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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: Funding for AMP Clean Energy project; 1414 Degrees to test 'SmartFarm" applications

Ben Welter - Monday, August 19, 2019

Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership has awarded funding to a joint effort by AMP Clean Energy and the University of Birmingham to develop a thermal energy storage system. The system will incorporate phase change material developed by the university for use in AMP’s Urban Reserve flexible electricity generation plants, which will turn waste heat into electricity. The amount of funding was not disclosed.

• Geocryologist Christopher Stevens of SRK North America will give a PCM-related presentation at this week's International  Conference on Cold Regions Engineering in Quebec City: "Phase Change Materials – Innovation in Adaptation Technology to Address Permafrost Thaw" (Aug. 21).

• Australian start-up 1414 Degrees has announced a joint project with Nectar Farms to test “SmartFarm” applications of 1414's technology, which stores electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon. 

Patent application: Eco smart panels for energy savings

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 15, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190249904 (applicant SIDCO Homes Inc., San Jose, Calif.):

"An eco-smart panel is described comprising a a solar thermal panel, a phase change material, a metal foil layer, and a structural frame constructed of materials including wood studs, gypsum, or fiberglass-reinforced concrete. The materials may be variously configured to create modular systems for fabricating buildings or structures. Eco-smart panels may be utilized to create buildings or structure with enhanced energy efficiency, increased fire resistance, increased flood resistance, and decreased construction cost and time."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190249904.pdf

Research roundup: Analysis of hysteresis method in EnergyPlus; pinecone biochar; passive cooling; thermal responses of concrete slabs; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 15, 2019

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Application and sensitivity analysis of the phase change material hysteresis method in EnergyPlus: A case study

From Scientific Reports:

A promising form-stable phase change material prepared using cost effective pinecone biochar as the matrix of palmitic acid for thermal energy storage

From Applied Energy:

Geometry-induced thermal storage enhancement of shape-stabilized phase change materials based on oriented carbon nanotubes
Passive cooling through phase change materials in buildings. A critical study of implementation alternatives

From Cement and Concrete Composites:

Thermal responses of concrete slabs containing microencapsulated low-transition temperature phase change materials exposed to realistic climate conditions

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Preparation and thermal properties of low melting point alloy/expanded graphite composite phase change materials used in solar water storage system
Frost and high-temperature resistance performance of a novel dual-phase change material flat plate solar collector

From Energy:

Novel micro-encapsulated phase change materials with low melting point slurry: Characterization and cementing application

From IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering:

Thermal performances and characterization of microencapsulated phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Journal of Physics: Conference Series:

Effect of thermal performance on melting and solidification of lauric acid PCM in cylindrical thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:A sodium acetate trihydrate-formamide/expanded perlite composite with high latent heat and suitable phase change temperatures for use in building roof

From Materials Research Express:

Investigation of magnesium nitrate hexahydrate based phase change materials containing nanoparticles for thermal energy storage

From Journal of the Brazilian Society of Mechanical Sciences and Engineering:

Selection of phase change material for solar thermal storage application: a comparative study

From Renewable Energy:

Experimental study on the thermal performance of a grey water heat harnessing exchanger using phase change materials

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Climate applicability study of building envelopes containing phase change materials

New dorm at Massachusetts college features 18,000+ square feet of PCM mats

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 15, 2019

Garfield passive house elements

A new dormitory at Williams College in Massachusetts is equipped with 18,200 square feet of mats filled with phase change material.

Garfield House, completed in time for the first students to move in this month, is designed to achieve Passive House PHIUS+ certification and LEED Gold certification. It features R-38 walls, R-60 roofs, triple-pane windows, high-efficiency energy recovery ventilation units, drainwater heat recovery and a 50 kw photovoltaic array.

The Infinite R PCM mats, made by Insolcorp LLC of New London, N.C., will help keep the passively cooled building comfortable when the weather is warm. The PCM is a salt hydrate with a peak melting point of 73 degrees F and a thermal storage capacity of about 170 joules per gram. The mats are deployed within Garfield's interior walls and above ceilings.

Jacob Higginbottom Jacob Higginbottom, director of higher education design at SGA in Boston, was project manager. He first learned about the potential use of phase change material in building envelopes and interiors in March 2018.

"A member of our team had run across the Infinite R product at a trade show and our client was looking for ways to introduce passive cooling techniques since it’s their campus standard to build residence halls without active cooling," said Higginbottom, right. "Upon research we convinced the client that this could help and they decided to give it a try."

Garfield House has no active cooling system. Did that present any special challenges?

"The fact that Garfield did not have cooling wasn’t necessarily a challenge for the PCM, but perhaps was more of an opportunity for the project itself," said Mick Dunn, Insolcorp president. "The project wasn’t without a cooling source altogether. The design team implemented well-designed ERV/ventilation to leverage cool overnight temperatures. As part of the Passive House design process, some issues were identified with cooling and being able to maintain comfort without the introduction of A/C. So we worked with them to analyze a suitable amount of PCM to help address that cooling issue and help negate the need for investment in mechanical cooling other than ventilation.

"We’ve had numerous applications where the PCM has been used with no active cooling. Most of these have been very large industrial applications where the PCM has been used to control peak plant temperatures in buildings with very high internal heat loads. The results have been very good, and we’ve seen reductions as much as 10 to 15F compared with baseline temps. Sometimes we’ll be using a higher temp PCM to promote natural re-freezing. In more conventional occupied office/housing applications we’d typically still be looking for some kind of mechanical cooling mechanism such as ventilation if air conditioning is not present. And we’d probably be more likely to consider this as a viable strategy in climates such as California or New England than say Florida where humidity and overnight temperatures are very high."

The engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti of New York conducted whole building energy modeling in WUFI Passive, the program required by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). The models project cooling demand of 0.74 kBtu per square foot per year and a cooling load of 1.64 Btu per hour per square foot. A PCM thermal simulation model projects a peak cooling reduction of 10 degrees F.

Will the building's actual performance be measured against these metrics in the first year of occupancy?

Elsa Mullin, senior sustainability consultant at Thornton Tomasetti, says PHIUS "does not require post-occupancy measurement and verification after initial occupancy."

Higginbottom said LEED certification for the design portion is completed. All construction requirements have been submitted and he expects a LEED Gold certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council by the end of the month.

He said the use of PCM won't be a factor in the certification process.

"A building like this can easily achieve LEED Gold without the use of this material," he said. "PCM was introduced to address thermal comfort. Active cooling does not dramatically affect the building energy consumption in a use type like this (most loads come from domestic HW and plug loads and ventilation fans which are still required irrespective of cooling design)."

It's the first time Higginbottom has used PCM in a project. He hopes to use it in future projects.

"The interesting part about this product is the ability to fine-tune a building towards net zero or net positive and also to flatten out the demand for cooling and possibly downsize equipment in the future and save money on operating and up front costs," he said. "We would like to have more research to back that up, but it’s a speculation on our part that this would be a benefit to building owners’ first costs and life-cycle costs."

Research roundup: Thermally conductive HDPE; pentaerythritol; RT44HC; epoxy resin composites; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 18, 2019

From Journal of Applied Polymer Science:

Thermally conductive high-density polyethylene as novel phase-change material: Application-relevant long-term stability
Reliable phase‐change polyurethane crosslinked by dynamic ionic‐bond crosslinking for thermal energy storage

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

A molecular dynamics study of the effects of crystalline structure transition on the thermal conductivity of pentaerythritol as a solid-solid phase change material
A comparative study of the effect of varying wall heat flux on melting characteristics of phase change material RT44HC in rectangular test cells
High thermal response rate and super low supercooling degree microencapsulated phase change materials (MEPCM) developed by optimizing shell with various nanoparticles

From Materials Research Express:

Evaluation of thermophysical properties of shaped inorganic hydrated salt-based phase change materials for wall energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Measurement and analysis of thermophysical parameters of the epoxy resin composites shape-stabilized phase change material
Thermal enhanced cement-lime mortars with phase change materials (PCM), lightweight aggregate and cellulose fibers

From Energy and Buildings:

Properties of concretes enhanced with phase change materials for building applications

From Hong Kong Polytechnic University:

Development of encapsulation methods for organic-based phase change materials in water

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Recent developments in the synthesis of microencapsulated and nanoencapsulated phase change materials

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Experimental and modeling study on thermal performance of hydrated salt latent heat thermal energy storage system

From Energies:

Thermal Response of Mortar Panels with Different Forms of Macro-Encapsulated Phase Change Materials: A Finite Element Study

From Renewable Energy:

Influence of the location of discrete macro-encapsulated thermal energy storage on the performance of a double pass solar plate collector system

From IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science:

Simulation and Analysis of Fuel Tank Heat Exchanger Based on Phase Change Material
Simulation Analysis of Thermal Storage Process of Phase Change Energy Storage Materials

From Nano-Structures & Nano-Objects:

Synthesis of organic phase change materials by using carbon nanotubes as filler material

From Processes:

Preparation and Performance Analysis of Graphite Additive/Paraffin Composite Phase Change Materials

From International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction:

Thermoregulating and Hydrating Microcapsules: Contributions of Textile Technology in the Design of Wearable Products for Wheelchair Dependents

From Materials Today:

Experimental study on hybrid natural circulation type solar air heater with paraffin wax based thermal storage

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Numerical and Experimental Investigation of Melting Characteristics of Phase Change Material-RT58

Research roundup: Spent coffee grounds; tropical tree fruit oils; natural rubber composites; more

Ben Welter - Friday, July 05, 2019

From Chemosphere:

Spent coffee grounds as supporting materials to produce bio-composite PCM with natural waxes

From Biotechnology Reports:

Novel phase change materials for thermal energy storage: evaluation of tropical tree fruit oils

From Construction and Building Materials:

Compressive strength and hygric properties of concretes incorporating microencapsulated phase change material
Thermal enhanced cement-lime mortars with phase change materials (PCM), lightweight aggregate and cellulose fibers

From Case Studies in Thermal Engineering:

Optimal fin parameters used for enhancing the melting and solidification of phase-change material in a heat exchanger unite

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Porous geopolymer as a possible template for a phase change material

From Journal of Physics: Conference Series:

Thermophysical Characteristics of VCO-Soybean Oil Mixture as Phase Change Material (PCM) using T-History Method

From Rubber Chemistry and Technology:

Phase-Change Material: Natural Rubber Composites for Heat Storage Applications

From Powder Technology:

An enthalpy based discrete thermal modelling framework for particulate systems with phase change materials

From Chemistry Select:

Carbon Soot/n–carboxylic Acids Composites As Form‐stable Phase Change Materials For Thermal Energy Storage

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental study of thermo-physical properties and application of paraffin-carbon nanotubes composite phase change materials
High thermal response rate and super low supercooling degree microencapsulated phase change materials (MEPCM) developed by optimizing shell with various nanoparticles

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Design optimization of the phase change material integrated solar receiver: A numerical parametric study

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Synthesis and characterization of ditetradecyl succinate and dioctadecyl succinate as novel phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Advanced Materials Interfaces:

Doubly Coated, Organic–Inorganic Paraffin Phase Change Materials: Zinc Oxide Coating of Hermetically Encapsulated Paraffins

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Heat transfer enhancement of charging and discharging of phase change materials and size optimization of a latent thermal energy storage system for solar cold storage application

Research roundup: Form-stable PCM; polyethylene glycol/quartz composites; fuzzy clustering; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

A N-octadecane/hierarchically Porous TiO2 Form-Stable PCM for Thermal Energy Storage

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Hybrid solar parabolic dish power plant and high‐temperature phase change material energy storage system

From Journal of Applied Polymer Science:

Thermal and dynamic mechanical properties of polyethylene glycol/quartz composites for phase change materials

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Using fuzzy clustering and weighted cumulative probability distribution techniques for optimal design of phase change material thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermoregulation effect analysis of microencapsulated phase change thermoregulation agent for asphalt pavement

From Applied Energy:

Residential cooling using separated and coupled precooling and thermal energy storage strategies

Patent application: Composite construction panels and applications thereof

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190161967 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, composite construction materials are described herein. In some embodiments, a composite construction panel comprises a substrate layer, a cover layer separated from the substrate layer by one or more spacers, and at least one mat disposed between the substrate layer and the cover layer, wherein the mat comprises at least one phase change material disposed in at least one phase change region."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190161967.pdf

PCM in stadium seating: For fans on the hot seat, it's a pretty cool idea

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

Dustin Schafer of Henderson EngineersDustin Schafer, senior vice president and director of engineering at Henderson Engineers of Lenexa, Kansas, first became familiar with phase change material when he read an ASHRAE article about conference room air conditioning.

The method struck him as a small-scale version of a stadium or arena. "From there," he says, "I began I began devising a plan for us to implement this into our large-scale venues we design." 

Schafer developed the idea of using PCM inside the hollow portions of seats and seating structures to keep open-air stadiums cooler on hot days. The concept underwent testing at Kansas State University and was awarded a U.S. patent, "Stadium Ambient Temperature Control System," in 2017. He is giving a presentation on the concept June 12 at an event sponsored by AIA Kansas City at the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City, Mo. In an email interview, he discussed the development process. 

Q: How long have you worked at your company?

A: "I joined Henderson in 2008 and have nearly 20 years of industry experience."

Q: Can you briefly describe the process of testing the concept?

A: "In looking to develop an innovative, cost effective, and energy efficient option, we began conducting research on the potential implementation of PCM on venue seats to increase the thermal mass in the space and extend the length of time occupants are comfortable. Essentially, the material could be frozen (the material we used has a freezing point of 70° F) prior to the event, then as the PCM reaches its melting point, it would absorb some of the heat brought on by the human and/or solar load, prolonging the time the space is comfortable for attendees.

Henderson patent application drawing"I led a team in conducting a variety of tests to determine the efficacy of this idea. We worked with Kansas State University and utilized their Institute for Environmental Research to complete our testing. We set up a lab that included actual stadium seats arranged in a layout consistent with typical venues. Each seat in the testing area had 10 pounds of PCM attached to the back and a dummy in the seat equipped with electric resistance heaters that produced an amount of heat equivalent to that of a human being. The layout also included suspended wires with thermocouples to create the temperature sensor array around the dummy occupant.

"We conducted two tests to evaluate the impact this technology could have, each with two test value temperatures, 90° F and 100° F. In both tests we took measurements in an environmental chamber that simulated different ambient conditions during an event and compared both a control chamber and a chamber with PCM attached to the chairs. The tests ran until the effect of PCM was no longer noticeable."

Q: Can you provide a summary of the test results?

A: "In our research, we determined that PCM could be an impactful option for open stadiums situated in mild climates where the night temperatures drop low enough to freeze the material. To have an even greater impact, application of PCM should be seriously considered in enclosed arenas. Because the HVAC system could be used to pre-charge the bowl and freeze the material, this application could be even more significant. Additionally, the cooling result could materially affect the peak load needs for the HVAC systems in these spaces, saving the owner on energy costs.

"We also identified areas where PCM would not make sense a part of the temperature control solution, such as in climates with high winds that would simply blow away the cooled air, areas where the temperature does not drop below 70° F and thus doesn’t allow the PCM to freeze, or areas where the temperature rises too far above the melting point prior to the event meaning the cooling effect is lost before it is needed. Finally, we’ve found it necessary to note that this process only impacts spaces that need to be cooled – it cannot be used in heating conditions.

"We determined that phase change material does have a significant and sustained impact on occupant comfort. While it is not the whole solution, it can be a meaningful portion of the overall answer."

Q: Can you provide information on the PCM used in testing?

A: "We used InsolCorp’s Infinite-R phase change material." 

Q: Is Henderson now working on any projects that include the use of PCMs in this manner?

A: "We are not working on any projects that include the use of PCM."

Q: What interests you most about the use of PCM in building and construction?

A: "It’s a sustainable solution that is relatively low cost. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s a small step that can have a nice impact. Professional sports teams focus heavily on the fan experience and this is a difference maker when it comes to their in-venue comfort."

PCM briefing: Building Skins conference agenda; tough words for CALMAC and Axiom Exergy

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

• The agenda is set for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will be the keynote speaker. Among the more than 150 speakers is Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, who will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by May 31 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Mike HopkinsIn a LinkedIn post, former Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shared his take on two of the California company's competitors in distributed thermal energy storage. "Look at @CALMAC, a Portfolio of Trane - been in our industry forever, good product, but haven't been able to secure utility deals because their large bespoke systems make it too risky to commit to MWs in a location on a schedule," wrote Hopkins, who is now CEO at Bakken Midstream. "Relative newcomer [Axiom Exergy] came to market with their #refrigeration #battery. Good concept but not plug and play. Not surprising, they seem to have recast themselves as a #cloud based power management company."

• Speaking of CALMAC: CEO Mark McCracken will speak on "some of the myths surrounding ice-based TES" at an ASHRAE technical seminar on thermal energy storage in building design in Hong Kong June 13. 

FedEx Express has launched a temperature-controlled shipping solution in Japan, Korea and Singapore. The company says its Medpak VIºC packaging, first introduced in Europe, provides 96-hour temperature stability. The reusable thermal packaging features vacuum insulated panels and phase change material validated to International Safe Transit Association 7D standards.

CIC energiGUNE, a research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a researcher in its thermal energy storage area. The research will focus on the storage of heat through reversible chemical reactions "in a range of temperature few explored so far (120 - 250 °C)." The application deadline is Sept. 11, 2019.   

Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Advances in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo. Her topic: "Measuring and Modeling the Thermal Performance of Products Equipped with Phase Change Materials." 

• Thermal energy storage startup NET Energy of Chicago is among 10 finalists for the University of Chicago’s 19th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge. Winners will be announced next week, with the top companies sharing $250,000 in cash, along with $250,000 worth of office space and professional services from program sponsors.