

From Solar Energy:

Modeling of solidification including supercooling effects in a fin-tube heat exchanger based latent heat storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Experimental study on thermal properties and thermal performance of eutectic hydrated salts/expanded perlite form-stable phase change materials for passive solar energy utilization
Cotton-derived carbon sponge as support for form-stabilized composite phase change materials with enhanced thermal conductivity
Enhanced thermal conductivity of microencapsulated phase change materials based on graphene oxide and carbon nanotube hybrid filler
A novel core-shell structural montmorillonite nanosheets/stearic acid composite PCM for great promotion of thermal energy storage properties

From Energy and Buildings:

Numerical analysis for maximizing effective energy storage capacity of thermal energy storage systems by enhancing heat transfer in PCM
Optimization of phase change materials (PCMs) to improve energy performance within thermal comfort range in the South Korean climate

From Journal of King Saud University - Science:

Exact and approximate solutions of a phase change problem with the moving phase change material and variable thermal coefficients

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Preparation and thermophysical properties of low temperature composite phase change material octanoic-lauric acid/expanded graphite

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Supercooling characteristics of phase change material particles within phase change emulsions
Enhancement of ice formation around vertical finned tubes for cold storage applications

Incubator uses PCM to keep lab samples at optimum temperatures

Ben Welter - Saturday, December 22, 2018

Intellectual Ventures’ Global Good fund has signed a licensing agreement with JP Selecta of Spain to manufacture and distribute a microbiological incubator for laboratories in areas with unreliable electrical power.

Incudigit SV 30LThe body of the Incudigit-SV 30L is lined with phase change material, enabling the device to maintain a user-adjustable temperature setpoint of 35° C, 36° C or 37° C for at least eight hours without power. 

“This incubator will help frontline health workers perform important culture-based microbiological tests in places where power is unreliable – a critical step in managing diseases like tuberculosis, sepsis, enteric and diarrheal diseases, and sexually-transmitted bacterial infections,” said Maurizio Vecchione, executive vice president of Global Good.

Three members of the Intellectual Ventures team that developed the incubator (Michael Friend, principal investigator; Simon Ghionea, senior researcher and electrical engineer; and Andy Miller, senior researcher and mechanical engineer) fielded questions about the device.

Q: What was your role in the development of the Incudigit-SV 30L?

A: The team came up with the initial concept, analyzed and designed the first-generation prototype, tested in the lab and the field and then transitioned the device to JP Selecta for the product development cycle. After the first product units were developed, the team then verified the performance of the units.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in developing the device?

Drawing of Incudigit SV 30 prototypeA: The device has to be able to support power blackouts which could occur with ambient conditions above and below the temperature setpoints (of which there are three), so developing a method to properly assess the state of the PCM was a challenge. Additionally, while the initial PCM chosen for the device had great performance at first, it was discovered that after repeated deep cycling that the enthalpy was depleting. This PCM could be recharged using an overheat procedure; however this imposed an unacceptable impact on the use case. We wound up having to change to a more stable PCM with slightly less performance than the original.

Q: Describe the typical user of the device.

A: The typical user is a medical technician/microbiologist in a laboratory which does not have reliable power. In most countries in the developing world this may be all the labs with the exception of the national reference laboratory.

Q: When will manufacturing/distribution begin?

A: With product launch this week, manufacturing/distribution is just beginning. The first units will be delivered to Doctors Without Borders for pilot tests in South Sudan and Niger in January as well as the African Medical and Research Foundation and the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital Wellcome Trust Research Unit. As this is allowing microbial culture to take place in labs where it previously could not occur, it will be difficult to estimate quantities.

Q: Describe how the device functions, especially how PCM is used. Does the device include a battery to provide active cooling and power the electronics when external power is not available?

A: The device uses PCM as a “thermal storage battery” in order to control the temperature (see reference paper A key feature is to maintain the PCM in a state such that it can maintain incubation setpoint temperatures at 35, 36, and 37 C during power blackouts with ambient conditions that can be above or below the setpoints. No active heating or cooling is used, only a small battery to maintain the electronics to perform temperature and power monitoring. [see YouTube video]

Q: What are the specs on the phase change material?

A: It's a paraffin with a peak melt point of 37 C and a thermal storage capacity of 160 joules per gram.

Q: How much PCM is used in each device?

A: 19 liters.

Research roundup: Sodium acetate trihydrate; palm kernel vegetable fat; spiral-fin heat exchanger; gas flow through bed of granular PCM; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 06, 2018

From Energy:

Preparation and thermal properties of sodium acetate trihydrate as a novel phase change material for energy storage

From Journal of Building Engineering:

The Palm Kernel Vegetable Fat: a Low-cost Bio-based Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings

From International Journal of Applied Engineering Research:

Carbonaceous Phase Change Nanocomposites: A low cost energy storage approach [pdf]

From Applied Mathematical Modelling:

Investigation of Phase Change in a Spiral-Fin Heat Exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of the thermal performance enhancement of latent heat thermal energy storage using longitudinal rectangular fins and flat micro-heat pipe arrays

From Materials Science and Engineering:

The characteristics of temperature fluctuations in thermal insulation covered with layer of PCM [pdf]

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal properties and applications of microencapsulated PCM for thermal energy storage: A review

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Evaluation and optimization of thermal performance for a finned double tube latent heat thermal energy storage
Influence of gas compressibility on gas flow through bed of granular phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Investigating organic phase change behavior with thermal photography

Research roundup: Solar fish dryer; oscillating heat pipe; small-scale refrigeration system; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 22, 2018

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experiments on comparative performance of water thermocline storage tank with and without encapsulated paraffin wax packed bed
Experimental study and performance prediction of the PCM-antifreeze solar thermal system under cold weather conditions
Improving System Performance of a Personal Conditioning System integrated with Thermal Storage

From Energy:

A methodological concept for phase change material selection based on multi-criteria decision making (MCDM): A case study

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Experimental analysis of solar fish dryer using phase change material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental investigation on thermal performance of phase change material coupled with three-dimensional oscillating heat pipe (PCM/3D-OHP) for thermal management application

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental investigation on melting and solidification behaviour of erythritol in a vertical double spiral coil thermal energy storage system

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Investigation of energy and exergy performance on a small-scale refrigeration system with PCMs inserted between coil and wall of the evaporator cabin

From Journal of Applied Physics:

Optimizing the design of composite phase change materials for high thermal power density

From Energy Procedia:

The technical and economic feasibility of utilizing phase change materials for thermal storage in district heating networks

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions to install system in Mexico; Pluss reaches distribution deal with Ferro-Plast of Italy

Ben Welter - Friday, October 12, 2018

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has reached a deal to install its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in one of Red de Frios' frozen food warehouses in Monterrey, Mexico. Viking systems are designed to reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The German Aerospace Center, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Stuttgart have signed an agreement to build a research facility in Germany to develop an efficient, cost-effective and "virtually loss-less" heat-based electrical storage technology. At this week's signing ceremony in Stuttgart, Stanford University Professor Robert B. Laughlin, right, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics, explained why he thinks heat storage will play a key role in the energy landscape of the future.

• The Conductive Plastics conference in Vienna Nov. 6-7 will include sessions on "Challenging the boundaries in thermally conductive and electrically conductive polyamides," "Boron nitride filler materials for high-performance thermal management applications," "Mineral flame retardants and metal oxides as thermally conductive fillers," "Investigating the effect of material molecular orientation on thermal conductivity of polymeric products" and "Thermally conductive materials based on synthetic rubber."

• In a LinkedIn post, Pluss Advanced Technologies of India announced it has reached a deal with Ferro-Plast Srl of Italy to distribute Pluss products in Europe.

• New from "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Trends, Applications, Analysis, Growth, And Forecast: 2018 To 2027"

• New from Invant Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Study 2015-2025"

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

• New from Polaris Market Research: "Fatty Acid Esters Market, [By Product Type (Glycerol Monostearate, Medium Chain Trigylcerides, Isopropyl Esters (Myrsitate & Palmitate) and Others); By Application (Lubricants, Pharmaceuticals, Personal care & Cosmetics, Surfactants and Others); By Regions]: Market size & Forecast, 2018 – 2026"

Peli BioThermal has opened service centers in Basel and Berlin to support the company's line of Credo reusable temperature-control shippers.

• Nominations are being accepted for Metrohm USA's Young Chemist Award 2019. Entrants submit an abstract of their research for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to PITTCON 2019. The contest is limited to undergrad, grad, post-grad and doctoral students in the United States and Canada. Entrants must demonstrate novel research or a novel methodology using titration, ion chromatography, electrochemistry and/or spectroscopy. Applications are due by Dec. 31, 2018.

Sonoco ThermoSafe, a global provider of temperature assurance packaging in the life sciences sector, has an opening for a sales director, responsible for sales growth in North America.

• Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the next Leading Minds Seminar, to be held Nov. 6-7 in London. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

ASHRAE Learning Institute will offer 20 courses during the 2019 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo. The conference will be held in Atlanta Jan. 12-16. Courses include "Advanced Designs for Net Zero Buildings," "Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning" and "Solar PV and Thermal System Analysis and Design."

Patent application: PCM panel and charging unit for cooling a cabinet of a merchandiser

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 23, 2018

Coca-Cola patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20180266739 (applicant The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, Georgia):

"A phase change material panel for cooling a cabinet of a merchandiser is disclosed. The panel may include a refrigerant tube, an outer jacket surrounding the refrigerant tube, and a phase change material positioned between the refrigerant tube and the outer jacket and in contact with the refrigerant tube. ... The panel [shown at right] may be charged at or near the point-of-sale or remotely therefrom, such as at a warehouse, on a truck, at a distribution center, or the like and brought to the merchandiser."

PCM briefing: Ice Energy seeks distributors in Australia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia; Thermetrics' new manikin can measure PCM effects

Ben Welter - Friday, August 31, 2018

• In an interview with Energy Storage Report, CEO Mike Hopkins discussed Ice Energy's plans to distribute its ice-based thermal energy storage technology in Australia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. In June, the California company announced a $40 million cash infusion from Argo Infrastructure Partners to finance the delivery of Ice Energy's residential and commercial thermal storage contracts.

Thermetrics manikin ANDIThermetrics says its new ANDI sweating thermal manikin has the "unrivaled ability" to measure both positive and negative heat flux and to respond to changing environmental conditions with "unprecedented" speed and accuracy. The new manikin was unveiled this week at the 12th International Meeting of Manikins and Modeling, hosted by the Swiss research institute Empa, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The manikin can be used to evaluate the thermal performance of apparel, blankets and seats, as well as quantify the cool-to-touch or warm-to-touch temperature-buffering effect in fabrics containing phase change materials. 

• New from LP Information: "2018-2023 Global Eutectic Phase Change Material Consumption Market Report"

• New from Research and Markets: "Phase Change Materials (PCMs) - A Global Market Overview"

• The journal Nature reports that India is cracking down on predatory journals, publications that "actively solicit manuscripts and charge authors hefty fees without providing the services they advertise, such as editing and peer review." 

• Life science laboratories are finding creative ways to reduce the amount of plastic they throw away, The Scientist reports. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe will hold its next Leading Minds Seminar Nov. 6-7 at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel Heathrow, London, England. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

Viking Cold Solutions says the thermal energy storage system the company installed at a 93,000-square-foot frozen food distribution center in Richmond, Calif., has reduced peak period energy consumption by up to 43 percent and reduced overall freezer energy consumption by 35 percent. Viking installed the system at the Dreisbach Enterprises warehouse earlier this year. Plastic panels filled with a proprietary salt hydrate are installed evenly throughout the warehouse atop the existing product racks. The PCM absorbs heat as it melts, allowing chillers to run less frequently and still keep the warehouse within a few degrees of the target temperature. The system also includes intelligent controls and sensors to optimize energy use and alert managers to temperature abnormalities, equipment failure and power outages.