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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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Ice Energy buys back program to distribute 1,800 commercial ice batteries

Ben Welter - Friday, February 16, 2018

Ice Energy, the California company that partnered with NRG Energy a year ago to install up to 1,800 behind-the-meter ice batteries in commercial buildings in Orange County, has bought back the program. Payment terms were not disclosed. In an e-mail interview, Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins explained the strategic shift.

Q: What spurred your decision to buy back the program?

A: NRG was the owner of the program but they decided to divest all their renewables including this project. We bought the project back from NRG last month and are financing it ourselves. We have almost 1800 Ice Bears available but are in discussions with several major property owners who will start taking down large chunks.

Q: The agreement with NRG called for the installation of up to 1,800 Ice Bear 30s, providing a total of up to 25.6 MW of peak storage capacity to Southern California Edison under 20-year power purchase agreements. How long was the NRG program active, and how many Ice Bears were installed?

A: During most of the time NRG owned the program, it was on hold due to regulatory delays. The delays were caused by requests for re-hearings and court appeals unrelated to our program, which was part of a much larger procurement by SCE that included a controversial gas peaker. The program got the regulatory green light last March, but that more or less coincided with NRG’s move out of renewables, which effectively kept the program on hold. As a result, only a few units for the City of Tustin were installed.

Ice Bear 30Q: Can you share performance data on the Ice Bears installed through the NRG agreement?

A: The Ice Bears installed for the City of Tustin have performed like the other 1200 or so units in operation – better than 98% availability which is better than any other storage technology, or grid asset for that matter.

Q: Can you name commercial property owners that participated in the Ice Bear program through NRG?

A: In addition to the City of Tustin who had their Ice Bears installed during NRG’s ownership of the program, the following commercial property owners signed up during NRG’s ownership and will now have their Ice Bears installed by us:

• A global bank
• John Wayne Airport
• Marconi Auto Museum
• Medical Eye Services
• 7 Diamonds

Q: Can you name any of the major property owners you're now in talks with?

A: We're in ongoing discussions and identifying initial target sites with the largest Orange County real estate developers and property management firms.

Q: Will the program change in any significant way under Ice Energy's direction?

A: Yes, under Ice Energy's direction we're able to respond more quickly and tailor our offering to meet individual customer needs. To accelerate adoption, for a limited period of time, Ice Energy is offering new participants free HVAC replacement in addition to free Ice Bears. We are also now able to work more efficiently with our utility partner on this program through our direct interaction. The end result of these changes is more units placed more quickly to more customers.

Q: When will the first units be installed?

A: The first installations under our ownership of the program will be next month which will be the beginning of almost three years of installing Ice Bears under our program. Once installed, the Ice Bears will then provide OC participants 20 years of utility bill savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

PCM briefing: Croda merger talks reported; RAL PCM members to meet March 1

Ben Welter - Monday, February 12, 2018

• British specialty chemicals maker Croda International Plc has held unsuccessful talks with Ashland Global Holdings Inc. about a possible merger, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

Croda recently redesigned the CrodaTherm website, www.crodatherm.com. The new site offers improved navigation and searchability, a wider range of potential PCM applications and profiles of the CrodaTherm technical team. Visitors can register to log in and download datasheets and order samples. "We are excited to launch this new website, making it even easier for our customers to find us and the products they need," said Graeme Tweddle, global managing director for energy technologies at Croda.

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the phase change material industry, will meet in Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 1. On the agenda: Quality and testing specifications; improvements to the association's website; member content on the BUILD UP Web portal; promotion of PCMs in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States; and registration of RAL quality marks.   

Sonoco ThermoSafe is accepting registrations for the company's first Leading Minds Seminar, to be held June 6-7 in Philadelphia. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment. Day two includes a visit to ThermoSafe's design and testing lab in Montgomeryville, Penn.

Sonoco is No. 90 on Barron's inaugural list of "The 100 Most Sustainable Companies." 

• A "measurement and verification study" of a Viking Cold Solutions TES system installed in a 320-square-foot walk-in freezer at a supermarket in Fremont, Calif., showed an 18 percent net reduction in energy consumption.   

• The deadline is Monday, Feb. 12, to submit a concept paper for ARPA-E's OPEN 2018 competition. Up to $100 million is available for new projects that "transform the way we generate, store and use energy."

DLR Group, which part of a public-private collaboration working to develop PCM-based cooling and heating methods for Agua Fria Canyon View High School, has been named one of Arizona's "40 Companies to Watch" in 2018 by AZRE magazine. 

• Entries are being accepted for Bio-Based World News' 2018 Innovation Awards. The four categories are product of the year, chemical innovation of the year, best use of alternative feedstocks and industry story of the year. The entry deadline is Feb. 23. Winners will be honored March 20 at the World Bio Markets conference in Amsterdam. 

• Nantucket, Mass., has approved the installation of an Ice Bear thermal storage and air-conditioning unit in a building owned by the town. Last summer, Genbright won a $1.5 million grant from the state to install the units in more than 200 Nantucket homes, with the goal of reducing peak energy demand and staving off the need for a third undersea power cable for the island. But some residents voiced skepticism about the technology, prompting the town board to approve the test installation.

• Shippers have found that cocoa butter can be hard to contain on long ocean voyages. There have been reports of the material leaking out of containers as it changes phase, clogging bilges and generally making a mess. The Cargo Incident Notification System, established in 2011 to share information on all cargo-related incidents, has issued guidelines that recommend the material be shipped in refrigerated containers, particularly when passing through hot climate zones. 

PCM briefing: Israeli startup introduces IceBrick; Ulster University launches energy storage research project

Ben Welter - Monday, February 05, 2018

Nostromo Energy of Israel has introduced the IceBrick, an energy storage system designed to store and discharge an amount of energy equivalent to 25 kWh of electricity consumed by cooling systems at peak demand hours. The 2,000-pound IceBrick contains plain water and a proprietary nucleate.

• A new report from Environment New York, an advocacy organization, says rising renewable energy production means that energy storage is ready for prime time. Thermal storage, utility-scale batteries and pumped-storage hydro are among the technologies discussed in the report, "Making Sense of Energy Storage: How Storage Technologies Can Support a Renewable Energy Future."

Ulster University of Northern Ireland has announced 6.7-million-euro cross-border research project to develop energy storage ideas for consumers. The European Union-funded project will explore energy storage methods such as thermochemical material storage and heat pump design. 

• The European Parliament has voted in favor of a proposal that would remove palm oil-based biodiesel from the European Union's list of renewable fuels by 2021. Indonesia and Malaysia, two of the world’s largest palm oil producers, have been increasingly critical of EU’s plans to phase out palm oil biodiesel, with both countries threatening retaliation in trade and taking the matter to the World Trade Organization.

• A CALMAC thermal energy storage system has helped Kings County Courthouse in Hanford, Calif., achieve LEED Silver Certification and reduce annual energy costs by more than $100,000. 

AkzoNobel is accepting submissions for its 2018 Imagine Chemistry initiative. The company's specialty chemicals unit is seeking to partner with startups and academics to bring innovative ideas to market.

• New in 2018: Membership in the American Oil Chemists' Society now includes free online access to three AOCS publications: the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society; the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents; and Lipids.

Pluss Advanced Technologies of India, maker of the MiraCradle neonate cooler, has signed a collaboration agreement with Dräger, a German-based medical and safety technology company, to spread use of the PCM-enabled device in Asia and Africa.

• Netherland's Eindhoven University of Technology has openings for three Ph.D. positions involved in the study of crystal hydrate heat storage.  

• A Spanish university that has developed new biobased phase change materials with enhanced thermal properties is looking for industrial partners interested in a technical cooperation or a license agreement. 

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens North American headquarters; Viking Cold Solutions begins Phoenix-area installation

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG officially opened its new North American headquarters in Langhorne, Penn., this week. Va-Q-tec will use the 20,000-square-foot facility to showcase new products and to manufacture its small temperature-control shipping containers. The location will also serve as a hub for the company's rental and repair operation. “The investment in this new facility is a testament to our commitment to grow the business and expand our footprint in North America," said CEO Dr. Joachim Kuhn.

Drones that deliver sterile mosquitoes in the fight against the Zika virus will be field tested in Latin America early this year. The system, developed by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture's Insect Pest Control Laboratory, uses phase change material to keep the mosquitoes inactive during transportation. 

• New from Greentech Media: "The Next Five Years in Energy Storage According to 500 Energy Professionals"

• New from Global Info Research: "North America Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2022"

• New from Technavio: "Global Advanced Phase Change Materials Market 2017-2021

Viking Cold Solutions has begun installing its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in a 10,000-square-foot freezer at the Bashas food distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system, which consists of salt-hydrate-filled panels suspended from warehouse ceilings, is designed to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The cost of renewable energy is falling so fast that it should be a consistently cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuels by 2020, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency

Utility Dive takes a close look at Nantucket Island's "hybrid" plan to add energy storage, including thermal storage, to stave off expensive grid enhancements.

PCM briefing: Cleanergy to develop solar TES in Morocco; SpaceX has opening for a thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Friday, January 12, 2018

Cleanergy AB of Sweden and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy have agreed on a framework to jointly develop a thermal energy storage system using Cleanergy's Stirling-based solar electricity technology.

• Applications are being accepted for the World Materials Forum Startup Challenge. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for the competition, which recognizes technical or organizational breakthroughs in one of five categories, including materials composition, product design and 3D manufacturing. The winning company will receive a 50,000 euro award at the World Materials Forum in June in Nancy, France.

Grace Hsia, co-founder and CEO of Warmilu LLC, is among 14 entrepreneurs in the running for the $1 million top prize in the WeWork Creator Awards Global competition. The winner will be announced in New York City on Jan. 17.

• Prize money totaling 52,500 euros, financed by Germany's National Climate Initiative, is up for grabs in the German Refrigeration Prize 2018 competition, honoring innovations in air conditioning and refrigeration. The entry deadline is Jan. 31. Winners will be announced at the Berlin Energy Days conference in May.

SpaceX is seeking candidates for the position of thermal engineer.  

Pacific Gas & Electric will introduce a new electric time-of-use rate in April. The California utility says the optional rate will make energy use more efficient and minimize peak demand challenges. The peak pricing will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bain & Co. has analyzed how chemical companies can "demystify" the R&D process. Among the three common "failure modes" Bain identified: "strong team running in too many directions."

Buro Happold associate Mark Dowson will speak on the topic of "phase change materials for ultimate thermal efficiency" at the 2018 Materials for Architecture conference in London in April.

Microtek's purchase of Micronal PCM line was most-read story of 2017

Ben Welter - Monday, January 01, 2018

The Phase Change Matters blog generated more than 23,800 page views in 2017, up 6 percent from 2016. Here are the most-viewed stories of the year:

1. BASF sells Micronal PCM line to Microtek Labs (May 17)

2. Lexo tumbler uses material developed by University of Missouri professor (Jan. 9)

3. U.S. patent application: Portable device for cold chain storage (Oct. 23)

4. Sunamp is thinking big with commercial-scale heat battery (Feb. 6)

5. PCM briefing: Sasol introduces Parafol 17 (March 7)

6. A look inside an undergraduate team's solar thermal storage project (Feb. 17)

7. Colorado's first certified passive house 'has gone well past expectations' (Jan. 4)

8. U.S. patent application: Concentrated solar power system receiver (Jan. 18)

9. North Carolina company ramps up production of Temperfect mugs (July 18)

10. Hybrid sensible-latent heat storage concept achieves high energy densities (Oct. 31)

PCM briefing: A call for papers on advanced building skins; a new factory for 1414 Degrees in Australia

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

• A call for papers has been issued for the International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 1-2, 2018, in Bern, Switzerland. Among the topics: "Thermal performance of phase change materials for the building skin," "Models, tools and simulations for sustainable buildings" and "Cost engineering and life cycle cost analysis." The deadline for proposals is Feb. 15, 2018.  

1414 Degrees of Australia has moved into a 3,000-square-meter factory on the site of the former Mitsubishi engine plant near Adelaide, where it will build its first 10MWh TESS-IND system and the first 13.3MWh test cell for a 200MWh TESS-GRID system. The company also plans to build two grid-scale silicon-based thermal energy storage systems in South Australia. 

ZAE-Bayern among more than 80 exhibitors scheduled to attend the 2018 Energy Storage Europe in Dusseldorf, Germany, March 13-15. 

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Smart Fabrics and Textiles Market Research Report 2017"

• The U.S. Department of Energy plans to request $99 million in fiscal year 2018 to support Energy Frontier Research Centers, which work to advance breakthroughs in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences and biosciences.

Glaciem Cooling Technologies of Australia won the "Applied Innovation" award at the inaugural Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards last month. Glaciem's ThermCOLD system uses a salt-based phase change material to store thermal energy, allowing refrigeration plants to run and store energy during off-peak periods, when electricity rates are lower, and then release energy during peak periods.   

Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders will retire in April, following a 30-year career with the packaging company. Chief Operating Officer Robert C. Tiede will replace Sanders as CEO.

• Singapore-based agribusiness giant Wilmar International has entered into an agreement to purchase Cargill's palm oil refinery and neighboring storage facility in Kuantan, Malaysia.

• The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is seeking to hire a research associate for a seasonal thermal energy storage project. Responsibilities will include numerical and experimental investigation of the storage system in combination with phase change materials.

FloraHolland offices retrofitted with PCM-based induction units

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Two years ago, Orange Climate Autarkis and Verkade Klimaat began installing PCM-based induction units in one floor of Royal FloraHolland’s 10-story office building in Naaldwijk, Netherlands. Known as Crystal Beam Modules, the Autarkis units are designed to enhance occupant comfort and reduce cooling costs by 20 percent.

Royal FloraHolland office building
Royal FloraHolland office building in Naaldwijk, Netherlands.

Walter van Kampen, Autarkis commercial adviser, says the flower industry trade organization liked the results and asked his company to retrofit additional floors. So far, Crystal Beam Modules have been installed on five floors. On another, a modular, PCM-based Crystal Climate Ceiling has been installed. Each floor is about 500 square meters.

“We changed from PCM beam modules to the Crystal Climate Ceiling on the eighth floor because more ventilation air was needed (it’s a mainly a big conference floor with meeting rooms) and because the customer wanted a different look,” van Kampen said.

How do the systems work?

“The building’s big chillers are only cooling down the fresh air to about 16-18 Celsius,” he explained. “Total cooling is achieved by the smaller chillers and the PCM material. Our customer compared the indoor to ‘a turtle.’ It remains nice and stable for a very long time and it does so every day.”

Royal FloraHolland office building
PCM panels are mounted above suspended ceilings.

Autarkis hopes to convert more floors next year. In an email interview, he provided additional information about the project and his company.

Q: Tell me about the history of Orange Climate Autarkis.

A: Orange Climate Autarkis has been focusing on PCM to air systems since 2009, mainly in the Netherlands. We have our own testing facilities (laboratory) in the town of Holten.

Our main focus is using PCM in three main areas:

1. Offices, micro datacenter and residential houses. In office buildings to reduce power, energy and CO2 emissions. We are able to do that with the highest standards in thermal comfort and a healthy (fresh air) working environment.

2. For micro datacenters we have a 90% energy reducing, without any HCFC or CFC. It’s an eco-friendly method of cooling smaller datacenters. These MER / SER datacenters are everywhere: in office buildings, in power plants in hospitals and so on.

3. We supply a PCM floor heating system that in combination with a heat pump and solar panels can store solar energy in the thermal "PCM battery" inside the floor heating system. All our products are installed and mounted by us with the help of our PCM knowledge partners.

Q: What is your role at the company?

Royal FloraHolland office building
An inorganic salt-hydrate PCM is stored inside HDPE containers.

I am a specialist in a lot of building-related topics – energy, ventilation, HVAC, cooling, heating, sustainability and so on. My role is both technical and commercial. I got intrigued by PCM because of the simplicity of the idea. All of the products and PCM services we deliver have been co-created by my colleagues Harry Schmitz (R&D), Henk Willem van Dorp (owner) and myself. I am also the only (lonely) person who travels to customers to see how our PCM solutions can help them with their efforts to create a sustainable solution.

Q: Who makes the PCM you use in your products?

A: PCM Technology produces our PCM and our PCM storage panels. It is co-owned by Salca BV and Autarkis. We mainly use an inorganic salt-hydrate stored inside a HDPE container.

Q: Do you or Verkade Klimaat have data quantifying the effect of your technology on energy consumption and cost?

A: We have not quantified the data in that way. We kept the main power for cooling and heating to basic levels and added PCM to create the most perfect and comfortable indoor climate. Without adding to the energy bill. And no complaints from people at all.

PCM briefing: Registration open for PCM 2018 in Quebec; MIT finds new way to mix oil, water

Ben Welter - Friday, November 10, 2017

• Registration is open for PCM 2018, the 12th IIR Conference on Phase Change Materials and Slurries for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. The conference will be held May 21-23, 2018, in Orford, Québec. Topics will include thermal energy storage; thermophysical and rheological properties of PCMs and slurries; and transport phenomena and time-dependent behavior of PCMs and slurries.

MIT researchers have developed a new way to mix oil and water and create an emulsion that remains stable for long periods — no shaking required.

• Registration is open for "Towards a Sustainable Solution to Melt Snow and Ice on Concrete Pavement: Use of Phase Change Materials, a presentation by Dr. Yaghoob Farnam, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. Farnam will discuss his research on the use of PCM-enhanced concrete to inhibit the buildup of snow and ice on pavement. The program will be held Nov. 30 in King of Prussia, Penn.

• "Innovative Thoughts" blogger Harvey Wade visited the 3M Customer Innovation Centre in Bracknell, U.K., last month to find out how the big company sustains its innovative edge. Lesson No. 1: 3M listens to its customers. "They don’t guess what the customer needs," Wade writes, "they invest their time to know their needs, discovering the big problems that they can try to solve." 

BMW PCM Ride jacketBMW's 2018 Motorrad collection includes the latest version of the PCM Ride jacket, featuring microencapsulated phase change material that "adapts permanently and smartly to the current temperature."

Peli BioThermal has opened a service center in Brussels, Belgium, to handle its Credo line of reusable temperature-controlled packaging. 

Ember Technologies' newest temperature-control product, a $79 ceramic mug with an active heating system, contains no phase change material. The company's first product, a PCM-lined travel tumbler, sells for $150.

Grace Hsia, founder and CEO of Warmilu, a Michigan startup that makes an infant warming blanket, talks about the stresses and rewards of building a company from scratch. "I find my body will sometimes crash," Hsia told Crain's Detroit Business, explaining how 90-hour workweeks have led to bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis. "I've been trying to get more sleep, which is tough."

The preliminary program has been released for the fifth Building Enclosure Science & Technology conference, known as BEST5. It will take place April 15-18 in Philadelphia. 

• The American Chemical Society has won its lawsuit against Sci-Hub, a widely used pirate site for scientific papers that was established in 2011 by former neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan.

• New from Intellectual Research Partners: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems Market By Technology (Molten salt, Phase change materials, Water based, Electric thermal and Solar) End User Application (Air Conditioning, Cold Storage, Power Storage, Process Cooling) Region (North America, Europe, APAC) Forecast To 2023"

Trane acquires CALMAC, maker of ice-based energy storage systems

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Trane Inc. has acquired CALMAC Corp., a New Jersey company that specializes in ice-based energy storage systems.

CALMAC systems create and store ice when energy demand is low and then use the ice to cool buildings during periods of peak demand. The systems are integrated with Trane commercial HVAC systems.

CALMAC systems help cool more than more than 4,500 buildings worldwide, including the corporate headquarters of JC Penney, Marriott and Google.

"CALMAC is pleased to be part of Trane,” said Mark MacCracken, chief executive officer of the privately held CALMAC. “We know that with the support and investments from Trane and its parent, Ingersoll Rand, CALMAC can expand the availability and distribution of our products, serving new and existing customers with the energy storage and ice solutions they demand.”

https://www.achrnews.com/articles/135959-trane-acquires-calmac-corp-an-energy-storage-co