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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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Swedish university developing PCM/TES design tool for buildings

Ben Welter - Monday, April 09, 2018

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are developing a design tool for PCM-based thermal energy storage for heating and cooling of buildings.

The project is being conducted by the Division of Building Technology within the university's Architecture and Civil Engineering Department. Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Agency and the university are jointly funding the effort.

To better understand the needs of potential users of the tool, the research team is inviting professionals in the building sector – such as real estate owners, energy consultants, PCM producers and specifying engineers – to participate in a survey, whether or not they have PCM experience. The survey can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes. Personal data will be kept confidential. Participants who wish to receive the findings of the survey are asked to provide their email address at the end of the questionnaire.

For more information on the project, contact Dr. Nikolaos Stathopoulos, nikstat[at]chalmers.se.

https://goo.gl/forms/iEYCD5zIDUlDW5eu1

PCM briefing: A call for papers on energy storage for building applications; Peli BioThermal introduces CoolPall Flex

Ben Welter - Sunday, March 18, 2018

Energy and Buildings has issued a call for papers for a special issue on energy storage for building applications. Topics include "bio-inspired, bio-based, and bio-replicated storage materials and systems," "storage-based systems for mitigating indoor-outdoor microclimate" and "smart, multipurpose, multifunctional materials for sensible and latent thermal energy storage in buildings." Dr. Luisa F. Cabeza of the University of Lleida is among the issue's guest editors. Papers will be accepted between May 1 and July 31. Original manuscripts only.

Nebuma of Saarbrücken, Germany, has introduced a thermal energy storage system that can store around 16MWh of heat in a 20-foot container. The company says the blocks or granules in the tanks can be heated to up to 1,300ºC “with an efficiency that is second to none."

CoolPall FlexPeli BioThermal unveiled a new addition to its range of bulk temperature-control shippers this week at Clinical Trial Supply Europe in Milan. The CoolPall Flex is available in three heights with a capacity range of 140 to 767 liters. Options include standard insulation or vacuum insulated panels and water-based or PCM coolants in single or double coolant configurations. 

Harvard University's new district energy facility will feature the largest thermal storage tank in Massachusetts. The 1.3-million-gallon tank will store chilled water that will be used to cool buildings. It will also support some limited research applications.

• New from Pike Research: "Revenue From Net Zero Energy Buildings to Reach $1.3 Trillion by 2035"

• New from HeyReport: "2015-2023 World Micro-capsule Phase Change Composite Material Market Research Report by Product Type, End-User / Application and Regions / Countries

• New from HTF Market Intelligence: "Phase Change Materials Market Overview – Key Futuristic Trends and Competitive Landscape 2023"

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Cold Chain Packaging Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2025

Ice Energy has announced the launch of "Keep Your Cool," a free HVAC replacement and energy storage program in Orange County, Calif. Under the program, qualifying businesses are eligible to receive fully installed HVAC and thermal energy storage systems, using Ice Energy’s proprietary Ice Bear unit. The system freezes water at night when demand for power is low. The stored ice is then used during the peak period of the day to provide uninterrupted cooling, using less energy and reducing air conditioning bills by up to 40 percent.

PCM briefing: Thermal storage in focus at Energy Storage Europe; SaltX, Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop insulation paper

Ben Welter - Monday, March 12, 2018

• "Life Cycle Assessment of Thermal Energy Storage Materials, Components and System Concepts" (Björn Nienborg, Fraunhofer ISE) and "Development of PCM Based on the Prediction of Phase Diagrams of Salt Hydrate Mixtures" (Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern) are among more than a dozen presentations on thermal storage at this week's Energy Storage Europe expo and conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• The energy storage company SaltX Technology will collaborate with specialty paper producer Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop a large-scale manufacturing method for graphene-coated insulation paper. The paper will carry SaltX's patented nano coated salt, increasing the heat conductivity of the SaltX material by up to five times. 

• The March 2018 issue of the CIBSE Journal features a continuing professional development module sponsored by Monodraught: "Operating and enhancing PCM-cooled ventilation systems in office applications.

• New from Persistence Market Research: "Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020" and "Global Insulated Shipping Containers Market Research Report 2018"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"

• Registration is open for an Industrial Fabrics Association International webinar on recent smart fabric applications used in a number of government, commercial, medical and consumer market segments. The cost for the March 15 webinar, initially presented in January, is $29 for association members, $79 for non-members. 

Arizona State University researchers have shed new light on the anomalous properties of water, using specially treated water mixed with another chemical. "As they changed the temperature at high pressures," Gizmodo reports, "they noticed a sharp change in the water's molecular behaviour as it seemed to change phases - from a liquid to a liquid."  

• The first Lego blocks made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane will go on sale later this year. Lego’s current blocks are made from oil-based plastics.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking bids to replace a chiller at the department's Washington, D.C., headquarters. The chiller was originally installed in 1995 to make ice at night for a thermal energy storage system.

Sunamp Ltd. is among 35 finalists preparing to pitch to investors at Cleantech Innovate in London on March 20.

GTI, a not-for-profit research organization based in Illinois, has been invited to present its hybrid solar energy system project at ARPA-E's Congressional Showcase March 12. The system stores thermal energy in inert particles for on-demand use.

Research roundup: Biomass carbon aerogels from succulents; novel hybrid cooling for lithium-ion batteries; calcium carbonate, graphene oxide shell; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 08, 2018

Leakage-proof Phase Change Composites Supported by Biomass Carbon Aerogels from Succulents [Green Chemistry]

Experimental Investigation of a Novel Hybrid Cooling Method for Lithium-ion Batteries [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Modified phase change microcapsules with calcium carbonate and graphene oxide shell for enhanced energy storage and leakage prevention [Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering]

A Novel Thermal Energy Storage System in Smart Building Based on Phase Change Material [IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid]

Study of Material Compatibility for a Thermal Energy Storage System with Phase Change Material [Energies]

Is a self-sufficient building energy efficient? Lesson learned from a case study in Mediterranean climate [Applied Energy]

Research roundup: Coating approach for a PCM; triple concentric-tube latent heat storage; hybrid shell materials; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Coating approach for a Phase Change Material (PCM)  [Powder Technology]

Thermal performance analysis of combined solar collector with triple concentric-tube latent heat storage systems [Energy and Buildings]

Nanoencapsulated phase change materials with polymer-SiO2 hybrid shell materials: Compositions, morphologies, and properties [Energy Conversion and Management]

Investigation on the charging process of a multi-PCM latent heat thermal energy storage unit for use in conventional air-conditioning systems [Energy]

A review of the application of carbon materials in solar thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Feasibility analysis for enhancement of output power of the PV panels by use of PCM (Phase Change Material) based cooling technique [pdf] [Malaya Journal of Matematik]

PCM briefing: PCM symposium in Würzburg; research opening at CIC Energigune

Ben Welter - Friday, March 02, 2018

• The 2nd symposium on the use of PCM in buildings will take place March 14-15 in Würzburg, Germany. It is part of the demonstration project PCM Demo II. The free event is aimed at specialists and decision makers who would like to get informed about the topic, such as architects, planners, building physicists, energy consultants, municipalities and building cooperatives. Thomas Wollheim of va-Q-tec AGThomas Haussmann of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Felix Klinker of ZAE Bayern and Felix Pawelz of Rubitherm are among the scheduled speakers.  

Outlast Technologies of Golden, Colo., will be among the exhibitors at the International Battery Seminar & Exhibit March 27-29 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Betabrand Microclimate Office WrapOutlast is using LinkedIn to showcase Outlast partners and their newest products. First up: Betabrand's Microclimate Office Wrap, a lightweight cardigan-style wrap designed to regulate body temperature "for all-day comfort." 

• The environmental group CDP reports that more than 100 cities worldwide now get the majority of their power (70 percent or more) from renewables. And a study by the International Renewable Energy Agency confirms the potential for increased use of renewable energy in Europe's heating and cooling sector.

• New from Coherent Market Insights: "Chilled Water Storage Systems by Market ... Opportunity Analysis, 2017-2025"

• New from Global Market Insights: "Phase Change Materials Market Size By Product (Paraffin, Non-Paraffin, Salt Hydrates, Eutectics) ... Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2017-2024"

CIC Energigune, an energy research center in Spain's Basque Country, is looking to fill a post-doctoral position in its Thermal Energy Storage group. The selected candidate will focus on the development of advanced PCMs tailored for TES applications at low to medium temperatures, including solid-solid PCMs, shape-stabilized PCMs and encapsulated PCMs.   

• In an Accenture survey of 360 chemical companies in 12 countries, 80 percent of respondents said they are increasing their investments in digital technologies for plants, in particular plant management and product quality. 

• The final agenda has been released for the ARPA-E Summit in Washington, D.C., March 13-15. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is among the speakers. Also on tap: A discussion of "High Power Systems and Thermal Management Challenges in Defense" and a demonstration of an "Additively Manufactured Record High Thermal Conductivity Polymer Composite Heat Exchanger."

• Two Fraunhofer CSE projects, SunDial and Energy Storage Integration Lab, were on display Friday at the MIT Energy Conference Showcase in Cambridge, Mass. SunDial is an energy storage and distribution management system. The ESI Lab simulates a connected home of the future with a range of electric devices, including rooftop solar, energy storage, smart loads and EV charging. 

• Leaving the North American Free Trade Agreement could cost the United States $22 billion in lost chemical exports and create a tariff burden of up to $9 billion, the American Chemistry Council says.

PCM briefing: Axiom lowers energy costs at Whole Foods store; EnergyNest has opening for senior engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 19, 2018

• Nearly a year ago, a Whole Foods in Los Altos, Calif., connected a thermal battery system made by Axiom Exergy to the store's refrigeration system. Whole Foods pays Axiom a monthly fee for the saltwater-based technology. Axiom says that payment, coupled with a lower monthly power bill, amounts to less than what the grocer was paying its utility before the batteries were installed. 

• Thermal battery maker EnergyNest AS of Norway is looking to hire a senior engineer to work in its main office outside Oslo.  

• The schedule has been posted for the 2018 GlobalChem Conference & Exhibition in Washington, D.C., Feb. 28-March 2. Most of the sessions focus on the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Global Harmonized System of Classification and other regulatory topics. 

Applications are being accepted for the Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Grant Program (WAMS). The program supports research and extension projects that will increase participation by rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

• CONTISOL, a solar reactor that can run day or night, is being tested by researchers in Germany. The reactor uses concentrated solar power and thermal energy storage.

Registration is still open for the second annual European Chemistry Partnering event, to be held Feb. 23 in Frankfurt, Germany. It's a chance to pitch innovations and connect with investors and decision-makers in the chemical industry.

• U.K.-based Sure Chill Co., whose water-based refrigeration technology is used to keep vaccines cool without the need for grid-based electricity, has been shortlisted for a 2018 St. David Award in Innovation, Science and Technology. 

• The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has voted to clear a path for energy storage projects in the capacity, energy and ancillary services markets. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur noted that newer technologies “like some of the batteries, flywheels, compressed air, new forms of thermal storage, are rapidly gaining commercial viability and scale.”

Ice Energy buys back program to distribute 1,800 commercial ice batteries

Ben Welter - Friday, February 16, 2018

Ice Energy, the California company that partnered with NRG Energy a year ago to install up to 1,800 behind-the-meter ice batteries in commercial buildings in Orange County, has bought back the program. Payment terms were not disclosed. In an e-mail interview, Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins explained the strategic shift.

Q: What spurred your decision to buy back the program?

A: NRG was the owner of the program but they decided to divest all their renewables including this project. We bought the project back from NRG last month and are financing it ourselves. We have almost 1800 Ice Bears available but are in discussions with several major property owners who will start taking down large chunks.

Q: The agreement with NRG called for the installation of up to 1,800 Ice Bear 30s, providing a total of up to 25.6 MW of peak storage capacity to Southern California Edison under 20-year power purchase agreements. How long was the NRG program active, and how many Ice Bears were installed?

A: During most of the time NRG owned the program, it was on hold due to regulatory delays. The delays were caused by requests for re-hearings and court appeals unrelated to our program, which was part of a much larger procurement by SCE that included a controversial gas peaker. The program got the regulatory green light last March, but that more or less coincided with NRG’s move out of renewables, which effectively kept the program on hold. As a result, only a few units for the City of Tustin were installed.

Ice Bear 30Q: Can you share performance data on the Ice Bears installed through the NRG agreement?

A: The Ice Bears installed for the City of Tustin have performed like the other 1200 or so units in operation – better than 98% availability which is better than any other storage technology, or grid asset for that matter.

Q: Can you name commercial property owners that participated in the Ice Bear program through NRG?

A: In addition to the City of Tustin who had their Ice Bears installed during NRG’s ownership of the program, the following commercial property owners signed up during NRG’s ownership and will now have their Ice Bears installed by us:

• A global bank
• John Wayne Airport
• Marconi Auto Museum
• Medical Eye Services
• 7 Diamonds

Q: Can you name any of the major property owners you're now in talks with?

A: We're in ongoing discussions and identifying initial target sites with the largest Orange County real estate developers and property management firms.

Q: Will the program change in any significant way under Ice Energy's direction?

A: Yes, under Ice Energy's direction we're able to respond more quickly and tailor our offering to meet individual customer needs. To accelerate adoption, for a limited period of time, Ice Energy is offering new participants free HVAC replacement in addition to free Ice Bears. We are also now able to work more efficiently with our utility partner on this program through our direct interaction. The end result of these changes is more units placed more quickly to more customers.

Q: When will the first units be installed?

A: The first installations under our ownership of the program will be next month which will be the beginning of almost three years of installing Ice Bears under our program. Once installed, the Ice Bears will then provide OC participants 20 years of utility bill savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Research roundup: Eutectic organic PCMs; diatomite/CNTs/PEG composites; cellulose insulation; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

From Data in Brief:

Prediction of the Properties of Eutectic Organic Phase Change Materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Diatomite/CNTs/PEG composite PCMs with shape-stabilized and improved thermal conductivity: Preparation and thermal energy storage properties

From Solar Energy:

Thermal performance of phase change materials (PCM)-enhanced cellulose insulation in passive solar residential building walls

From Energy Procedia:

A Parametric Study about the Potential to Integrate Phase Change Material into Photovoltaic Panel
Investigations on thermal environment in residential buildings with PCM embedded in external wall
Passive Cooling Using Phase Change Material and Insulation for High-rise Office Building in Tropical Climate
A Study on Latent Heat Energy Storage Performance of Tetradecane
Erythritol-Vermiculite form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Modification of expanded graphite and its adsorption for hydrated salt to prepare composite PCMs

From Renewable Energy:

Experimental Investigation of Solar Chimney with Phase Change Material (PCM)
Effect of retrofitting a silver/water nanofluid-based photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) system with a PCM-thermal battery for residential applications

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Thermal charging performance of enhanced phase change material composites for thermal battery design

From Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects:

Preparation and characterization of high-temperature non-flowing SiO2/EG/paraffin composites by high-temperature refining

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Experimental analysis of thermal energy storage by phase change material system for cooling and heating applications

From Materials & Design:

Thermal conductivity enhancement of phase change materials with form-stable carbon bonded carbon fiber network

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental study on thermal performance improvement of building envelopes by integrating with phase change material in an intermittently heated room

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Phase-change thermal energy storage using spherical capsules: performance of a test plant

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens North American headquarters; Viking Cold Solutions begins Phoenix-area installation

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG officially opened its new North American headquarters in Langhorne, Penn., this week. Va-Q-tec will use the 20,000-square-foot facility to showcase new products and to manufacture its small temperature-control shipping containers. The location will also serve as a hub for the company's rental and repair operation. “The investment in this new facility is a testament to our commitment to grow the business and expand our footprint in North America," said CEO Dr. Joachim Kuhn.

Drones that deliver sterile mosquitoes in the fight against the Zika virus will be field tested in Latin America early this year. The system, developed by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture's Insect Pest Control Laboratory, uses phase change material to keep the mosquitoes inactive during transportation. 

• New from Greentech Media: "The Next Five Years in Energy Storage According to 500 Energy Professionals"

• New from Global Info Research: "North America Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2022"

• New from Technavio: "Global Advanced Phase Change Materials Market 2017-2021

Viking Cold Solutions has begun installing its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in a 10,000-square-foot freezer at the Bashas food distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system, which consists of salt-hydrate-filled panels suspended from warehouse ceilings, is designed to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The cost of renewable energy is falling so fast that it should be a consistently cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuels by 2020, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency

Utility Dive takes a close look at Nantucket Island's "hybrid" plan to add energy storage, including thermal storage, to stave off expensive grid enhancements.