Phase Change Matters RSS

 

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.

RECENT POSTS

TAGS

ARCHIVE

Lineup set for Energy Innovation Summit's Technology Showcase

Ben Welter - Monday, January 23, 2017

The 2017 Energy Innovation Summit will be held Feb. 27-March 1 in Washington, D.C. The Technology Showcase highlights the work of recent ARPA-E awardees and a select group of other companies and research organizations. This year's showcase participants include:

• Electric Power Research Institute, "Indirect Dry Cooling Using Recirculating Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials"
• General Electric, "Electrothermal Energy Storage With A Multiphase Transcritical CO2 Cycle"
• University of Cincinnati, "Enhanced Air-Cooling System With Optimized Asynchronously-Cooled Thermal Energy Storage"
• Outlast Technologies, "Li-ion Battery Thermal Management using LHS Materials"
• Advanced Cooling Technologies, "Heat-Pipe PCM Based Cool Storage for ACC Systems"

http://www.arpae-summit.com/Showcase/Showcase-Participants

PCM briefing: Argonne developing cheaper TES system; registration open for ARPA-E summit

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 15, 2016

Argonne National Laboratory mechanical engineer Wenhua Yu prepares to test a prototype thermal energy storage system.• Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory have developed a prototype of an inexpensive thermal energy storage system that will be significantly smaller and more efficient than current systems. The Argonne system combines salt-based phase change material with high-conductivity graphite foam. The porous foam traps the PCM in pores, enabling rapid melting and freezing.

• In a new report from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, "Advancing the Biobased Economy," McKinsey & Co. estimates that biobased products will make up 11 percent of the $3.4 trillion global chemical market by 2020. [pdf] 

• "Designing superior phase change materials from lipids," by Dr. Michael Floros, appears in this month's issue of INFORM magazine, published by the American Oil Chemists' Society. In recent studies, he writes, PCMs made from saturated lipids outperformed their paraffin counterparts. Floros is a postdoctoral researcher in the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research at Trent University in Canada. 

• Registration for the 2017 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is now open. The summit will be held Feb. 27 to March 1, 2017, at the Gaylord Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. The summit is aimed at industry experts, thought leaders and decisionmakers focused on moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market. An agenda will be posted later this fall.

David Bergeron, founder and CEO of SunDanzer, is featured in a Houston Chronicle piece on NASA spinoff technologies. SunDanzer makes solar-powered refrigerators that use phase change material to keep vaccines and other temperature-sensitive payloads at the right temperature. Who knew that Bergeron, who was once an engineer at NASA, spent 18 years designing satellites?  

Pelican BioThermal is expanding manufacturing capabilities at its Minnesota facility. The goal is to better serve customers of its single-use temperature-controlled shippers in North and South America. The shippers have been manufactured exclusively in the United Kingdom.

Canada's wheelchair rugby team won its opening match in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, defeating host Brazil 62-48 on Wednesday. The Canadians are using PCM-equipped cooling vests developed by two recent graduates of Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. The vests were reportedly referred to, incorrectly, as "Kevlar" in TV coverage of the match.

PCM briefing: Grocery trucks equipped with PCMs; how to prepare for fluctuating feedstock pricing

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 25, 2016

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has posted a request for information on lower-grade waste heat recovery systems. ARPA-E says it is particularly interested in solid-state recovery technology.

High temperatures in the workplace are a major concern of trade union safety representatives, according to a survey conducted by the UK's Trades Union Congress. The federation is calling for a maximum temperature of 30º Celsius in the workplace; 27º C for those doing strenuous work. [pdf]

SK Telecom's new fresh groceries logistics service features delivery trucks equipped with phase change material. The South Korean company's Smart FreshX system eliminates the need to burn fuel to run on-board chillers. The PCM is chilled at night, when electricity is cheaper, and keeps groceries cold during daytime deliveries. 

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to publish proposed regulations under the revamped Toxic Substances Control Act by the end of this year.

U.S. chemical producers must continue to prepare for fluctuations in feedstock pricing, writes Michael Hinton of Allegro Development: "Trying to predict energy market moves can be a mugs’ game, but effective commodity management systems can analyse a company’s trading history against the specific risk factors in its portfolio."

PCM briefing: Job openings at ARPA-E; PCM heat exchanger arrives at space station

Ben Welter - Saturday, July 23, 2016

Peli BioThermal has expanded its temperature-control packaging operations in Asia, teaming up with Pharmaserv Express of the Philippines and CMC Element of China.

Anne J. McNeil, a chemistry professor at the University of Michigan, is among the growing number of academics who use the Slack messaging app to communicate with team members. In a typical week, her team uses the software to send about 400 messages and 70 files. The advantages over e-mail: speed and searchability.

• Thermal storage pioneer CALMAC has posted a new white paper: "Ice Storage or Chilled Water Storage. Which one is right for the job?

• Eight years after construction began, Abu Dhabi's vision for a bustling, energy-efficient city in the desert remains largely unrealized. Masdar City, a planned community initially designed to accommodate 50,000 citizens, sits mostly empty, with only a few hundred residents. French photographer Etienne Malapert has documented the futuristic city's eerie landscape.

ARPA-E is accepting applications for two-year fellowships in Washington, D.C. ARPA-E fellows focus on identifying breakthrough energy technologies through technical and economic analyses. The application deadline is Sept. 1, 2016. The agency also has openings for program directors and technology-to-market advisors.

NASA's experimental PCM heat exchanger arrived at the International Space Station this week.

Plaza Provision Co., a food distributor based in Puerto Rico, has purchased its fourth thermal energy storage system from Viking Cold Solutions. Houston-based Viking says the three PCM-based systems installed earlier have saved Plaza Provision $650,000 in energy costs since 2010.

• The American Chemistry Council’s Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index fell by 0.4% in June, the third consecutive monthly decline for the U.S. market.

Nanofoam-PCM coating could make existing single-pane windows more efficient

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 01, 2016

With the help of $3.1 million federal grant, researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory are using nanomaterials to improve the energy efficiency of existing single-pane windows. The team is developing a nanofoam coating that uses gas bubbles less than 100 nanometers in diameter. The coating is designed to allow visible light to pass through while blocking heat and sound.

The research builds on another nanomaterial being developed at Argonne: vanadium dioxide, a phase change material that behaves differently at different temperatures. At low temperatures, vanadium dioxide is a semiconductor that allows light to pass through. At high temperatures, it develops metallic properties and blocks near-infrared light, the portion of the solar spectrum that contains about half of all solar energy. That helps reflect solar radiation on warm days. The team has created a film that can boost near-infrared blocking and is more efficient at reflecting solar radiation, all while maintaining window transparency.

The researchers hope that a combination of nanofoam and vanadium dioxide will result in single-pane windows that can match the efficiency of multi-pane low-emissivity units.

http://www.newswise.com/articles/through-a-glass-warmly-argonne-nanomaterials-can-help-make-windows-more-efficient

PCM briefing: Thermal battery maker Sunamp raises $4.6 million; Viking Cold Solutions' cooling system is on display in Hannover

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

• U.K. thermal battery maker Sunamp has raised 3.2 million pounds ($4.6 million) in its latest investment round. Sunamp said “an international private investor in the energy market” led the funding round, along with existing investors Scottish Investment Bank, Par Equity, Equity Gap, Highland Venture Capital and Old College Capital. The company said the money would be used to fund expansion and product development.

Viking Cold Solutions' hybrid cooling system is on display at the industrial technology show in Hannover, Germany, this week. The new system combines phase change material with solar photovoltaics for use in supermarkets and food warehouses. The Houston-based company says the system can reduce electricity peak demand by up to 90 percent.

EGO Power+ string trimmer• The new EGO Power+ 15-inch string trimmer, which uses phase change material to keep its rechargeable battery cool, was the highest-rated of 11 battery-powered trimmers reviewed this month by Pro Tool Reviews.

• The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has signed an agreement with the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to work together to stimulate development of "high-potential, high-impact clean energy technologies" in the state. The collaboration will focus on a broad range of technology, including smart grid, distributed energy, renewable energy and energy storage.

• New report from Future Market Insights: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025".

• South Africa's new Bokpoort concentrated solar power plant has set an African record for continuous supply of electricity: 161 hours, or nearly six days. The plant's molten salt system provides 9.3 hours of thermal storage.

PCM briefing: NASA testing PCM heat exchanger for Orion spacecraft; 'too much' renewable energy in Texas, California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 13, 2016



NASA has partnered with the International Space Station to test the next generation of phase change material heat exchangers for use aboard the Orion spacecraft. The PCM HX helps maintain a comfortable environment by absorbing and ejecting excess heat. The test platform pumps a mix of propylene glycol and water through the PCM HX at temperatures between -10º and 30º Celsius. The wax PCM was developed by UTC Aerospace Systems.

ARPA-E is looking for input on the development of low-cost occupancy sensors to help minimize the energy used to heat and cool buildings.

• A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that many developing nations that now rely on a "high share of renewable energy in their power mix" are increasingly turning to fossil fuels to meet growing demand for cheap electricity.

• The world's renewable energy capacity grew by a record 152 gigawatts in 2015, or about 8.3 percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Solar capacity grew by 47 gigawatts, or 26 percent, as the cost of PV panels continued to fall.

• Appearing at last month's Solar Heating and Cooling Workshop in Melbourne, Frank Bruno, associate research professor at the University of South Australia, said phase change material thermal storage is cheaper than batteries for solar storage, costing around $200 (AUD) per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, compared to $1,500/kWh for batteries.

Installer magazine takes a close look at Viessmann's Ice Store home heating and cooling system.

• A provocative headline in the MIT Technology Review last week: "Texas and California Have Too Much Renewable Energy." The rapid growth of wind and solar, with no large-scale storage in place, has made a mess of energy prices in those states.

PCM briefing: Job openings at ARPA-E, RGEES; how to thermally model a material with hysteresis

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 24, 2016

ARPA-E is seeking candidates for a number of openings in Washington, D.C.: senior advisor for technical assessment and impact; program director; technology to market advisors; ARPA-E fellows and technology-to-market scholars. 

• PCM manufacturer RGEES has posted an opening for a production technician at its plant in Arden, N.C. 

• Software maker COMSOL outlines a procedure for thermally modeling a material with hysteresis, which means that the melting temperature is different from the solidification temperature.

• Global investment in renewable energy hit a record $286 billion in 2015, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Program. Developing economies accounted for nearly 55 percent of the total. It's a different story in Europe, evidently. The Guardian reports that the clean technology industry there "has fallen into a rapid decline, with investment in low-carbon energy last year plummeting to its lowest level in a decade."

PCM briefing: Jute-insulated packaging company is up for social impact award; premium mattress with PCM costs less than $1,000

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 10, 2016

TemperPack, maker of jute-insulated packaging for perishable foods, is one of nine finalists for CommonBond's annual Social Impact Award, competing for a chance to win $10,000. TemperPack's plastic-film cooling packs contain a solution of 95 percent water and 5 percent polyglycol.

• Online mattress startup Zen Bedding is offering its first product: a sub-$1,000 "premium" foam mattress that combines the thermo-regulation of phase change material with a cool gel memory foam.

• The Regulatory Assistance Project has taken a fresh look at how to close the projected gap between the total load a utility serves and what that load looks like after a significant amount of wind and solar energy is added to the system. Greentech Media notes that RAP gives one element — water — far more emphasis: "For the first time, managing water and wastewater pumping loads has been added as a strategy. Water heating and ice energy also have more prominent roles."

• Reporting on ARPA-E's annual innovation summit, Utility Dive says "it appears the stage is set for clean energy technology to benefit from a new wave of investment in the United States as investors take advantage of increased market certainty and public policy supportive of low-carbon energy solutions."

• Researchers at RWTH Aachen University are simulating the complex behavior of paraffin-water slurries in hydraulic networks. Possible uses include underfloor heating, cooling ceiling panels and district heating networks.

Meet DareHenry, a high-performance computer designed to heat homes, businesses

Ben Welter - Friday, March 04, 2016

DareHenry prototypeNew York inventor Lawrence Orsini began work last year on Project Exergy, a plan to develop high-performance computers that capture, store and distribute the heat they generate. The computers would be deployed in homes and businesses instead of server farms, with the excess thermal energy used to heat those locations and reduce energy costs.

Orsini is now working on stage 2 prototypes dubbed "DareHenry," using fatty acid/fatty ester phase change material as a thermal storage medium.

He continues to pursue funding for the project, which raised more than $18,000 on IndieGoGo last year. Project Exergy made it to the final four for Department of Energy R&D funding as part of a team that included NREL and is still in the hunt for ARPA-E funding, Orsini said in an e-mail interview. 

At right is one of several DareHenry prototypes with a 50-gallon phase change thermal storage tank.