NETenergy granted license to commercialize thermal storage module

The dual-circuit thermal energy storage module uses a composite n-tetradecane encapsulated in compressed expanded natural graphite foam. The module is designed to be integrated in rooftop air conditioning units and improve energy efficiency by 10 percent and shave peak demand by 40 percent.

Chicago-based NETenergy has been granted an exclusive license to commercialize a PCM-based thermal battery developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The commercialization project is a collaboration between NETenergy, NREL and manufacturing partners as part of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator and the Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization Fund.

NETenergy founder and CEO Said Al-Hallaj, right, answered a few questions about the technology.

Q: What do the product development and commercialization timelines look like? For example, when will a refrigerant-equipped TES module be incorporated and performance-tested in a rooftop a/c unit? If all goes well, when do you hope to see the technology available commercially?

A: “We have concluded successful lab testing at NREL. We are working on field demonstration now as part of Exelon’s 2c2i program and hope to kick off the project later this year. It will take 18-24 months to validate and qualify the hybrid HVAC-TES system for various utility programs which can facilitate scale-up and commercialization soon after that.”

Q: In the full-scale integration, will the same PCM be used? Your recent article in Applied Energy, “Design and performance evaluation of a dual-circuit thermal energy storage module for air conditioners,” mentions the advantages of using a PCM with a higher transition temperature than the ~4.5° C n-tetradecane tested in the lab.

A: “Yes, we plan to use PCM with ~10 C transition temperature.”

Q: Have any patent applications been filed for the dual-circuit TES module and/or the CENG?

A: “Yes, NETenergy has issued and pending patents. NREL has an issued patent and NETenergy has an exclusive license for HVAC applications. Here is a link to the announcement: https://doelps.org/anTSmS.”

Q: Has NETenergy had conversations with a/c manufacturers such as Carrier, Trane and Lennox? Carrier and Trane both have experience with ice-based systems (Ice Energy and CALMAC) and would quickly see the advantages of the hybrid technology.

A: “Yes, the development work and field testing is in collaboration with NREL and leading HVAC manufacturers.”

Q: Can the technology be scaled down for use in home a/c units and mini splits?

A: “Yes, our preliminary analysis validated the technology for residential applications and our goal is to demonstrate this concept soon for mini split units.”


Phase change material for thermal therapy and delivery of active ingredients

U.S. patent application 20210100934 (applicant Alps South LLC, St. Petersburg, Fla.): 

“A method of manufacturing a therapeutic material incorporating a soft thermoformable elastomer with a phase change material exhibiting high latent heat of fusion. The compound provides elasticity, softness, formability, and heat over an extended duration and to facilitate prolonged skin contact at elevated temperatures. Used in combination with active ingredients the increased temperature and formability provides enhanced transdermal delivery through the skin. Thermoplastic elastomers may be manufactured by mixing together plasticizing oil, a triblock copolymer, a paraffinic substance and one or more additives, e.g., an antioxidant, an antimicrobial agent, and/or other additives to form a mixture which melted then cooled into the thermoplastic elastomer. During cooling, the thermoplastic elastomer may be molded or otherwise formed into any number of articles including, but not limited to, prosthetic liners, prosthetic sleeves, external breast prostheses, breast enhancement bladders, masks, wound dressing sheets, wound dressing pads, socks, gloves, malleolus pads, metatarsal pads, shoe insoles, urinary catheters, vascular catheters, and balloons for medical catheters both vascular as well as urinary.”

Microwave heatable compositions and articles made therefrom

U.S. patent application 20210101371 (inventor David Ross, Ann Arbor, Mich.): 

“A microwave heatable composite material that comprises: a heat resistant moldable base material; a microwave heatable material dispersed in the heat resistant moldable base material; and a phase change material dispersed in the heat resistant moldable base material. The mixture of the microwave heatable material, heat resistant moldable base material, and phase change material provide a basic or core microwave heatable article layer to which one or more additional controlled heat releasing and/or heat transfer blocking layers can be combined to enhance and optimize heat therapy.”

Thermal management device for battery

U.S. patent application 20210119280 (applicant Constellium Singen GmbH, Singen, Germany): 

“An object of the invention is a thermal management device for a battery, including an extruded plate. The extruded plate comprises a first channel and a second channel, configured to allow a flow of a coolant. The extruded plate also includes at least one encapsulation cavity, intended to be filled by a phase change material. … The inventors have designed a device, intended to a thermal management system, which is robust and the manufacturing cost of which is low. Because of its simple design, the device is adapted to mass production, according to industrial manufacturing rates.”

Beverage dispensers with heat exchangers

U.S. patent application 20210094815 (applicant Cornelius Inc., Osseo, Minn.): 

“A method for cooling a mixed beverage formed with one or more beverage components includes circulating a refrigerant through a heat exchanger having a phase change material to cool a beverage component and sensing a temperature of the refrigerant. The method further includes detecting a first instance when the sensed temperature of the refrigerant equals a threshold refrigerant temperature, detecting a second instance when the sensed temperature of the refrigerant equals the threshold refrigerant temperature, and stopping circulation of the refrigerant when the second instance is detected.”

More U.S. patent applications:

Sensing temperature within medical devices (Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis) | Rigid sensor stopper for use in drug delivery devices (Verily Life Sciences LLC, South San Francisco, Calif.) |  Grid interactive water heater (Will John Temple, Placerville, Calif.) | System for converting energy (Thales, Courbevoie, France) | Improvements relating to insulation (Hunt Technologies Ltd., Rickmansworth, Great Britain) | Shape-stabilized phase change materials for energy storage (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) | Thermal barrier incorporating PCM for a power module assembly (GM Global Technology Operations LLC, Detroit, Mich.) | Eyewear device battery with PCM for thermal management (Andrea Ashwood and Gerald Nilles, California) | Pallet with thermal energy storage (Viking Cold Solutions, Houston, Texas)


• The U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring a free virtual workshop May 11-12 on thermal energy storage in buildings. “Priorities and Pathways to Widespread Deployment of Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings” offers an opportunity to discuss the latest developments in low-temperature TES technologies and to help identify solutions to the challenges that are preventing the widespread adoption of TES in buildings. Speakers include Mark MacCracken, head of Trane‘s CALMAC unit, and Andreas Hauer, head of ZAE Bayern‘s energy storage division. Registration is open until May 7. 

• Canada received its first batch of Johnson & Johnson‘s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine this month. More than 300,000 doses arrived at  Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on April 28 in temperature-controlled va-Q-tainers provided by va-Q-tec AG.

• Moderna Inc., meanwhile, says it has data showing that its COVID-19 vaccine can remain stable at refrigerator temperatures for up to three months. The vaccine is approved to be stored at temperatures between 2º C and 8º C for up to 30 days and up to seven months at -20º C.

• Pelican BioThermal of Plymouth, Minn., has expanded its dry ice shipper options to support growing demand for cell and gene therapy shipments, as well as COVID-19 vaccines. Parcel sizes range from 1.1 liters to 179 liters and cover temperature ranges of minus 65 degrees Celsius to minus 20º Celsius.

• Va-Q-tec is using vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) to conserve energy in the production of VIPs at the company’s factory in Würzburg, Germany.

• Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has completed the installation of its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in a 147,000-square-foot food warehouse in Cidra, Puerto Rico. 

• A six-month field trial led by Harvard Medical School has shown that a PCM-equipped infant-warming wrap developed at Berkeley Lab proved to be safe and effective in significantly lowering newborn mortality rates associated with hypothermia in Rwanda. The device, known as the Dream Warmer, uses PureTemp 37 to maintain a temperature of 37º C for about six hours. Use of the infant warmer resulted in a drop in infant mortality from 2.8% to 0.9% in hospitals in Rwanda.

• EnergyNest of Norway has secured an investment of 110 million euros to expand the deployment of thermal batteries that store energy in the form of heat and help decarbonize industrial heat processes.

• University of Alabama students taking part in the National Science Foundation‘s Innovation Corps program are looking for interview subjects on the topic of using PCMs impregnated into low-cost waste cenospheres obtained from coal ash. The I-Corps program helps students and researchers gain insight into entrepreneurship, and industry requirements and challenges. The Alabama students hope to conduct interviews with more than 100 commercial leaders. If you’re interested in sharing your insights, contact Monica Amaral at mlagesdoamaral@crimson.ua.edu.


From Buildings:

• Innovation in Sustainable Solar-Powered Net-Zero Energy Solar Decathlon Houses: A Review and Showcase

From Heat and Mass Transfer:

• Study on the effect of inclusion of thermal energy storage unit in the energy performance of a household refrigerator

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

• Better thermoregulation of brain temperature using phase change material-mediated head cooling system

From Solar Energy:

• Evaluation of shape-stabilization phase change material sheets to improve the heating load reduction based on the indoor application method
• Lightweight mortar with paraffin/expanded vermiculite-diatomite composite phase change materials: Development, characterization and year-round thermoregulation performance

From Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry:

• Experimental research and molecular dynamics simulation on thermal properties of capric acid/ethylene-vinyl/graphene composite phase change materials

From Journal of Energy Storage:

• Improving the tubular solar still performance using square and circular hollow fins with phase change materials
• Research progress and trends on the use of concrete as thermal energy storage material through bibliometric analysis
• Investigation on heating performance of an integrated phase change material Trombe wall based on state space method
• Trends and future perspectives on the integration of phase change materials in heat exchangers
• Melting performance enhancement of a phase change material using branched fins and nanoparticles for energy storage applications

From Composites Communications:

• Nanofibrous hydrogels embedded with phase-change materials: Temperature-responsive dressings for accelerating skin wound healing

From Thermal Engineering:

• Phase Change Materials and Power Engineering

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

• Review of preparation technologies of organic composite phase change materials in energy storage

From Renewable Energy:

• Carbonized wood loaded with carbon dots for preparation long-term shape-stabilized composite phase change materials with superior thermal energy conversion capacity
• Synthesis and characterization of conducting Polyaniline@cobalt-Paraffin wax nanocomposite as nano-phase change material: Enhanced thermophysical properties

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

• Measurement of full-scale phase change material products considering hysteresis
• Comparative study between heat pipe and shell-and-tube thermal energy storage
• Phase change dispersions: A literature review on their thermo-rheological performance for cooling applications

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

• Advanced/hybrid thermal energy storage technology: material, cycle, system and perspective
• Annual performance evaluation of thermoelectric generator-assisted building-integrated photovoltaic system with phase change material

From Energy and Climate Change:

• A review on the outlook of thermal management of photovoltaic panel using phase change material

From Energy and Buildings:

• A dynamic state-space model for predicting the thermal performance of ventilated electric heating mortar blocks integrated with phase change material
• An experimental study of the active cooling performance of a novel radiant ceiling panel containing phase change material (PCM)

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

• Flexible graphene aerogel-based phase change film for solar-thermal energy conversion and storage in personal thermal management applications

From Energy:

• Probability estimation of the city’s energy efficiency improvement as a result of using the phase change materials in heating networks


Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

More than 1,600 people have joined a LinkedIn group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage. You are invited to join the Phase Change Matters group and connect with PCM and TES experts from around the world. 

This month we welcome Remo Waser, co-founder at Cowa Thermal Solutions AG, Zurich, Switzerland; Monica Amaral, Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Anurag Dubey, process and design engineer, Gurgaon, India; Naveen Ashok Chand, product development manager at Revolution Fibres Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand; Manoj Ram, president at PolyMaterials App LLC, Tampa, Fla.; István Sebestyén, international sales manager at HeatVentors, Dunakeszi, Hungary; Isabelle Durand, thermodynamics engineer at IFP Energies, Rueil-Malmaison, France; Miguel Tejada, co-founder at Eslava and Tejada Architects, Madrid, Spain; Marina Efstratiou, Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland; Seongnam Han, sales manager at Taekyung Group, Seoul, South Korea; and Michael Killisperger, head of equipment and coating at Schoeller Textil AG, St. Gallen, Switzerland. 

Member Harald Mehling posted a link to his recent paper:

“For those working on calorimetric measurements of PCM: I have published a paper recently, together with coauthors, titled “Potential new reference materials for caloric measurements on PCM.” The paper is available as Open Access in SN Applied Sciences.” 


Does your company, agency or university have a job opening, new research, new product or other news you’d like to share? I would love to hear from you. Please contact newsletter editor Ben Welter at benedict.welter@gmail.com


This newsletter is made possible through the generous support of the RAL Quality Association PCM and the members listed below. To learn more about the association, including membership benefits, please contact Stefan Thomann, executive director, at info@pcm-ral.de.  

Axiotherm GmbH | Croda Europe Ltd. | Global Energy Systems Europe | ISU Chemical Co. Ltd. | RuhrTech | Microtek Laboratories | PCM Technology | PLUSS Advanced Technologies | PureTemp LLC | Rubitherm Technologies GmbH | Sasol Germany GmbH | Sunamp Ltd. | va-Q-tec AG