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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: Sonoco ThermoSafe partners with Cargolux; Axiom Exergy partners with Leap

Ben Welter - Friday, March 22, 2019

Amrit RobbinsAxiom Exergy has announced a partnership with Leap, a technology company that serves as an aggregator of flexible power loads in California. Axiom says the arrangement will unlock grid services revenue for its customers, including three Whole Foods Market facilities in Northern California.

Axiom's "Refrigeration Battery" system is designed to reduce a supermarket's peak power use by up to 40 percent and provide backup cooling during power outages. It uses the excess capacity of existing refrigeration systems to "store cooling" at night by freezing tanks of salt water.  

"Axiom Exergy is excited to announce that Whole Foods has connected three of their buildings to our platform, which will serve as our first Virtual Power Plant," Axiom CEO Amrit Robbins wrote in a LinkedIn post Friday. "Axiom’s platform will intelligently manage 340 kW of dispatchable load across these facilities in order to generate more value for Whole Foods and to help stabilize California’s electricity grid."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has announced a global partnership agreement with Cargolux for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from the all-cargo airline based in Luxembourg.

• On LinkedIn this week, Ice Energy posted an update on its 5 MW contract with Riverside Public Utilities in California: "We are working to install 9 Ice Bear thermal #energystorage batteries and 13 rooftop units with Inland Mechanical Services Inc. at a car dealership in Riverside."

• A high-temperature thermal energy storage system inaugurated in Denmark this week stores heat in stones. The test system uses surplus wind power to generate hot air, which heats up small stones in an insulated container to 600 degrees. The stored heat is used to generate electricity when the wind doesn't blow. The system was developed by the energy company Seas-NVE, in collaboration with DTU Energy, Aarhus University Geoscience, Danish Energy, Energinet.dk and Rockwool.

Alexium International CEO Bob Brookins was among the presenters at the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating in Berlin earlier this month. His topic: "Advanced applications of phase change materials."

• The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is investigating whether Germany’s coal plants can be refitted to serve as thermal energy storage sites. "The research body, which has a track record in concentrated solar power (CSP) development, is planning a pilot that will involve ripping out the boiler from an old coal plant and replacing it with a molten salt thermal storage tank that will be heated using excess renewable energy," Greentech Media reports. "If the concept works, then advocates say it could help safeguard coal generation jobs while giving Germany tens of gigawatts of storage capacity for renewable energy load-shifting on the German grid." DLR says it is preparing a commercial-scale pilot in association with an unnamed German utility.

Sunamp signs agreement with Chinese heat pump maker

Ben Welter - Monday, March 18, 2019

Sunamp Ltd. of Scotland has signed a memo of understanding with a Chinese manufacturer to develop a heat pump water heater for the residential market.

Sunamp UniQ 12 heat batteryThe new technology will combine heat pumps made by Jiangsu Gomon Renewable Energy Development Co. and Sunamp's UniQ heat batteries, which use a salt-based phase change material to store excess energy generated by solar PV systems. The stored energy is released on demand to provide heat and hot water.

The two companies signed the agreement last week at the ISH trade fair in Frankfurt. The agreement sets the terms for manufacturing and marketing the product in China and worldwide. Sunamp says product testing is already underway.

“Sunamp aims to displace as many water tanks as possible with UniQ heat batteries," said Maurizio Zaglio, Sunamp's international business development manager. "The fact that one of the largest manufacturers of water tanks in the world has decided to develop a new product with us is an important milestone for Sunamp."

In a presentation at ISH, Zaglio put it more plainly: "We are not here to complement hot water tanks - we are here to replace them!"

The deal is Sunamp's second with a major Chinese manufacturer in the past four months. In November, the company signed an agreement with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries now made in Scotland with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/heat-storage-battery-pioneer-sunamp-14121831

PCM briefing: 2-day training school in Barcelona; Alexium to launch foam bedding, 'top of bed' products

Ben Welter - Friday, March 15, 2019

A training school on thermal energy storage material selection, optimization and characterization will be offered May 20-21 at the University of Barcelona. The university's Center for Design and Optimization of Processes and Materials is hosting the event. The fee is 230 euros. Lecturers include Camila Barreneche, Ana Inés Fernández, Mercè Segarra and Pablo Gamallo of the University of Barcelona; Luisa Cabeza and Alvaro de Gracia of the University of Lleida, Spain; and Yulong Ding of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Alexium International Group Ltd. was among the companies making presentations this week at the Gabelli & Company Specialty Chemicals Conference in New York City. Alexium, based in Greer, S.C., and Perth, Australia, makes flame-retardant and PCM-enhanced fabric treatments. Among its "cornerstone" initiatives is a plan to launch a new product line in early 2019, Alexicool FM, the application of the company's Alexicool technology to foam mattress and "top of bed" products.  

• Thermal materials specialist va-Q-tec reports that its annual revenue grew by 8 percent in 2018. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, said sales from its products business, including vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials, increased by 12 percent to 20.1 million euros, up from 18 million euros in 2017. However, its earnings fell by 58 percent, to 3 million euros. It blamed earnings decrease on investment costs and a rise in sales from its lower-margin products business.

• Australian researchers are challenging the belief that 22° C (72° F) is the optimum temperature to maintain worker productivity. A team from Griffith University’s School of Engineering and Built Environment and Cities Research Institute performed an extensive review of research literature on the relation of moderate thermal environment to cognitive performance. "From the research point of view," the lead researcher, Fan Zhang, said in an interview with the Cooling Post, "there is no empirical evidence that this temperature [22ºC] should be maintained. In effect, it is inconsistent with the already-established comfort benchmarks such as ASHRAE 55-2017, which recommends a summer time thermal comfort zone of 23-26ºC. I would say 23-26 is a safe summer temperature set point range for western developed countries."

PCM briefing: Boston food bank installs Viking Cold TES system; 2-day workshop on microencapsulation

Ben Welter - Friday, March 08, 2019

The Greater Boston Food Bank is reporting a 75 percent reduction in energy use during targeted peak hours since the beginning of the year after installing a Viking Cold Solutions thermal energy storage system for the refrigeration units at its 117,000 square-foot, high-efficiency Yawkey Distribution Center.

Maria Telkes• To mark Women's History Month, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of "50 Things You Never Knew Were Invented by Women." MIT researcher Maria Telkes, a pioneer in the field of solar thermal storage, is on the list at No. 30. She created the first solar-heated system for her home in Dover, Mass., in 1947. The system used a phase change material, sodium sulfate decahydrate, to store solar heat.

• Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences say they have developed an inexpensive, flexible film that renders the objects it covers virtually invisible in infrared light. The film's main components are DuPont's Kevlar, a synthetic fiber with high tensile strength, and polyethylene glycol, a phase change material that can store heat. 

• French utility ENGIE has begun production at one of South Africa’s largest renewable energy projects, the 100MW Kathu Solar Park. The concentrated solar plant's molten salt storage system provides up to 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage.

• The Southwest Research Institute is hosting a two-day workshop on microencapsulation March 25-26 in San Antonio, Texas. The introductory course will cover topics such as atomization (spray drying, spray chilling, spray congealing) and spray coating (fluid bed coating, granulation). The cost is $950.

• The University of California is winning praise for its decision to end its subscription deal with Elsevier, the world’s biggest publisher of scientific journals. UC is the first major university system to push for open-access publishing. UC, which had been paying $11 million a year to Elsevier in subscription fees, generates about 10 percent of the research produced in the United States. “It’s ridiculous that, in this age of the internet, researchers are paying huge fees for access to academic papers and for publication of their own work,” the San Jose Mercury News said in a March 6 editorial.   

PCM briefing: Energy Storage Europe includes sessions on thermal storage; C-Therm offers webinar on thermal performance of textiles

Ben Welter - Monday, March 04, 2019

• The Energy Storage Europe conference and trade fair, set for March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany, includes a number of sessions on thermal energy storage: "Heat Storage - an essential contribution to energy transition," Oliver Baudson, TSK Flagsol Engineering GmbH; "Advanced Thermal Energy Storage Concepts," Dr. Robert Pitz-Paal, DLR Institute of Solar Research; "High Temperature Storage," Doron Brenmiller, Brenmiller Energy; "Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage," Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern; and "Thermal Energy Storage for Cost-Effective Energy Management & CO2 Mitigation," Dr. Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center - DLR e.V.

• The deadline for submitting paper proposals for next fall's Advanced Building Skins conference in Bern, Switzerland, is March 10. The list of topics includes thermal performance of phase change materials.

• Thermal battery maker Sunamp Ltd.'s collaboration with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry won the "Powerful Partnership" award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019 last month. The organizations began work on the development of new phase change materials in 2010. 

• Croda International Plc has been recognized for its commitment to "a deforestation-free supply chain." Croda earned an A- in that category in CDP's climate change report for 2018, up from a B the previous year. The specialty chemical company says it has a special focus on palm oil and is committed to supplying RSPO-certified palm oil derivatives. 

• Thermal instrumentation maker C-Therm Technologies Ltd. is hosting a free webinar this week, "Quantifying Thermal Performance of Textiles (Warm Feel / Cool Touch)." The webinar, aimed at "anyone working in the product performance testing of textiles and fabrics where temperature regulation is an important function," will be held at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Need a PCM coating on that coat? Ohio company has a solution

Ben Welter - Friday, March 01, 2019

Therma-SprayMCMENT Inc., an Ohio company that makes a PCM spray designed for use by consumers, launched a new website last month, teamapini.com, to market the product.

"We have been working on the Team Apini Therma-Spray product for a couple of years to give consumers a way to apply PCM technology to the clothing, bedding or other textile products they may already own," said Monte Magill, the company's senior vice president for PCM technologies. The coating is designed to absorb and release thermal energy to enhance thermal comfort.

"It is a water-based formulation containing microencapsulated PCMs and a heat curable binder material to affix the microPCMs to the various textile substrates," said Magill, who has worked in the PCM industry since the mid-1990s. "We do the final packaging in house but have the microPCMs and the binder formulation contract manufactured."

Therma-Spray-treated socks are also available on the site. The company has been selling Infinite R PCM products for the building and construction industry on its main site, mcmentinc.com, since 2016.

Magill says more retail products are in the pipeline: "Look for Team Apini thermal underwear, henleys, pillow cases and sheeting, a bunzy protector (seat cushion thermal protector for home, auto, camping, stadium, etc.), heating and cooling packs (for work, first responder and dietary applications) as well as an equestrian line we are working on now for both horse and rider (dressage focus)."

PCM briefing: PureTemp joins RSPO; Reda's new PCM fabric on display in Milan

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

PureTemp LLC has joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil as an associate member. The nonprofit organization, which has more than 4,000 members worldwide, promotes the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products. In November, RSPO adopted stricter standards for certified sustainable palm oil, including a total ban on deforestation by its members.

Reda Group's new Active Phase temperature-control fabric was on display at the Milan fabric trade show earlier this month. The material uses phase change material to keep body temperature constant when ambient temperature fluctuates. Reda says the material features enhanced breathability and softness and is "easy to clean, even in water."

University of Maryland fabric•  University of Maryland researchers have created a temperature-control fabric that does not rely on phase change material. The fabric changes its insulating properties in response to the environment. In warm and humid conditions, the fabric allows radiant heat to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. Two types of synthetic materials in the fabric — one that absorbs water and another other that repels it — are coated with carbon nanotubes. The fibers warp and relax in response to changing humidity, opening and closing pores in the fabric. 

• In interviews with Advanced Textiles Source, four entrepreneurs were asked: What do you wish you had known early on when you were first dealing with intellectual property law and patent issues? “Get feedback on why you need a patent,” said Jeremy Wall, founder and CEO of smart-clothing startup Lumenus. “Where else could you spend $20,000?” Said Matt Kolmes, CEO of VOLT Smart Yarns: “Even if you are on a tight budget, file that Provisional application immediately before you show your idea to anyone, or talk about it with anyone."

• The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action program is seeking applicants for a one- to two-year research fellowship at the Oslo Metropolitan University. The European Union-funded fellowship will focus on the energy-performance aspects of phase change material in buildings. "In this collaboration," OsloMet says, "we intend to gain our understanding and explore about the micro-structural aspect to relate the macro-scale behavior at continuum level." The application deadline is March 7.

PCM briefing: Cash infusion for PCES; call for e-textile conference papers

Ben Welter - Monday, January 28, 2019

Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc. of Asheboro, N.C., last week announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. Dennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus, joined PCES last month as chief executive officer. The company says it will use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. 

Mark RichardsMark Richards, right, CEO at Emery Mechanical Engineering in San Diego, is featured in a recent episode of the HVAC 360 podcast. Richards, former applications engineering manager at Phase Change Energy Solutions, talks about "Phase Change Materials in Practice." 

1414 Degrees of Australia reports that the first commercial pilot of its molten silicon energy storage system is one step closer to commissioning. The GAS-TESS will store energy to generate electricity from biogases produced at a wastewater treatment plant. 

• In collaboration with Canada's Université Laval, researchers at the University of the Basque Country in Spain conclude that "fake ISO 9001 quality certificates are very widespread across Chinese companies and that the certification processes of the auditing companies lack credibility." 

• The Association Connecting Electronics Industries has issued a call for technical conference abstracts and educational course proposals for IPC E-TEXTILES 2019 to be held Sept. 11 in Philadelphia, Pa. Topics include reliability, test methods, design, washability and materials innovation. Abstracts and proposals are due by April 10. 

PureTemp introduces temperature-control fabric coating

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PureTemp LLC has developed a fabric coating engineered to provide an effective buffer against ambient temperature swings in consumer products such as apparel, footwear, bedding, safety, medical, workwear and industrial applications.

Scanning electron microscope image of PureTemp fabric coating Through a proprietary process, PureTemp's biobased phase change material is enclosed in spherical microcapsules and bound to the surface of the fabric. PCMs absorb, store and release thermal energy as they cycle between solid and liquid states. The PCM coating interacts continuously with the unique microclimate of the human body, storing and releasing energy to balance body temperature and increase comfort.

PureTemp honeycomb pattern coatings are available for knit, woven, interlock, circular knits, nonwoven, cotton, polyester and other blends. The photo above shows what PureTemp coated fabric looks like under a scanning electron microscope.

The Minnesota company began producing the world’s first 100 percent biobased PCMs in 2007. PureTemp PCMs, developed in three years of research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are used in a wide variety of temperature-control applications, from cooling vests and warming blankets to shipping containers and coffee mugs.

PureTemp's Dan Keller is directing the business initiative. For more information on PureTemp coated fabrics, contact him via inquiries@puretemp.com or visit https://www.puretemp.com/fabrics.

PCM briefing: CEO Hopkins leaves Ice Energy; 1414 Degrees says TESS-IND commissioning verified

Ben Welter - Monday, January 21, 2019

Mike HopkinsMike Hopkins, right, CEO of Ice Energy since 2014, has left the Riverside, Calif., company to pursue a "soon to be revealed" opportunity. Ice Energy makes ice-based thermal energy storage systems. According to an Ice Energy representative: "Dr. Marcel Christians (previously CIO) and Alex Collins (VP at Pacific Advantage Capital, majority shareholder in Ice Energy) have joined together to lead the company as co-COOs. Other than that, it’s business as usual as the company pushes most of its resources towards finding viable candidates for its 20+ MW thermal energy storage contract with major California utility, Southern California Edison."

AIMPLAS, a plastics technology center in Spain, is among 10 participants in a European project led by the Polytechnic University of Valencia. The consortium is developing new components for geothermal systems offering high thermal-conductivity properties.  

1414 Degrees Ltd. has announced that the commissioning of the Australian company's TESS-IND has been verified by Bureau Veritas. In three- and eight-hour test runs, the molten silicon heat store powered the system's turbine to generate average electricity outputs of 104kW and 148kW. "The maximum verified temperature of the phase change material heat store was 1418 degrees Celsius," the company said.