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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.




PCM vs. thermal mass: A design firm's take

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 12, 2015

Drawing of wall containing phase change materialPhase change materials and thermal mass can be used to regulate temperatures in homes and offices. Australian design firm EME offers a brief look at the two approaches, outlining the advantages of each.

Any material that is heavy and dense – brick, stone, concrete, earth, sand and even water – qualifies as thermal mass. Heavy, dense walls can slow the rate at which the sun's heat enters a space and the rate at which a space loses heat at night. But thermal mass can be, well, massive. 

"One advantage of phase change," EME writes, "is that it is lighter in weight and therefore can be integrated into a retrofit situation without upgrading the structure and multi-storey buildings. Unlike thermal mass construction, phase change does not have the poetry and material sensibility that thermal mass offers. Phase change is generally concealed within a wall."

Research roundup: Nanoparticle-enhanced PCMs; amphiphilic block copolymers; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Energy storage system based on nanoparticle-enhanced phase change material inside porous medium [International Journal of Thermal Sciences]

  • Highly Stable Phase Change Material Emulsions Fabricated by Interfacial Assembly of Amphiphilic Block Copolymers during Phase Inversion [American Chemical Society]

  • Improving thermal conductivity phase change materials—A study of paraffin nanomagnetite composites [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

  • Energy and economic analysis of a building air-conditioner with a phase change material [Energy Conversion and Management]

  • Job posting: Operations Manager at Entropy Solutions' R&D lab in Alabama

    Ben Welter - Thursday, February 12, 2015

    Entropy Solutions, maker of PureTemp, the world's first 100 percent renewable phase change material, is accepting applications for the position of Operations Manager at the company's R&D lab in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Working closely with our team of top-notch scientists, the Operations Manager will help direct a wide range of project- and infrastructure-related initiatives.

    Inside Federal Center South, an ASHRAE award-winning project

    Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    Tom Boysen Jr.In December, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office building in Seattle was one of nine projects recognized for innovative design with an ASHRAE Technology Award. Federal Center South received first place in the new commercial buildings category. 

    The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce takes a closer look at the project, including the months of tweaking needed to reach the energy-use guarantees made by the general contractor, Sellen Construction.

    “This is not your father's 1960s pickup truck,” said Tom Boysen, senior project manager. “This thing has at least four gears of cooling and two gears of heating.”

    The complex system includes heat-recovery chillers that extract heat from a thermal storage tank to warm the building in the morning, when demand is high. The rooftop tank is filled with 2-foot-long panels containing phase change material that freezes and thaws at 55 degrees, serving as a battery for storing heat.

    Protective suit for offshore work features a PCM liner to keep the wearer comfortable

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    Viking PS5040 suitGas and oil personnel don protective suits for helicopter transfer to and from offshore platforms. Viking Life-Saving Equipment's new PS5040 suit is designed for harsh weather and icy waters. The snug-fitting suit features a gas-inflated buoyancy system, integrated spray hood, easy-to-use plastic zippers and a thermal liner that contains phase change materials that absorb the excess body heat and returns it when needed.

    “When it comes to passenger suits for helicopter transfer, there are a number of commonly used materials and features that are well-suited to the task,” said Jens Peter Kruse, the Danish company's vice president for personal protective equipment. “We’ve taken this into account with our new suit, and we’ve made a tremendous number of comfort and safety improvements, too.”

    Research roundup: Under-floor heating; fire retardants; even-numbered n-alkanes; more

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

  • Effect of thermal conductivities of shape stabilized PCM on under-floor heating system [Applied Energy] 

  • Fire Retardant for Phase Change Material [Engineering Materials]

  • Temperature-dependent thermal properties of solid/liquid phase change even-numbered n-alkanes: n-Hexadecane, n-octadecane and n-eicosane [Applied Energy]

  • Numerical analysis on thermal behavior of solid–liquid phase change within copper foam with varying porosity [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

  • Thermal behaviour of insulation and phase change materials in buildings with internal heat loads: experimental study [Energy Efficiency]

  • Resource and revenue potential of California residential load participation in ancillary services [Energy Policy]

  • A review of large-scale electrical energy storage (including a mathematical model for thermal energy storage as a battery) [Energy Research]

  • Research roundup: Polyurethane embedded graphite; gypsum board; nanoparticle PCM slurry; more

    Ben Welter - Monday, February 09, 2015

  • Electro/photo to heat conversion system based on polyurethane embedded graphite [Applied Energy]

  • Thermal evaluation of laminated composite phase change material gypsum board under dynamic conditions [Renewable Energy]

  • Different energy balances for the redesign of nearly net zero energy buildings: An Italian case study [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

  • Experimental study on the influence of nanoparticle PCM slurry for high temperature on convective heat transfer and energetic performance in a circular tube under imposed heat flux [Applied Thermal Engineering]

  • Mortars based in different binders with incorporation of phase-change materials: Physical and mechanical properties [European Journal of Environmental and Civil Engineering]

  • A new approach to theoretical modeling of heat transfer through fibrous layers incorporated with microcapsules of phase change materials [Thermochimica Acta]
  • PCMs in thermal packaging: Not just a phase

    Ben Welter - Friday, February 06, 2015

    In the latest issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer, design engineer Richard Harrop notes that, not so long ago, water was the filler material of choice for most cooling packs. The initial response to using phase change materials was, well, a bit chilly. They were thought to be costly and unnecessary. But now, Harrop writes, "the benefits of size, weight and cost saving are apparent. It is becoming clear that the growing inclusion of PCMs is not just a phase, but rather something that we can be excited to see much more of."

    Note: The link below leads Harrop's complete piece. Ignore the "Read full article from PDF" tease at the bottom. 

    New resource for clean energy entrepreneurs

    Ben Welter - Thursday, February 05, 2015

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Electric Power Research Institute have launched the Clean Energy Incubator Network. Through its website,, the federally funded program will assist business incubators, connect industry and energy sector partners, and boost clean energy technologies emerging from universities and government labs.

    "This website of resources and tools for incubators and entrepreneurs will serve as a focal point of the network," said Matt Ringer, NREL's project manager. "With our past experience building databases for a variety of related energy resources, NREL is well positioned to develop this type of resource for the clean tech industry."

    Research roundup: Organogel; mobilized thermal storage container; passive solar wall

    Ben Welter - Thursday, February 05, 2015

  • Organogel used as phase change material: solvent effects on structure, leakage and thermal performance [RSC Advances]

  • Experimental study on melting and solidification of phase change material in indirect contact mobilized thermal energy storage container [Chemical Industry and Engineering Progress]

  • Thermal behavior of a passive solar wall with silica aerogel and phase change materials [Proceedings of Energy Forum on Advanced Building Skins]

  • Effect of internal void placement on the heat transfer performance – Encapsulated phase change material for energy storage [Renewable Energy]