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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: Space station gets water-based heat exchanger; China gets molten salt solar power plant

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 28, 2016

• An experimental PCM heat exchanger has been installed aboard the International Space Station. The device is designed to help maintain safe temperatures for crew members and equipment. The device uses a water-based PCM to remove heat from areas that must be cooled and move it into areas that must be warmed.

China News Service reports that Asia's first molten salt solar power plant has been connected to the grid and will begin operations next week in northwestern China. The 10-megawatt plant, run by Beijing Shouhang Resources Saving Co., generates electricity from solar power 24 hours a day. It will provide electricity for 30,000 households during its initial phase.

• A cooling technology that can operate without a constant power supply will undergo pilot trials in Dubai. Sure Chill's water-based system is used in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for a grid-based electricity. The Welsh company signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-run Dubai Electricity and Water Authority after taking part in the 12-week Dubai Future Accelerators Program.

• In a decision involving a patent on phase change material, a U.S. appeals court has reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision to exclude certain e-mails used as evidence of an earlier conception date in REG Synthetic Fuels LLC v. Neste Oil OYJ. The court found that the board had improperly excluded the emails as hearsay.

• Noting recent acquisitions by FedEx and UPS, Pelican Biothermal VP Kevin Lawler lists consolidation among the key trends likely to shape the temperature-controlled logistics market in 2017.

PCM briefing: Siemens touts packed-bed thermal storage breakthrough; TSCA's impact on chemical importers

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 20, 2016

Siemens says its recently launched packed-bed thermal storage concept for wind power could deliver energy at well below 0.10 euros per kilowatt-hour. The system uses surplus electricity to blow air at 600 degrees Celsius across a packed bed of basalt rocks in an insulated container.

• The National Law Review takes a detailed look at the impact of the newly revised Toxic Substances Control Act on chemical importers, noting that "companies planning to ship chemical-based products to the United States should have a basic understanding of the TSCA." 

• Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have invented a new thermal energy storage system that uses molten silicon to store up to 10 times more energy than existing storage devices. "The proposed new thermal energy storage system," according to a report in New Atlas, "involves heating the silicon in a container using either concentrated sunlight on surplus electricity generated by renewable power. The molten silicon – which can reach temperatures of around 1,400° C (2,552° F) – can be isolated from its environment until energy is needed, at which point the heat is converted to electricity."  

SolarReserve has proposed building the world's largest solar power plant in Nevada. The 2-gigawatt Sandstone project would include up to 10 concentrated solar arrays, each equipped with a molten salt thermal storage system. 

SUNCNIM has raised 60 million euros to help finance construction of the world’s first commercial Fresnel concentrated solar power plant with energy storage. The plant in the French Pyrenees will have four hours of thermal storage capacity. The thermal energy will be converted into electricity by a steam generation process.

Ministry, whose high-tech clothing line includes dress shirts infused with phase change material, has opened a store in downtown Chicago

• The American Society of Interior Designers has opened a Material ConneXion library at the society's new corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Materials ConneXion database lists more than 7,500 "unique, innovative and sustainable materials." PureTemp's biobased phase change materials were added to database last year.

Ember Technologies, which raised more than $350,000 on IndieGoGo last year to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, sent backers another update this week: "We are happy to announce that shipping will begin the first week of November for our pre-order customers." Delivery was initially set for April 2016. The $150 mug uses bio-based phase change material and a microprocessor-controlled heating system to maintain hot beverages at temperatures set by the user.

• New from Market Research Engine: "Global Microencapsulation Market Research Report - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2021." The report projects the market will reach $8.5 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent.

PCM briefing: Phase change material in concept motorcycle and automotive interiors

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Can-Am Spyder e-motorcycle• Bombardier Recreational Products of Canada has produced an electric version of its three-wheel Can-Am Spyder motorcycle. The concept vehicle is equipped with a 16 kWh battery and has a range of about 170 km (106 miles). Phase change material is used to cool the lithium-ion batteries. No word on whether a production model is planned.

Dr. Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Industrial Fabrics Association International Expo in Charlotte, N.C. The topic of her Oct. 18 presentation: "Taking the heat – thermal control of the automotive interior with phase change material."

CALMAC is applauding the Massachusetts Legislature for approving an "energy diversity" bill that promotes the use of renewable energy sources and energy storage technologies. The legislation, signed into law Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, requires the state to seek long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and 1,200 MW of hydropower. Its broad definition of energy storage includes distributed thermal energy storage such as CALMAC's IceBank system. "It is unrealistic to believe that renewable energy will align itself perfectly with the demand of the power grid and consumers without adding energy storage," said Mark McCracken, the company's CEO. "Massachusetts has taken great steps to create a more reliable, smarter grid to adapt to future needs.”

• Got a big tank to clean? You might want to contact CYC International of Singapore. The plant maintenance company has created a snake-like robot to clean tanks at oil refineries. CYC says use of the remote-controlled robot reduces the number of workers needed to clean a tank, lowering health and safety risks and improving productivity.

2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners named

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 23, 2016

Verdezyne of Carlsbad, Calif., which developed a greener way to make high-performance nylon, is among this year's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners. Verdezyne's process uses a plant-based feedstock and does not employ high temperatures or concentrated nitric acid. The nylon is used in hairbrushes, toothbrushes, adhesives, coatings, fragrances and other products. It has qualified for the USDA Certified Biobased label.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award recognizes innovative technologies "that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development." The awards were present last week at the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Ore. This year's other winners:

• Professor Paul Chirik of Princeton University discovered a new class of catalysts to produce silicones without the use of platinum.

Newlight Technologies of Costa Mesa, Calif., developed a plastic made from methane-based greenhouse gas. 

• Texas-based CB&I and Albemarle Corp. of Baton Rouge, La., developed and commercialized a safer technology to produce alkylate, a clean gasoline component.

Dow AgroSciences of Indianapolis developed and commercialized Instinct, an additive that reduces the leaching of fertilizer nitrate into ground and surface waters. 

Dr. William R. Sutterlin, Entropy Solutions' chief science officer, was a member of a University of Missouri team that won the academic award in 2006 for developing an inexpensive method to convert waste glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel fuel production, into propylene glycol.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-honors-winners-2016-presidential-green-chemistry-challenge-awards-0

Research roundup: Evaluation of paraffin for thermal energy storage; fatty acid PCMs; exergy analysis of clean energy systems; more

Ben Welter - Monday, April 18, 2016

Experimental Evaluation of a Paraffin as Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage in Laboratory Equipment and in a Shell-and-Tube Heat Exchanger [Applied Sciences]

Special Issue on Exergy Analysis of Clean Energy Systems [International Journal of Energy]

Modeling and analysis the productivity of solar desalination units with phase change materials [Renewable Energy]

Thermal energy storage and retrieval characteristics of a molten-salt latent heat thermal energy storage system [Applied Energy]

Performance evaluation of fatty acids as phase change material for thermal energy storage [Journal of Energy Storage]

Phase Change Materials (PCM) for cooling applications in buildings: A review [Energy and Buildings]

Fabrication and Properties of Poly(polyethylene glycol n-alkyl ether vinyl ether)s as Polymeric Phase Change Materials [Thermochimica Acta]

Experiment study of oscillating heat pipe and phase change materials coupled for thermal energy storage and thermal management [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Characterization of calcium chloride tetrahydrate as a phase change material and thermodynamic analysis of the results [Renewable Energy]

Eutectic Na2CO3–NaCl salt: A new phase change material for high temperature thermal storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

PCM briefing: Qatar University working on polyolefin-based PCM; Pelican BioThermal introduces Credo Cargo

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Qatar University Centre for Advanced Materials is developing polyolefin-based phase change material to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and plastic waste. The research team is developing special PCM foams and compact composite sheets based on polyethylene, paraffin wax and graphite. 

Swiss away jersey by PumaPelican BioThermal has launched a new pallet shipper system, CrÄ“do Cargo. The reusable bulk shipper uses phase change material cooling panels to maintain temperature ranges +2C to +8C and +15C to +25C. 

The Swiss national soccer team will wear PCM-infused away uniforms at the European Championships 2016 in France. The jersey features Puma's ACTV Thermo-R technology. Strategically placed tape infused with microencapsulated phase change material absorbs excess heat and releases it back to the body when needed. The uniforms will be worn for the first time in an international friendly against the Republic of Ireland on March 25. Other national teams sporting the new kits are Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy.

President Obama is vowing to push ahead with efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions after the U.S. Supreme Court put his Clean Power Plan on hold until legal challenges are resolved.

PCM briefing: Georgia Tech selected for Solar Decathlon; Arizona company to outsource operations of 'Near Zero Carbon' greenhouse

Ben Welter - Monday, February 08, 2016

• A team from Georgia Tech is one of 16 chosen to participate in the U.S. Energy Department's 2017 Solar Decathlon. The team will explore concepts such as heat recovery systems, phase change materials, solar technology and direct current microgrids. Northwestern, Rice and Syracuse universities are among the other schools selected. 

Sustainable Energy and Agriculture Technology LLC is looking to outsource the operations of a “Near Zero Carbon” solar greenhouse in Sahuarita, Ariz. Phase change material will be used to control temperature in the 1,160-square-meter greenhouse.

EnergyNest reports that its concrete thermal energy storage system at the Masdar Institute's solar plant in Abu Dhabi is performing as well as or better than simulations suggested it would.

• A growing number of researchers are contacting reporters directly to alert them to upcoming papers, The Scientist magazine reports.

• The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has obtained a U.S. patent for a method that rapidly characterizes specialized materials during the manufacturing process.

PCM briefing: A bioplastics breakthrough from DuPont/ADM; a revamped bedding line from Tempur-Pedic

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CleanTechnica takes a look at the DuPont-ADM "breakthrough" process for producing a high-performance, 100 percent biodegradable bioplastic. The companies' first project will use furan dicarboxylic methyl ester to produce polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate, which ADM says outperforms petroleum-based polymers in extending beverage shelf life.

•  Tempur-Pedic has revamped its Breeze line of cooler-sleep beds, fusing phase change material in the top Tempur foam layer to deliver “a significantly improved cooling effect,” the company said.

Composite sandwich panels containing phase change material are among 20 smart materials and structures identified by a European Union study with possible applications in the shipbuilding industry. The panels would minimize heat transfer and lower cooling costs on refrigerated cargo ships.  

• Sonoco ThermoSafe, Pluss Advanced Technologies, va-Q-tec AG, Peli BioThermal, Cryopak, AAR Cold Chain Solutions and Croda are among the companies exhibiting PCM-related products at the 15th annual Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe conference in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. 

PCM briefing: California leads U.S. in net-zero buildings; Ice Energy CEO among speakers at green conference

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins and renowned architect Frank Gehry are among the speakers at the VerdeXchange green economy conference Jan. 24-26 in Los Angeles.

California is home to almost half of all the net-zero buildings in the United States, according to a new survey from the Net-Zero Energy Coalition. Sacramento is first among U.S. cities, with more than 925 zero-energy housing units and 800 more planned. 

MIT researchers have developed a new material that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat on demand. The transparent polymer film could be applied to window glass, clothing or other surfaces.

• New from Grand View Research: "Fatty Acid Ester Market Analysis By Product (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Glyceryl Monostearate, Isopropyl Esters), By Application (Personal Care & Cosmetics, Lubricants, Food Processing, Surfactants & Detergents, Pharmaceuticals) and Segment Forecasts To 2022"

A housing development in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is said to be the first in the world to run on solar-powered hydrogen energy storage.

PCM briefing: Ice Energy hires CFO; Ember temperature-adjustable mug among gadgets at Consumer Electronics Show

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 07, 2016

Ice Energy, maker of the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, has hired Charles Costenbader as its new chief financial officer. Costenbader most recently served as chief operating officer of Synthesis Energy Systems, Shanghai, China.

Ember Technologies' temperature-adjustable mug, powered by phase change material, is among the gadgets on display at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Appliance maker Glen Dimplex is about to begin recruiting 1,250 households in Germany, Latvia and Ireland to test its Quantum electric thermal storage system later this year.

The UK Green Building Council has launched a program to ensure that commercial buildings across the country meet the performance standards promised by developers.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is accepting applications for a year-round student internship to help foster clean energy development on tribal lands. 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy is seeking technology-to-market experts to guide ARPA-E awardees in the development and execution of technology commercialization strategies. 

ARPA-E has posted the agenda for the Energy Innovation Summit, Feb. 29-March 2 in suburban Washington, D.C. Advanced Cooling Technologies and the Electric Power Research Institute, which are developing PCM-based dry-cooling technologies for thermoelectric power plants, are listed among the 267 showcase participants.