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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.




Photovoltaics, CSP and thermal energy storage: Why a hybrid approach makes sense

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 27, 2015

Matthew OroszWhich solar energy technology will prevail, photovoltaic or concentrating solar power? Matt Orosz, cofounder of STG International and co-principal investigator at Cogenra Solar, says combining the two might enable integration of low-cost thermal energy storage and carve out a place in the energy grid's renewables-driven future. 

"To reduce the need for electrical storage and take advantage of the increasing efficiency and diminishing costs of PV," Orosz writes on, "the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) has created the Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program to link PV and CSP. 

"Several groups have responded to this challenge with innovative ideas: a team from Arizona State University is replacing traditional PTC mirrors with PV cells layered under an IR-reflective film that sends light to a traditional CSP absorber tube. At Cogenra Solar, we are keeping traditional PTC mirrors but interposing a secondary dichroic mirror in front of the CSP tube to reflect the visible part of the spectrum onto an additional receiver based on concentrated PV. Both these efforts attempt to split the solar spectrum to maximize the energy flux that corresponds to the PV band gap and avoid the temperature incompatibility between PV and CSP."

Low-cost, PCM-based energy storage system wins Australia Eureka Prize

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bruno, Tay and Belusko

A team of Australian researchers has won a Eureka Prize for developing a low-cost, salt-based energy storage system. 

The University of South Australia team – Associate Professor Frank Bruno, Dr. Steven Tay and Dr. Martin Belusko (above, left to right) – will share the $10,000 prize for Innovative Use of Technology. 

The system uses surplus solar power or off-peak electricity to solidify phase change material contained in compact coils inside storage tanks. Melting releases energy when it is needed. The system is said to store energy at one-tenth the cost of batteries.

A commercial-scale version of the system has been installed at a large farm in south Australia. That system stores off-peak electricity from the grid to cool produce storage rooms more cheaply during the day. [Parilla Thermal Storage Project Case Study, May 2014]

Research roundup: PEG composite with radial mesoporous silica sphere; improving the performance of fluidized beds; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Enhanced thermal properties of novel shape-stabilized PEG composite phase change materials with radial mesoporous silica sphere for thermal energy storage [Scientific Reports]

Improving the thermal performance of fluidized beds for concentrated solar power and thermal energy storage [Powder Technology]

Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage: Effect of Metallic Mesh Size on Storage Time and Capacity [International Journal of Thermophysics]

Shape-stabilized phase change composite by impregnation of octadecane into mesoporous SiO2 [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Experimental Investigation of the Concentration Dependent Maximum Storage Capacity of Two Inorganic Phase Change Materials [Energy Procedia]

High Temperature Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage Integration in a Co-gen Plant [Energy Procedia]

Research roundup: Salt-based carbon nanotube nanomaterials; finned heat pipes; nitrate/expanded graphite composite PCM; more

Ben Welter - Monday, August 10, 2015

Effect of solvent on specific heat capacity enhancement of binary molten salt-based carbon nanotube nanomaterials for thermal energy storage [International Journal of Thermal Sciences]

Three-dimensional simulation of high temperature latent heat thermal energy storage system assisted by finned heat pipes [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental and numerical study of heat transfer performance of nitrate/expanded graphite composite PCM for solar energy storage [Energy Conversion and Management]

Investigation on the dynamic characteristics of a direct contact thermal energy storage charging process for use in conventional air-conditioning systems [Applied Thermal Engineering]

The form-stable phase change materials based on polyethylene glycol and functionalized carbon nanotubes for heat storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Studies on the effect of shape-stabilized PCM filled aluminum honeycomb composite material on thermal control [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Preparation and thermal properties of graphite foam/eutectic salt composite as a phase change energy storage material [Carbon]

Performance comparison of three models for thermal property determination from experimental phase change data [Thermochimica Acta]

Molecular-dynamics calculation of the thermal conduction in phase change materials of graphene paraffin nanocomposites [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Experimental investigations on the performance of a collector–storage wall system using phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental analysis, modeling and simulation of a solar energy accumulator with paraffin wax as PCM [Energy Conversion and Management]

Research roundup: Phase change cold storage; gypsum-based composites; root zone heating system; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 06, 2015

Influencing factors on the energy saving performance of battery storage and phase change cold storage in a PV cooling system [Energy and Buildings]

Development and thermal characterization of innovative gypsum-based composites incorporating phase change material as building energy storage system [Energy and Buildings]

LCA & LCCA of a PCM application to control root zone temperatures of hydroponic crops in comparison with conventional root zone heating systems [Renewable Energy]

Consolidated microcapsules with double alginate shell containing paraffin for latent heat storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Investigation of the corrosion behavior of NiVAl multilayer coatings in hot salt melts [Surface and Coatings Technology]

Geopolymer-based composite materials containing PCM for thermal energy storage [Ceramics for Energy conference paper]

Exergy analysis of the solar still integrated nano composite phase change materials [Applied Solar Energy]

Thermal properties of C17H36/MCM-41 composite phase change materials [Computational Materials Science]

Novel solid-solid phase change materials with biodegradable trihydroxy surfactant for thermal energy storage [RSC Advances]

Heat capacity enhancement of water tanks by use of phase change materials for domestic purposes [Instal]

Research roundup: Fatty acid/surfactant slurries; optimizing PCM thermal energy storage; open thermosyphon; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Fatty acid/surfactant research illustration• Thermophysical Properties of Some Fatty Acids/Surfactants as Phase Change Slurries for Thermal Energy Storage [Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data]

• Optimal operation of phase-change thermal energy storage for a commercial building [American Control Conference]

Influence of accelerated thermal charging and discharging cycles on thermo-physical properties of organic phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage applications [Energy Conversion and Management]

Numerical and experimental studies on heat transfer characteristics of thermal energy storage system packed with molten salt PCM capsules [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Heat transfer and thermal storage performance of an open thermosyphon type thermal storage unit with tubular phase change material canisters [Energy Conversion and Management]

Effect of surface active agent on thermal properties of carbonate salt/carbon nanomaterial composite phase change material [Applied Energy]

Copolymer-bound phase change materials for household refrigerating appliances: Experimental investigation of power consumption, temperature distribution and demand side management potential [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Comprehensive parametric study of using carbon foam structures saturated with PCMs in thermal management of electronic systems [Energy Conversion and Management]

Multi-objective geometric optimization of a PCM based matrix type composite heat sink [Applied Energy]

Research roundup: Nano-encapsulated n-nonadecane for TES; acid-hybridized expanded perlite; corrosion behavior of molten salt; more

Ben Welter - Monday, August 03, 2015

Nano-encapsulated n-nonadecane using vinyl copolymer shell for thermal energy storage medium [Macromolecular Research]

Acid-hybridized expanded perlite as a composite phase-change material in wallboards [RSC Advances]

Thermal Performance of a Domestic Chromium Solar Water Collector with Phase Change Material  [Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences]

Numerical Study of the Melting of Nano-PCM in a Rectangular Enclosure Heated by Downward Heat Transfer Fluid [International Conference on Materials & Energy]

Corrosion Behavior of Eutectic Molten Salt Solution on Stainless Steel 316L [Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences]

• Numerical study on performance enhancement of shell-and-tube latent heat storage unit [International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer]

'Pioneering' Crossway Passive House featured on 'Grand Designs'

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 30, 2015

Crossway Passive House

Renowned architect Richard Hawkes' Crossway Passive House, completed in 2009, gets another look on this week's episode of the British TV series "Grand Designs."  

"The iconic feature of this pioneering house," writes Building Construction Design, "is a scarily thin soaring arched roof. Made by gluing clay tiles together using Plaster of Paris without any formwork, this in turn supports over 100 tons of soil which is now host to a thriving wildflower habitat."

The 3,000-square-foot home is packed with energy-efficient technology, including 580 liters of phase change thermal storage and DuPont Energain PCM panels in the south-facing rooms.  

Research roundup: Solid PCM thermocline storage; solar paraffin wax melting unit; packed bed solar TES simulation; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 23, 2015

Multi-layered solid-PCM thermocline thermal storage for CSP; numerical evaluation of its application in a 50 MWe plant [Solar Energy]

Experimental Investigation of Solar Paraffin Wax Melting Unit Integrated with Phase Change Heat Energy Storage by Using Phase Change Material [Applied Mechanics and Materials]

Review on phase change material to maintain the human comfort inside the car [pdf] [IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering]

Mathematical Model of Packed Bed Solar Thermal Energy Storage Simulation [Energy Procedia]

PCM/graphite foam composite for thermal energy storage device [pdf] [Materials Science and Engineering]

Reliability verification of a solar–air source heat pump system with PCM energy storage in operating strategy transition [Renewable Engineering]

Preparation and characterization of phase change material microcapsules by a core-shell-like emulsion polymerization method [pdf] [Materials Science and Engineering]

Design and assessment of solar concentrator distillating system using phase change materials (PCM) suitable for desertic weathers [Desalination and Water Treatment]

Cryopak opens manufacturing plant in California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cryo-Gel packsCryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, has opened a new manufacturing facility in Poway, Calif. The company, a subsidiary of TCP Reliable, is based in Edison, N.J.

“The addition of local manufacturing will allow us to provide better support to our customers on the West Coast and the important Southern California market," said Maurice Barakat, TCP's president and CEO.