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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.




New director sought for National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Alliance for Sustainable Energy is seeking candidates for the position of director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. The current director, Dr. Dan Arvizu, is retiring this fall. 

Alliance, which manages NREL for the U.S. Department of Energy, is seeking candidates who have "a demonstrated record of inspiring and guiding a research organization toward a compelling vision for impact, proven skill in leading innovation in science and engineering, a track record for delivering high-quality research results that are relevant and impactful, and experience in guiding operational excellence that enables mission accomplishment while meeting contractual requirements."

CIC Energigune seeks post-doctoral researchers to work on macroscopic physical modeling, thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CIC Energigune, an energy research center in Spain's Basque Country, has openings for two post-doctoral researchers in its thermal energy storage group. The group is working to identify innovative heat storage solutions through the development of new materials and designs. According to the job posting:

"The detailed analysis of the interstitial flow of different fluids (air, CO2, molten salt etc.) through the packed bed of different solid materials (Steel slag, concrete, Zirconia, Alumina etc.) will represent the core activities of the research. ... In addition, the research could also be completed with the modeling of alternative thermal energy storage concepts based on different heat storage methodologies such as latent heat storage using phase change materials or sensible heat storage by means of fluidized bed solutions."

PCMs projected to lead growth in thermal interface materials market

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The global market for thermal interface materials – which includes tapes, adhesives, greases and phase change materials – is projected to grow from $1.7 billion in 2015 to $3.7 billion in 2025, according to IDTechEx Research. The new report, "Thermal Interface Materials 2015-2025: Status, Opportunities, Market Forecasts," attributes much of the growth to elastomeric pads, solders and PCMs.

Research roundup: High-temperature apps; underground trench TES; cement paste; 0-D numerical model; building envelopes; PCM in buildings

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thermal Energy Storage with Encapsulated Phase Change Materials for High Temperature Applications [Lehigh University dissertation]

Heat transfer analysis of underground thermal energy storage in shallow trenches filled with encapsulated phase change materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Development of Carbon Nanotube Modified Cement Paste with Microencapsulated Phase-Change Material for Structural–Functional Integrated Application [International Journal of Molecular Sciences]

Experimental validation of a 0-D numerical model for phase change thermal management systems in lithium-ion batteries [Journal of Power Sciences]

Phase Change Materials: A Prospective Solution for Surface Layers of Building Envelopes [Applied Mechanics and Materials]

Application of Phase Change Materials in Buildings [Advanced Materials Research]

Research roundup: PCMs with expanded graphite; life cycle assessment of PCMs; DHFMA method; fluidized bed of PCMs

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

PCMs Heat Transfer Performance Enhancement with Expanded Graphite and its Thermal Stability [Procedia Engineering]

Life cycle assessment of two biologically produced phase change materials and their related products [International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment]

DHFMA Method for Dynamic Thermal Property Measurement of PCM-integrated Building Materials [Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports]

Modeling and Experiments of Energy Storage in a Fluidized Bed with PCM [Procedia Engineering]

Masdar Institute's retooled solar concentrator uses a single tank

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

In an interview with CSP Today, Dr. Nicolas Calvet, who leads the Masdar Institute's thermal energy storage research group, talked about the design of Masdar's 100 kW solar platform. The experimental "beam-down" solar concentrator in Abu Dhabi is being retooled to demonstrate the feasibility of a more cost-effective and flexible TES solution. 

The new design, which brings light into a ground-level tank, has a number of advantages.

Dr. Nicolas Calvet"You don’t pump the molten salts up the tower," he noted. "You don't need pump, pipes, you don't need electrical tracing to avoid the freezing in the pipes. You reduce a lot parasitic energy consumption by not moving molten salt in pipes. And you have direct absorption between the concentrated light and the salt in the tank.

"Instead of two tanks there’s only one tank. There is a moving divider plate inside it separating the upper part which should be hot and the lower part which should be cold. When you charge your system, this plate is moving down and you have only hot salts. And when you discharge, the plate is moving up and you have only cold salts."

Calorimetry workshop set for Lyon June 21-26

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

The Research Institute for Catalysis and Environment in Lyon, France, is offering a five-day workshop on differential scanning calorimetry and other techniques related to the characterization of phase change materials, catalysts, polymers and other compounds. Sessions will be organized to match the interests of participants. Participants are asked to submit a brief summary of their work to be considered for presentation during the workshop, which will be held June 21-26.

Promethean to expand distribution of milk chiller to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

Promethean Power Systems milk chillerPromethean Power Systems, which makes a milk chiller recently introduced in rural parts of India, is planning to expand distribution to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka over the next few months. Co-founder Sam White said his company hopes to have 500 units in the field by the end of the year.

Thanks to a thermal battery filled with phase change material, the chiller needs only intermittent electricity to quickly chill raw milk to a temperature that arrests bacterial growth. That's a potential game-changer for developing countries, where many dairy farmers don't have access to reliable electricity.

Boston-based Promethean manufactures the device, and the PCM, in Pune, India. White declined to identify the composition of the PCM, but a U.S. patent application for the device describes a salt hydrate with a melting point of -2º Celsius and a latent heat of fusion of 290 J/g. A nucleating agent is added to reduce the effect of supercooling.

The tech blog Gizmodo featured a Doc North video of the product over the weekend:

Utilities can maintain profits while reducing energy consumption, Economist says

Ben Welter - Friday, April 10, 2015

The Economist lists ice-based energy storage systems as among the technologies that can slash energy consumption without dampening economic growth.

"Storing off-peak energy as ice is particularly useful for air-cooling systems, one of the industrialised world’s biggest energy hogs," the Economist notes. "Air conditioning in commercial buildings accounts for about 5% of America’s electricity use. But in some parts of the country, on a hot day, the figure can reach 30%. Cooling systems from Calmac, a firm that used to make furnaces, store energy by cooling water mixed with antifreeze when power is cheap, and release it when it is needed, rather than relying on power-hungry compressors to cool the building during peak daytime hours."

A virtual tour of NYC's passive house movement

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 09, 2015

Map of NYC passive housesCurbed New York has compiled a list of 21 buildings in New York City designed to meet energy-use standards outlined by Germany's Passive House Institute. 

Most of New York's passive houses are in Brooklyn. The list includes 23 Park Place, NYC's first certified passive house; 951 Pacific, a three-unit row house that is aiming for "net zero" status, allowing each homeowner "the possibility of living without eternal power costs"; and 45-12 11th Street, which has been called the ugliest house in Queens. ...