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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.

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PCM briefing: Cleanergy lands CSP contract in China; ASHRAE extends global reach

Ben Welter - Monday, July 03, 2017

• Team Sky cyclists competing in this year's Tour de France are using Inuteq's Siku vest to cool down after each stage. The Dutch company's hybrid vest combines PCM and evaporative cooling technologies. Inuteq says it is supplying its cooling products to two other teams: Bahrain Merida and Cannondale Drapac.

Calmac, the New Jersey company whose thermal energy storage tanks help cool more than more than 4,500 buildings worldwide, including the corporate headquarters of JC Penney, Marriott and Google, was profiled in Inc. magazine last week.  

Ember Technologies' temperature-controlled mug is a finalist in the 2017 International Design Excellence Awards in the Kitchen & Accessories category. The winners will be announced Aug. 16 at the International Designers Society of America conference in Atlanta. 

Cleanergy AB of Sweden has signed an agreement to deploy a 200-MW concentrating solar energy project in China. A Cleanergy spokeswoman confirmed that phase change material will be used in the CSP project's thermal storage system but declined to provide details about the PCM. 

Midsize energy and chemical companies are among the least prepared for the disruption that technological innovation and other changes will bring, a new report from Capital One Commercial Bank says.

• A U.S. House appropriations subcommittee last week advanced a bill that would impose deep cuts in renewable energy and efficiency programs at the Department of Energy and eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, ARPA-E.

ASHRAE has announced the formation of a new ASHRAE Region in Europe and strategic partnerships with two European organizations: the UK-based Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and the Belgium-based Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning Associations.

• PCM will be among the topics at the 3rd International Conference: Innovative Materials and Smart Technologies for Environmental Safety. The conference will take place Sept. 27-29 in Latvia. The student conference includes a lecture titled "Heat Transfer Enhancement in Phase-Change Materials" by Dr. Gennady Ziskind, professor of mechanical engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. 

BASF, Cargill, Procter & Gamble and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH have joined together in a development partnership to help establish a sustainable certified and transparent supply chain of coconut oil in the Philippines and Indonesia.  

• New from Zion Market Research: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecasts 2016–2024"

Bio-Based World News reports that the biobased sector of Finland's economy is now worth 60 billion euros. About 60 percent of the sector is rooted in the country's forest industry. 

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions lands deal in Phoenix; study finds ARPA-E is doing what it was designed to do

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

Viking Cold Solutions has announced a collaboration between Salt River Project and Bashas' Supermarkets to install and evaluate the performance of Viking's PCM-based thermal energy storage system at Bashas' distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system is expected to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

A six-year study finds that ARPA-E, the U.S. Energy Department program that supports cutting-edge energy technologies, is meeting the goals of the 2007 law that created it even as the Trump administration seeks to eliminate its funding. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report concludes that the program is moving in the right direction and does not require major changes to keep bringing new energy technologies to market.

• The co-creator of a camisole that uses phase change material to reduce the discomfort of hot flashes is profiled in ChicagoInno this month. Nancy Munro, who is selling "CoolCami" online, hopes to partner with a women’s undergarment company like Spanx or Soma. CoolCami is made of absorbent bamboo fabric and features a PCM-filled cooling liner.

Peli BioThermal reports that its ProMed thermal transport bags performed well in a five-month trial in the United Kingdom. The Great North Air Ambulance Service used the bags to transport blood plasma to accident scenes.

Ministry of Supply, the Boston startup that integrates phase change material in its high-tech menswear, has added a lightweight polo shirt to its lineup. The machine-washable Apollo 3 Polo sells for $70. 

Axiom Exergy, maker of "refrigeration batteries" designed to reduce energy use in supermarkets, is looking to fill eleven positions, including product engineer, product engineer manager and engineering intern. Candidates for the internship are asked to give a concise response to a "bonus question": "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?"

CIC energiGUNE is looking for a laboratory technician to join the Thermal Energy Storage unit's materials development and characterization group.

• The European Commission, in with collaboration with Skanska, Saint-Gobain, Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils, has developed an open-source assessment framework for measuring the energy performance of buildings. Level(s) links a building’s environmental impact with resource priorities at the European level. The voluntary tool will be ready for testing this fall.

Va-Q-tec AG has established a Japanese subsidiary in Tokyo. The German company develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials for use in thermal packaging, air freight containers and other applications. Va-Q-tec Japan GK will focus on providing "small box and container sales and rental solutions" in the Asian market.

• A recent New York Times piece answered the question: "What if you need a battery? A really big one — big enough to run a city?" A 2.35-million-square-foot office tower in New York City is among many buildings around the world equipped with a system that stores energy in the form of ice. The system freezes water overnight to help cool the building during the day, when electricity is typically more expensive.  

Massachusetts has awarded $1.5 million to help fund installation of more than 200 residential thermal energy storage units on Nantucket. Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear units, is partnering with Genbright LLC on the project. The goal is to help reduce peak energy demand and demonstrate an alternative to a third undersea transmission line to the island.

SaltX Technology and Aalborg CSP have agreed to work together to develop and commercialize an integrated energy storage solution for concentrated solar power based on EnerStore, SaltX's patented technology for large-scale energy storage. A prototype is scheduled to be built later this year with the aim of securing a commercial pilot plant in 2018.

PCM briefing: Trump budget 'just not correct' on ARPA-E; Croda's Kevin Bozec among panelists at Plant Based Summit

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ice Energy and Horizon Solar Power have completed the installation of a solar-plus-ice-battery-storage system at Palm Springs Cultural Center in California’s Coachella Valley. The system, which replaced an aging HVAC system, comprises 73.6 kW of solar panels and five Ice Bear 30s.

• The Trump administration's budget blueprint is "just not correct" about the function of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, its former director said this week. The blueprint eliminates all ARPA-E funding "because the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies." But agency was created just for stages of research and development that the private sector does not finance, said Ellen Williams, the agency's director from 2014 until January 2017.

Dow Chemical and DuPont won the blessing of the European Union for their $130 billion merger by agreeing to sell substantial assets, including key research and development activities.

• The global PCM market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 19.9 percent over the next five years, according to a new market research from Mordor Intelligence, "Global Phase Change Material Market-Segmented by Material Type, Product Type, Application, and Geography-Trends and Forecasts (2017-2022)." 

Kevin Bozec, marketing coordinator at Croda, is among the presenters at the Plant Based Summit in Lille, France, April 25-27. He will discuss Crodatherm phase change materials in a session on new materials. To register for the conference and trade show, visit www.plantbasedsummit.com.

GSA Business offers a closer look at the leadership transition at Alexium International Group Ltd., the company that took its flame-retardant material and PCM-based cooling fabrics to commercial markets in 2016. 

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.