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The award-winning Phase Change Matters blog tracks the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. E-mail tips and comments to Ben Welter, communications director at Entropy Solutions. Follow the blog on Twitter at @PureTemp. Subscribe to the weekly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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PCM briefing: South African utility scraps CSP plant; Pelican BioThermal seeks Americas sales director

Ben Welter - Monday, August 27, 2018

• The second round of U.S. and China tariffs took effect last week, covering about $4.2 billion in chemicals and plastics. Based on 2017 exports to China, ICIS News says the U.S. commodity chemical products most affected are monoethylene glycol, styrene, EVA copolymers, linear low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and ethylene dichloride.

Dr. Joachim KuhnVa-Q-tec AG's management board has extended the contract of CEO Dr. Joachim Kuhn, the company's founder, through Dec. 31, 2023.

• The South African utility Eskom has decided to scrap development of the 100MW Kiwano concentrated solar power plant and instead invest the money in battery storage.

Pelican BioThermal has an opening for director of sales - Americas in the company's U.S. office in Plymouth, Minn. The director will "oversee all aspects of the growth and development of BioThermal market" in North and South America. Job candidates researching Peli may want to watch the company's latest videos, which show how to assemble the new CoolPall Flex temperature-controlled shipper.

NorthVolt has an opening for a thermal/mechanical design engineer for battery system development at the company's office in Stockholm, Sweden. NorthVolt is building one of the first European large-scale lithium-ion battery factories.

• New from TMR Research: "Thermal Energy Storage Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Trends, Analysis, Growth, and Forecast 2017 - 2025"

• New from QY Research: "Global Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market Professional Survey Report 2018"

• New from Reports and Markets: "Global Cold Chain Equipments Market Insights, Forecast to 2025"

• In an Imaginasium interview, Encapsys President Mary Goggans talks about the Appleton, Wis., microencapsulator's transition to a standalone company over the past two years.

PCM briefing: New EU energy standard takes effect; new research on inorganic phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, July 09, 2018

• The new version of the European Union's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive takes effect July 9. The directive is the EU's main legislative instrument designed to promote improved energy performance of buildings. Member states will have 20 months to transpose the new elements into national law.

• A proposal to use microencapsulated phase change material to help motor vehicles run smoothly in extreme cold has won the ClimateLaunchpad competition in Azerbaijan. A team of chemical engineering students from Baku Higher Oil School developed the concept. The team will represent Azerbaijan at the ClimateLaunchpad finals in Scotland Nov. 1-2, 2018.

• New from Research Reports: "2018 Global Inorganic PCMs Industry Report – History, Present and Future"

PCM briefing: BASF to spend $2.2 billion on R&D; Sunamp heat batteries qualify for Scottish loan program

Ben Welter - Monday, May 14, 2018

Chemical & Engineering News reports that the top 50 U.S. chemical producers generated $285.4 billion in chemical revenues in 2017, a 9.4 percent increase over 2016. 

• Under its new CEO, Martin Brüdermüller, BASF is planning to pour $2.2 billion into research and development, making BASF the second-highest investor in innovation in the chemicals sector after DuPont

Grace HsiaWarmilu LLC founder Grace Hsia, right, is on Crain's 20 in Their 20s list honoring Michigan's rising young leaders. Warmilu makes a PCM-equipped infant warming blanket.   

Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding, for a total of $12.5 million raised to date. The round was co-led by GXP Investments and Shell Ventures. Axiom's PCM-based "refrigeration battery" is designed to reduce energy supermarket energy costs. 

Sunamp Ltd. is applauding the Scottish government's decision to include heat batteries to its Home Energy Scotland Loan program. Homeowners and private landlords are now eligible to apply for an interest-free loan of up to 6,000 pounds to install Sunamp's PCM-based heat battery systems.

• Albuquerque-based SAVSU Technologies is launching two new high-performance shipping containers branded as Evo Extreme. The containers are designed for the 2-8C and -80C temperature ranges.

Emirates District Cooling has won a contract to supply a district cooling system to the Expo Dubai 2020 event. The system will have a capacity of 60,000 tons of refrigeration. 

• Georg Rodriguez, managing director at MUTZ Engineering mbH, will present a free lecture, presumably in German, on "phase change materials for temperature management and energy storage in buildings" on Tuesday, May 15, at the KEBAB lecture room in Berlin.

PCM briefing: Revised version of EU energy directive approved; va-Q-tec signs partnership deal with Unitrans

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

• The European Parliament has approved a revised version of the Energy Performance of Buildings directive. The directive aims to reinforce efficiency in the building sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of energy use in Europe. 

• 1414 Degrees is installing a 25MWh demonstration of its silicon-based thermal energy storage system at a poultry processing plant in Australia. 

• New market research from 99Strategy: "Global Micro-capsule Phase Change Composite Material Market 2018-2023: Industry Overview, Segment, Type, Application, Competition, Demand, Price"

• Thermal materials specialist va-Q-tec has signed a partnership deal with Unitrans Ltd. of Japan. Unitrans will begin offering temperature-control box fulfillment services in Osaka in June, expanding va-Q-tec's global distribution network. 

• The technical program at ASHRAE's annual conference in Houston June 23-27 includes a session on "Principles and Practices of Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning."

• On the list of short courses available at the American Oil Chemists' Society annual meeting and expo in Minneapolis May 6-9: "Fundamentals of Oils and Fats Crystallization" (Alejandro Marangoni, University of Guelph) and "Improving the Bottom Line of Oils and Fats Refining" (Ken Carlson, RBD Technologies Inc.). 

Nagpur traffic officer wearing a cooling vest• Traffic cops in Nagpur, India, are beating the heat with cooling vests that contain phase change material, Nagpur Today reports. At a glance, though, the thin vests [right] appear to rely mostly on evaporative cooling. 

• Cold chain solutions provider Cryopak is now offering deterministic container closure integrity testing methods at the company's testing center in Edison, N.J. The methods will be used on flexible packaging, sealed containers and other packaging systems. 

• Working in collaboration with Glaciem Cooling Technologies, the University of South Australia has completed work on a new refrigerated cooling system for the hospitality industry. The PCM-based system was installed at the Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, Australia. 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. 

• Scientists at England's University of Portsmouth have accidentally created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drink bottles. "The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans," the Guardian reports. "But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process."

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, is among 12 organizations shortlisted for the 2018 International Ashden Awards. The system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Work continues on effort to add PCM products to California energy code

Ben Welter - Friday, March 16, 2018

At its meeting earlier this month, the RAL Quality Association PCM discussed an update on an initiative to include phase change material in the Building Efficiency Standards contained in the California Code of Regulations.

The update, provided by Jeremiah Crossett, chief technology officer of NRGsim Inc., outlined the initiative’s timeline and cost projections.

Crossett is developing a database of PCM products and performing a detailed modeling study on a variety of PCM products in all California climate zones. The goal is to build a persuasive case for including PCMs in the next version of the standards, to be published in 2019.

Manufacturers of PCM building products are invited to submit products to Crossett for inclusion in the database. One or two products can be submitted for $2,000; an unlimited number can be submitted for $5,000. For Crossett’s modeling study, $2,000 covers one or two products; $5,000 covers an unlimited number.

Crossett hopes to complete work on the initiative by next winter. He said Insolcorp, which installs PCM building products in California, Nevada and other states, has been covering the costs. He asked if any members of the RAL Quality Association PCM would be interested in co-funding the initiative. Members suggested that the new PCM Industry Association of North America would be a better audience for that question. Companies interested in participating can contact Crossett at jcrossett@nrgsim.com.

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.

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.