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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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PCM briefing: Energy Storage Europe includes sessions on thermal storage; C-Therm offers webinar on thermal performance of textiles

Ben Welter - Monday, March 04, 2019

• The Energy Storage Europe conference and trade fair, set for March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany, includes a number of sessions on thermal energy storage: "Heat Storage - an essential contribution to energy transition," Oliver Baudson, TSK Flagsol Engineering GmbH; "Advanced Thermal Energy Storage Concepts," Dr. Robert Pitz-Paal, DLR Institute of Solar Research; "High Temperature Storage," Doron Brenmiller, Brenmiller Energy; "Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage," Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern; and "Thermal Energy Storage for Cost-Effective Energy Management & CO2 Mitigation," Dr. Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center - DLR e.V.

• The deadline for submitting paper proposals for next fall's Advanced Building Skins conference in Bern, Switzerland, is March 10. The list of topics includes thermal performance of phase change materials.

• Thermal battery maker Sunamp Ltd.'s collaboration with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry won the "Powerful Partnership" award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019 last month. The organizations began work on the development of new phase change materials in 2010. 

• Croda International Plc has been recognized for its commitment to "a deforestation-free supply chain." Croda earned an A- in that category in CDP's climate change report for 2018, up from a B the previous year. The specialty chemical company says it has a special focus on palm oil and is committed to supplying RSPO-certified palm oil derivatives. 

• Thermal instrumentation maker C-Therm Technologies Ltd. is hosting a free webinar this week, "Quantifying Thermal Performance of Textiles (Warm Feel / Cool Touch)." The webinar, aimed at "anyone working in the product performance testing of textiles and fabrics where temperature regulation is an important function," will be held at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Research roundup: PCM wallboard; cement mortars; electric load shifting; red-mud geopolymer composite; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

Phase Change Material Wallboard (PCMW) melting temperature optimisation for passive indoor temperature control

From Cement and Concrete Research:

Multiphysics analysis of effects of encapsulated phase change materials (PCMs) in cement mortars

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Preparation and characterization of sodium sulfate pentahydrate/sodium pyrophosphate composite phase change energy storage materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Performance of heat pump integrated phase change material thermal storage for electric load shifting in building demand side management
Indoor thermal comfort assessment using PCM based storage system integrated with ceiling fan ventilation: Experimental design and response surface approach

From International Journal of Photoenergy:

Experimental Study on the Performance of a Phase Change Slurry-Based Heat Pipe Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal Cogeneration System

From Solar Energy:

Effects of sodium nitrate concentration on thermophysical properties of solar salts and on the thermal energy storage cost
Red-mud geopolymer composite encapsulated phase change material for thermal comfort in built-sector [pdf]

From Energies:

A Novel Encapsulation Method for Phase Change Materials with a AgBr Shell as a Thermal Energy Storage Material

From Advanced Composites and Hybrid Materials:

Latent heat and thermal conductivity enhancements in polyethylene glycol/polyethylene glycol-grafted graphene oxide composites

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Preparation and performance of form-stable TBAB hydrate/SiO2 composite PCM for cold energy storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Delignified wood/capric acid-palmitic acid mixture stable-form phase change material for thermal storage
Molten salt corrosion mechanisms of nitrate based thermal energy storage materials for concentrated solar power plants: A review

From Buildings:

Thermal Performance of Hollow-Core Slab Ventilation System with Macro-Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials in Supply Air Duct

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Heat transfer performance of the finned nano-enhanced phase change material system under the inclination influence

From Journal of the Electrochemical Society:

Effect of High Temperature Circumstance on Lithium-Ion Battery and the Application of Phase Change Material

From Energy:

High-temperature PCM-based thermal energy storage for industrial furnaces installed in energy-intensive industries

PCM mats helped lift Virginia Tech to first place in Solar Decathlon

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

FutureHAUS, front elevation

The Virginia Tech team that won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East credits a good share of its success to the deft use of phase change material donated by Insolcorp LLC of New London, N.C.

FutureHAUS, the lone U.S. entry, topped 13 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants in the competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. Australia's University of Wollongong finished second. The finals took place in November in the desert heat of Dubai.

Insolcorp donated 400 square feet of two types of Infinite R PCM mats. Both are salt hydrates, one with a melt point of 21 degrees Celsius, the other a melt point of 22 degrees C. The phase change material acts as a thermal battery, absorbing and releasing thermal energy as it solidifies and melts.

The Virginia Tech team deployed the mats in the plenum of its 900-square-foot solar-powered house. The PCM allowed the team to take advantage of a rule that limited the use of solar energy to 8kw at any one time, with one exception: Unlimited use of solar energy for air conditioning was allowed during daily inspection periods to assure visitor comfort. The PCM mats, solidified during those periods, helped keep the house comfortable at other times. That helped the FutureHAUS achieve the highest score in net energy use, a key metric in the competition.

Joseph Wheeler, AIA"Every team struggled with the 8kw limit," said Joseph Wheeler, right, lead faculty on FutureHAUS and co-director of Virginia Tech's Center for Design Research. "Typically, during peak energy, you would be generating lots and lots of power, which you could easily charge your batteries with, which you could easily run all your tasks, and you could feed the grid, and build up quite a bit of surplus so that you would remain energy positive throughout the two weeks of competition.

"But, since they limited inverter use at any one time to 8kw, it really put a limit to what our energy budget was. We saw phase change as batteries. A massive ton of batteries. ... It's more of a strategy for a competition than it is for a realized situation. But in a realized situation, we know the value of the PCM. Heat energy, cost of power being cheaper at night than during the day where you can charge your systems and load shift. Practically, PCMs make a lot of sense. And we wanted to have the PCMs in this house for practical reasons, not just for competition reasons. ...

"In simple terms, we eased the demand for the HVAC every afternoon. It was the hottest time of the day and it was also the time when we were getting less power from the solar panels because the sun was moving down. It was a critical time because we knew that once the sun went down, we had to survive on battery. And we had a limit. They limited every house to 15kw of battery."

FutureHAUS, kitchenThe FutureHAUS team finished in the top three in eight of the competition's 10 categories: first place in Architecture, House Functioning and Sustainable Transportation; second place in Sustainability and Innovation; and third place in Engineering/Construction, Energy Efficiency and Comfort Conditions.

The FutureHAUS entry was a two-year university-wide effort. More than 100 Virginia Tech students helped design and build the structure, with help from faculty members in architecture, urban studies, science, engineering and other departments.

The house consists of 18 modular  "cartridges" built inside a Virginia Tech research facility. It was first assembled on campus in Blacksburg, Va., last summer. After testing, it was disassembled, shipped to Dubai and then reassembled at the competition site in just two days. It has since been shipped back to Blacksburg, where it will undergo testing to measure its various energy-saving components.

"We now have a system in place where we can collect data and can truly test the performance," Wheeler said. "We know the PCM worked for us during the competition because we did have some temperature sensors in the ceiling. And so we were able to prove that we were reaching the pre-state when those PCMs were being charged. But we really want to collect a lot more data and look at it in real-world situations."

Research roundup: Self-luminous wood composite; palmitic acid/mullite composite; corrosion sensitivity of metal alloys; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

From Energy Storage Materials:

Self-luminous wood composite for both thermal and light energy storage

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

The thermal performances of a refrigerator incorporating a Phase Change Material

From Renewable Energy:

Enhanced thermal conductivity of palmitic acid/mullite phase change composite with graphite powder for thermal energy storage
An experimental study on the corrosion sensitivity of metal alloys for usage in PCM thermal energy storages

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Sorption thermal energy storage: Hybrid coating/granules adsorber design and hybrid TCM/PCM operation
Novel hybrid microencapsulated phase change materials incorporated wallboard for year-long year energy storage in buildings

From Thermochimica Acta:

Experimental Investigation on Thermal Properties of Sodium Acetate Trihydrate based Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage
The preparation of AgI/Au/foam-Cu as a framework of composite for water-based cool storage phase-change material with low supercooling

From Energy and Buildings:

Nano-encapsulation of phase change materials: from design to thermal performance, simulations and toxicological assessment
Investigation of phase change materials integrated with fin-tube baseboard convector for space heating

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Nano-enhancement of phase change material in a shell and multi-PCM-tube heat exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of phase change material thermal storage for space cooling

From Journal of Materials Chemistry A:

Vertically aligned carbon fibers as supporting scaffolds for phase change composites with anisotropic thermal-conductivity and good shape-stability

Research roundup: Thermal conductivity; decarbonization potential of compact heat storage; liquid desiccant cooling systems; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 06, 2019

From Energy:

Effects of thermal conductivity and density on phase change materials-based thermal energy storage systems

From Renewable Energy:

Melting process investigation of phase change materials in a shell and tube heat exchanger enhanced with heat pipe

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Compact latent heat storage decarbonisation potential for domestic hot water and space heating applications in the UK
Numerical and experimental study of phase-change temperature controller containing graded cellular material fabricated by additive manufacturing
A novel composite phase change material with paraffin wax in tailings porous ceramics
Characterisation and evaluation of a new phase change enhanced working solution for liquid desiccant cooling systems
Thermal properties enhancement and application of a novel sodium acetate trihydrate-formamide/expanded graphite shape-stabilized composite phase change material for electric radiant floor heating

From Environmental Research:

Latent heat storage biocomposites of phase change material-biochar as feasible eco-friendly building materials

From Colloids and Surfaces A:

A facile microencapsulation of phase change materials within silicone-based shells by using glass capillary devices

From Microporous and Mesoporous Materials:

Phase change in modified metal organic frameworks MIL-101(Cr): Mechanism on highly improved energy storage performance

From Applied Energy:

Role of porous metal foam on the heat transfer enhancement for a thermal energy storage tube
Energy saving performance assessment and lessons learned from the operation of an active phase change materials system in a multi-storey building in Melbourne

From Building and Environment:

Comparative analysis of the PCM application according to the building type as retrofit system

From Construction and Building Materials:

Evaluation of the potential use of form-stable phase change materials to improve the freeze-thaw resistance of concrete

From Results in Physics:

Application Research of Nano-storage Materials in Cold Chain Logistics of E-commerce Fresh Agricultural Products

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Using PCM as energy storage material in water tanks: Theoretical and experimental investigation

PCM briefing: Cash infusion for PCES; call for e-textile conference papers

Ben Welter - Monday, January 28, 2019

Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc. of Asheboro, N.C., last week announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. Dennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus, joined PCES last month as chief executive officer. The company says it will use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. 

Mark RichardsMark Richards, right, CEO at Emery Mechanical Engineering in San Diego, is featured in a recent episode of the HVAC 360 podcast. Richards, former applications engineering manager at Phase Change Energy Solutions, talks about "Phase Change Materials in Practice." 

1414 Degrees of Australia reports that the first commercial pilot of its molten silicon energy storage system is one step closer to commissioning. The GAS-TESS will store energy to generate electricity from biogases produced at a wastewater treatment plant. 

• In collaboration with Canada's Université Laval, researchers at the University of the Basque Country in Spain conclude that "fake ISO 9001 quality certificates are very widespread across Chinese companies and that the certification processes of the auditing companies lack credibility." 

• The Association Connecting Electronics Industries has issued a call for technical conference abstracts and educational course proposals for IPC E-TEXTILES 2019 to be held Sept. 11 in Philadelphia, Pa. Topics include reliability, test methods, design, washability and materials innovation. Abstracts and proposals are due by April 10. 

Research roundup: Micro environmental control system; alkali nitrate salts; sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 22, 2019

From Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering :

Phase Change Material Freezing in an Energy Storage Module for a Micro Environmental Control System
Phase Change Material Melting in an Energy Storage Module for a Micro Environmental Control System

From Renewable Energy:

Form-stable oxalic acid dihydrate/glycolic acid-based composite PCMs for thermal energy storage
Molecular simulation of the structure and physical properties of alkali nitrate salts for thermal energy storage

From Applied Energy:

Effect of inclination on the thermal response of composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Characterization and thermal performance of microencapsulated sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate as phase change material for thermal energy storage
Fabrication and applications of dual-responsive microencapsulated phase change material with enhanced solar energy-storage and solar photocatalytic effectiveness

From Energy:

Numerical investigations of optimal phase change material incorporated into ventilated walls

From Polymer Degradation and Stability:

EG-based coatings for flame retardance of shape stabilized phase change materials

From Construction and Building Materials:

Freeze-thaw performance of phase change material (PCM) incorporated pavement subgrade soil

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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.”

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

PCM briefing: Virginia Tech takes first place in Solar Decathlon; Pluss is expanding R&D team

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS team has won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The lone American team topped 14 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants. The team said its use of phase change material in the solar-powered home set it apart from the competition. Look for an interview with Joseph Wheeler, an architecture professor who directs Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS research program, in the next issue of Phase Change Matters.

• Via LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is hashtag#Expanding its hashtag#Research team for hashtag#PCM Business. Chemistry Graduates with 0-2 years of experience preferred. However, others will be considered too. Usual job descriptions apply! Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at jobs@pluss.co.in. Hurry! The vacancies are limited."

• U.S. and German researchers who have studied a PCM alloy made from germanium, antimony and tellurium say liquid water and liquid PCMs may have the same underlying physics. "The experiments reveal that the so-called Stokes-Einstein relation, which connects the viscosity of a liquid to the diffusion coefficient of its molecules, appears to break down above the melting point of the material and at very low viscosities – just as in water," Physics World reports. "The result will be important when making phase-change memories from GeSbTe alloys and related PCMs in the future."

CleanTechnica's Tina Casey takes a deep dive into the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to develop next-generation, long-duration energy storage systems. Her conclusion: "The new R&D program practically guarantees that the hurt will continue for coal miners, their families and their communities long after Trump leaves office."  

kW Engineering of Oakland, Calif., offers tips on how to use a famously complex energy modeling program: "Best Practices for Successful Building Energy Modeling with EnergyPlus."