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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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Sunamp signs its first major UK contract

Ben Welter - Friday, June 07, 2019

Sunamp Ltd. has signed a memo of understanding to supply its PCM-based heat batteries to Fischer Future Heat under an original equipment manufacturer contract. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, says the deal involves "many thousands" of units and will be worth seven figures as sales ramp up. Leicester-based Fischer began selling the product, dubbed the Aquafficient, in February.

Andrew BissellIn an email interview, Sunamp CEO Andrew Bissell filled in a few details on the deal.

Q: Can you tell me about the PCM aspects of this product?

A: "Sunamp’s success in making a super-stable (40,000+ cycles tested) salt hydrate PCM (very energy dense) at 58C and combining it (in a highly insulated, cuboid enclosure) with a very high power heat exchanger (high power, high flow rate hot water) made a whole class of heat battery devices possible. Not least electric water heaters, with about 4x the energy density of a classic electric hot water tank and 5+ gallon per minute performance. A key innovation (patent pending around the details) was to use electric elements immersed inside the PCM to melt the PCM and charge the heat battery."

Q: What can you tell me about the manufacturing process?

A: "Because Aquafficient by Fischer Future Heat is based on Sunamp UniQ, it’s effectively been in production at Sunamp Factory for nearly a year. 

"By going down this OEM white label route, Fischer Future Heat could hit the ground running with Aquafficient - which they did! Sunamp’s manufacturing has had to scale already this year from 75 units a month to 75 units a week, with 75 a day on the near horizon. This to keep up with exponentially rising combined demand from Fischer, other OEMs, and large housing and regeneration projects.

“We keep scaling production and the demand keeps outpacing us! We're working really hard on scaling up production and appreciate our partners’ and their customers patience when they sometimes have to wait quite a number of weeks for the product they want.”

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/heat-storage-battery-pioneer-sunamp-16252849

PCM briefing: Building Skins conference agenda; tough words for CALMAC and Axiom Exergy

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

• The agenda is set for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will be the keynote speaker. Among the more than 150 speakers is Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, who will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by May 31 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Mike HopkinsIn a LinkedIn post, former Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shared his take on two of the California company's competitors in distributed thermal energy storage. "Look at @CALMAC, a Portfolio of Trane - been in our industry forever, good product, but haven't been able to secure utility deals because their large bespoke systems make it too risky to commit to MWs in a location on a schedule," wrote Hopkins, who is now CEO at Bakken Midstream. "Relative newcomer [Axiom Exergy] came to market with their #refrigeration #battery. Good concept but not plug and play. Not surprising, they seem to have recast themselves as a #cloud based power management company."

• Speaking of CALMAC: CEO Mark McCracken will speak on "some of the myths surrounding ice-based TES" at an ASHRAE technical seminar on thermal energy storage in building design in Hong Kong June 13. 

FedEx Express has launched a temperature-controlled shipping solution in Japan, Korea and Singapore. The company says its Medpak VIºC packaging, first introduced in Europe, provides 96-hour temperature stability. The reusable thermal packaging features vacuum insulated panels and phase change material validated to International Safe Transit Association 7D standards.

CIC energiGUNE, a research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a researcher in its thermal energy storage area. The research will focus on the storage of heat through reversible chemical reactions "in a range of temperature few explored so far (120 - 250 °C)." The application deadline is Sept. 11, 2019.   

Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Advances in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo. Her topic: "Measuring and Modeling the Thermal Performance of Products Equipped with Phase Change Materials." 

• Thermal energy storage startup NET Energy of Chicago is among 10 finalists for the University of Chicago’s 19th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge. Winners will be announced next week, with the top companies sharing $250,000 in cash, along with $250,000 worth of office space and professional services from program sponsors. 

Research roundup: Night ventilation study; residential ice storage; fly ash and slag cement slurry; more

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

From Building and Environment:

A parametric study of phase change material behaviour when used with night ventilation in different climatic zones

From Energy and Buildings:

Development and Evaluation of a Generalized Rule-Based Control Strategy for Residential Ice Storage Systems
Characterization of potassium carbonate salt hydrate for thermochemical energy storage in buildings

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Fly ash and slag cement slurry containing microencapsulated phase change materials

From Applied Energy:

Thermal response of annuli filled with metal foam for thermal energy storage: An experimental study
A scalable environmental thermal energy harvester based on solid/liquid phase-change materials

From International Journal of Hydrogen Energy:

Thermal management of metal hydride hydrogen storage reservoir using phase change materials

From Macromolecular Research:

Multiple Energy Harvesting Based on Reversed Temperature Difference Between Graphene Aerogel Filled Phase Change Materials

From Solar Energy:

Experimental studies on the effect of using phase change material in a salinity-gradient solar pond under a solar simulator

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Thermal enhancement and shape stabilization of a phase-change energy-storage material via copper nanowire aerogel

From U.S. Office of Scientific and Technical Information:

Prototype Testing of Encapsulated Phase Change Material Thermal Energy Storage (EPCM-TES) for Concentrated Solar Power

From E3S Web of Conferences:

A PCM based cooling system for office buildings: a state of the art review

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Design of MtNS/SA microencapsulated phase change materials for enhancement of thermal energy storage performances: Effect of shell thickness

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Investigating the effects of hybrid nanoparticles on solid-liquid phase change process in a Y-shaped fin-assisted LHTESS by means of FEM

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

A review of microencapsulated and composite phase change materials: Alteration of strength and thermal properties of cement-based materials

PCM briefing: Axiotherm wins smarter E Award; update on Malta thermal battery project

Ben Welter - Friday, May 17, 2019

Axiotherm GmbH of Germany was among the winners at this year's smarter E Awards in Munich. Axiotherm was honored in the renewable energy category for kraftBoxx, a thermal energy storage system that uses phase change technology for heating and hot water. The company says kraftBoxx has a higher energy storage capacity than conventional heat and cold storage systems. KraftBoxx is a joint development with Klara Energy and Tuxhorn within the scope of the PCM-based HeatSel product line marketed by Axiotherm. 

China says it will raise tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods June 1, including palmitic acid, stearic acid and their salts and esters. The move is response to the U.S. tariff hike on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that took effect on May 10.  

• In an interview with SolarPACES, Malta Inc. engineer Sebastian Freund provides an update on the Massachusetts company's plans to develop a standalone thermal storage battery using molten salts. “We plan to build a pilot plant with 10MW power and at least six hours of storage duration, depending on customer specifications,” Freund said. Malta hopes to attract enough investors over the next three years to complete an 80MWh thermal energy storage pilot.

Patent application: High-density latent heat storage device

Ben Welter - Friday, May 10, 2019

University of Texas patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20190137190 (applicant Board of Regents, University of Texas System, Austin, Texas):

"Latent heat storage devices are disclosed, such as latent heat storage devices comprising a phase change material encapsulated in sufficiently conductive tubes, wherein the tubes are arrayed in a hexagonal-packed pattern. The devices herein can be used, for example, in residential and/or commercial HVAC systems."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190137190.pdf

PCM briefing: Cold chain veteran joins Phase Change Energy Solutions; Outlast showcases new nylon filament yarn

Ben Welter - Friday, May 10, 2019

Bruce TruesdaleBruce Truesdale has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., as director of business development - cold chain. He was formerly senior supply chain consultant at Verta Life Sciences and director of health care at Protek Pharma Worldwide. He declined an interview request, but his new job title suggests that PCES, whose product line now focuses on HVAC, building and thermal energy storage, has an interest in the temperature-controlled packaging market. Earlier this year, PCES announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. The company said it would use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally.

Chalmers University of Technology of Sweden has an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in thermal energy storage for building applications. The research group Building Physics is working "to find out how novel TES with phase change materials (PCM) could complement the existing district heating and cooling networks and co-operate with other peak shaving techniques (water accumulator tanks, ground heat storage pumps, etc.) through smart thermal grids." The application deadline is June 9.

Outlast will showcase its new nylon filament yarn at the Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, next week. "The PCMs optimized for this specific application," Outlast says, "are included directly inside the polyamide fibers." Potential applications include next-to-skin products such as undergarments, shapewear, sportswear and hosiery. The company says it now sources the majority of PCMs used in its products from renewable instead of synthetic raw materials.

PCM coolerA PCM coating designed to absorb heat from rockets is among the dozens of NASA spinoffs listed in the latest issue of Spinoff, an annual publication that has been documenting space agency spinoffs since 1976. In the early 2000s, Raj Kaul, a materials scientist at Marshall Space Flight Center, began researching a way to use PCM to keep the outside of spacecraft at a safe temperature. An entrepreneur eventually snapped up the patent for the coating Kaul developed and is working on a number of products based on the technology, including aircraft paint, pipe heat traps and an iceless cooler, shown at right. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced $89 million in funding for "innovative, advanced manufacturing research and development projects." "Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials," one of three areas to receive funding, includes phase change storage materials for heating and cooling applications. The department anticipates making up to 55 awards for up to three years. Concept papers are due on June 20.

PCM briefing: Ice Energy signs distribution deal with Fuji Bridex; Pluss food bag now available in 13 states across India

Ben Welter - Friday, May 03, 2019

Ice Energy of Santa Barbara, Calif., has signed a distribution agreement with Fuji Bridex Pte Ltd. Under the agreement, Fuji Bridex will market, install and service Ice Energy’s commercial and residential ice-based thermal energy systems across Singapore, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia. 

PronGO food bagPluss Advanced Technologies of Gurgaon, India, announced on LinkedIn this week that its PronGO insulated food bag is now available in 13 states across India and has "moved over 150 metric tons of #frozen and #chilled foods safely every month." The bag, right, uses PCM cooling pouches to keep perishable foods cool for up to eight hours and frozen foods frozen for up to five hours. 

1414 Degrees of Australia fired up the burners for the first time at its gas thermal energy storage system at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant in Adelaide this week. The system will enable South Australia Water to time-shift the use of its biogas to produce electricity and heat on demand, rather than use the biogas as it is generated. 

• Registration is open for the 5th International Conference on Industrial Waste Heat Valorisation May 21-22 in Kortrijk, Belgium. Among the topics: "Thermal storage technologies for medium and high temperatures," "Thermal (heat and cold) storage in industrial processes," "Thermal storage in P2H2P (Power to Heat to Power)" and "Increase flexibility of your energy system by adding thermal storage."

Alexium International Group Ltd. this week announced that it has entered into a supply agreement with an unnamed "multi-billion dollar North American manufacturer of mattresses." Alexium says the agreement makes it "the preferred supplier of phase change material (PCM) products for textile applications to its bedding products with the intent to form a strategic partnership." 

Brooklyn Bedding's new Aurora hybrid mattress features PCM "gel beads" that melt and solidify as needed to maintain a comfortable temperature. A reviewer for the Stamford Advocate gives the mattress high marks: "While I admittedly didn't take a thermometer to bed with me, I can say that this technology isn't marketing fluff — it actually worked for me. I never overheated, and neither did my partner who tends to sleep much hotter than I do."

MIT researchers have developed thin polymer films that conduct heat better than ceramics and many metals, including steel. “We think this result is a step to stimulate the field,” says Gang Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering at MIT, and a senior co-author on the paper. “Our bigger vision is, these properties of polymers can create new applications and perhaps new industries, and may replace metals as heat exchangers.” 

Matthias WuttigMatthias Wuttig, a professor at RWTH Aachen University, was honored by the Materials Research Society as a 2019 Fellow for making "path-breaking contributions to the advancement of phase-change materials, including unraveling their unique bonding mechanism, unconventional transport properties and unusual kinetics." The society, founded in 1973, has more 14,500 members who are material experts from industry, academia and national labs. 

• Posted by Warmilu founder Grace Hsia on LinkedIn this week: "So honored Doctors Without Borders is piloting the Warmilu infant warming incubator blankets in Bangladesh. Thank you again to the whole Doctors Without Borders team and the Warmilu team stepping up to support infant healthcare initiatives. It was a great honor to be an abstract presenter at Doctors Without Borders MSF 2019 International Paediatric Days! We just saw the abstract published in ResearchGate and two of my personal + career dreams have finally come true: working with Doctors Without Borders and being published! Huge thank you to the whole MSF Scientific Committee and to Dr. Nadia Lafferty for your words of wisdom and amazing insights." Warmilu's IncuBlanket uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours.

Patent application: Heat exchanger for an exhaust tuning system

Ben Welter - Monday, April 29, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190120103 (applicant Ford Global Technologies, Dearborn, Mich.):

"Methods and systems are provided for a heat exchanger phase change material installed as a component of a variable exhaust tuning system. In one example, a method may include absorbing excess heat energy from exhaust gases during and after an engine-on event within a heat exchanger material, releasing heat energy stored in the heat exchanger material during and after an engine-off event, and heating an adjustable exhaust valve with the heat energy stored in the heat exchanger material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190120103.pdf

PCM briefing: Ice Energy signs distribution deal; Bloom joins Sunamp as board chairman

Ben Welter - Monday, April 22, 2019

Ice Energy of Santa Barbara, Calif., has reached distribution agreements with four California companies to sell, install and maintain its ice-based thermal storage system, the Ice Bear 20. The companies are Correy Baker Heating and Air of Murrieta; Emery Mechanical Engineering of San Diego; H3 of Santa Barbara; and SunRize Mechanical of Temecula. “This distribution network will enable us to further expand our footprint in the residential market in Southern California,” said Marcel Christians, co-COO of Ice Energy.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and AirBridgeCargo Airlines have announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled shipping container. The agreement will enable pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from AirBridgeCargo.

Martin Bloom• Thermal battery maker Sunamp Ltd. of Scotland has appointed Martin Bloom as chairman of the board. Bloom, right, has extensive experience in high-growth technology and renewable energy companies, including Chinese solar company Renesola and Loughborough-based fuel cell specialist Intelligent Energy. Bloom succeeds Sunamp’s founding chairman, Bob Pettigrew, who oversaw its early growth.

Nominations are being accepted for the 2019 Poncelet Prize for Innovation in Microencapsulation, co-sponsored by Procter & Gamble and the Bioencapsulation Research Group. The award recognizes innovation in process design and modernization; development of new core and shell materials; innovation in characterization methods; or innovation in emerging fields of applications. The deadline for submitting nominations is May 31, 2019.

Peli BioThermal is rebranding its Chronos temperature-controlled shippers. CoolGuard PCM will replace Chronos Express, and CoolGuard Advance will replace Chronos Advance. The CoolGuard shippers will offer configurations with fewer components and additional temperature set points, such as 16º C.

• Registration is open for "Phase Change Material & Passive Cooling in Large Venues," a lunch-hour presentation by Henderson Engineers. The free event, sponsored by AIA Kansas City, will be held June 12 at the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City, Mo.

Axiotherm GmbH's kraftBoxx thermal energy storage system is a finalist for a Smarter E Award in the renewable energy category. KraftBoxx is a joint development with Klara Energy and Tuxhorn within the scope of the PCM-based HeatSel product line marketed by Axiotherm. Winners will be announced May 15 in Munich.

• PCM expert Harald Mehling's new book is available on Amazon: "Understanding the Basics of Energy: An Introduction from Simple to Complex Situations."

Tempur-Pedic of Lexington, Ky., says its new TEMPUR-breeze mattress will help sleepers "stay up to 8 degrees F cooler through the night." According to Tempur-Pedic: "At about 80°F, the molecules within TEMPUR-breeze’s most efficient Phase Change Material (PCM) to-date, PURECOOL+, activate, shifting from a solid to a liquid to absorb massive amounts of heat. For the first time, Tempur-Pedic’s scientists successfully altered these proprietary molecules to deliver more phase change material, increasing its capacity to absorb heat by 2x compared to other PCM."

• Two new ASHRAE publications will be available in June: "Owner’s Guide for Buildings Served by District Cooling" and an updated edition of the "District Cooling Guide" for designers and building owners around the world.

• Researchers at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a polyethylene glycol-infused wood material that could be used to make windows that absorb heat during the day and release it into the home at night. The researchers are working to increase the heat storage capacity of the transparent wood, Smithsonian.com reports.

Patent application: Air-conditioning system

Ben Welter - Friday, April 19, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190113259 (applicant Ford Global Technologies LLC, Dearborn, Mich.):

"An air-conditioning system includes first and second PCM vessels, a heat recovery circuit, and a conduit and valve system. The heat recover circuit includes a third PCM vessel. The conduit and valve system operably couples i.) a first heat exchanger to the first PCM vessel and a radiator, ii.) a second heat exchanger to a core and the second PCM vessel, and iii.) the heat recovery circuit to the first heat exchanger."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190113259.pdf