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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 heat-recycling system keeps tugboats ready for action

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

ZP Bison

Tugboats are the tireless workhorses of the world’s rivers and harbors. These powerful watercraft must remain on standby for long periods, ready to assist other vessels at a moment’s notice. The energy required to keep the engines warm and the cabin comfortable in cold climates is usually derived from electrical shore power. That’s expensive and inefficient.

Kotug International BV has developed an on-board system that captures heat produced by the engines and stores it in a tank that contains phase change material. The Dutch company installed the heat recycling system on one of its tugboats, the ZP Bison, in 2016. The result: Shore power consumption has been cut in half on the Hamburg-based tugboat.

Koos Smoor, manager for fleet performance and innovation at Kotug, oversaw development of the system, which won the Maritime Innovation Award 2017 in November.

“The use of PCM technology is new in the maritime industry and has great potential not only for tugboats, but for every type of vessel, as it can be tailored to different spaces and user profiles,” Smoor said. “Kotug is looking into more applications for temperature control purposes.”

Smoor answered a few PCM-related questions by e-mail:

Q: When did Kotug begin developing the heat recycling system?

A: “Two years ago we tested heat storage on our hybrid tugs to reduce the ‘hotel load’ during standby. The hotel load is the generator load in kilowatts when the tug is not working. It is mainly heating or cooling and pre-heating of the main engines.”

Q: What type of PCM is used in the system (salt hydrate, paraffin, biobased)?

A: “We are still testing multiple PCM materials.”

Q: What is the PCM's peak melting point?

A: “85 degrees is the 'coolwater' temperature of the engines. The coolwater of the main propulsion engines is used to heat up the PCM buffer. We also did test to use heat from the exhaust gasses to heat up the PCM buffer. However that is more complicated, and we stopped with that.”

Q: What is the PCM's heat capacity?

A: “The heat capacity is 73 Kwhr/m3.”

PCM tank in ZP Bison engine roomQ: How is the PCM tank configured, what are its dimensions, how much PCM is used? 

A: “The PCM tank [shown at right] is approximately 2 cubic meters. The PCM is warmed up by the coolwater of the engines. We like to keep the heat exchanger in the buffer for ourselves as we are working on a patent.”

Q: Who is the PCM manufacturer?

A: “The PCM material is manufactured in China.”

Q: How many tugboats are in Kotug's fleet?

A: “Worldwide Kotug and its joint ventures consist of approximately 120 tugboats.”

Q: Are there plans to install the heat recycling system in other Kotug vessels?

A: “Yes, we are looking into more installations on more tugboats. The installation can be done during the five-year maintenance period cycle of the tugboat. Note: Many tugs operate in the tropics where there is no need to preheat the engines. On these tugs there is no application for PCM materials.”

Q: Are there plans to license the technology for use by other towage operators?

A: “We are still looking into this.”

Research roundup: Cold chain insulated container; convective heat transfer; new form-stable composite; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Improving Performance of Cold-Chain Insulated Container with Phase Change Material: An Experimental Investigation [Applied Sciences]

Energy Storage in a Complex Heat Storage Unit Using Commercial Grade Phase Change Materials: Effect of Convective Heat Transfer Boundary Conditions [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Porosity and density measurements of sodium acetate trihydrate for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Melting and solidification behaviour of phase change materials with cyclic heating and cooling [Journal of Energy Storage]

Thermal performance enhancement of composite phase change materials (PCM) using graphene and carbon nanotubes as additives for the potential application in lithium-ion power battery [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

A novel form-stable phase change composite with excellent thermal and electrical conductivities [Chemical Engineering Journal]

Influence of PCM design parameters on thermal and optical performance of multi-layer glazed roof [Applied Energy]

A Novel Phase Change Based Cooling System for Prismatic Lithium Ion Batteries [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Facile method of fabricating microencapsulated phase change materials with compact bonding polymer–silica hybrid shell using TEOS/MPS [Thermochimica Acta]

PCM briefing: A call for papers on advanced building skins; a new factory for 1414 Degrees in Australia

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

• A call for papers has been issued for the International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 1-2, 2018, in Bern, Switzerland. Among the topics: "Thermal performance of phase change materials for the building skin," "Models, tools and simulations for sustainable buildings" and "Cost engineering and life cycle cost analysis." The deadline for proposals is Feb. 15, 2018.  

1414 Degrees of Australia has moved into a 3,000-square-meter factory on the site of the former Mitsubishi engine plant near Adelaide, where it will build its first 10MWh TESS-IND system and the first 13.3MWh test cell for a 200MWh TESS-GRID system. The company also plans to build two grid-scale silicon-based thermal energy storage systems in South Australia. 

ZAE-Bayern among more than 80 exhibitors scheduled to attend the 2018 Energy Storage Europe in Dusseldorf, Germany, March 13-15. 

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Smart Fabrics and Textiles Market Research Report 2017"

• The U.S. Department of Energy plans to request $99 million in fiscal year 2018 to support Energy Frontier Research Centers, which work to advance breakthroughs in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences and biosciences.

Glaciem Cooling Technologies of Australia won the "Applied Innovation" award at the inaugural Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards last month. Glaciem's ThermCOLD system uses a salt-based phase change material to store thermal energy, allowing refrigeration plants to run and store energy during off-peak periods, when electricity rates are lower, and then release energy during peak periods.   

Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders will retire in April, following a 30-year career with the packaging company. Chief Operating Officer Robert C. Tiede will replace Sanders as CEO.

• Singapore-based agribusiness giant Wilmar International has entered into an agreement to purchase Cargill's palm oil refinery and neighboring storage facility in Kuantan, Malaysia.

• The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is seeking to hire a research associate for a seasonal thermal energy storage project. Responsibilities will include numerical and experimental investigation of the storage system in combination with phase change materials.

Patent application: Thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 9828165 (applicant Sonoco Development Inc., Hartsville, S.C.):

"A thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper for a temperature sensitive payload is provided. The shipper comprises an outer shell, an inner shell and vacuum insulated panels sandwiched therebetween. The outer shell and the inner shell may be unitary rigid structures made of an expanded foam material and comprising a bottom having a perimeter and sides extending from the bottom perimeter and terminating in a rim. The inner shell rim may be spaced from the outer shell rim to define a gap, the gap being sealed to create an enclosed space within which the vacuum insulated panels are located. Each vacuum insulated panel may be oriented substantially orthogonally to at least one adjacent vacuum insulated panel and have an edge that abuts the adjacent vacuum insulated panels."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/9828165.pdf

PCM briefing: Active vs. passive shipping solutions; registration open for Energy Innovation Summit

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

• Registration is open for "Active vs. Passive Solutions: Which one is for me?" the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Ben Vanderplas, global product manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and David Bang, CEO of DHL LifeConEx, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Dec. 12.

Brooklyn Bedding's new Aurora mattress collection features TitanCool technology, "a phase change surface infusion" with "high conductivity properties."

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Thermal Management Technologies Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2027"

The UV-activated thermal energy storage material shows the rapid crystallization and heat discharge upon visible light (blue LED) illumination. (Grossman Group at MIT)MIT researchers have combined conventional phase change material with an organic compound that responds to a pulse of light. "The new system," MIT News reports, "uses molecular switches that change shape in response to light; when integrated into the PCM, the phase-change temperature of the hybrid material can be adjusted with light, allowing the thermal energy of the phase change to be maintained even well below the melting point of the original material." The system could be used in a thermal battery to store heat from the sun or any other source and release the heat when needed.

• Registration for the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is open. The event, to be held March 13-15 at the Gaylord Convention Center, outside Washington, D.C., showcases emerging energy technologies. No agenda yet.

• Researchers at the University of Maryland College Park have developed a method of fabricating fibers with boron nitride and polyvinyl alcohol using 3D print technologies which allows heat to be transferred away from the body.  Clothes made with the nanocomposite thread could help keep wearers cool in hot conditions.

Stanford University researchers have developed a reversible fabric that keeps skin a comfortable temperature whatever the weather. "On one side," Stanford News reports, "a copper coating traps heat between a polyethylene layer and the skin; on the other, a carbon coating releases heat under another layer of polyethylene." The fabric can either warm or cool the wearer, depending which side faces out.

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 briefing: Survey finds chemists think field is short on innovation; Lufthansa Cargo partners with va-Q-tec

Ben Welter - Monday, October 30, 2017

• A recent survey by Reaxys found that many chemists don’t think the field is innovative enough. Eighty percent said there is too much emphasis on research with industrial applications, which is stifling innovation. Reaxys is a chemistry research tool developed by Elsevier

Min Zhu, assistant professor of textile development and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will speak about the future of phase change materials at a textiles conference in New York City Nov. 8. 

Lufthansa Cargo has partnered with va-Q-tec AG to offer the temperature-controlled specialist's va-Q-tainer thermal containers across the German carrier’s global network.

• Scientists investigating how scavenging animals are adapting to the monoculture palm oil plantations in Borneo were surprised by what turned up in their traps. "In the jungles and border regions, the team found animals such as civets, otters, mongooses and pigs," Oils & Fats International magazine reports. "But the closer they got to the plantations where the land had been disturbed and human activity was frequent, the fewer species they found until only one stood out – the Southeast Asian water monitor." The big lizards are thriving, thanks to a plentiful supply of food and less competition from mammalian scavengers and predators. 

• Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a thermally conductive and strong textile from fibers of aligned boron nitride nanosheets embedded in a polymer matrix that can cool a person down by up to 2° C.  

Sunamp expands factory, warehouse space

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sunamp Ltd. is moving its phase change production unit into a 15,000-square-foot factory and warehouse space near the company's headquarters in East Lothian, Scotland. The new space is three times the size of Sunamp's current production space and will allow the company to bring in test rigs and a vehicle lift to meet the needs of its automotive division. Sunamp says the move will free up "much needed lab space at headquarters to expand our current chemical material and HVAC product R&D operations."

Other recent developments at Sunamp:

Sunamp EV• The company showcased its cooling system for refrigerated vans at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle event in Millbank, England, last month. The system, developed with bodybuilder Paneltex, route optimization software maker Route Monkey and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, integrates low-temperature PCMs in electric delivery vans for supermarket deliveries. It was among the winners in a proof of concept competition sponsored by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK.

• Along with other companies involved in the Smart Islands Energy Systems (SMILE) initiative, Sunamp is gearing up for the implementation phase of the Orkney pilot project, starting in November. Sunamp's heat batteries are among nine smart-grid technologies to be demonstrated in the four-year SMILE project, launched in May 2017 and funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

• Sunamp's PCM heat batteries were featured this week on the UK television show "Grand Designs."

http://mailchi.mp/sunamp/sunamp-news-update?e=53caf0f79a

Patent application: Refrigerated container

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170292759 (applicant XALT Energy, Midland, Mich.):

"A transport vehicle having a refrigerated container and system of refrigeration is provided. ... The reefer, system, and method according to the present invention is also related to a reefer, system, and method having a plurality of energy supply units each having a battery, an electric compressor along with a condenser and evaporator and/or a heat pump, a system of tubes carrying a refrigerant, a refrigerant, sensors and a controller, and potentially having an engine exhaust system generator and or a panel having a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170292759.pdf

Patent application: Breathable product for protective mass transportation and cold chain applications

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170266609 (applicant E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"The present invention concerns a breathable product for protective mass transportation and cold chain applications, in particular a reflective sheet for covering temperature sensitive products the reflective sheet having at least a first layer made of a highly reflective moisture vapor permeable substrate having an outer side and an inner side, wherein said inner side comprises in addition at least a metal layer deposited by a PVD process to provide a thermal insulation through high reflection low convection while providing controlled moisture vapor permeability. ... The honeycomb structural element provides some additional thermal insulation because the spaces inside are filled with air, but these spaces may also be filled with a phase change material such as a wax, which will absorb and liberate additional heat during melting and freezing when the temperature distribution within the layers is favorable and the presence of the phase change material is not detrimental to the protected goods."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170266609.pdf