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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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Value of TES 'not always fully recognized by policymakers'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Heating and cooling in buildings and industry accounts for half of Europe's energy consumption, and yet the potential “immense value” of thermal energy storage has barely been explored, the head of an energy storage trade group says. 

Patrick Clerens“Despite its immense value to the energy system, the role of thermal energy storage concepts is not always fully recognized by policymakers,” Patrick Clerens, secretary-general of the European Association for Storage of Energy, said in an interview with Energy Storage News. 

“For example, the ongoing discussions about the energy storage definition in the European Parliament would appear to exclude thermal energy storage and Power-to-Gas, or Power-to-Liquids. A broader energy storage definition, such as the European Commission’s initial proposal, is needed to allow all energy storage technologies to be considered.”

In a position paper published in July, the trade group called for economic incentives such as accelerated depreciation, better regulatory framework to “ensure non-discriminatory access to energy grids” and improved support from European Union research agencies.

https://www.energy-storage.news/news/immense-value-of-thermal-energy-storage-not-yet-recognised-by-europes-polic

PCM briefing: Inventory reset rule takes effect; va-Q-tec reports strong first half

Ben Welter - Monday, August 28, 2017

• Thermal energy storage, a proven technology for years in Europe, is now a "budding HVAC option" in the United States, ACHR News reports. “In many ways, applications haven’t changed,” said Steve Benz, a 35-year veteran of the thermal storage industry and Evapco’s director of global thermal storage and district energy. “What has changed is related to the electric market — with an emphasis today on sustainable energy production and electricity storage."

Jane Chen• In an appearance at Stanford School of Engineering, Embrace founder Jane Chen, right, talked about the challenges she faced in developing and expanding the use of the PCM-based infant warming blanket. "You will inevitably fail," she said, "and you need to have the courage and the persistence to get back out there, learn from your mistakes, and try again."

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published the final TSCA inventory reset rule. The rule, which is effective immediately, creates new reporting obligations for companies that manufacture or import chemical products.

Va-Q-tec AG is reporting a strong first half of the year, with revenue 44 percent higher than the same period last year. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. 

• Monday, Aug. 28, is the deadline for submitting entries in Bio-Based World News' bio-based innovation competition for the Americas. The two categories are product of the year and chemical innovation of the year. The awards will be presented at the Bio-Based Live conference in San Diego Sept. 25-26. 

Singapore's "Grid 2.0" may include district cooling systems that incorporate phase change materials. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for product manager in Arlington Heights, Ill. 

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Research Report - Forecast to 2022"

SaltX Technology of Sweden and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd of China have reached an agreement to jointly develop and commercialize a "groundbreaking solution" for wind power with integrated energy storage.  

PCM briefing: Energy storage rebate falters in California Assembly; at Los Alamos lab, it's ice ice ice ice ice ice ice baby

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

• The California Assembly has essentially killed a bill to create a long-term energy storage rebate. The bill, known as SB 700, had earlier cleared the state Senate. Last week's unexpected move pushes consideration of the rebate, which would have applied to a wide range of technologies, including thermal energy storage, into next year. 

"Ice Energy and others interested in energy storage for the residential market have closely followed and supported SB 700," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "The Duck Curve problem is serious and storage is the solution. SB 700 would have significantly accelerated the solution so the delay is disappointing to anyone who cares about replacing fossil fuels with renewables, lowering the cost of power, and improving grid reliability. In the meantime, Ice Energy will continue to work with utilities and utilize SGIP to deliver cost effective and reliable energy storage to the residential market."

• For the first time, scientists have recorded water freezing into a structure called Ice VII under extreme, controlled conditions in the lab, Science Alert reports. "These experiments with water are the first of their kind, allowing us to witness a fundamental disorder-to-order transition in one of the most abundant molecules in the Universe," says geophysicist Arianna Gleason of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

• The Hohenstein Institute for Textile Innovation has developed a new method for measuring the cooling effect of intelligent textiles, a heat release tester called WATson. The institute's thermophysiological evaluation system "will compare the results of the WATson heat loss tester to data from experiments on subjects in a climate chamber under a range of ambient conditions," Advanced Textiles Source reports.   

• A team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has submitted a precise new calculation of a key formula to redefine the kilogram based on a fundamental universal constant. 

• California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems, has an opening for a computational thermal systems engineer. Axiom announced a deal last week to collaborate with Hillphoenix, a manufacturer of refrigeration equipment used in U.S. supermarkets. The two companies plan to develop and market storage-enabled refrigeration platforms.

PCM briefing: Outlast introduces Xelerate fabric; Warmilu signs 2 distributors

Ben Welter - Friday, May 19, 2017

Drawing of Outlast Xelerate

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric. The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.

Warmilu, maker of the IncuBlanket infant warmer, reports that is on track for $300,000 in total 2017 sales after signing two distributors for Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia: Relief for Africa Foundation and Maternova. The IncuBlanket, which has been successfully tested in clinical trials in India, uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours. CEO Grace Hsia says the device recently cleared its first regulatory filing with Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Axiom Exergy has won a Gold Stevie for Energy Innovation in the 15th annual American Business Awards. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" enables supermarkets and food warehouses to store thermal energy at night when power is cheaper. The system, which uses salt-based phase change material, reduces peak power usage by up to 40 percent.

• Registration is open for IFAI's Expo 2017, set for Sept. 27-29 in New Orleans. The Industrial Fabrics Association International show will feature sessions on smart fabrics, military procurement, biomimesis and green certification.   

Pelican BioThermal has introduced a new Series 22 Universal system for its Credo brand of shippers. The system uses a dual PCM coolant system designed to be operational throughout the year.

National Law Review offers a fresh overview of green chemistry laws across the United States. "State chemical control regimes," the authors conclude, "are likely to increase cost and foster confusion about chemical safety, which is one reason that Congress agreed to modernize TSCA by adopting LCSA."

Monodraught's Cool-phase ventilation and cooling system was among the finalists honored at the National CSR Awards in London this week. The hybrid system, which won a "One to Watch" award, uses PCMs to store and release thermal energy, providing a free cooling load and reducing energy and maintenance costs.

• The agenda has been released for the 15th Cold Chain Global Forum to be held Sept. 25-29 in Chicago. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, will lead a master class on temperature assurance packaging certification.

Bloomberg BNA is offering a free webinar June 12: "Reviewing New Chemicals under Amended TSCA: Impact on Innovation." 

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric (shown below). The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.

PCM briefing: MiraCradle wins commercialization award; ThermoSafe introduces Certis 2-Day Platform

Ben Welter - Friday, May 12, 2017

Pluss Advanced Technologies of India has won a Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises award for successful commercialization of the MiraCradle, a low-cost passive cooling device for treating newborns suffering from birth asphyxia. India's president, Pranab Mukherjee, presented the award Thursday at a National Technology Day event in New Delhi. The device uses form-stable inorganic phase change materials.

Energy Storage North America is seeking nominations for its 2017 Innovation Awards. Thermal storage projects are eligible. Winners will be honored at ESNA's annual conference and expo, Aug. 8-10 in San Diego, Calif. The deadline for entering is June 2.

Sonoco ThermoSafe has expanded the Certis brand of one-way shipping solutions to include a two-day platform for the distribution of pharmaceutical and biological products. Like its three- and five-day predecessors, the Certis 2-Day Platform employs the same pack-out for 2-8° C, 15-25° C and frozen shipments. It uses just four shippers and three types of phase change material to create 12 shipping solutions.

Entropy Solutions, maker of PureTemp phase change materials, will be among the companies honored with a Eureka! Innovation Award at a reception in June. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal awards program, now in its fourth year, recognizes "game-changing" Minnesota businesses in energy, manufacturing, media, health care, product design, engineering, architecture and other categories.

SupplyChainBrain recently spoke with supply chain executives about about the tools, talents and techniques needed to create accurate and responsive demand forecasts. Jane Kaiser, director of North American supply chain planning for Monsanto, cites collaborative forecasting as one way suppliers and customers can succeed. "It’s a question of [better] data mining, being truthful with each other, talking to one another," said Kaiser.

• As air freight rates remain high and capacity tightens, more temperature-sensitive medicines are moving by ocean freight, writes Cathy Robertson of Logistics Trends & Insights.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Phase Change Materials Market Forecast 2017-2022 Industry DuPont, BASF SE, Royal Dutch Shell, Climator Sweden."

• A seminar titled "PCM and Thermal Energy Storage: Characterization of TES Materials by Thermal Analysis, Calorimetry and Thermal Conductivity" will be held in Milan and Naples next week. The free seminar, presented by Automation Ltd. in collaboration with Milan Polytechnic and others, will focus on how the thermal analysis, calorimetric and thermal conductivity methods can be used to investigate the different TES techniques and to characterize the transitions or reactions of typically used materials (fatty acids, paraffins, organic substances, inorganic salts, adsorbents, clathrates).

• In a piece written for North American Clean Energy, Axiom Exergy's Ryan Anderson outlines the benefits of thermal energy storage systems. Saltwater-based systems, he writes, avoid "many of the often hidden, balance of systems costs that electrochemical or flow batteries must account for, such as power converters, fire suppression, and interconnection charges/regulatory time."

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Agenda set for expert forum on Germany's VDI Guideline 2164

Ben Welter - Friday, May 12, 2017

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

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 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. To register for the forum, visit:

https://www.vdi.de/technik/fachthemen/bauen-und-gebaeudetechnik/artikel/berechenbarer-einsatz-von-phasenwech-selmaterialen.

Research roundup: Hydrogen-based PCM micro engine; PV module temperature stabilization; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A new hydrogen-based phase change material open-cycle micro engine [International Journal of Hydrogen Energy]

Photovoltaic module temperature stabilization with the use of phase change materials [Solar Energy]

A review of salt hydrates for seasonal heat storage in domestic applications [Applied Energy]

Shape-stabilized composite phase change materials with high thermal conductivity based on stearic acid and modified expanded vermiculite [Renewable Energy]

Experimental investigation of a latent heat storage for solar cooling applications [Applied Energy]

Novel CFD-based numerical schemes for conduction dominant encapsulated phase change materials (EPCM) with temperature hysteresis for thermal energy storage applications [Energy]

Performance evaluation of a novel solar photovoltaic–thermal collector with dual channel using microencapsulated phase change slurry as cooling fluid [Energy Conversion and Management]

PCM briefing: SunDanzer awarded funding to develop field fridge; registration open for REACH training

Ben Welter - Friday, April 28, 2017

Paragon Space Development and partner SunDanzer of Tucson, Ariz., recently were awarded a research contract worth about $150,000 by the U.S. Special Operations Command to design a portable refrigerator to store blood and medications safely in the field. Components will include advanced compressors and phase change material.

New York State's "Reforming the Energy Vision" program is offering $15.5 million in funding for the research and demonstration of energy storage projects that support renewable energy, ease peak power grid demand and help customers save money. The REV initiative is an effort to pave the way for utilities, homeowners and businesses to adopt renewable energy technology more easily.

• A coalition of more than 300 businesses and organizations in Europe, including property firms CBRE and Colliers International, is calling for ambitious “national renovation strategies” that set out clear targets on transforming existing buildings in order to meet the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement.

Chemical Watch is offering a five-day REACH training course in four cities this year: London, Cambridge, Chicago and Vienna. The main focus of the course is to give participants a practical overview of the key tasks imposed by REACH, including strategies for meeting the registration deadline in 2018.

CHEMTREC is among the exhibitors at next week's Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles conference and expo in Scottsdale, Ariz.

• The American Chemistry Council's Chemistry Activity Barometer has posted strong year-over-year gains since Jan. 1, suggesting continued growth through the end of the year. "This index has been a good coincident [and] at times leading indicator of both industrial production and overall economic growth," writes industry observer Scott Grannis, "and it continues to point to rising industrial production and continued growth of the U.S. economy."

• Thermal risk expert EkkoSense's survey of 128 U.K. data centers found that 66 percent of installed cooling equipment "is not actually delivering any active cooling benefits." EkkoSense cited poor airflow management and a failure to actively monitor and report rack temperatures. 

AkzoNobel has selected 20 finalists for its Imagine Chemistry initiative, launched earlier this year to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and to uncover sustainable opportunities for the company’s specialty chemicals business. The finalists will participate in a three-day event starting June 1 at AkzoNobel’s research facility in Deventer, Netherlands, where they will be supported by technical and business development experts to further develop their concepts.

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.