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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.

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.

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Maryland legislators approve energy storage tax credit

Ben Welter - Monday, April 17, 2017

By wide margins, Maryland legislators have passed a bill that calls for a 30 percent tax credit for the deployment of energy storage technologies, including thermal storage.

The total funding, capped at $750,000 a year for five years, starting in 2018, is relatively modest. But the credit is apparently the first of its kind in the United States, and it could serve as a model for states interested in boosting the storage market without imposing mandates.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate and by a 90-vote margin in the House, is now in the hands of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. A veto seems unlikely.

The bill defines "energy storage system" as a system designed "to store electrical energy, or mechanical, chemical, or thermal energy that was once electrical energy, for use as electrical energy at a later date or in a process that offsets electricity use at peak times.” Thus the tax credit would apply to a variety of storage technologies, including batteries, flywheels and compressed air, as well as systems based on ice and other phase change materials.

The Maryland Energy Administration will oversee the program and determine eligibility specifics. Funding is capped at $5,000 for residential and $75,000 for commercial projects and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

“This is a way to create an economic signal for using storage to provide grid reliability and resiliency, reduce peak capacity needs, and help integrate more renewable resources,” Jason Burwen, policy and advocacy director at the Energy Storage Association, told Greentech Media. “It is also a more conservative approach, executing this policy through the tax code with cost caps. That's an approach that got bipartisan agreement in Maryland."

"By enacting the energy storage tax credit, Maryland is showing real leadership in moving from fossil fuels to renewables," Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins said in an email sent to Phase Change Matters. "The success of renewables depends on cost-effective and reliable energy storage being adopted as a meaningful part of the electricity grid."

Ice Energy makes ice-based thermal storage systems that store cooling energy by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent.

Hopkins continued:

"Storage obviously mitigates the intermittency of solar and wind. As we are seeing in places like Hawaii and California, a duck curve is replacing the traditional middle of the day peak. While the later in the day peak is a problem, as it is steeper than the traditional middle of the day peak, the over-generation in the middle of the day is the bigger problem that threatens grid stability. Energy storage flattens the duck curve, provided of course you are using the appropriate storage technologies.

"California was a leader in seeing the criticality of energy storage to the continued success of renewables and driving its adoption just like they did renewables, by a mandate through the Energy Storage Act in 2013. It had the same logic as the RPS and I would say drove the same results – increased competition and investment resulting in innovation and lower cost than anyone forecast.

"Maryland’s approach is another bold move to drive the adoption of energy storage.

"Playing off the federal tax credit, which has been of very limited value to storage given the need to be so tightly tied to renewables, the Maryland tax credit should be a powerful driver for energy storage in Maryland. It is also noteworthy that Maryland has explicitly recognized all forms of energy storage as qualifying, something that some others have failed to do by falling into the trap of equating storage with chemical batteries, especially lithium-ion. 

"Chemical batteries have had an outsized share of the PR and the market to date, but as the market is quickly developing, cost is becoming more and more important and that’s where policy makers need to be smart like Maryland and make sure they get the best value for their storage dollar, which means a portfolio of different technologies optimized to most cost effectively solve the various grid problems storage can solve."

PCM briefing: A call for presentations on renewable heating and cooling; EnergyNest, Tata team up on demo project

Ben Welter - Friday, April 07, 2017

Frank Bruno, leader of the Thermal Energy Storage Group at the University of South Australia, talks about the advantages of thermal storage in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

Robert Riebolge, chief network analyst of the Adelaide-based energy storage company 1414 Degrees, tells Ecogeneration magazine that storage is “quite clearly” the solution to the intermittency problem of wind and solar. But, he says, the way in which the Australian market is constructed and the regulatory system is set up doesn’t allow for its easy introduction.

• The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has teamed with Basque technology company Tecnalia to develop On Site Robotics, a 3D printing construction project in which sustainable, low-cost buildings can be built on-site with a special clay-based material made of natural, biodegradable, recyclable and locally sourced materials.

• Get the latest information on the Toxic Substances Control Act in a free webinar April 19. The presentation by Mark N. Duvall of the environmental law firm Beveridge & Diamond will identify the principal amendments, discuss the impact on manufacturers and compare the amended TSCA to the European Union's REACH regulation.

• In a video posted on YouTube, Adam Tetz of Pelican BioThermal and other industry experts discuss the future of temperature controlled logistics at last month's Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe 2017.

• The Eu­ro­pean Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Plat­form on Re­new­able Heat­ing & Cool­ing has issued a call for presentations to be made at the group's an­nual event in Brus­sels June 20. Topics include biomass; district heating and cooling; solar thermal heating and cooling; hybrid systems; and thermal energy storage. Applications are due by May 22. 

Tata Steel and EnergyNest have begun work on a thermal energy storage demo project at Tata's plant in IJmuiden, Netherland. EnergyNest's concrete-based TES system will store exhaust heat from steel production to cover some of the plant's energy demands. EnergyNest, meanwhile, won the top prize in the 2017 Nordic Cleantech Open last week. The contest, organized by Cleantech Scandinavia, consisted of several competitive rounds in which hundreds of companies applied.

Chris Pais has joined Axiom Exergy as director of field operations. Pais was previously director of system architecture at LightSail Energy. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" system, aimed at supermarkets and cold storage warehouses, stores water chilled at night, when electricity is cheapest, to take the load off condensers and compressors during the day.

Vaibhav Bahadur, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of eight faculty members at the university to receive National Science Foundation early career development awards totaling more than $2 million. Bahadur received funding for his project “Influence of electric fields on liquid-to-solid phase change associated with clathrate hydrate formation.”

• In a piece posted on LinkedIn, Liam Holmes, Europe and Asia engineering team lead at Sonoco ThermoSafe, writes about the role of industrial design in the temperature-assurance packaging industry's shift from single-use products to modular reusable green systems.

Forum on Germany's VDI 2164 guidelines set for June 20 in Düsseldorf

Ben Welter - Monday, April 03, 2017

Several members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will present lectures at the Expert Forum for VDI Guideline 2164, set for June 20 in Düsseldorf. 

The Association of German Engineers' building and building technology group (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, or VDI) will host the meeting. VDI Guideline 2164 defines the fundamentals for latent-heat storage systems in buildings. 

Dr. Bernd Boiting, chairman of the VDI 2164 committee, will present a brief overview of the guidelines. Other speakers include Esther Kieseritzky of Rubitherm; Marco Schmidt of BASF and Stefan Thomann, managing director of the quality association. The complete agenda will be available in a few weeks.

http://www.pcm-ral.org/pcm/en/2017/03/24/vdi-expert-forum-pcm-energy-storage-systems-building-services/

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. 

PCM briefing: Pluss VP honored as 'Innovator under 35'; BASF partners with Hewlett Packard Enterprise on new supercomputer

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ankit Jhanwar, VP for corporate planning and strategy at Pluss Advanced Technologies, was honored as one of 10 "Innovators under 35" at EmTech India 2017.

Sunamp Ltd., maker of PCM-based heat batteries, is one of eight finalists for an Ashden UK Award. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on June 15. The competition recognizes excellence in the field of green energy.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise will work with BASF to develop a supercomputer that will sharply reduce the time it takes to run simulations and modeling in chemical research. "The new supercomputer will promote the application and development of complex modeling and simulation approaches, opening up completely new avenues for our research at BASF,” said Dr. Martin Brudermueller, chief technology officer at BASF.

McKinsey & Co. analysts say a slowdown in the chemical industry's financial performance over the past five years reflects important changes in the industry’s fundamentals. One of their recommendations: "Incumbent specialty-chemical players must prepare for further encroachment of commoditization and erosion of their historical advantages when attackers from developing markets gain more experience and become increasingly technologically savvy."

California lawmakers have introduced legislation to encourage more clean energy resources to address peak load. The bills would require utilities to deploy clean energy during peak demand in order to meet the state's aggressive greenhouse gas and renewable energy goals. 

PCM briefing: Encapsulation market projected to hit $17.9 billion; report casts shadow on solar-plus-storage

Ben Welter - Monday, February 27, 2017

• The global microencapsulation market is expected to reach $17.94 billion by 2025, according to a new report from Grand View Research. Microtek Laboratories, Encapsys, BASF and Aveka Inc. are among the companies profiled in the report, "Microencapsulation Market Estimates & Trend Analysis By Application (Pharmaceutical, Household Product, Agrochemical, Food Additive, Phase Change Material), By Region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, RoW), And Segment Forecasts, 2014 - 2025"

• A Rochester Institute of Technology study casts a shadow on the economics of residential solar-plus-storage. The conclusion: A customer must face high electricity bills and unfavorable net metering or feed-in policies for "grid defection" to work. 

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Reusable Ice Packs Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016-2024"

• New from QYResearch: "China Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2017"

A one-day workshop on energy storage for building, solar and wind sectors will be held March 4 at Anna University in Chennai, India. Topics include integration of PCMs for passive cooling in buildings, energy-efficient cool thermal energy storage systems and thermal energy storage technologies for solar applications. 

The National Law Review has posted a detailed update on implementation of the newly revised Toxic Substances Control Act. A key takeaway: Resource and budgetary constraints under the Trump administration could have an impact on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to implement the new provisions.

• The latest issue of Chemical & Engineering News features a piece on “natural catalysts” derived from wild plants, mud and earthworms. 

Samit Jain, director at Pluss Advanced Technologies, talks about his company’s pharma logistics products in an interview with India's Financial Express.

PCM briefing: Long-haul cyclists reach Myanmar; papers sought for symposium on waste heat

Ben Welter - Friday, January 27, 2017

Riccardo Rocchi and Chiara RicciardiRiccardo Rocchi and Chiara Ricciardi,  the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes, have reached Myanmar. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and needs a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair topped the 10,000-kilometer mark this week. They've pedaled across 16 countries, averaging 44 km per day. "We just realized that maybe we forgot to make a postcard from Nepal," the pair said in a Facebook post from Myanmar. "We might consider to cycle back to do it." Their final destination is Singapore.

• Organizers of a one-day symposium at Brunei University on the efficient use of waste heat have issued a call for abstracts. The symposium, "Heat Recovery and Efficient Conversion and Utilisation of Waste Heat," will be held April 20, 2017. Abstracts must be submitted by Jan. 31.

Pelican BioThermal has completed a $1.65 million expansion of the manufacturing facilities at its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minn. The company now has 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Minneapolis suburb, up from 54,000 square feet. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

Weise's Outlast Houston motorcycle jacket• New from Weise Motorcycle Clothing: The Outlast Houston, a fully armored waterproof jacket with a removable lining that features Outlast phase change material to regulate temperature. 

Serta is touting “breakthrough cooling technology” in the new version of its iComfort memory foam mattresses. Phase change material is embedded in the fabric and on the surface of the gel memory foam.

• The United Kingdom plans to spend £28 million ($35 million) on reducing the cost of energy storage, advancing demand side response technologies and improving energy efficiency measures for industry. Up to one-third of the money will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including thermal storage.

• The EU-funded Heat4Cool research project is developing a novel retrofit planning tool to help retrofit companies, architects, manufacturers, building administrators and residents weigh the potential benefits of three main technologies: gas and solar thermally driven adsorption heat pumps; PV-assisted DC-powered heat pumps connected to advanced modular PCM heat and cold storage systems; and energy recovery from sewage water with high performance heat exchangers. You are invited to help in this effort by completing a five-minute survey online.

• A Florida startup is calling its PCM-infused TempPro fabric “a gamechanger for luxury lingerie.” Giapenta, which launched a Kickstarter campaign this week, uses the temperature-regulating fabric in its line of bras, panties and sleep masks. The campaign has already met its modest target of raising $25,000. I've contacted the company and hope to have technical details on TempPro in time for next week's newsletter..

PCM briefing: Axiom founders make Forbes '30 Under 30' list; Massachusetts utility to test thermal storage using PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 05, 2017

Anthony Diamond and Amrit Robbins, cofounders of Axiom Exergy, have made Forbes' annual list of "30 Under 30" in the energy category. The two men developed a "refrigeration battery" that enables supermarkets and food warehouses to store thermal energy at night when power is cheaper. The battery, which uses salt-based phase change material, reduces peak power usage by up to 40 percent and provides backup cooling during power outages. The Berkeley, Calif., startup has raised $3.5 million from investors and, according to Forbes, has a $15 million sales pipeline. 

Alexium International has reached a preliminary agreement to supply its Alexicool phase change material to New York-based Pegasus Home Fashions Inc. for use in pillows. Alexium, based in Perth, Australia, and Greer, S.C., says the deal is worth $10 million in annual sales of PCM.

Eversource, New England's largest energy provider, is seeking $21.5 million from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to fund energy storage demonstration projects for commercial and industrial customers. The utility plans to test ice storage and phase change materials. A related opening for an energy efficiency consultant is posted on the company's website. 

• The University of Birmingham has posted an opening for a research fellow in energy storage integration. The work will involve "optimising the operation of cryogenic and thermal energy storage in energy systems."

• Engineering students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have developed a heat storage system that uses phase change material to store thermal energy from the sun during the day and release it after the sun sets.

Research roundup: Lightweight mortars; eutectic salt property prediction; magnetite; more

Ben Welter - Monday, December 12, 2016

From International High-Performance Built Environment Conference:

Thermal energy storage enhancement of lightweight cement mortars with the application of phase change materials

From Dublin Institute of Technology:

Mechanical and Thermal Evaluation of Different Types of PCM-concrete composite panels

From Energy and Buildings:

Thermophysical properties of n-tetradecane@polystyrene-silica composite nanoencapsulated phase change material slurry for cold energy storage

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Microencapsulated phase change materials for enhancing the thermal performance of Portland cement concrete and geopolymer concrete for passive building applications

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Thermal energy storage characteristics of poly(styrene-co-maleic anhydride)-graft-PEG as polymeric solid–solid phase change materials
Natural magnetite for thermal energy storage: Excellent thermophysical properties, reversible latent heat transition and controlled thermal conductivity

From Applied Energy:

MPCM with high heat capacity chart
Microencapsulated phase change materials with high heat capacity and high cyclic durability for high-temperature thermal energy storage and transportation
Highly stable graphite nanoparticle-dispersed phase change emulsions with little supercooling and high thermal conductivity for cold energy storage

From Renewable Energy:

Thermal analysis of molten ternary lithium-sodium-potassium nitrates

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

A critical review of eutectic salt property prediction for latent heat energy storage systems
Review on system and materials requirements for high temperature thermal energy storage. Part 1: General requirements

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

An apparatus to measure the thermal conductivity of insulation panels at sub-ambient temperature

Energy density, thermal conductivity, price seen as areas for PCM focus

Ben Welter - Monday, November 28, 2016

In a report prepared for the United Kingdom's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, researchers have identified several areas with high potential for development of PCM applications, including water heaters and building materials, and predict that further materials research and increased demand will drive down costs.

The report, titled "Evidence Gathering: Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Technologies," says these areas of technological and commercial development are worth focusing on:

• Integration of PCM into small and larger hot water tanks for improved performance.
• Development of PCMs that can provide storage for applications where water cannot be used as a storage medium.
• Increasing the energy density and thermal conductivity of PCMs to make charging and discharging more efficient.
• Better integration of heat exchangers into thermal stores.
• Improved performance of PCM-enhanced building materials.
• Expanded use of PCMs for air-conditioning, passive cooling and "coolth" storage.
• Ice store technology, such as the one developed by Viessmann.

Among the factors seen as key barriers to wider adoption of thermal energy storage technologies: Uncertainty around carbon savings. The report notes:

"Interest in TES is high because of the role it could play in transitions to a low- and zero-carbon energy system. TES may have an important role as an enabler of low-carbon technologies, particularly renewable heat, electricity and CHP. However, at present, the existence of thermal storage capacity can increase carbon emissions. This is because all storage systems have losses, and these losses are effectively wasted fuel or wasted electricity (both still predominantly fossil-derived).

"Understanding the carbon impacts of TES is therefore not at all simple. At a whole-system level it would require complex system-modelling to justify any statements about a unit of TES (a kWh or kW) equating to a quantity of saved carbon. The carbon content of the TES itself is in all cases relatively low, as the storage material (whether water, rock or advanced PCMs or thermochemical materials) does not require excessive energy to produce and the containers do not use rare materials or energy intensive production methods."

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/545249/DELTA_EE_DECC_TES_Final__1_.pdf