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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.




PCM briefing: Virginia Tech takes first place in Solar Decathlon; Pluss is expanding R&D team

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS team has won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The lone American team topped 14 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants. The team said its use of phase change material in the solar-powered home set it apart from the competition. Look for an interview with Joseph Wheeler, an architecture professor who directs Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS research program, in the next issue of Phase Change Matters.

• Via LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is hashtag#Expanding its hashtag#Research team for hashtag#PCM Business. Chemistry Graduates with 0-2 years of experience preferred. However, others will be considered too. Usual job descriptions apply! Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at Hurry! The vacancies are limited."

• U.S. and German researchers who have studied a PCM alloy made from germanium, antimony and tellurium say liquid water and liquid PCMs may have the same underlying physics. "The experiments reveal that the so-called Stokes-Einstein relation, which connects the viscosity of a liquid to the diffusion coefficient of its molecules, appears to break down above the melting point of the material and at very low viscosities – just as in water," Physics World reports. "The result will be important when making phase-change memories from GeSbTe alloys and related PCMs in the future."

CleanTechnica's Tina Casey takes a deep dive into the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to develop next-generation, long-duration energy storage systems. Her conclusion: "The new R&D program practically guarantees that the hurt will continue for coal miners, their families and their communities long after Trump leaves office."  

kW Engineering of Oakland, Calif., offers tips on how to use a famously complex energy modeling program: "Best Practices for Successful Building Energy Modeling with EnergyPlus." 

Agenda set for 6th Swiss symposium on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, December 03, 2018

The agenda is confirmed for the 6th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage, to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2019. The symposium will focus on seasonal storage systems and the sector coupling of power and heat. Here are the speakers and topics:

• "Heat Storage in Switzerland": Elimar Frank, Frank Energy GmbH, Switzerland

• "Thermal Energy Storage, one Key Element to link Energy Sectors": Peter Schossig, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany

• "Enhanced Phase-Change Materials for Heat-Storage applications": Colin Pulham, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

• "High-Temperature Latent Heat Storage and Applications": Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stuttgart, Germany

• "High-Temperature Phase Change Materials": Yulong Ding, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

• "Network Convergence and Sector Coupling at St. Galler Stadtwerke": Simon Schoch, St. Galler Stadtwerke, Switzerland

• "Heat4Cool – Multienergy Solutions for Heating & Cooling": Marcello Aprile, Politecnico di Milano and Philipp Schütz, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Large-Scale Thermal Energy Storage and Multi-Energy Networks in Vienna": Robert Hammerling, Wien Energie GmbH, Austria

• "Current and Future Use of Seasonal Thermal Storage in Ground Heat Exchangers": A Swedish Perspective: José Acuña, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

• "Avoided System Cost for Grid Reinforcement and Peaker Plants by using Ecovat Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage": Aris de Groot, Ecovat Renewable Energy Technologies, Netherlands

• "Optimization of Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Buildings": Willy Villasmil, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Seasonal Hot Water Storage with Vacuum Super Insulation": Matthias Demharter, Bayerisches Zentrum für Angewandte Energieforschung ZAE, Germany

The registration fee is 300 Swiss francs. Lunch is included. The 2018 symposium drew more than 100 participants.

PCM briefing: RSPO orders ban on deforestation; ESA calls on Congress to clarify tax credit

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

• The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has ordered a total ban on deforestation by its members, amid growing pressure from both companies and consumers. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban at the group’s annual general assembly in Malaysia Nov. 15. The ban is now part of the RSPO core standards, which member companies must comply with for their products to be certified “sustainable.”

Sunamp Ltd. reports that it has received $2.8 million in new seed funding. The latest round of investors includes Scottish Investment Bank, Equity Gap, PAR Equity and the Japanese energy utility Osaka Gas. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently signed a memo of understanding with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

• From Andreas Hauer, head of ZAE Bayern's Energy Storage Division; via LinkedIn: "The Progress Report for the working group 'Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage' ( has been approved by the Executive Committee of #IEA #EnergyStorage programme. One more year for international collaboration and inspiring discussions among material experts and applied scientist on advanced thermal energy storage!" Task 58 Annex 33 deals with advanced materials for latent and chemical thermal energy storage, PCMs and thermochemical materials.

• Registration is open for an all-day Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The free event "will present and discuss current innovations within the field of energy storage and efficiency in the built environment. Joining together industry and academia for discussions focussing on integrated solutions for residential, commercial and public buildings using renewable sources. Results will be presented from the ongoing TESSe2b European project, as well as results from other projects in the field of energy efficiency, generation & storage in buildings." 

AQUACHILL Cool Coating, a water-based phase change material coating for bedding materials and other cooling applications, is among six Dow technologies to make R&D Magazine's 2018 R&D 100 list. The awards recognize "revolutionary technologies" introduced during the past year. 

• The RAL Quality Association PCM's next meeting has been set for April 2, 2019, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• A coalition led by the Energy Storage Association is calling on Congress to clarify that energy storage systems qualify for the Investment Tax Credit. The ESA said bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would "ensure a level playing field" for storage resources. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded nearly $2.8 million to develop a system for grid electricity storage and power generation. The system includes a high-temperature charging device, low-cost thermal energy storage modules, a high-performance heat exchanger, and a closed-loop Brayton cycle turbine. 

Ecozen Solutions of India has won Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The award recognizes innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. Ecozen, one of five finalists, won both the Jury’s Prize of $15,000 and the Audience’s Prize of $5,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Energy Storage News reports that Lumenion's new storage technology, now being trialled in Berlin by Vattenfall, can store energy in steel structures for up to 48 hours. The technology is designed to provide low-cost energy storage for combined heat and power applications, using steel as the medium. The steel modules store energy thermally at up to 650 degrees Celsius.

Research roundup: Thermo-regulating bamboo fabric; PCM emulsions; nanoparticle-enhanced composite; more

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Autonomous greenhouse microclimate through hydroponic design and refurbished thermal energy by phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Development of heat accumulation unit based on heterogeneous structure of MF/PCM for cogeneration units

From Textile Research Journal:

Preparation and evaluation of thermo-regulating bamboo fabric treated by microencapsulated phase change materials

From International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology:

Development of thermo-regulating fabrics using PCM microcapsules with poly(methyl methacrylate-co-2-hydroxy ethyl methacrylate) shell and n-alkane core

From Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress:

Preparation and Properties of Nanoparticle-enhanced Composite Phase Change Material with Ceramic Porous Media

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A comprehensive review on phase change material emulsions: Fabrication, characteristics, and heat transfer performance

From 59th Conference on Simulation and Modelling:

Convective Melting Modeling Approach for Phase Change Materials with Variable Boundary Heating

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Simultaneous energy storage and recovery in the triplex-tube heat exchanger with PCM, copper fins and Al2O3 nanoparticles

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Operation strategies guideline for packed bed thermal energy storage systems [pdf]

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Solidification process of hybrid nano-enhanced phase change material in a LHTESS with tree-like branching fin in the presence of thermal radiation

From Energy:

Experiment study on thermal performance of building integrated with double layers shape-stabilized phase change material wallboard

Patent application: Thermal storage units and methods of making and using them

Ben Welter - Monday, November 12, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180320987 (applicant University of Texas Board of Regents, Austin, Texas):

"Sugar alcohol blends of galactitol and mannitol and compositions comprising such blends are disclosed as phase change materials (PCMs). A method of forming carbon nanotubes on a carbon substrate is described. Carbon substrates with carbon nanotubes, in particular, conformal layers of carbon nanotubes on carbon substrates, are also disclosed, as are methods of making and using these materials. Thermal storage units are also provided. The thermal storage units can comprise a heat exchange path through which a heat exchange medium flows, and a thermal storage medium in thermal contact with the heat exchange path."

PCM briefing: RAL members to meet in Dusseldorf next week; reliability test completed at Morocco CSP plant

Ben Welter - Friday, November 09, 2018

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will meet in Dusseldorf on Thursday, Nov. 15. The agenda includes discussions on quality and testing specifications; reference materials in calorimetry; PCM product certification; and the promotion of PCM products in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

A 10-day reliability test has been completed at the 150MW Noor Ouarzazate III concentrated solar power plant in Morocco. The plant's molten salt storage system is designed to produce electricity in the absence of sunlight for 7.5 hours. During the test, the plant output over 13.2 GWh to the grid.

Kathu Solar Park, the 100MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, has begun generating steam, an important step in the plant's commissioning process. The plant uses molten salt to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity.

• The agenda is taking shape for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International Congress, to be held April 4-5, 2019, in Paris. Among the topics: "Sourcing & Production of Sustainable Oils & Fats" and "Creating, Maintaining, Controlling Sustainable Supply Chain." 

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corp. says it is on track to establish the world’s largest district cooling project by increasing its capacity of district cooling in Business Bay, Dubai. Business Bay is now served by three major district cooling plants with a total capacity of 135,000 refrigeration tons. The addition of three more plants will bring the collective capacity to 350,000 RT.

Research roundup: Sodium acetate trihydrate; palm kernel vegetable fat; spiral-fin heat exchanger; gas flow through bed of granular PCM; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 06, 2018

From Energy:

Preparation and thermal properties of sodium acetate trihydrate as a novel phase change material for energy storage

From Journal of Building Engineering:

The Palm Kernel Vegetable Fat: a Low-cost Bio-based Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings

From International Journal of Applied Engineering Research:

Carbonaceous Phase Change Nanocomposites: A low cost energy storage approach [pdf]

From Applied Mathematical Modelling:

Investigation of Phase Change in a Spiral-Fin Heat Exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of the thermal performance enhancement of latent heat thermal energy storage using longitudinal rectangular fins and flat micro-heat pipe arrays

From Materials Science and Engineering:

The characteristics of temperature fluctuations in thermal insulation covered with layer of PCM [pdf]

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal properties and applications of microencapsulated PCM for thermal energy storage: A review

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Evaluation and optimization of thermal performance for a finned double tube latent heat thermal energy storage
Influence of gas compressibility on gas flow through bed of granular phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Investigating organic phase change behavior with thermal photography

First speakers lined up for Swiss symposium on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, November 05, 2018

Registration is open for the 6th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storageto be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2019. The symposium will focus on seasonal storage systems and the sector coupling of power and heat. So far, five speakers have been confirmed: 

Dan Bauer, research area manager for thermal energy systems with phase change, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stuttgart, Germany.
Peter Schossig, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany.
Colin Pulham, head of school of chemistry, University of Edinburgh, U.K.
Yulong Ding, director of the Birmingham Center for Energy Storage, University of Birmingham, U.K.
Aris de Groot, founder and director of Ecovat Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage, Eindhoven, Netherlands.

The registration fee is 300 Swiss francs. Lunch is included. The 2018 symposium drew more than 100 participants.

PCM briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Research roundup: Form-stable stearic acid PCM; spent diatomite from palm oil bleaching process; anisotrophic graphene aerogels; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Preparation and characterization of novel form stable phase change materials based on stearic acid

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermal performance enhancement of organic phase change materials using spent diatomite from the palm oil bleaching process as support

From Journal of Facade Design and Engineering:

Modelling Envelope Components Integrating Phase Change Materials (PCMs) with Whole-Building Energy Simulation Tools: A State of the Art [pdf]

From Renewable Energy:

Two side serpentine flow based photovoltaic-thermal-phase change materials (PVT-PCM) system: Energy, exergy and economic analysis

From Advanced Functional Materials:

Thermally Conductive Phase Change Composites Featuring Anisotropic Graphene Aerogels for Real‐Time and Fast‐Charging Solar‐Thermal Energy Conversion

From Indoor and Built Environment:

The year-round thermal performance of a new ventilated Trombe wall integrated with phase change materials in the hot summer and cold winter region of China

From Energy:

Solar thermal energy storage based on sodium acetate trihydrate phase change hydrogels with excellent light-to-thermal conversion performance

From Advances in Material Science and Engineering:

Shape Stability of Polyethylene Glycol/Acetylene Black Phase Change Composites for Latent Heat Storage [pdf]

From Solar Energy:

Energy performance comparison of concentrated photovoltaic – Phase change material thermal (CPV-PCM/T) system with flat plate collector (FPC)

From Cogent Engineering:

Evaluation of a concrete-graphite hybrid mixture for low-cost thermal energy storage material