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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.




Ice Energy wins thermal energy storage contract with Riverside utility

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ice Energy of Glendale, Calif., has been awarded a contract with Riverside Public Utilities to provide 5 megawatts of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage using Ice Energy's Ice Bear system. 

The Ice Bear is a smart-grid-enabled technology that will help the California city better integrate its increasing reliance on renewable energy resources like wind, solar and geothermal systems to maintain low energy costs for its customers.

The Ice Bear system makes ice at night, when electricity is cheaper, and uses it to cool buildings during the day. The company will provide the city with 40 Ice Bear units at a cost of $702,000. If energy-efficiency targets are met, the one-year pilot project could be extended by up to four more years.

Encapsys net sales up 18.1% in 2014

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wisconsin papermaker Appvion reported full-year net sales of $61.8 million for its Encapsys encapsulation unit, an 18.1 percent increase over the previous year.

Mark Richards, Appvion's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said expanded opportunities with Encapsys' largest customer, the launch of Encapsys' EnFinit microencapsulated phase change product and the addition of new customers helped to increase sales to the company’s external customers by nearly 30 percent and shipments 11 percent compared to 2013.

Overall, Appvion reported an operating loss of $40.7 million for 2014. The employee-owned company had an operating income of $132.8 million in 2013. Full-year net sales were up a fraction to $809.8 million.

In a statement, the employee-owned company attributed the results to "unfavorable product mix and pricing, especially for thermal receipt paper," higher operating costs and changes in pension and retirement benefits.

PLUSS Polymers' neonate cooler wins Plasticon Award

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

PLUSS Polymers of India has won a 2015 Plasticon Award for its MiraCradle neonate cooler. MiraCradle is a low-cost passive cooling device for treating newborns suffering from birth asphyxia. It was developed in collaboration with Christian Medical College of Vellore, India. The device uses Pluss Polymers' "form-stable" phase change materials, savE FS-21 and FS-29.

Chicago startup NETenergy advances in 2 energy challenges

Ben Welter - Monday, March 09, 2015

Chicago startup NETenergy, an energy storage and management service provider, has advanced to Phase II of the New Venture Challenge and is a finalist in the 2015 Clean Energy Challenge.

"It’s been a busy three months for the Internet of Things (IoT) startup, which powers its intelligent energy management software with thermal storage hardware," writes ChicagoInno's Alice Zhang. "Using phase change composites, these storage units distribute and store cold energy in the form of latent heat when needed, allowing customers to shift their A/C consumption to cheap and efficient off-peak hours, while saving 30 percent or more on overall energy consumption."

Coffee Joulies creator talks about production challenges

Ben Welter - Monday, March 09, 2015

Coffee JouliesIn an interview with online tech magazine SolidSmack, Dave Petrillo discusses some of the hurdles he and partner Dave Jackson faced in the creation of Coffee Joulies, a product that uses phase change material to regulate the temperature of hot beverages.

"The phase change material was actually not that difficult to find," Petrillo said. "One of the hardest parts to making this project was getting the manufacturing of the rest of the stainless steel shell made in the USA. Forming and joining and sealing these beans shut so that they last a long time is definitely a difficult task. Much harder than we anticipated."

Research roundup: UV-blocking film; paraffin-red brick composite; cool thermal energy storage; more

Ben Welter - Monday, March 09, 2015

  • A novel thermal-insulating film incorporating microencapsulated phase-change materials for temperature regulation and nano-TiO2 for UV-blocking [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

  • Preparation and thermal characterization of paraffin/red brick composite as a novel form-stable phase change material for thermal energy storage [Proceedings of Engineering and Technology - pdf]

  • Dynamic Characteristics of Cool Thermal Energy Storage Systems — A Review [International Journal of Green Energy]

  • Bidirectional thermoelectric energy generator based on a phase-change lens for concentrating solar power [International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems]

  • Numerical Investigation of Effective Heat Conductivity of Fluid in Charging Process of Thermal Storage Tank [Open Journal of Fluid Dynamics - pdf]

  • Improvement on Heat Release Performance of Direct-contact Heat Exchanger Using Phase Change Material for Recovery of Low-Temperature Exhaust Heat [ISIJ International]
  • Q&A: How is PCM selection dependent on PV panel temperature?

    Ben Welter - Friday, March 06, 2015

    Shivangi Sharma, a Ph.D. student at the University of Exeter, asks:

    "How is the phase change material selection dependent on the photovoltaic panel temperature? For instance, for a PV panel with Tmax = 80°C, but most suitable operating temperature of about 25°C, what should be the best targeted phase change temperature range? Should it be around 25°C or about 80°C for maximum cooling benefits?"

    Dr. Mohammed Farid's reply:

    "Phase change material cannot work in such an application unless you have an environment where the temperature varies significantly between day and night. You need to select the melting temperature between those two to ensure that the PCM can solidify at night. If the maximum ambient temperature is 25º C and maximum PV temperature is 80º C, then a 30º C PCM may work based on the condition that night temperatures drop to at least 20º C. There is no simple answer to this, but we have built such a system in our laboratory and completed research that will be published soon. I would be happy to direct you to the paper when it becomes available." 

    Research roundup: Thermally homeostatic buildings; expanded graphite; firefighter fabrics; sol-gel process

    Ben Welter - Friday, March 06, 2015

  • Energy storage and heat extraction – From thermally activated building systems (TABS) to thermally homeostatic buildings [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

  • The effect of expanded graphite on the thermal stability, latent heat, and flammability properties of EVA/wax phase change blends [Polymer Engineering & Science]

  • Enhancing the Thermal Protective Performance of Firefighters' Protective Fabrics by Incorporating Phase Change Materials [Fibres & Textiles in Eastern Europe]

  • Preparation of Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials by the Sol-gel Process and Its Application on Textiles [Fibres & Textiles in Eastern Europe]