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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: USC develops PCM for satellites; Axiom Exergy posts opening for product engineer intern

Ben Welter - Monday, January 08, 2018

• Engineers at the University of Southern California and Northrop Grumman have developed a phase change material designed to control temperature swings that can disrupt the performance of satellites. A hybrid structure of silicon and vanadium dioxide works like textured skin to better control the radiation from the body of the satellite.

Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., is seeking a product engineering intern. It's a three-month position with the possibility of transitioning to full-time employment. Applicants are asked to answer this bonus question: "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?"

BioPCM image from Craigslist ad• Spotted on Craigslist: 3,000 square feet of BioPCM M27 and M51 for sale in San Diego. The seller, a building contractor, is asking for $1 per square foot. In a response to an email seeking more details, he described the material as "new in its original packaging" and wrote: "Make me an offer."

• U.K.-based Sure Chill, whose water-based refrigeration technology is used to keep vaccines cool without the need for grid-based electricity, has been long-listed for a 2018 Ashden Award in the Sustainable Energy and Health category.  

Pelican BioThermal has appointed Dominic Hyde as vice president of Crēdo on Demand.

Bio Gemüse Wagner, reported to be Germany's largest organic greenhouse, opened last month in Mühlingen. A 3,000-cubic-meter water tank is used as a thermal battery, storing heat supplied by a nearby biogas installation.

• New from Transparency Market Research: "1-Tetradecanol Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2016 - 2024"

• New from Absolute Reports: "Europe And Regional Bio-Based Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Industry Production, Sales and Consumption Status and Prospects Professional Market Research Report 2018-2023" and "North America and Regional Inorganic Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Industry Production, Sales And Consumption Status and Prospects Professional Market Research Report 2018-2023"

• "Caesar’s Last Breath," a new book by Sam Kean, details Albert Einstein's surprising passion project: a safer (but ultimately impractical) refrigerator.

PCM briefing: Net-zero apartment complex in Los Angeles has BioPCM in walls

Ben Welter - Monday, December 11, 2017

Silver Star Apartments, the first multifamily affordable housing development to achieve the net-zero energy designation in Los Angeles, is reducing heat gain through the use of phase change material in the walls. Energy consultant Green Dinosaur, which worked on the 49-unit development, identifies the PCM as Phase Change Energy Solutions' BioPCM, 23Q-M27.

• New from QY Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Research Report 2017"

• The United States is poised for a 0.8 increase in non-pharmaceutical chemical output in 2017, with bigger increases in the following three years, the American Chemistry Council says.

PCM briefing: A call for papers on advanced building skins; a new factory for 1414 Degrees in Australia

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

• A call for papers has been issued for the International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 1-2, 2018, in Bern, Switzerland. Among the topics: "Thermal performance of phase change materials for the building skin," "Models, tools and simulations for sustainable buildings" and "Cost engineering and life cycle cost analysis." The deadline for proposals is Feb. 15, 2018.  

1414 Degrees of Australia has moved into a 3,000-square-meter factory on the site of the former Mitsubishi engine plant near Adelaide, where it will build its first 10MWh TESS-IND system and the first 13.3MWh test cell for a 200MWh TESS-GRID system. The company also plans to build two grid-scale silicon-based thermal energy storage systems in South Australia. 

ZAE-Bayern among more than 80 exhibitors scheduled to attend the 2018 Energy Storage Europe in Dusseldorf, Germany, March 13-15. 

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Smart Fabrics and Textiles Market Research Report 2017"

• The U.S. Department of Energy plans to request $99 million in fiscal year 2018 to support Energy Frontier Research Centers, which work to advance breakthroughs in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences and biosciences.

Glaciem Cooling Technologies of Australia won the "Applied Innovation" award at the inaugural Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards last month. Glaciem's ThermCOLD system uses a salt-based phase change material to store thermal energy, allowing refrigeration plants to run and store energy during off-peak periods, when electricity rates are lower, and then release energy during peak periods.   

Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders will retire in April, following a 30-year career with the packaging company. Chief Operating Officer Robert C. Tiede will replace Sanders as CEO.

• Singapore-based agribusiness giant Wilmar International has entered into an agreement to purchase Cargill's palm oil refinery and neighboring storage facility in Kuantan, Malaysia.

• The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is seeking to hire a research associate for a seasonal thermal energy storage project. Responsibilities will include numerical and experimental investigation of the storage system in combination with phase change materials.

PCM briefing: Active vs. passive shipping solutions; registration open for Energy Innovation Summit

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

• Registration is open for "Active vs. Passive Solutions: Which one is for me?" the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Ben Vanderplas, global product manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and David Bang, CEO of DHL LifeConEx, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Dec. 12.

Brooklyn Bedding's new Aurora mattress collection features TitanCool technology, "a phase change surface infusion" with "high conductivity properties."

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Thermal Management Technologies Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2027"

The UV-activated thermal energy storage material shows the rapid crystallization and heat discharge upon visible light (blue LED) illumination. (Grossman Group at MIT)MIT researchers have combined conventional phase change material with an organic compound that responds to a pulse of light. "The new system," MIT News reports, "uses molecular switches that change shape in response to light; when integrated into the PCM, the phase-change temperature of the hybrid material can be adjusted with light, allowing the thermal energy of the phase change to be maintained even well below the melting point of the original material." The system could be used in a thermal battery to store heat from the sun or any other source and release the heat when needed.

• Registration for the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is open. The event, to be held March 13-15 at the Gaylord Convention Center, outside Washington, D.C., showcases emerging energy technologies. No agenda yet.

• Researchers at the University of Maryland College Park have developed a method of fabricating fibers with boron nitride and polyvinyl alcohol using 3D print technologies which allows heat to be transferred away from the body.  Clothes made with the nanocomposite thread could help keep wearers cool in hot conditions.

Stanford University researchers have developed a reversible fabric that keeps skin a comfortable temperature whatever the weather. "On one side," Stanford News reports, "a copper coating traps heat between a polyethylene layer and the skin; on the other, a carbon coating releases heat under another layer of polyethylene." The fabric can either warm or cool the wearer, depending which side faces out.

PCM briefing: Thermal storage capacity on the rise; clinical trial for prosthetics liner

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

• Thermal energy storage exceeds the capacity of battery storage now in operation, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. Greentech Media reports that a recent resurgence in concentrated solar power development promises to increase that advantage.

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022"

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

Alpha SmartTemp liner• The effectiveness of a PCM-infused prosthetics liner made by Ohio Willow Wood Co. will be put to the test in a two-year clinical trial. The liner is designed to absorb heat and reduce sweating where a prosthesis meets skin. The study, funded by a $140,000 Department of Defense grant, will be conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and Widener University.

• Registration is open for "2-8°C Solutions: Design variables and constraints," the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and Lisa Barbieri Moher, North American head of distribution packaging and graphics at Sanofi, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Nov. 14.

Sonoco ThermoSafe's development of the LD7 Quarter PMC pallet shipper won first place for Excellence in Collaboration at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Global Forum in Chicago last month. ThermoSafe's ChillTech reusable PCM system was runner-up in the Excellence in Technological Innovation category.

In a recent interview with Innovation in Textiles, CEO Dirk Van Hyning of PCM-maker Alexium International discussed U.S. efforts to curb the use of halogenated flame retardants.

PCM briefing: Presentation on effect of carbon-based networks on energy storage materials; webinar on ambient temperature profiles

Ben Welter - Monday, October 02, 2017

Dr. Amy Fleischer• Dr. Amy Fleischer, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at Villanova University, will give a presentation this month on the effect of carbon-based networks on enhanced energy storage materials. The presentation is set for Oct. 20 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. From the abstract: "Many common PCMs have high energy storage capacity but low thermal conductivity so much work has been done to improve their system performance by using nanoscale inclusions intended to increase the effective thermal conductivity. The work presented here shows that in certain situations, not only does the thermal conductivity increase, but also the latent heat. This effect is explored to understand the physical phenomena in order to harness the effect for advanced materials design."

• Registration is open for "Ambient Temperature Profiles," Sonoco ThermoSafe's next webinar on temperature assurance packaging. It will be held on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Iftekhar Ahmed, R&D team leader at ThermoSafe, and Bernard McGarvey, senior engineering advisor at Eli Lilly & Co., will lead the session. Participants will learn about "standard ambient profiles, vendor and published profiles and how others even develop their own profiles using empirical temperature data and distribution steps."

• New from Grand View Research: "Thermal Energy Storage Market Analysis By Type, 2014-2025"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market 2017 Share, Size, Forecast 2022"

• Scientists working on the International Energy Agency’s Solar Heating and Cooling Programme Task 53 have compared the cost, efficiency and adaptability of solar cooling storage solutions. The researchers examined both thermal and electricity storage systems and are now creating guidelines for choosing the most fitting solution to heat and cool buildings. But the group will not, according to solarthermalworld.org, issue a recommendation favoring either storage system. “There are too many unknowns. Apart from technical considerations, you need to look at each country’s legislative framework and feed-in tariffs," said Elena-Lavinia Niederhäuser, author of the report and director of the Energy Institute at Fribourg’s College of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland. 

Homemade a/c unit• When a recent heat wave turned his elementary school into a sauna, a resourceful fourth-grader in Michigan built a home-made air conditioner for his classroom, using a plastic tub, an electric fan and bottles filled the world's cheapest phase change material: water. Abram Barker said he got the idea from YouTube but used a larger base and added towels to insulate the frozen water bottles and soak up condensation.

• Registration is open for "Cone Calorimeter: Quantifying Easily Flammability & Heat Release Rate," an online course offered by SpecialChem.com. The instructor is T. Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire. The course will be held at 10 a.m. EST on Oct. 12. The cost is $307 for three participants on a single connection.

• The Phase Change Materials Industry Association, which will hold its inaugural meeting in Boston Oct. 5, has been registered as a corporation in the United States. Its official name: the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America Inc. Representatives of more than a dozen companies are scheduled to attend this week's meeting.

PCM briefing: Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

• Alas, no chemistry prize was handed out at the Ig Noble awards ceremony at Harvard University earlier this month. The annual "Igs," first awarded in 1991, are designed to recognize research efforts that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." This year's physics prize was awarded to Marc-Antoine Fardin, a physicist at Paris Diderot University, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?" His conclusion: Yes.

• The World Wildlife Fund has partnered with the American Chemistry Council, Recycling PartnershipOcean Conservancy, Target, Nestle and other organizations to find opportunity and economic value in expanding the availability and use of secondary material. Members of the initiative, known as the Cascading Materials Vision, introduced the concept of "cascading value" in two sessions at this week's Verge Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

• New from COMSOL: Modeling a novel PCM-enhanced plaster with numerical simulation 

• New from QY Research: "2017 Market Research Report on Global Energy Storage Devices Industry"

PCM briefing: Three molten salt projects projects move forward in U.S., Germany

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Terrafore salt encapsulation• The U.S. Department of Energy has released funding to the Argonne National Laboratory for a scaled-up round of independent testing of Terrafore Technologiesencapsulated thermal energy storage in phase change salts. The materials, shown at right, are designed to operate in temperatures to greater than 800° C in a single tank that acts as both storage and heat exchanger.

• The Department of Energy has invited Terrestrial Energy USA to submit the second part of its application for a federal loan guarantee to support the licensing and construction of its Integrated Molten Salt Reactor

DLR has fired up the TESIS thermal storage facility in Cologne, Germany. One hundred tons of molten salt is alternately heated and cooled from 250 to 560 degrees Celsius in the test facility, which is designed to allow industrial-scale testing of temporary storage methods for renewable energy and waste heat. 

• Va-Q-tec AG is reporting a strong increase in its service business in the first half of 2017, up 54 percent to 8.8 million euros. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. 

• New from Zion Market Research: "Global thermal storage market is expected to reach USD 5.7 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.7% between 2017 and 2022"

Advanced combat clothing featuring "four-way stretch phase-change material" was on display last week at the annual Defense and Security Equipment International show in London. Royal College of Art researchers and designers collaborated with the Ministry of Defense on the prototypes, which are designed to be easy to run in and comfortable to wear.  

PCM briefing: Inventory reset rule takes effect; va-Q-tec reports strong first half

Ben Welter - Monday, August 28, 2017

• Thermal energy storage, a proven technology for years in Europe, is now a "budding HVAC option" in the United States, ACHR News reports. “In many ways, applications haven’t changed,” said Steve Benz, a 35-year veteran of the thermal storage industry and Evapco’s director of global thermal storage and district energy. “What has changed is related to the electric market — with an emphasis today on sustainable energy production and electricity storage."

Jane Chen• In an appearance at Stanford School of Engineering, Embrace founder Jane Chen, right, talked about the challenges she faced in developing and expanding the use of the PCM-based infant warming blanket. "You will inevitably fail," she said, "and you need to have the courage and the persistence to get back out there, learn from your mistakes, and try again."

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published the final TSCA inventory reset rule. The rule, which is effective immediately, creates new reporting obligations for companies that manufacture or import chemical products.

Va-Q-tec AG is reporting a strong first half of the year, with revenue 44 percent higher than the same period last year. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. 

• Monday, Aug. 28, is the deadline for submitting entries in Bio-Based World News' bio-based innovation competition for the Americas. The two categories are product of the year and chemical innovation of the year. The awards will be presented at the Bio-Based Live conference in San Diego Sept. 25-26. 

Singapore's "Grid 2.0" may include district cooling systems that incorporate phase change materials. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for product manager in Arlington Heights, Ill. 

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Research Report - Forecast to 2022"

SaltX Technology of Sweden and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd of China have reached an agreement to jointly develop and commercialize a "groundbreaking solution" for wind power with integrated energy storage.  

Europe holds PCM market lead, but North America is gaining

Ben Welter - Monday, August 28, 2017

In terms of value, Europe held the largest share of the global PCM market last year, according to the research firm MarketsandMarkets. An executive summary of the research firm's June report, "Advanced PCM Market: Global Forecast to 2022," estimates Europe's share at 49.7 percent.

"The trend towards energy efficiency in the region, accompanied by the growing demand for green buildings, fuels the growth of the advanced PCM market in the region," the summary says. "In addition, the presence of mandatory building energy codes and the increasing demand for housing in Germany and the U.K. drive the demand for advanced PCM in the region."

But MarketsandMarkets projects that North America will be the fastest-growing market for advanced PCMs between 2017 and 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 21 percent. Analyst Sushmita Singh cites "stringent building energy codes," growth in the housing sector and rising demand for green buildings as key factors.

This MarketsandMarkets graphic shows 2016 market shares in terms of value and compound annual growth rates (CAGR) between 2017 and 2022: