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Researchers at Australia’s Monash University have created and patented new energy storage materials designed to transform “wasted” solar energy into electricity.
A team led by Dr. Doug MacFarlane has developed novel salt-based phase change materials with melting points between 120º and 250º Celsius, far lower than that of molten salts, with latent heats reaching 250 joules per gram.
In a system developed to make use of the material, solar vacuum tubes collect solar heat that melts PCM stored in tanks. The tubes can harvest more than 70 percent of the sun’s energy – far more than photovoltaic panels. Overnight, as the PCM cools, a small Organic Rankine Cycle engine turn this heat energy into electricity. The system also heats water and living spaces.
“The ORC engine is a thermo-mechanical engine very similar to a steam engine,” MacFarlane explains. “However it uses a working fluid that is a lower boiling point organic liquid instead of the water and hence is able to utilize heat from the PCM at a lower temperature and use it to run the engine and hence the generator.”
The team is working with Green Thermal Energy Technologies of Melbourne to build demonstration energy storage systems.
“We are assembling the various components of a suitable size to demonstrate a solar-thermal driven domestic-sized system,” MacFarlane said. The team is seeking investor partners to fund the scale-up effort.
Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Certis platform of universal parcel shippers and a PCM gel refrigerant made by Cold Chain Technologies shared first place as the “Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year” at the 2016 Cold Chain Global Excellence Awards in Boston last week. Another Sonoco product, the LD7 Quarter PMC pallet shipper, was runner-up in the category.
The Certis platform is designed to optimize warehouse space, reduce inventory costs, simplify training and increase productivity. Only three types of PureTemp phase change material and eight shippers are needed to create 24 shipping solutions across temperature ranges and duration.
CCT’s Koolit Advanced PCM Gel is marketed as the first commercially available solid phase change material refrigerant engineered to maintain the efficacy of drugs and vaccines during transport.
U.S. patent application 20160290216 (applicant Ford Global Technologies LLC, Dearborn, Mich.)
“Methods and systems are provided for a phase change material (PCM) integrated radiator. In one example, a method may include adjusting a radiator control valve into a first position to flow coolant only through a first zone of a radiator containing phase change material (PCM) and not through a second zone of the radiator not containing phase change material. The method may further include adjusting the radiator control valve into a second position to flow coolant only through the second zone of the radiator and not the first zone.”
U.S. patent application 20160288928 (applicant WorldVu Satellites Ltd., St. Helier, N.J.):
“A passive thermal system for use in a satellite and other aerospace applications includes a container having a heat-pipe working fluid disposed in a first chamber and a Phase Change Material (PCM) disposed in a second chamber that substantially surrounds the first chamber. The first chamber contains a wick for transporting the heat-pipe working fluid. The exterior of the first chamber has fins, etc., that extend into the PCM for heat spreading and increased interface area.”
U.S. patent application 20160286758 (applicant Elizabeth Nolan, Aiken, S.C.):
“A thermal regulating dog jacket is described that can be of particular benefit when utilized in warmer temperatures (indoors or outdoors). The dog jackets incorporate a temperature regulating material that can absorb thermal energy in warm weather as well as release thermal energy in cold weather. The dog jacket can provide thermal regulation without requiring an external triggering mechanism, such as additional moisture or sunlight. … A temperature regulating material can be a solid/solid phase change material.”
• The biobased products industry contributed $393 billion and 4.2 million jobs to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “As this sector is strengthening, so is the economy in rural America, where this year the unemployment rate dropped below six percent for the first time since 2007,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
• Cardinal Health Inc., a global health care services and products company, has received the 2016 Excellence in Reusable Packaging award. The Reusable Packaging Association honored Cardinal for its innovative approach to ensuring the safe, efficient and sustainable delivery of refrigerated pharmaceuticals. In partnership with Sonoco ThermoSafe, Cardinal switched from water-based coolant gel packs within its reusable plastic totes to plant-based PureTemp phase change materials. The change helped Cardinal reduce product spoilage by 90 percent.
• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG has signed global rental agreements with two air carriers, Cargolux of Luxembourg and IAG Cargo, based in London and Madrid. The airlines will rent passive containers designed to ship temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical and biotech goods safely and efficiently. Va-Q-tec shares began trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (ticker symbol VQT) last week.
• The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, known as Empa, has posted an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in the field of phase change materials in building materials. The one-year position requires a strong background in thermal energy storage with PCMs and applications.
• PCM maker Entropy Solutions has an opening for a sales engineer. The sales engineer will work closely with Entropy’s research and development team, providing direct support to key customers, channel partners and vendors, while taking the lead in managing incoming inquiries.
• Sunamp Ltd. took first-place honors this week at the Solar Power Portal Awards in Birmingham, England. The heat battery maker won the Residential Energy Management Project award for its work on the Eastheat PV/PCM project in Edinburgh and surrounding towns.
• Under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., energy storage technologies such as batteries, thermal energy storage and regenerative fuel cells that qualify would get a 30 percent investment tax credit, similar to incentives available to wind and solar projects.
For our full list of recent academic research, see puretemp.com/academic. Here is a list of the latest research:From Energy Storage Materials:
• Novel Hybrid Form-stable Polyether Phase Change Materials with Good Fire Resistance
• Experimental and numerical investigations on a flexible paraffin/fiber composite phase change material for thermal therapy mask
From Applied Thermal Engineering:
• Binary eutectic mixtures of stearic acid-n-butyramide/n – octanamide as phase change materials for low temperature solar heat storage
• The effect of forced convection and PCM on helmets’ thermal performance in hot and arid environments
• Numerical and Statistical Study on Melting of Nanoparticle Enhanced Phase Change Material in a Shell-and-Tube Thermal Energy Storage System
From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:
• Numerical simulation of a PCM packed bed system: A review
From Thermochimica Acta:
• Production of PEG grafted PAN copolymers and their electrospun nanowebs as novel thermal energy storage materials
From Construction and Building Materials:
• Influence of adding phase change materials on the physical and mechanical properties of cement mortars
• Application and verification of direct transesterification as a method to quantify fatty acids in cement and concrete
From Energy Conversion and Management:
• Thermal management of a LiFePO4 battery pack at high temperature environment using a composite of phase change materials and aluminum wire mesh plates
From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:
• Numerical investigation of transient thermal behavior of a wall incorporating a phase change material via a hybrid scheme
From Applied Energy:
• Experimental testing of a hybrid sensible-latent heat storage system for domestic hot water applications
From Energy and Buildings:
• Investigation of PCM as retrofitting option to enhance occupant thermal comfort in a modern residential building
From Journal of Energy Storage:
• Exergy analysis of cascaded encapsulated phase change material—High-temperature thermal energy storage systems
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