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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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CALMAC's take on behind-the-meter energy storage

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thermal energy storage pioneer CALMAC examines the state of behind-the-meter TES and sees a future teeming with possibilities:

"Intermittency issues inherent to renewable energy generation mean that continued growth in distributed and behind-the-meter storage creates new opportunities for energy storage applications in zero energy buildings. Likewise, the rise of the green building movement has clued more contractors, engineers and architects into the cost-saving advantages of incorporating solar and energy storage for behind-the-meter generation."

http://www.calmac.com/energy-storage-articles-a-closer-look-at-energy-storage-behind-the-meter

Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Phase Change Matters logoNew on LinkedIn: A group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage, a place for PCM and TES experts and industry leaders from around the world to gather and share ideas. It's called Phase Change Matters, and it's intended as a highly interactive complement to the blog and newsletter of the same name.

The first topic up for discussion: PCM and off-peak cooling systems:

TES pioneers like CALMAC and Ice Energy have been installing ice-based energy storage systems for years. And district cooling has been around for decades. What are the main barriers to wider adoption of phase change material in these types of thermal energy storage systems? Complexity? Education? Cost?

You are invited to join the discussion. Here's a link to the group:

https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=6953237

U.S. energy storage capacity poised for rapid growth

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

U.S. energy storage capacity is expected to more than triple over the next five years, according to a new report from GTM Research. Utility-scale installations accounted for 90 percent of new capacity in 2014, according to the report, but behind-the-meter storage, such as Ice Energy's load-shifting Ice Bear system, is gaining momentum. Analysts predict a "break-out" year for that segment in 2015, putting it on track to make up 45 percent of the overall market by the end of 2019.

Here's a summary from the Christian Science Monitor:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2015/0323/The-next-big-energy-boom-Storage

Research roundup: Insulated greenhouse with shutters; nano-media supercooling; multi-split air source heat pump

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The effect of nocturnal shutter on insulated greenhouse using a solar air heater with latent storage energy [Solar Energy]

Supercooling and cold energy storage characteristics of nano-media in ball-packed porous structures [AIP Advances]

Defrosting performances of a multi-split air source heat pump with phase change thermal storage [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Outlast PCM/down filling material makes FabricLink's Top 10

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Outlast Technologies' Universe PCM/down filling material has won a place on FabricLink's list of top 10 textile innovations for 2014-2015. The filling material "adds lightness, fluffy volume and naturalness, while regulating and optimizing the climate comfort."

The award honors commercially available materials and technologies that have launched during the past year. Other winners this year include 3M's Thinsulate Featherless Insulation, Carhartt's flame-resistant Extremes Arctic outerwear and Freudenberg's nonwoven polyester lining material.

http://www.fabriclink.com/Consumer/TopTen-2014.cfm

Ohio teen's PCM proposal wins MIT THINK award

Ben Welter - Monday, March 23, 2015

Aditya JobAn Ohio teen's proposal to use phase change material to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic panels is one of three winners in MIT's annual THINK competition. Aditya Jog, a sophomore at Mason High School near Cincinnati, will receive $2,000 to build his project, a $500 scholarship and project mentorship from MIT students.

"Photovoltaic cells have the potential to utilize the planet’s most plentiful renewable energy source, yet their widespread use has been impeded because of relatively low efficiency," he wrote in his application. "The solar to electrical conversion efficiency of photovoltaic devices suffers when they operate at elevated temperatures. Current solutions rely on active heat dissipation, increasing both capital and operating costs. This proposal offers an alternative, passive heat dissipation system that employs a solid-liquid phase change material as a temperature regulator."

The THINK Scholars Program, sponsored this year by Thomson Reuters, is run by a team of MIT undergraduate students.

http://www.todayspulse.com/news/news/local/mhs-student-1-of-3-winners-of-mit-think-scholars-c/nkXk4/

Research roundup: Polymethyl methacrylate; Lattice Boltzmann simulation; geopolymer mortar; kaolin-based composite PCM

Ben Welter - Friday, March 20, 2015

Polymethyl methacrylate based phase change microencapsulation for solar energy storage with silicon nitride [Solar Energy]

Lattice Boltzmann simulation for solid–liquid phase change phenomenon of phase change material under constant heat flux [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Experimental study of geopolymer mortar with incorporated PCM [Construction and Building Materials]

Fabrication and thermal characterization of kaolin-based composite phase change materials for latent heat storage in buildings [Energy and Buildings]

Austin's NexusHaus features rainwater thermal storage system

Ben Welter - Friday, March 20, 2015

Austin EcoNetwork says an 850-square-foot solar-powered house under development in Austin demonstrates the "creative thinking" needed to address the Texas city's limited access to local food, high energy demands, strained water resources and urban sprawl. NexusHaus, a collaboration of the University of Texas, the Technical University of Munich and the city of Austin, is designed to be an affordable solution. Features include "an integrated rainwater thermal storage system" that will shift cooling to off-peak hours and help cut energy consumption by about 80 percent during peak hours. 

http://www.austineconetwork.com/blog/nexushaus-big-problems-one-bold-solution