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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 refrigeration conference set for May 2016

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 16, 2015

An international conference on phase change materials and slurries for refrigeration and air conditioning is set for May 18-20, 2016, in Karlsruhe, Germany. 

PCM 2016, sponsored by the International Institute of Refrigeration, will bring together scientists, researchers and industry leaders to discuss the latest developments in the field. Topics will include:

• Thermophysical properties of PCMs and slurries
• Transport phenomena of PCMs and slurries: mass, momentum and heat transfer
• Time-dependent behavior of PCMs and slurries
• Direct contact heat exchange

The conference will be conducted in English. Abstracts are due by Nov. 1; final papers are due by March 15.

Cryopak opens manufacturing plant in California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cryo-Gel packsCryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, has opened a new manufacturing facility in Poway, Calif. The company, a subsidiary of TCP Reliable, is based in Edison, N.J.

“The addition of local manufacturing will allow us to provide better support to our customers on the West Coast and the important Southern California market," said Maurice Barakat, TCP's president and CEO.

Promethean's rapid milk chiller is finding niche in India

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Greentech Media gets an update on Promethean Power Systems' rapid milk chiller from Sorin Grama, the company's chief technology officer.

Sorin Grama of Promethean Power SystemsUsing 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. It's designed for use in rural parts of developing countries, where milk-collection sites don't have access to reliable electricity. 

The company introduced the device in India and has said it plans to expand distribution to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka this year. Each unit costs around $8,000 to $10,000.

“Our systems are just a bit more expensive to buy than a regular diesel generator system, but the savings in operating costs make up the difference in less than one year. Our operating costs can be half of the operating cost of an equivalent chiller running with partial diesel power,” said Grama, right. 

About 150 units have been sold so far, he said. In April, co-founder Sam White said Promethean hopes to have 500 units in the field by the end of the year. 

Job opening: Croda seeks PCM market applications specialist

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Croda's Industrial Chemicals Division is looking for a market applications specialist with experience in phase change materials.

The applications specialist will help develop new products based on customer needs, develop new test methods and work on encapsulation projects. A degree in chemistry or chemical engineering, or equivalent experience, is required. Croda's PCM research and development team is located in Gouda, the Netherlands. Contact Marco Auerbach, industrial chemicals team leader,

Solar 2015 includes session on feasibility of seasonal ice thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, July 13, 2015

Dr. Richard D. Wilk, professor of mechanical engineering at Union College, will present research on the feasibility of seasonal ice thermal energy storage at the Solar 2015 conference at Penn State later this month. Other session topics include "The Great Solar Thermal Debate," "Research Advances in Solar Thermal," "Solar Thermal's Future: The Big Picture" and "High Performance Buildings."  

Dr. Richard D. WilkHere's a description of the July 29 poster session on seasonal ice storage:

"The system consists of a large insulated volume capable of storing large amounts of snow and ice collected in the winter, and storing it for weeks to months to produce chilled water for cooling buildings in hot weather. This project involved developing a transient heat transfer model to predict the time-dependent temperature of a snow/ice bed in a well-insulated compartment subjected to heat gain from the environment and simulated building cooling system return water. The model was used to study the effects of design parameters, like insulation type and thickness as well as the return water flow rate on the melt time."

On a blustery day, wind power generates 140% of Denmark's electrical demand

Ben Welter - Monday, July 13, 2015

At one point on a blustery day last week, Danish wind farms were producing 140 percent of the country's electricity needs, London's Guardian newspaper reports.

"Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later," the Guardian reported. "Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power. ...

"A surge in windfarm installations means Denmark could be producing half of its electricity from renewable sources well before a target date of 2020, according to Kees van der Leun, the chief commercial officer of the Ecofys energy consultancy."

Research roundup: PCM performance in building components; heat sink optimization; integrated TES systems; more

Ben Welter - Monday, July 13, 2015

Experimental Thermal Performance Analysis of Building Components Containing Phase Change Material (PCM) [Procedia Engineering]

A numerical method for PCM-based pin fin heat sinks optimization [Energy Conversion and Management]

Thermal energy storage in building integrated thermal systems: A review. Part 2. Integration as passive system [Renewable Energy]

Thermal properties of shape-stabilized phase change materials using fatty acid ester and exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets for saving energy in buildings [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Thermal conductivity measurement of thermochemical storage materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Renewable jobs up 18% in 2014, IRENA reports

Ben Welter - Friday, July 10, 2015

The renewable energy industry employed more than 7.7 million around the world in 2014, the International Renewable Energy Agency reports. That's an 18 percent increase from the previous year’s figure of 6.5 million.

The five countries with the largest renewable energy employment were China, Brazil, the United States, India and Germany. Employment in the United States increased by 16 percent, reaching 724,000 jobs.

The IRENA report, "Renewable Energy and Jobs — Annual Review 2015," also provides a first estimate of employment related to large hydro power, an estimated 1.5 million jobs worldwide. That figure is not included in IRENA's overall jobs total for 2014.

Patent application: Modular prosthetic sockets with PCM-enhanced struts

Ben Welter - Friday, July 10, 2015

LIM Innovations patent 20150190252U.S. patent application (Assignee LIM Innovations, San Francisco):

"The invention relates to a prosthetic socket for a residual limb of the lower extremity or upper extremity of an individual person. ... The prosthetic socket is an assembly of components from groups of components that include (a) struts arranged longitudinally with respect to the residual limb, (b) proximal brim members arranged proximally to the struts and connected thereto; and (c) distal socket members disposed at the distal base of the prosthetic socket. The socket components within these groups may be modular in that they can vary with respect to dimensions and/or contours, and yet have common connecting features that permit assembly of the components together to form the prosthetic socket. ... [A] strut may be adjustable by changes that occur in phase change materials incorporated in the strut."

Patent application: Thermally insulated package with PCM panels

Ben Welter - Friday, July 10, 2015

Peli patent application 20150166244U.S. application 20150166244 (Assignee Peli BioThermal Limited, Great Britain):

"Thermally insulating package comprises an outer shell formed from a foam insulating material, a plurality of vacuum insulated panels removably received on the walls of the outer shell and a plurality of phase change material panels arranged within the vacuum insulated panels to define a payload space. ...

"The present invention seeks to provide a temperature sensitive package which provides good temperature control, but which is compact, robust and potentially less expensive than existing comparable products."