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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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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 

PCM briefing: Papers sought for 4 cold chain conferences; Momentive introduces hybrid polymer modifiers

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Pharma Logistics IQ is inviting temperature controlled logistics experts to submit papers four upcoming conferences: Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe, Cold Chain-GDP & Temperature Management Latin America, Cold Chain Canada and Pharma Cold Chain and Temperature Management Summit China. Contact Pharma IQ editor Chanice Henry at chanice.henry@iqpc.co.uk.

• The CEGA congress for technical building equipment experts, hosted by Recknagel and VDI, will be held Nov. 29-30 in Baden-Baden, Germany. Dr. Bernd Boiting of the University of Münster will give a lecture about thermal energy storage using phase change material. More than 50 lectures on topics such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and building automation will be presented at the conference, which will be conducted in German.

Momentive Performance Materials has introduced ceramic powders designed to improve the thermal conductivity of plastics. The company, based in Waterford, N.Y., says its CoolFX hybrid polymer modifiers can be more cost-effective than traditional boron nitride fillers.

• In a piece in Apparel magazine, Alexium International CEO Nicholas Clark weighs in on "What Flame Retardant Apparel Manufacturers Need to Know About the Lautenberg Act."

• The European Commission has launched a major review of REACH, the European Union’s main chemical safety law, publishing a 43-page questionnaire and asking for public feedback on its strengths and weaknesses.

• In an interview in Minnesota Business, Pelican BioThermal's Adam Tetz talks about the expansion of the company's manufacturing capacity in Plymouth. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Paraffin Compounds Sales Market Report 2016"

A CALMAC thermal energy storage system is being installed at Pueblo's historic county courthouse in Colorado. The system creates and stores ice at night and then uses it to cool buildings during the day.

ETH Zurich is looking for a licensing or collaboration partner to work on a high-temperature thermal energy storage system that provides active control of the heat-transfer fluid outflow temperature. Possible applications include concentrated solar power plants and advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage.

• Imagine this: Your technology on display at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit early next year. The Technology Showcase is an opportunity to get your innovative energy technology in front of investors and researchers ready to collaborate. There is no fee to apply; the application deadline is Dec. 16.

ARPA-E will hold a workshop on “Lower Grade Waste Heat Recovery” Dec. 13-14 in the San Francisco area. The workshop will convene experts in waste heat recovery, materials development and novel solid-state materials to identify innovative research paths for the development of lower grade (below 400° C) waste heat recovery systems.

ARPA-E will hold a workshop on “Fuel Cell and Heat Engine Hybrid CHP Systems” on Jan. 26-27, 2017, in the Washington, D.C. area. The workshop will convene experts in fuel cells, heat engines, materials and advanced manufacturing technologies to identify related technological solutions that would help to enable the introduction of highly efficient yet cost-effective commercial-scale combined heat and power systems.

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: Senate weighs energy storage tax credit; va-Q-tec signs deals with 2 air carriers

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

• Under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., energy storage technologies such as batteries, thermal energy storage and regenerative fuel cells that qualify would get a 30 percent investment tax credit, similar to incentives available to wind and solar projects.

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG has signed global rental agreements with two air carriers, Cargolux of Luxembourg and IAG Cargo, based in London and Madrid. The airlines will rent passive containers designed to ship temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical and biotech goods safely and efficiently. Va-Q-tec shares began trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (ticker symbol VQT) last week.

The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, known as Empa, has posted an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in the field of phase change materials in building materials. The one-year position requires a strong background in thermal energy storage with PCMs and applications.

• PCM maker Entropy Solutions has an opening for a sales engineer. The sales engineer will work closely with Entropy's research and development team, providing direct support to key customers, channel partners and vendors, while taking the lead in managing incoming inquiries.  

Sunamp Ltd. took first-place honors last week at the Solar Power Portal Awards in Birmingham, England. The heat battery maker won the Residential Energy Management Project award for its work on the Eastheat PV/PCM project in Edinburgh and surrounding towns. 

The biobased products industry contributed $393 billion and 4.2 million jobs to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "As this sector is strengthening, so is the economy in rural America, where this year the unemployment rate dropped below six percent for the first time since 2007," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Cardinal Health Inc., a global health care services and products company, has received the 2016 Excellence in Reusable Packaging award. The Reusable Packaging Association honored Cardinal for its innovative approach to ensuring the safe, efficient and sustainable delivery of refrigerated pharmaceuticals. In partnership with Sonoco ThermoSafe, Cardinal switched from water-based coolant gel packs within its reusable plastic totes to plant-based PureTemp phase change materials. The change helped Cardinal reduce product spoilage by 90 percent.

PCM quality association unveils redesigned website

Ben Welter - Friday, September 16, 2016

RAL Quality Association PCM logoRAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the PCM industry, has redesigned its website, www.pcm-ral.com.

"The new website has a modern and well-structured design – appropriate for a modern and advanced technology," said Stefan Thomann, the association’s managing director. "It provides information about application areas, planning/simulation software and the certification process for being awarded the RAL Quality Mark. People interested in using PCM will find the contact data of the leading manufacturers of high-quality products."

The redesigned site allows members to post content in sections devoted to each company. RAL Quality Association PCM member companies are Croda, BASF, Rubitherm, EMCO, va-Q-tec, Global Energy Systems Europe BV, Sasol Germany GmbH, Pluss Advanced Technologies, PCM Technology and Entropy Solutions.