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Phase Change Matters Newsletter Oct 23 2015

The Phase Change Matters e-mail newsletter is a weekly summary of the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. To subscribe, visit For more frequent updates, follow @puretemp on Twitter or visit the Phase Change Matters blog,


Deloitte’s high-tech HQ knows which toilets need cleaning

The Edge, AmsterdamWe first blogged about The Edge, Deloitte’s new headquarters in Amsterdam, in December. The 430,000-square-foot building, designed by PLP Architecture of London, had just won BREEAM certification as the world’s most-sustainable building. As you might expect, it’s packed with high-tech, energy-efficient features, including an aquifer thermal energy storage unit 500 feet below ground that helps generate all energy required for heating and cooling.

But it’s way cooler – and perhaps a bit creepier – than we could have imagined. Fast Company finds out what a building bristling with 40,000 sensors can do with all that data:

“With big data, we suddenly had the ability to completely understand how people use the building,” says [Coen] van Oostrom [CEO of OVG Real Estate, the building’s developer]. “We can do things that we didn’t expect when we started. A cleaning lady who works in this building now has a heat map on her smartphone telling her what toilets have been used and what toilets have not been used.”

The sensors also detect when espresso machines and towel dispensers need to be refilled.


Low-cost process for manufacture of form-stable PCM

U.S. patent application 20150299416 (applicant REG Synthetic Fuels, Ames, Iowa):

“The present technology generally relates to phase change material (PCM) pellets consisting essentially of a mixture of paraffin, a polymer, and optionally a thermal conductivity improver, a nucleating agent, an anti-oxidant, or a combination of any two or more thereof; wherein the paraffin is at least about 60 wt % of the PCM pellet; and the polymer is uncrosslinked high density polyethylene (HDPE) that has a melt flow index between about 0.1 g/10 min and about 50 g/10 min.”

Refrigerated display case with temperature-controlled shelves and PCMs

Heatcraft patent application drawingU.S. patent application 20150297000 (applicant Heatcraft Refrigeration Products, Richardson, Texas):

“The present application provides a refrigerated display case. The refrigerated display case may include a refrigeration component, an air plenum in communication with the refrigeration component, a shelf in communication with the air plenum, a phase change material tank positioned about the shelf, and a phase change material positioned within the phase change material tank such that a substantially uniform temperature is maintain across the shelf. …

“Suitable phase change materials may be provided by Entropy Solutions of Plymouth, Minn. under the “PURE TEMP” mark, RG Energy Efficient Systems, LLC, of Asheville, N.C. under the “savEnrg” mark, Microtek Laboratories, Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, Rubitherm Technologies GmbH of Berlin, Germany, and other sources.”

Method for preconditioning latent heat storage elements

U.S. patent application 20150292787 (applicant va-Q-tec AG, Wurzburg, Germany):

“A method is for preconditioning at least one latent heat storage element, which is arranged in a thermally insulated, closed container having a space for accommodating goods to be transported. The latent heat storage element has a target temperature preferably slightly in excess of 0 DEG C. In such an arrangement, it is particularly practical for the accommodation space in the container to be filled with a certain amount of a coolant, particularly ice, and for the container to be closed, and therefore the latent heat storage element located in the container is cooled to the target temperature.”

Body support cushion having multiple layers of phase change material

Tempur-Pedic patent application drawingU.S. patent application 20150296994 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management, Lexington, Ky.:

“Tempur-Pedic body cushion patent drawing”A body support cushion, e.g., mattress, has multiple foam layers, including a viscoelastic foam layer and a reticulated beat properties that provide two intervals of dermal cooling. … a layered arrangement of foam comprised of at least one layer of viscoelastic foam having a density of at least 20 kg/m3 and no more than 150 kg/m3; phase change material [54 in drawing at right] in the layer of viscoelastic foam.”

Temperature maintenance and regulation of vehicle exhaust catalyst systems

U.S. patent application 20150283504 (Ford Global Technologies, Dearborn, Mich.):

“A vehicle exhaust system is provided and comprises a catalyst positioned in an exhaust passage of a vehicle. The catalyst is in the form of a washcoat supported on a substrate. The system includes a phase change material located adjacent to the catalyst to maintain the temperature of the catalyst between engine shut-down and subsequent start-up as well as to regulate the temperature during engine operation. In some embodiments, the phase change material comprises particles of a metal or metal alloy encapsulated in a ceramic material. The metal or metal alloy is adapted to have a phase change that occurs within a temperature range wherein the catalyst is active.”


Stevens Institute’s SURE House surges to victory in Solar Decathlon

Stevens Institute's Solar Decathlon house

Stevens Institute of Technology, a private research university in Hoboken, N.J., won top honors at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015 on Saturday. The team’s SURE House, inspired by the need for dwellings that can withstand the kind of storm surge, high winds and flooding associated with 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, was judged to be the best of 14 solar-powered homes in the collegiate competition. Judges awarded points based on each home’s affordability, attractiveness, comfort and net energy consumption.

“The Stevens design stacks up very favorably against many homes designed by seasoned architectural teams, and in fact outstrips the vast majority of U.S. houses when it comes to energy performance,” wrote one of the judges, Ann Edminster, an international expert on green homes. “The love of community that drove this design inspired a highly effective collaboration, in turn giving rise to an exceptionally well-integrated final product that will benefit both the occupants and their larger community.”

Stevens took first place with an overall score of 960 out of a possible 1,000 points. The State University of New York at Buffalo took second place (941 points). Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, took third (910 points).


Adjustable-temperature Ember mug features PCM, charging pad, bluetooth

Ember coffee mugAre you a demanding coffee drinker? You might be intrigued by Ember Technologies’ temperature-adjustable mug, now available for pre-order on Indiegogo. The Ember mug is packed with technical features designed to ensure that your coffee (or tea, or cocoa, or tomato bisque) stays at just the right temperature for hours:
  • “Space-grade” thermal insulation
  • Stainless-steel inner vessel
  • “Phase change cooling system”
  • Microprocessor-controlled heating system
  • High-capacity battery
  • Charging pad

You can control the temperature by twisting the base – or use the mobile app to remotely adjust the temperature, save presets for different drinks, name your mug and “select frequency and types of notifications.” Not sure about that last bit. I get enough notifications as it is without adding beverage status to the list.

All that technology doesn’t come cheap. The 12-ounce mug is expected to retail for $149; you can order one now for $129. Estimated delivery: April 2016. In just two days, the Indiegogo campaign raised $104,653, more than twice its goal.


Global wind map features 1-km resolution, shows speed at 3 different heights

Global Wind Atlas screen grab

With help from the Technical University of Denmark, the International Renewable Energy Agency has launched its new Global Wind Atlas, providing accurate wind data down to the kilometer. Previously, global wind data was publicly available at a 10-kilometer resolution at best. The increased detail, plus the ability to display wind speed at three different heights, will help wind energy planners reduce risk and costs in the search for ideal locations for wind farms.


For our full list of recent academic research, see Here are highlights from the past week:

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Characterization and numerical simulation on heat transfer performance of inorganic phase change thermal storage devices

From Applied Physics Letters:

Imaging of phase change materials below a capping layer using correlative infrared near-field microscopy and electron microscopy

From Ergonomics:

The hybrid personal cooling system (PCS) could effectively reduce the heat strain while exercising in a hot and moderate humid environment
A Shirt Containing Multistage Phase Change Material and Active Cooling Components was Associated with Increased Exercise Capacity in a Hot, Humid Environment

From RSC Advances:

Paraffin confined in carbon nanotubes as nano-encapsulated phase change materials: Experimental and molecular dynamics studies

From Journal of the Energy Institute:

Heat storage materials, geometry and applications: A review

From International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology:

Heat Storage in Future Zero-Energy Buildings

From Solar Energy:

Effective tube-in-tank PCM thermal storage for CSP applications, Part 1: Impact of tube configuration on discharging effectiveness

From Renewable Energy:

The use of enhanced heat transfer phase change materials (PCM) to improve the coefficient of performance (COP) of solar powered LiBr/H2O absorption cooling systems


Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

More than 380 of your peers have joined a new LinkedIn group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage. The Phase Change Matters group is an interactive complement to the blog and newsletter of the same name.

You are invited to join the group and connect with PCM and TES experts from around the world. New members this week include Abhinav Bhaskar, research associate at the Energy and Resources Institute in India; Henk Huisseune, postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University, Belgium; Holly Clarke Gardner, a Florida entrepreneur; and Alexandre Beirão, an R&D chemist at Devan Chemicals in Portugal.


Got a question about PCMs or TES? Ask our experts

Two Entropy Solutions advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid of the University of Auckland and Lucas B. Hyman of Goss Engineering, are ready to answer your questions about phase change material and thermal energy storage. We’ll select the best questions sent to and post the answers here each Friday.