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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: Ph.D. opening at University of Twente; Denver thermal conference moves online

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

• The University of Twente, Netherlands, has an opening for a four-year Ph.D. position in phase change materials for heat storage. "This research project will try to introduce a smart composite material which can store the heat for both short and long-term storage time," according to the posting. "This smart material will be based on inorganic salt hydrates having controllable discharging speed which is very advantageous for future smart heat batteries." The starting salary is 2,325 euros per month, plus an annual 8.3% year-end bonus.

• Because of uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, scheduled for Aug. 6-7 in Denver, will be held as a virtual event on the same dates. According to the conference website: "Thermal 2020 presentations will be webcast with live slide presentations, audio, and real-time Q&A. Attendees may revisit these presentations after the event via recordings delivered directly to them. Exhibit booths feature rich, virtual profiles. Networking is done all-day via video conference rooms and though scheduled 1x1 meetings." A full conference pass costs $295 through June 12.

Peli BioThermal says air ambulance crews in Europe are transporting blood products via the company's Credo ProMed transport bags. The temperature-controlled bags are designed to protect blood products needed for transfusions at emergency scenes.

 • Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are working to integrate a new thermal energy storage technology within CHP systems from Capstone Turbine Corp. to boost heat recovery. In the Argonne system, high-temperature PCMs are embedded within highly thermally conductive foam. The foam is then sealed with inert gas inside a module, preventing moisture or oxygen from getting inside and degrading the components.

PCM briefing: Ice Energy files for bankruptcy; Viking Cold has opening for thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 10, 2020

Ice Energy, the Santa Barbara, Calif., company that made and distributed ice-based thermal energy storage systems, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's Ice Bear system makes ice at night when demand for electricity is low and capacity is abundant. During the day, the stored ice is used to provide cooling. Details of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in December, are sparse. The company's website is no longer active. Over the years, Ice Energy had won several major energy storage and distribution contracts with utilities, and had begun marketing a smaller version of the Ice Bear system aimed at retail customers. 

Viking Cold Solutions has an opening for a chemical/thermal engineer in Houston. The engineer will "conduct research in Thermal Science, Storage/Heat Transfer and Phase Change Materials (PCM) for low temperature applications (<10⁰C)."

Axiom Exergy has secured more than $1 million in orders for the Axiom Cloud, a software platform that helps manage energy consumption in supermarkets and cold storage facilities that use the company's PCM-powered thermal storage systems.

• The 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 6-7 in Denver, has issued a call for presentations. Topics include thermal materials, thermal modeling and characterization and measurement of thermal materials. Abstracts are due Feb. 12.

EnergyNest will install a large thermal energy storage battery at a Senftenbacher brick factory in Austria. The system will temporarily store excess energy in the form of hot air from a tunnel furnace. The stored heat be converted to steam and later reused in production.

Devan Chemicals, the Belgium-based developer of finishing technologies for textiles, introduced its Tones of Cool Bio technology at the Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, last month. The technology "stimulates the textile to dissipate redundant heat from the body and to instantly reduce the body temperature," the company says. The phase change materials "are derived from sustainable, natural sources.

Registration is open for the 23rd Microencapsulation Industrial Convention to be held June 8-11 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

PCM briefing: Advanced Building Skins presentations are online; Ecozen raises $6 million

Ben Welter - Monday, December 16, 2019

• Presentations given at the 14th Conference on Advanced Building Skins in Switzerland in October are available via download for 80 euros. Among the topics: "Thermal performance of engineered wood flooring impregnated with phase-change materials," Damien Mathis, University LAVAL, Fontenay-sous-Bois, France; "Thermal comfort modelling and its impact on building energy performance," Vikram Sami, Olson Kundig, Seattle, Wash.; and "Integrated solar electric/thermal cooling system with storage," Mohannad Bayoumi, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Loughborough University researchers have been awarded funding to help with the design and development of a four-wheeled electric vehicle for research, teaching and outreach in India. Engineers at Vellore Institute of Technology and PSG College of Technology, both located in Tamil Nadu, will work with Loughborough researchers to explore the use of phase change material and other technologies to manage battery heat. The high ambient temperatures in south India and similar climates can significantly reduce battery life in electric vehicles.  

• Energy storage specialist 1414 Degrees has announced plans to acquire SolarReserve Australia II, which owns the Aurora Solar Energy Project in South Australia and two solar sites in New South Wales. The Adelaide, Australia, company plans to use the Aurora site to build a 400 MW solar farm with thermal storage capacity of several thousand megawatt hours. The technology stores electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon.

• Agritech startup Ecozen of Pune, India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, has raised a total of $6 million to fuel its growth phase. The cold rooms feature a PCM-equipped thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.  

Advanced Cooling Technologies Inc. of Lancaster, Penn., is seeking qualified research and development engineers at various experience and education levels to work on space, defense and energy-related applications. 

• Andreas Hauer, head of the energy storage department at ZAE Bayern (the Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research) has joined the board of directors at the International Solar Energy Society.

PCM briefing: Acumen invests in Promethean Power Systems; Viking Cold wins Cleanie award

Ben Welter - Monday, October 14, 2019

• Social venture capital investor Acumen has invested an undisclosed amount in Promethean Power Systems Inc., which makes PCM-based refrigeration systems for cold-storage and milk chilling applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Jiten Ghelani, chief executive of Promethean, which is based in Boston, Mass., and Pune, India, said the investment would help the company accelerate the adoption of its products across India and other markets, and also expand its cooling-as-a-service offerings. 

Air New Zealand pillow• Two new consumer products featuring temperature-control fabrics from Outlast Technologies hit the market recently: A pillow designed to improve the quality of sleep for passengers on Air New Zealand's long-haul flights and a Calloway pullover designed to keep golfers cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, won a Platinum Cleanie Award last month for a PCM-based storage and demand management project in Massachusetts. The Cleanie Awards, presented at this year's North America Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, Utah, recognize companies and individuals shaping the clean-tech and renewable energy industries. The Viking Cold project involved the installation and commissioning of TES systems to store refrigeration energy and facilitate 1.3 MW of energy demand reduction across eight customer facilities, including the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Sonoco ThermoSafe of Arlington Heights, Ill., has introduced a new temperature-controlled box rental service. "The new Orion r product line is based on the existing ChillTech product," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of engineering and product management at Sonoco. "We’ve made changes to make the product more reusable (added EPP) and have increased the VIP insulation. The PCMs remain the same, using paraffin-based materials. ChillTech was developed by Laminar Medica in the UK prior to their acquisition and integration into the ThermoSafe business. Solutions will exist for 2-8, 15-25 and frozen temperatures."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted an opening for a Senior Account Manager Europe, to be based in Netherlands.

Microtek Laboratories Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, has introduced a new line of PCM-equipped pouches and panels for use in temperature-controlled shipping.

PCM briefing: Lineup set for TES forum in Duesseldorf; CIC Energigune joins European research network

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

Christoph Rathgeber of ZAE Bayern and Michael Andretzky of the University of Duisburg-Essen are among the speakers at next week's Thermal Energy Storage Forum in Dusseldorf, Germany. The forum will focus on the use of thermal storage in industrial processes. Rathgeber's topic is "Economy of thermal energy storage." Andretzky's topic: "PCM in buffer tank for CHPs."

Crystallize bubble• Another frosty gem from Physics Today: "Bubbles freeze in a swirl of ice crystals"

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has launched an electric thermal energy storage system designed to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively. The pilot plant in Hamburg can store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. It uses a steam turbine to convert stored energy into electricity. 

CIC Energigune, a thermal energy storage research center in Spain's Basque Country, has joined the ALISTORE-ERI network. The European network brings together 20 research centers and 12 companies engaged in advanced energy storage research.

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston has made Food Logistics' list of Top Green Providers 2019. Viking was honored in two categories, refrigeration and alternative fuels &  energy. The company says its PCM-based thermal storage system, designed for use in cold storage facilities, can reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent.

Cryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, says it is taking steps toward reducing its carbon footprint with the launch of a new line of shipping solutions. The company, based in Edison, N.J. says its R3 Service Program "minimizes the need for insulation materials, phase change solutions, bottles and their necessary disposal by handling the coordination of container delivery, reverse logistics and required refurbishment."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for a sales manager with "experience in strategic selling across Europe."

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. 

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: PureTemp joins RSPO; Reda's new PCM fabric on display in Milan

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

PureTemp LLC has joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil as an associate member. The nonprofit organization, which has more than 4,000 members worldwide, promotes the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products. In November, RSPO adopted stricter standards for certified sustainable palm oil, including a total ban on deforestation by its members.

Reda Group's new Active Phase temperature-control fabric was on display at the Milan fabric trade show earlier this month. The material uses phase change material to keep body temperature constant when ambient temperature fluctuates. Reda says the material features enhanced breathability and softness and is "easy to clean, even in water."

University of Maryland fabric•  University of Maryland researchers have created a temperature-control fabric that does not rely on phase change material. The fabric changes its insulating properties in response to the environment. In warm and humid conditions, the fabric allows radiant heat to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. Two types of synthetic materials in the fabric — one that absorbs water and another other that repels it — are coated with carbon nanotubes. The fibers warp and relax in response to changing humidity, opening and closing pores in the fabric. 

• In interviews with Advanced Textiles Source, four entrepreneurs were asked: What do you wish you had known early on when you were first dealing with intellectual property law and patent issues? “Get feedback on why you need a patent,” said Jeremy Wall, founder and CEO of smart-clothing startup Lumenus. “Where else could you spend $20,000?” Said Matt Kolmes, CEO of VOLT Smart Yarns: “Even if you are on a tight budget, file that Provisional application immediately before you show your idea to anyone, or talk about it with anyone."

• The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action program is seeking applicants for a one- to two-year research fellowship at the Oslo Metropolitan University. The European Union-funded fellowship will focus on the energy-performance aspects of phase change material in buildings. "In this collaboration," OsloMet says, "we intend to gain our understanding and explore about the micro-structural aspect to relate the macro-scale behavior at continuum level." The application deadline is March 7.

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions taps Constellation funding; energy sector veteran to lead Sunamp growth plans

Ben Welter - Monday, February 11, 2019

• Researchers at the University of Alabama have won a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a thermally activated building envelope system that integrates non-combustible phase change materials and hydronic activation into building envelopes. The goal is to reduce the energy costs as well as to support renewable energy sources for "power grid reliability, quality, resilience and dispatchability." It's one of 19 projects that will share up to $19.5 million in DOE grants for early-stage research and development for advanced building technologies and systems.

Viking Cold Solutions warehouse installationViking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has reached an agreement with Constellation to offer Viking's commercial and industrial refrigeration customers access to the energy retailer's Efficiency Made Easy program. The program helps businesses implement energy conservation measures with no upfront capital costs. The upgrades are included in the monthly charges that appear on a customer's Constellation utility bill. Viking's PCM-based thermal energy storage systems, such as the one shown at right, are designed to reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• Registration is open for the 2019 Energy Storage Association Conference set for April 16-19 in Phoenix, Ariz. Exhibitors include battery thermal management startup Hotstart Inc. and Hydrostor, a Canadian company that offers "utility-scale energy storage facilities that can be flexibly sited using its Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology."

• The deadline for submitting presentations for the Advancements in Thermal Management conference is Feb. 15. Topics include emerging technologies for thermal management; market opportunities for thermal products and services; thermal materials; and thermal modeling characterization and measurement. The conference will be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo.

Sunamp Ltd. has appointed energy sector veteran Bill Edrich as global head of commercial and industrial to lead the thermal energy storage company's growth plans.  

Ice Bear 30Ice Energy says it has completed the first phase of what will be the largest installation of its Ice Bear thermal storage systems in the United States. Under a 21.6-megawatt energy storage contract with Southern California Edison, about 100 Ice Bear systems have been installed at businesses across SCE’s territory. The two-year project calls for the deployment of more than 1,200 Ice Bears.

• Nominations are being sought for the World Materials Forum's 2019 Start Up Challenge. The competition honors "demonstrated breakthroughs" in a handful of categories, including new material composition and new product design. The top prize is 50,000 euros. The application deadline is Feb. 28.

• A group of businesses and environmental leaders have jointly launched the Plant Based Products Council, a group working to "guide the global economy toward more sustainable and responsible consumer products and packaging through greater use of plant-based materials." The group's website, pbpc.com, features a database of more than 480 plant-based and biobased products now on the market. 

Pelican BioThermal has opened a new network station and service center in Los Angeles to service, refurbish, repair and condition the company’s reusable Credo on Demand temperature-controlled shippers.

Tim RiazziTim Riazzi, right, president at Microtek Laboratories of Dayton, Ohio, has been elected vice president of the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America. He succeeds Pete Horwath, CEO at Insolcorp, who was elected president of the association in December.

• The CAVU Group of Dayton, Ohio, has posted an opening for a chemical engineer, "responsible for designing new process plants/equipment, work cells or modifying existing ones."

• Registration is open for the 11th Microencapsulation Training School, to be held April 9-12 in Loughborough, United Kingdom. Topics include spray drying/cooling, dripping technology, membrane emulsification and microencapsulation in microfluidic systems. The training is hosted by Loughborough University's chemical engineering department. The deadline for early registration, with fees ranging from 450 to 1,000 euros, is Feb. 28.

• Registration is open for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International conference to be held April 4-5 in Paris.

• The presentations given Jan. 24 at the Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems at the University of Nottingham are available for download. Among the highlights: "PCM Products R&D overview" (Adam Dicken), "Enhanced geothermal borehole heat exchangers with PCMs" (Heiko Gaich and Amandio Rebola) and "Phase change materials for renewable heating and cooling" (Sam Gledhill). 

PCM briefing: New Outlast materials on display at Heimtextil; agenda set for Jan. 24 workshop at Nottingham

Ben Welter - Saturday, January 12, 2019

Outlast recycled polysterNew Outlast products based on recycled materials were on display at the Heimtextil show in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. "In the new Outlast products," the company said, "temperature-regulating technology is applied to base material (knitted fabric or nonwoven) which is produced from 100% recycled polyester textiles or PET bottles and therefore meets the Global Recycle Standard (GRS). Further products that use renewable materials for other components of the technology are planned to expand the portfolio in the near future."

Tempur-Pedic says the latest version of its Breeze mattress line features a new "PureCool+ breathable phase change technology [that] absorbs excess heat and recharges faster to help the sleeper feel cooler when falling asleep."

Eindhoven University of Technology is seeking candidates for a Ph.D. position in nanoporous materials for thermal energy storage

Chemical & Engineering News is seeking candidates for a six-month science-writing editorial fellowship for 2019.

• A proposal to use microencapsulated phase change material to help motor vehicles run smoothly in extreme cold has been honored by Azerbaijan's Ministry of Economy as the best youth startup project of the year. A team of chemical engineering students from Baku Higher Oil School developed the concept.

The agenda has been posted for the Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Topics include "Enhanced geothermal borehole heat exchangers with PCMs," "Innovative composite smart materials for heating, cooling and humidity control in buildings" and "Demonstration of the TESSe2b system in three demo sites." The free, all-day workshop is part of the European Union-supported project TESSe2b.

•  From LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is expanding its vendor development team for its PCM and polymers business. Candidates with prior experience in purchase or vendor management will be preferred, others will be considered too. Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at jobs@pluss.co.in."  

• The world's first grid-scale pumped heat energy storage is now in operation at Newcastle University. "The system consists of two containers – a cold store and a hot store – filled with gravel and an inert gas," Utility Week reports. "They are connected via a reversible heat pump/engine. When surplus energy needs to be stored, gas is withdrawn from the cold store and compressed using an electrically-powered pump, thereby raising its temperature. The gas is injected into the hot store where the heat is transferred to the gravel. It is then withdrawn from the hot store, expanded to further lower its temperature and returned to the cold store. To recover the stored energy, the process is reversed."

Dominic Hyde, vice president of Credo on Demand at Pelican BioThermal, said the rental program increased its temperature-controlled container fleet size by 90 and increased revenue by 90 percent in 2018.