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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: Registration open for PCM 2018 in Quebec; MIT finds new way to mix oil, water

Ben Welter - Friday, November 10, 2017

• Registration is open for PCM 2018, the 12th IIR Conference on Phase Change Materials and Slurries for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. The conference will be held May 21-23, 2018, in Orford, Québec. Topics will include thermal energy storage; thermophysical and rheological properties of PCMs and slurries; and transport phenomena and time-dependent behavior of PCMs and slurries.

MIT researchers have developed a new way to mix oil and water and create an emulsion that remains stable for long periods — no shaking required.

• Registration is open for "Towards a Sustainable Solution to Melt Snow and Ice on Concrete Pavement: Use of Phase Change Materials, a presentation by Dr. Yaghoob Farnam, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. Farnam will discuss his research on the use of PCM-enhanced concrete to inhibit the buildup of snow and ice on pavement. The program will be held Nov. 30 in King of Prussia, Penn.

• "Innovative Thoughts" blogger Harvey Wade visited the 3M Customer Innovation Centre in Bracknell, U.K., last month to find out how the big company sustains its innovative edge. Lesson No. 1: 3M listens to its customers. "They don’t guess what the customer needs," Wade writes, "they invest their time to know their needs, discovering the big problems that they can try to solve." 

BMW PCM Ride jacketBMW's 2018 Motorrad collection includes the latest version of the PCM Ride jacket, featuring microencapsulated phase change material that "adapts permanently and smartly to the current temperature."

Peli BioThermal has opened a service center in Brussels, Belgium, to handle its Credo line of reusable temperature-controlled packaging. 

Ember Technologies' newest temperature-control product, a $79 ceramic mug with an active heating system, contains no phase change material. The company's first product, a PCM-lined travel tumbler, sells for $150.

Grace Hsia, founder and CEO of Warmilu, a Michigan startup that makes an infant warming blanket, talks about the stresses and rewards of building a company from scratch. "I find my body will sometimes crash," Hsia told Crain's Detroit Business, explaining how 90-hour workweeks have led to bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis. "I've been trying to get more sleep, which is tough."

The preliminary program has been released for the fifth Building Enclosure Science & Technology conference, known as BEST5. It will take place April 15-18 in Philadelphia. 

• The American Chemical Society has won its lawsuit against Sci-Hub, a widely used pirate site for scientific papers that was established in 2011 by former neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan.

• New from Intellectual Research Partners: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems Market By Technology (Molten salt, Phase change materials, Water based, Electric thermal and Solar) End User Application (Air Conditioning, Cold Storage, Power Storage, Process Cooling) Region (North America, Europe, APAC) Forecast To 2023"

PCM mats will be put to the test in 'tiny house' at Colorado School of Mines

Ben Welter - Friday, November 10, 2017

The effectiveness of bio-based phase change material is being tested in a 200-square-foot “tiny house” under construction at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.

Katie Schneider, Colorado School of MinesKatie Schneider, a junior majoring in engineering physics, is chairing the two-year student project, which is scheduled for completion in May 2018.

Though its interior is incomplete, the Mines Tiny House was exhibited at last month’s team Solar Decathlon in Denver. Schneider said the project attracted interest from representatives of the energy and sustainability industry, as well as from other schools that might want to partner with the School of Mines for the next Solar Decathlon in 2020.

“It was a great experience for us to interact with others interested in what we're doing,” Schneider said, “and we got plenty of good ideas from the competitors as well.” 

Entries in the Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, are judged on energy efficiency, design, affordability and consumer appeal.

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas, one of 11 teams in this year’s decathlon, used a PCM product in the ceiling of its entry, a 990-square-foot home that won first place in the innovation category. Ecole Polytechnique of Lausanne, Switzerland, was the overall winner.

The School of Mines team is installing ENRG Blankets donated by Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C. The multi-layer polymer mats, shown above, contain plant-based PCM with a melt-freeze transition temperature of 23º C (73º F). The mats are designed to absorb, store and release energy to help keep living spaces at comfortable temperatures and reduce energy costs.

"We plan to put the PCMs in the ceiling first, between the insulation and our ceiling paneling," Schneider said. "We want to take temperature measurements with and without the PCMs to really test their effectiveness. Then we will possibly put them in the walls, especially near the wheel wells of the trailer because that is a vulnerable point of heat loss for the tiny house."

http://minestinyhouse.weebly.com

Research roundup: Biocatalysts combined to make new PCMs; tankless solar heating system; dual PCM gypsum board; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 02, 2017

Combining biocatalysts to achieve new phase change materials. Application to non-edible animal fat [Molecular Catalysis]

Performance evaluation of dual phase change material gypsum board for the reduction of temperature swings in a building prototype in composite climate [Energy and Buildings]

Study on a tankless solar heating system using phase-change material plaster [Building and Environment]

Performance Enhancement of a Building-Integrated Photovoltaic Module Using Phase Change Material [Energy]

Low cracking ratio of paraffin microcapsules shelled by hydroxyl terminated polydimethylsiloxane modified melamine-formaldehyde resin [Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects]

Numerical and experimental research of cold storage for a novel expanded perlite-based shape-stabilized phase change material wallboard used in building [Energy Conversion and Management]

Comparative study in the identification of liquid to solid transition phase with DSC, Raman spectra analysis and chemiometrics methods applied to phase change materials used for icing-delay in civil engineering infrastructures [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thickness Determination of a Three-layer Wall with Phase Change Materials in a Chinese Solar Greenhouse [Procedia Engineering]

Experimental Study on Thermal Performance Improvement of Building Envelopes Integrated with Phase Change Materials in an Air-conditioned Room [Procedia Engineering]

Phase Change Humidity Control Material and its Application in Buildings [Procedia Engineering]

RAL Quality Association PCM welcomes Microtek, bids farewell to BASF

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 26, 2017

The RAL Quality Association PCM, meeting in Germany last week, welcomed its newest member, Microtek Labs, and said goodbye to one of its founding members, BASF. 

Microtek CEO Tim Riazzi introduced his company with a brief overview of its history, research efforts and products. He said Microtek may seek RAL certification for its phase change materials, including the new Nextek line of microencapsulated PCMs. Microtek, which purchased BASF's Micronal line of microencapsulated phase change material earlier this year, will officially assume BASF's RAL membership on Jan. 1, 2018.

Samit Jain, managing director of Pluss Advanced Technologies, was also attending his first RAL meeting. Jain, right, presented an overview of Pluss R&D efforts and its PCM product line, which is focused on addressing four challenges: vaccine waste, food spoilage, neonatal deaths and energy inefficiency in buildings. 

Other member organizations attending the meeting in Dusseldorf were Croda, va-Q-tec AG, Rubitherm, ZAE Bayern, Fraunhofer ISE, Sasol Germany GmbH, Sunamp Ltd., EMCO, PCM Technology and Entropy Solutions. Discussion topics included RAL-GZ 896 quality and testing specifications; registration of the new RAL quality mark; efforts to integrate PCM in the German Energy Saving Ordinance; ISSO publication 111 PCM in Netherlands; and the new Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

As the meeting drew to a close, Prof. Bernd Boiting, chairman of the quality association, thanked BASF's Marco Schmidt for his contributions. As Micronal's head of business management at BASF, Schmidt played a key role in many RAL initiatives, including the development of a Google map that will showcase PCM building projects around the world.

RAL's next meeting is scheduled for March 1, 2018, in Dusseldorf. 

Research roundup: Carbon-based nanoenhanced PCM; copper-powder-sintered frame/paraffin form stable PCM; thermoelectric harvester; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Experimental set-up for testing active and passive systems for energy savings in buildings – Lessons learnt
Review on thermal conductivity enhancement, thermal properties and applications of phase change materials in thermal energy storage

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Preparation and thermal performance of methyl palmitate and lauric acid eutectic mixture as phase change material (PCM)

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

A novel heat transfer model of a phase change material using in solar power plant

From Energy Procedia:

Experimental investigation of flow rate impact on thermal accumulation system with PCM

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Experimental and numerical investigation on the performance of carbon-based nanoenhanced phase change materials for thermal management applications

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Thermal management of lithium ion batteries using graphene coated nickel foam saturated with phase change materials 

From Applied Energy:

Preparation of novel copper-powder-sintered frame/paraffin form-stable phase change materials with extremely high thermal conductivity
Experimental investigations of charging/melting cycles of paraffin in a novel shell and tube with longitudinal fins based heat storage design solution for domestic and industrial applications
A novel thermoelectric harvester based on high-performance phase change material for space application

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental Investigation of Phase Change Materials for Insulation of Residential Buildings
A comparison of battery and phase change coolth storage in a PV cooling system under different climates

New version of EnergyPlus features updated PCM module

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The latest version of EnergyPlus modeling software includes an updated module for measuring the impact of phase change material on energy use in buildings.
 
Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, EnergyPlus is an energy simulation program that can be used to calculate heating and cooling load in a building, based on detailed information about the building’s physical make-up and mechanical systems.
 
With the support of a $100,000 grant from the Department of Energy, Jeremiah Crossett, chief technology officer of NRGsim Inc., worked with Dr. Edwin Lee of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to incorporate the updated PCM module into EnergyPlus.
 
The PCM module was originally developed more than five years ago by Ramprasad Chandrasekharan, then a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Oklahoma State University. Crossett assumed responsibility for the module soon after, debugging the FORTRAN code and modifying the logic to include the effects of subcooling and hysteresis. He began using the module in a customized version of EnergyPlus on all PCM modeling projects he worked on. The module, however, was not compatible with public versions of EnergyPlus, which was converted to the C++ programming language in 2014.
 
Jeremiah CrossettCrossett, right, sought the DOE grant to fund the conversion of the PCM module to C++ so that it could be incorporated into EnergyPlus. The module features two major improvements to the original PCM module.
 
“The new model includes the effects of hysteresis,” Crossett said. “The input object is called Material Property Phase Change Hysteresis and includes two [temperature/enthalpy] curves. Instead of going up and down in the slope of a single curve, the model either stores the energy in the storage range and then releases it when the model hits the heating curve. Or the model hits the heating curve immediately, depending on the properties of the actual phase change material. This model takes into account the histories of building surface temperatures, on into the current. It does a better job of accounting for the phase change material’s performance over time.
 
“In the previous version, what would happen is any time temperatures would fall and then rise again, and rise and then fall again, any time temperatures were not fully linear, [the module] would show additional energy consumption. Essentially, you had this single curve and as it would get cooler it would drop the heat back into the space. So say your material’s melting at 74, 75 Fahrenheit, and you’re saving on cooling energy, and then it drops down to 73, and now it drops all the heat right back into the space. So now you’ve got more energy you’ve got to deal with in your cooling system. That’s not how it actually works in the real world. …
 
“That caused a whole lot of studies, done by many, many different people over the years, to be wrong. It essentially gave a false indication that phase change materials don’t work nearly as well as they really do. …
 
“[The new module also] models subcooling and supercooling. Each PCM has a theoretical melt and freeze point. That’s normally how these products are rated. Some companies call it a Q-value. Other companies just say it as a number, such as a phase change 23 or a phase change 29 in degrees Celsius. But in the real world, how these products actually perform is that there’s some amount of subcooling: the freezing point is not identical to the melting point. You can have supercooling as well, where once your material is frozen, you have to reach a point above the theoretical melting point in order to melt it. This model allows the thermal simulation to have different melting and freezing points. ...         

"Now that EnergyPlus can accurately model PCM's performance in real buildings," Crossett said, "it is well-suited for evaluation of PCM technologies for energy codes such as California's Title 24 and green building standards such as ASHRAE 189.1."

Here's a screen grab of a portion of the new EnergyPlus PCM module:

Crossett and Lee completed work on the module in August. Version 8.8.0, released on Sept. 30, is available for free at https://energyplus.net/downloads. They plan to publish a paper on their work later this year.

Over the next six months NRGsim plans to work with PCM manufacturers to add their products to a database for the EnergyPlus program, based on the ASTM C1784-14 protocol, "Standard Test Method for Using a Heat Flow Meter Apparatus for Measuring Thermal Storage Properties of Phase Change Materials and Products."

Research roundup: Graphene oxide; PV/PCM integration in glazed building; porous plaster board; more

Ben Welter - Friday, September 29, 2017

Microencapsulated phase change material modified by graphene oxide with different degrees of oxidation for solar energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

PV-PCM integration in glazed building. Co-simulation and genetic optimization study [Building and Environment]

Performance study on different location of double layers SSPCM wallboard in office building [Energy and Buildings]

Facile Preparation of Porous Plaster Board Containing Phase Change Capsules Using Gel Template [Energy and Buildings]

Preparation and properties of capric-stearic acid/White Carbon Black composite for thermal storage in building envelope [Energy and Buildings]

Development of a hybrid solar thermal system with TEG and PEM electrolyzer for hydrogen and power production [International Journal of Hydrogen Energy]

Research roundup: Silk hydrogel as packaging material; interfacial polymerization; ecodesign of cladding system with PCM; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Silk hydrogel illustration

Temperature buffering capacity of silk hydrogel: A useful packaging material [Materials Letters]

Preparation and Characterization of Cross-linked Polyurethane Shell Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials by Interfacial Polymerization [Materials Letters]

Environmental and spatial assessment for the ecodesign of a cladding system with embedded Phase Change Materials [Energy and Buildings]

Novel shapeable phase change material (PCM) composites for thermal energy storage (TES) applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Novel approaches and recent developments on potential applications of phase change materials in solar energy [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Study of thermal conductive enhancement mechanism and selection criteria of carbon-additive for composite phase change materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Natural aging of shape stabilized phase change materials based on paraffin wax [Polymer Testing]

Multiphase transport phenomena in composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [13th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics]

Numerical investigation of cylindrical and spherical encapsulated thermal energy storage system with phase change materials [Transylvania Review]

Temperature Dependence of the Enthalpy of Alkanes and Related Phase Change Materials [Enthalpy and Internal Energy: Liquids, Solutions and Vapours]

Heat transfer enhancement of phase change materials by fins under simultaneous charging and discharging [Energy Conversion and Management]

Research roundup: Rubber sealing materials; pork fat as novel PCM; thermal inertia of buildings; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Feasibility of Using Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials as Filler for Improving Low Temperature Performance of Rubber Sealing Materials [Soft Matter]

Evaluation of the nanofluid and nano-PCM based photovoltaic thermal (PVT) system: An experimental study [Energy Conversion and Management]

Investigation of pork fat as potential novel phase change material for passive cooling applications in photovoltaics [Journal of Cleaner Production]

Superwetting polypropylene aerogel supported form-stable phase change materials with extremely high organics loading and enhanced thermal conductivity [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Polyethylene glycol-enwrapped silicon carbide nanowires network/expanded vermiculite composite phase change materials: Form-stabilization, thermal energy storage behavior and thermal conductivity enhancement [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Solar desalination using solar still enhanced by external solar collector and PCM [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Using Thermal Inertia of Buildings with Phase Change Material for Demand Response [Energy Procedia]

Preparation of microencapsulated phase change materials (MEPCM) for thermal energy storage [Energy Procedia]

Study of thermal conductive enhancement mechanism and selection criteria of carbon-additive for composite phase change materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Research roundup: PCM wallboard; composite Trombe solar wall; indoor thermal comfort; more

Ben Welter - Friday, September 15, 2017

Energetic performance of two different PCM wallboards and their regeneration behavior in office rooms [Energy Procedia]

Correlation between energy efficiency in buildings and comfort of the users [Energy Procedia]

Numerical study of a composite Trombe solar wall integrating microencapsulated PCM [Energy Procedia]

Design of High Temperature Thermal Energy Storage for High Power Levels [Sustainable Cities and Society]

Numerical analysis of heat transfer processes in a low-cost, high-performance ice storage device for residential applications [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Solid-liquid phase change investigation through a double pipe heat exchanger dealing with time-dependent boundary conditions [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Evaluation of energy efficient hybrid hollow plaster panel using phase change material/xGnP composites [Applied Energy]

Indoor thermal comfort assessment using different constructive solutions incorporating PCM [Applied Energy]

The experimental phase diagram study of the binary polyols system erythritol-xylitol [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Multifunctional poly (melamine-urea-formaldehyde)/graphene microcapsules with low infrared emissivity and high thermal conductivity [Materials Science and Engineering: B]