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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.




High-tech prosthetic leg a perfect fit for active amputee

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 03, 2015

An inspiring story from, a website that covers the prosthetics and orthotics community:

Kevin JohnsonThirty-six years ago, Kevin Johnson lost his right leg below the knee in a combine accident on his family's farm in Ohio. As a teen, he avoided "painful" prosthetics and used crutches to get around. But he knew that was not a good long-term solution. He eventually found a prosthetic leg that worked well enough to support an active life. Johnson's work involves operating bulldozers and piloting helicopters, and he also races motorcycles and ropes cattle. When the prosthetic broke, as it did often, he used a welding torch and duct tape to fix it.

By the end of 2007, the prosthetic leg was broken beyond repair. Johnson got in touch with WillowWood, a prosthetics company in Ohio that was looking for amputees to test technology being developed for military veterans: a prosthetic system that features vacuum pressure, intelligent controls and phase change material. He was the perfect test patient, offering developers valuable feedback and pushing the leg to its limits.

The result: A high-performance prosthetic leg that fits better and is far more comfortable than its predecessors, thanks to the PCM-infused liner that absorbs heat and reduces perspiration and skin irritation.

A primer on temperature-regulating mattress components

Ben Welter - Monday, February 02, 2015

BedTimes magazine, "the business journal for the sleep products industry," offers a 2,000-word primer on the challenge of regulating temperatures in today's all-foam and hybrid mattresses. 

“Companies are becoming more innovative with the applications they use PCMs in — from fabrics to foams to gels and fill,” said Joe Wehrle, director of sales for Microtek Laboratories Inc. “The mattress marketplace is experiencing the cooling/warming effects that PCM technology provides, helping to create the ‘perfect sleep experience’ that end users value. Every day, new and inventive products are being introduced in the bedding segment which capitalize on the thermal benefits of phase change materials.”

Research roundup: Porous MgO material; gravity-assisted heat pipe; double-skin facade; more

Ben Welter - Monday, February 02, 2015

  • Porous MgO Material with Ultrahigh Surface Area as the Matrix for Phase Change Composite [Thermochimica Acta]

  • Study on the thermal storage performance of a gravity-assisted heat-pipe thermal storage unit with granular high-temperature phase-change materials [Energy]

  • Energy performance of a ventilated double skin facade with PCM under different climates [Energy and Buildings]

  • Multi-mode heat transfer analysis during freezing of an encapsulated storage medium [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

  • Fabrication and Performances of Microencapsulated Palmitic Acid with Enhanced Thermal Properties [Energy Fuels]

  • Research roundup: Melamine resin shell; frustum-shaped storage units; more

    Ben Welter - Monday, February 02, 2015

  • Microencapsulation mechanism and size control of fragrance microcapsules with melamine resin shell [Colloids and Surfaces]

  • Enhanced heat transfer for PCM melting in the frustum-shaped unit with multiple PCMs [Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry]

  • Diurnal thermal analysis of microencapsulated PCM-concrete composite walls [Energy Conversion and Management]

  • Using Generalized Integral Transforms to solve a perturbation model for a packed bed thermal energy storage tank [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

  • Numerical modeling of aquifer thermal energy efficiency under regional groundwater flow: a case study at Oslo Airport [Hydrology Research]

  • Annual growth of 28.9% projected for biobased PCM market in Americas

    Ben Welter - Friday, January 30, 2015

    The compound annual growth rate for the biobased phase change material market in the Americas is projected to be 28.9 percent between 2013 and 2018, according to MicroMarket Monitor's latest report on the topic. That's an increase of nearly 2 percentage points over the rate projected in MicroMarket's October report.

    The new report, to be published Feb. 17, attributes much of the growth to regulatory changes encouraging wider use of these renewable, green alternatives to paraffin-based PCMs.

    Syracuse-led team wins $3.2 million ARPA-E grant

    Ben Welter - Thursday, January 29, 2015

    A team led by Syracuse University has been awarded a $3.2 million grant by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to develop a "micro environmental control system" for office buildings. The team, which also includes Air Innovations, Cornell University, United Technologies Research Center and Bush Technical LLC, is working on a micro vapor compression system that has an evaporator embedded in phase change material. 

    The cooling produced by the micro vapor will be stored in the PCM at night and released during the day. The unit, about the size of a desktop computer, will maintain comfortable micro climates and allow thermostats for bigger spaces to be set 4º F higher or lower than is now typical. The team's goal is to achieve at least a 15 percent reduction in heating and cooling costs.

    Webinar on smart coatings market research is set for Feb. 11

    Ben Welter - Thursday, January 29, 2015

    Industry analyst NanoMarkets will hold a webinar on Feb. 11 to present its latest report on the smart coatings market. The report projects that market, which includes phase change materials, will grow from around $610 million in 2015 to $5.8 billion in 2020. Webinar topics include:

  • The impact of trends such as the decline in energy prices and the war on terror.

  • Insight on self-healing, self-cleaning and self-assembling coatings.

  • The outlook for wearable electronics and the Internet of Things.


    Expert says in-depth analysis is key to energy retrofits

    Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    Matteo D'AntoniMatteo D’Antoni, a senior researcher at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano in Italy, talked with about installing energy-saving technologies in existing buildings. He lists three important planning steps:

    1. Evaluate the building's existing energy consumption.
    2. Evaluate the integration of passive technologies, such as phase change material.
    3. Evaluate the integration of active technologies, such as solar energy. 

    "It is a complex approach," he explained. "One the one hand, we have to calculate how much primary energy can we save; on the other, how much it costs. Technologies have to be easy to install and maintain and [incur] a limited investment cost. If they are expensive, we have to understand whether it makes sense to install them. And this analysis has to take into account the energy concept of a specific building replaced in its own environmental context."

    Frigesco to present at CleanEquity Monaco

    Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    Frigesco Ltd. has been invited to present an update on its flash frost technology at CleanEquity Monaco 2015 in March. The annual conference, hosted by the investment bank Innovator Capital, brings together industry experts, government officials, policymakers and investors to discuss "next generation" clean technology.

    The British company's technology harnesses waste heat to defrost refrigeration systems more efficiently, reducing supermarket cooling costs by up to 20 percent. Phase change material is used to store the waste heat.