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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 in stadium seating: For fans on the hot seat, it's a pretty cool idea

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

Dustin Schafer of Henderson EngineersDustin Schafer, senior vice president and director of engineering at Henderson Engineers of Lenexa, Kansas, first became familiar with phase change material when he read an ASHRAE article about conference room air conditioning.

The method struck him as a small-scale version of a stadium or arena. "From there," he says, "I began I began devising a plan for us to implement this into our large-scale venues we design." 

Schafer developed the idea of using PCM inside the hollow portions of seats and seating structures to keep open-air stadiums cooler on hot days. The concept underwent testing at Kansas State University and was awarded a U.S. patent, "Stadium Ambient Temperature Control System," in 2017. He is giving a presentation on the concept June 12 at an event sponsored by AIA Kansas City at the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City, Mo. In an email interview, he discussed the development process. 

Q: How long have you worked at your company?

A: "I joined Henderson in 2008 and have nearly 20 years of industry experience."

Q: Can you briefly describe the process of testing the concept?

A: "In looking to develop an innovative, cost effective, and energy efficient option, we began conducting research on the potential implementation of PCM on venue seats to increase the thermal mass in the space and extend the length of time occupants are comfortable. Essentially, the material could be frozen (the material we used has a freezing point of 70° F) prior to the event, then as the PCM reaches its melting point, it would absorb some of the heat brought on by the human and/or solar load, prolonging the time the space is comfortable for attendees.

Henderson patent application drawing"I led a team in conducting a variety of tests to determine the efficacy of this idea. We worked with Kansas State University and utilized their Institute for Environmental Research to complete our testing. We set up a lab that included actual stadium seats arranged in a layout consistent with typical venues. Each seat in the testing area had 10 pounds of PCM attached to the back and a dummy in the seat equipped with electric resistance heaters that produced an amount of heat equivalent to that of a human being. The layout also included suspended wires with thermocouples to create the temperature sensor array around the dummy occupant.

"We conducted two tests to evaluate the impact this technology could have, each with two test value temperatures, 90° F and 100° F. In both tests we took measurements in an environmental chamber that simulated different ambient conditions during an event and compared both a control chamber and a chamber with PCM attached to the chairs. The tests ran until the effect of PCM was no longer noticeable."

Q: Can you provide a summary of the test results?

A: "In our research, we determined that PCM could be an impactful option for open stadiums situated in mild climates where the night temperatures drop low enough to freeze the material. To have an even greater impact, application of PCM should be seriously considered in enclosed arenas. Because the HVAC system could be used to pre-charge the bowl and freeze the material, this application could be even more significant. Additionally, the cooling result could materially affect the peak load needs for the HVAC systems in these spaces, saving the owner on energy costs.

"We also identified areas where PCM would not make sense a part of the temperature control solution, such as in climates with high winds that would simply blow away the cooled air, areas where the temperature does not drop below 70° F and thus doesn’t allow the PCM to freeze, or areas where the temperature rises too far above the melting point prior to the event meaning the cooling effect is lost before it is needed. Finally, we’ve found it necessary to note that this process only impacts spaces that need to be cooled – it cannot be used in heating conditions.

"We determined that phase change material does have a significant and sustained impact on occupant comfort. While it is not the whole solution, it can be a meaningful portion of the overall answer."

Q: Can you provide information on the PCM used in testing?

A: "We used InsolCorp’s Infinite-R phase change material." 

Q: Is Henderson now working on any projects that include the use of PCMs in this manner?

A: "We are not working on any projects that include the use of PCM."

Q: What interests you most about the use of PCM in building and construction?

A: "It’s a sustainable solution that is relatively low cost. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s a small step that can have a nice impact. Professional sports teams focus heavily on the fan experience and this is a difference maker when it comes to their in-venue comfort."

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; 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.

PCM briefing: $33M in funding for CSP thermal storage research; Walero undergarment put to the test in race simulator

Ben Welter - Friday, March 29, 2019

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $33 million in research funding to advance technologies that work toward achieving the department's 2030 cost target of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for CSP-generated electricity with at least 12 hours of thermal energy storage. "This research," DOE writes, "includes new materials and technologies that significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing, enable new energy storage technologies, and develop solutions that enable a solar field to operate autonomously without any human input."

Jack MitchellWalero racewear, which uses Outlast phase change technology to regulate temperature in race and rally drivers, has been put to the test on reigning British GT4 champion Jack Mitchell in a temperature-controlled race simulator. The tests were directed by racing performance coach Dean Fouache. On the first day, Mitchell, right, wore standard Nomex underwear; on the second day, he wore Walero underwear. Three measurements were recorded every five minutes during the hourlong tests: body temperature, heart rate and weight loss. In all three areas, Walero showed measurable advantages over the Nomex. "Jack sweated around 40 percent less in the Walero underwear and his average heart rate was eight beats less over the course of the hour," Fouache told Autosport magazine. "So, all in all, relatively conclusive results - even though it is a small comparison test."

• New this month from Central West Publishing in Australia: "Phase Change Materials," edited by Vikas Mittal, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi.

• The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy in the United Kingdom earlier this month featured a number of experiments with phase change materials, including Auburn University's development of micro-encapsulated phase change materials that can be combined with many different media. Other PCM research included a bio-composite made with hemp lime concrete and a novel utilization of fly ash to encapsulate phase change materials.

James Joule• The 200th anniversary of the birth of physicist James Prescott Joule will be commemorated with the unveiling of a plaque in Sale, United Kingdom, in April. The English physicist and mathematician, who gave his name to the unit of energy, was born on Dec. 24, 1818, in Salford. He died in Sale in 1889.

• The deadline for submitting manuscripts for "Phase Change Materials of Buildings," a special issue of the journal Buildings, is Sunday, March 31. Dr. Morshed Alam of Australia's Swinburne University of Technology is the guest editor.

PCM briefing: Cash infusion for PCES; call for e-textile conference papers

Ben Welter - Monday, January 28, 2019

Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc. of Asheboro, N.C., last week announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. Dennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus, joined PCES last month as chief executive officer. The company says it will use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. 

Mark RichardsMark Richards, right, CEO at Emery Mechanical Engineering in San Diego, is featured in a recent episode of the HVAC 360 podcast. Richards, former applications engineering manager at Phase Change Energy Solutions, talks about "Phase Change Materials in Practice." 

1414 Degrees of Australia reports that the first commercial pilot of its molten silicon energy storage system is one step closer to commissioning. The GAS-TESS will store energy to generate electricity from biogases produced at a wastewater treatment plant. 

• In collaboration with Canada's Université Laval, researchers at the University of the Basque Country in Spain conclude that "fake ISO 9001 quality certificates are very widespread across Chinese companies and that the certification processes of the auditing companies lack credibility." 

• The Association Connecting Electronics Industries has issued a call for technical conference abstracts and educational course proposals for IPC E-TEXTILES 2019 to be held Sept. 11 in Philadelphia, Pa. Topics include reliability, test methods, design, washability and materials innovation. Abstracts and proposals are due by April 10. 

Research roundup: Solar storage tank; concentric PCM module; supercooling degree improvement; more

Ben Welter - Monday, January 21, 2019

From Journal of Thermal Science:

Energy Storage Performance of a PCM in the Solar Storage Tank

From International Journal of Applied Engineering Research:

Numerical assessment of suitability of phase-change materials in a concentric PCM-module for thermal storage applications [pdf]

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Experimental measurements and numerical computation of nanofluid and microencapsulated phase change material in porous material

From IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering:

Nano-enhanced phase change material effects on the supercooling degree improvement: A review

From Renewable Energy:

Potential of ventilation systems with thermal energy storage using PCMs applied to air conditioned buildings

From Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology:

Thermal performance analysis of nano enhanced paraffin wax and myristic acid

From Solar Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of microencapsulated phase change materials with comb-like acrylic co-polymer shell as thermal energy storage materials
Sensible and latent heat energy storage systems for concentrated solar power plants, exergy efficiency comparison

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Thermal energy storage characteristics of myristic acid-palmitic eutectic mixtures encapsulated in PMMA shell

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Parametric analysis and optimization of an underfloor solar assisted heating system with phase change materials

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

The improved enthalpy-transforming based lattice Boltzmann model for solid-liquid phase change

From Applied Energy:

Innovative design of superhydrophobic thermal energy-storage materials by microencapsulation of n-docosane with nanostructured ZnO/SiO2 shell

From AIP Conference Proceedings:

Preparation and characterization of nanoparticle blended polymers for thermal energy storage applications

Horwath is new president of North American PCM manufacturers association

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Peter Horwath, chairman and CEO of Insolcorp. LLC of New London, N.C., has been chosen to lead the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

Peter HorwathRepresentatives of eight founding companies elected Horwath, right, in an e-mail vote completed this week. He replaces Joseph A. Grzyb, who announced his resignation from the post earlier this year.

The association was founded in October 2017. Its mission is to promote the development and use of phase change material in North America.

“Phase change materials have the ability to impact many industries and lives in a very positive way," Horwath said. "Our industry is growing exponentially and a manufacturers association has been much needed to create awareness, improve standardization and help drive market growth. I’m looking forward to helping launch the new association. It is an honor to work with such a great group of people and companies helping to move this industry forward.”

The association's founding members are Insolcorp; Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.; Microtek Laboratories, Dayton, Ohio; Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.; Outlast LLC, Golden, Colo.; Croda Inc., Edison, N.J.; Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.; and PureTemp LLC, Minneapolis, Minn.

PCM briefing: McGill joins Phase Change Energy Solutions as CEO; Croda is No. 3 on Britain's Most Admired Companies list

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Dennis McGillDennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors, has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions as chief executive officer and chairman of the board. McGill, right, has more than 30 years of experience in senior financial and executive leadership roles. For the past three years, he has been the CEO and chairman of the board for ReCommunity Recycling of Charlotte, N.C. 

Malta Inc., a spinoff of Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, has raised $26 million in Series A funding. The Massachusetts company is developing an electro-thermal energy storage system that stores energy in the form of the thermal differential between hot and cold storage media. 

Croda International, maker of phase change materials and other specialty chemicals, is No. 3 on Management Today's list of Britain's Most Admired Companies 2018. Diageo and McDonald's took the top two spots.

• From Andrew Chang, regional operations director at Ice Energy, on LinkedIn: "Today was a major milestone for Ice Energy. We commissioned our 100th Ice Bear in the SCE LCR program in #OrangeCounty! We are currently offsetting about 1.5MW for 4 hours every day in Orange County."

MIT researchers have developed a way to use light to trigger the storage and release of waste heat from car engines and other sources. "Once melted and activated by ultraviolet light, the [phase change] material stores the absorbed heat until a beam of visible light triggers solidification and heat release," Phys.org reports. "Key to that control are added molecules that respond to light by changing shape from one that impedes solidification to one that permits it."

Nebu Block T10• Via LinkedIn: "It might not look like it, but this is how VIPs help to store energy. Vacuum insulated panels, that is. ZAE Bayern cooperates with va-Q-tec, Nebuma GmbH, Verallia, and Lungmuß Feuerfest to make industrial high-temperature energy storages more efficient and less hard to find." Nebuma's 20-foot mobile container, shown at right, is designed to store about 16 MWh of heat at a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Dr. Yixiang Gan of the University of Sydney is among 11 researchers to win fellowships from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund for 2019. His focus: "Optimizing thermal energy storage with phase change materials: with applications to solar energy storage in Australia and India." 

• Registration is open for the 44th Stanford Geothermal Workshop, to be held Feb. 11-13 at Stanford University in California.

• Registration is open for Energy Storage Europe, "the leading international trade fair for energy storage," to be held March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

• The 14th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29, 2019, in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. The deadline for submissions is June 1. Registration for the conference is expected to open once the program is published in April. 

Pelican BioThermal has appointed Lynaye Reynolds as worldwide director of quality. She joined the company three years ago as the quality manager at its site in Leighton Buzzard in the United Kingdom.

1414 Degrees’ molten silicon biogas energy storage system will be installed at a wastewater treatment plant in South Australia. The $3.2 million (AUS) pilot project is a joint effort of 1414 Degrees and SA Water.

Patent application: Assembly and articulated panel for thermal insulation

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 01, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180313613 (applicant Hutchinson, Paris, France):

Hutchinson insulation patent drawing"An assembly having a structure provided with an interior volume in which is present for example at least one fluid capable of circulating in said volume and under the action of circulation means. Thermally insulating elements of VIP construction are arranged around a layer containing a PCM and extending around the peripheral wall that surrounds the volume. Protrusions fixed to the peripheral wall delimit spaces in which the thermally insulating elements are positioned. A sleeve extends around the protrusions and the insulating elements."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180313613.pdf

PCM briefing: 'Array' radiator featured at Dutch Design Week; DLR's Sundharam among speakers at green tech conference

Ben Welter - Monday, October 29, 2018

Array radiator

• What happens when designers and scientists collaborate on new materials? Ten teams set out to answer that question over a six-month period. The results were on display at Dutch Design Week 2018 earlier this month. A metallic radiator filled with phase change materials and nanowires was one of 10 projects featured in the "What Matter_s" exhibition in Eindhoven. The "Array" radiator, the work of furniture designer Amy Wang, architect Tim Söderström and two nanotechnologists, Professor Magnus Borgström and Dr. Vilgailè Dagytè, is designed to absorb and disperse heat in reaction to changing ambient temperatures.

Prem Sundharam, global sustainability leader for DLR Group, will be among the speakers at this week's California Green Technology Schools and Community College Conference in Pasadena. "Looking forward to discussing about Zero-Net Energy Buildings, California's Duck-Curve and the application of Phase Change Materials (PCM) as an effective solution," he wrote on LinkedIn last week. "Bonus: Also sharing how to integrate innovative energy technology (PCM) into school curriculum and have students be active participants in this cutting-edge research!"  

EnergyNest thermal battery EnergyNest of Norway is partnering with the Italian utility Enel to analyze the potential for integrating industrial-scale thermal batteries into Enel’s thermal power plants. EnergyNest's battery, right, consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in Heatcrete, a special type of concrete developed in partnership with HeidelbergCement.

• New from QY Research: "Global (United States, European Union and China) Salt Hydrate Market Research Report 2018-2025"

• As the solar industry has grown, the market has been flooded with cheaply made Chinese panels. The panels are wearing out in as little as five years, the Verge reports, and recycling isn’t economically viable right now. “It’s going to be a major problem,” said Mary Hutzler, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.  

Vertellus, the specialty chemicals company based in Indianapolis, has named John Van Hulle its new chief executive officer. He previously served as president of global color and additives for Ohio-based PolyOne, and CEO of Wisconsin-based chemical supplier ChemDesign

PureTemp LLC is moving its Minnesota administrative office from Plymouth to Minneapolis, effective Oct. 31. The new address: 4232 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

• SolarReserve has been selected to receive a $2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office to advance concentrating concentrating solar power research and development. SolarReserve's CSP technology uses molten salt as a heat transfer fluid and thermal energy storage medium.