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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: Epsom salts for seasonal heat storage; Formato joins Microtek Labs

Ben Welter - Monday, April 16, 2018

Chris Sansom, an associate professor in concentrating solar power at England's Cranfield University, says that magnesium sulphate heptahydrate, or Epsom salts, could be a viable material for seasonal heat storage. Adding water to the salts causes a reaction that creates heat at around 80 degrees C, a good match for space heating and hot water. Sansom is developing a heat storage system for the university’s growing campus. Because the school's CHP system requires a temperature of 90 degrees C, a slightly different form of salt, magnesium nitrate hexahydrate, will be used.

Richard M. FormatoRichard M. Formato, right, formerly R&D manager and principal technologist at Cold Chain Technologies, has joined Microtek Laboratories Inc., Dayton, Ohio, as director of new technology.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and Cathay Pacific Cargo announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease the containers directly from Cathay Pacific Cargo.

Peli BioThermal is adding 13 drop points in Europe for its reusable temperature-controlled shippers. The drop points, located within Rhenus Logistics global network, are at airports in Prague, Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dublin, Milan, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Basel and Barcelona. 

Alexium International Group Ltd. has announced that Susan Thomas has been appointed as Alexium's new chair, replacing Gavin Rezos, who announced in November that he would step down this year. Thomas, a technology entrepreneur with a background in law and corporate finance, will assume the role at a board meeting May 8.

• In a CHEManager article provocatively titled "Hard Times for Bio-based Products," the Frankfurt-based Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA) asks: What is the most promising bio-based chemical? Four chemicals are given a close look: succinic acid, glycerol, para-xylene and 1,2-propanediol. And the winner is ...

PCM briefing: AI tool could transform chemistry; Peli BioThermal opens Tokyo service center

Ben Welter - Monday, April 09, 2018

An artificial-intelligence tool that has digested nearly every chemical reaction ever performed could transform the chemistry world, reports Nature. The tool, developed at the University of Münster in Germany, uses "deep-learning neural networks to imbibe essentially all known single-step organic-chemistry reactions — about 12.4 million of them. This enables it to predict the chemical reactions that can be used in any single step."

Pelican BioThermal plans to open a service center in Tokyo next month to service its reusable Credo Cube temperature-control shippers, including refurbishment and repair. The center will also serve as a network station for the company’s Credo on Demand rental program.

• Pelican BioThermal as an opening for "Business Development Manager UK or Netherlands EMEA."  

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the company's first Leading Minds Seminar, to be held June 6-7 in Blue Bell, Pa. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

Va-Q-tec AG of Germany reports that it has received a European patent for passive pallet-size containers with vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. The European Patent 2876389 B1, which covers the company's va-Q-tainer product series, is valid in Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. "Imitators and competitors will now have to survive without some important thermal and mechanical functions," said Dr. Joachim Kuhn, the company's CEO. “The competition seems to be interested in the now legally protected technology and the highly energy efficient containers which are produced from it. We detected that competitors are offering patent infringing products. Obviously, we will take further steps to defend our technology."

• China's list of more than 100 U.S. products under threat of tariffs targets the U.S. chemicals and plastics sectors at a time when parts of the industry are investing heavily in new production, CNBC reports. Plastics, petrochemicals, petroleum products and specialty chemicals comprise about 40 percent of the targeted goods.

• New from 360 Market Updates: "Asia Pacific Advanced Phase Change Material Market Analysis 2012-2017 and Forecast 2018-2023"

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has been named a Top 10 Energy Storage System Provider by Energy CIO Insights. Viking's PCM-based system is designed to reduce energy consumption in cold storage facilities by 20 to 35 percent.  

Amrit Robbins, CEO and founder of Axiom Exergy, will take part in a panel discussion, "Hot, Cold, and Shocking: What Leading Storage Options Can And Cannot Do," at the 37th Peak Load Management Alliance Conference in Coronado, Calif., April 16-18. 

Phase Change Energy Solutions CEO joins Conservation Solutions of Boston

Ben Welter - Sunday, February 25, 2018

Joseph A. Grzyb, CEO at Phase Change Energy Solutions since 2015, has left PCES to join Dan Cook as a partner at Conservation Solutions Corp.

Joseph A. GrzybBoston-based CSC provides corporate customers with energy and water conservation solutions, including PCM products from Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C.

"CSC has been a leading distributor of products from Phase Change Energy Solutions for several years," Grzyb, right, wrote in an e-mail sent late Friday to companies involved in the recent formation of the PCM Industry Association of North America. "My focus at the firm is to expand the business and provide engineered PCM solutions to companies across North America."

Gryzb was elected president of the PCM association in October. The association's mission is to promote the development and use of phase change material in North America.  

"I would be pleased to continue in the role of president until our next association meeting later this year (date TBD)," he wrote in Friday's email. "I propose that during our next meeting, we have a new vote for association president."

Jan Kosny, the association's executive director, expressed confidence that association work will continue "without any disturbance," since Grzyb plans to serve as president until the next annual meeting. 

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.

RAL Quality Association PCM welcomes Microtek, bids farewell to BASF

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 26, 2017

The RAL Quality Association PCM, meeting in Germany last week, welcomed its newest member, Microtek Labs, and said goodbye to one of its founding members, BASF. 

Microtek CEO Tim Riazzi introduced his company with a brief overview of its history, research efforts and products. He said Microtek may seek RAL certification for its phase change materials, including the new Nextek line of microencapsulated PCMs. Microtek, which purchased BASF's Micronal line of microencapsulated phase change material earlier this year, will officially assume BASF's RAL membership on Jan. 1, 2018.

Samit Jain, managing director of Pluss Advanced Technologies, was also attending his first RAL meeting. Jain, right, presented an overview of Pluss R&D efforts and its PCM product line, which is focused on addressing four challenges: vaccine waste, food spoilage, neonatal deaths and energy inefficiency in buildings. 

Other member organizations attending the meeting in Dusseldorf were Croda, va-Q-tec AG, Rubitherm, ZAE Bayern, Fraunhofer ISE, Sasol Germany GmbH, Sunamp Ltd., EMCO, PCM Technology and Entropy Solutions. Discussion topics included RAL-GZ 896 quality and testing specifications; registration of the new RAL quality mark; efforts to integrate PCM in the German Energy Saving Ordinance; ISSO publication 111 PCM in Netherlands; and the new Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

As the meeting drew to a close, Prof. Bernd Boiting, chairman of the quality association, thanked BASF's Marco Schmidt for his contributions. As Micronal's head of business management at BASF, Schmidt played a key role in many RAL initiatives, including the development of a Google map that will showcase PCM building projects around the world.

RAL's next meeting is scheduled for March 1, 2018, in Dusseldorf. 

Grzyb is president of new PCM manufacturers association

Ben Welter - Monday, October 09, 2017

Joe GrzybJoe Grzyb, CEO of Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., has been chosen to lead the new Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

Members of the association, gathered for the association's inaugural meeting in Boston, Mass., on Thursday, approved bylaws, outlined goals and created committees to develop strategies to pursue those goals. The eight founding members attending the meeting were Phase Change Energy Solutions; Microtek Labs, Dayton, Ohio; Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.; Outlast LLC, Golden, Colo.; Croda Inc., Edison, N.J.; Insolcorp Inc., Las Vegas, Nev.; Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.; and Entropy Solutions, Plymouth, Minn. 

The meeting, hosted by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, was led by the association's newly elected executive director, Jan Kosny, who heads Fraunhofer's Building Enclosures & Materials group. Also attending were representatives of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office; as well as David Yarbrough of R&D Services Inc., Cookeville, Tenn.

The association's mission is to promote the development and use of phase change material in North America. It has been established as a not-for-profit corporation in the state of Delaware. 

After much discussion, members approved the formation of committees to focus on four key areas and selected chairmen to lead them: PR/communications (Mark Hartmann, director of research and development at Outlast); government/policy (Tim Riazzi, CEO at Microtek); technical (Reyad Sawafta, chief scientific officer at Phase Change Energy Solutions); and codes/standards (Joe Grzyb).

Four membership types were approved:

General: Companies that manufacture PCMs; supply raw materials or processing equipment used in the PCM industry; or use PCMs in their products. General members have all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of membership, including the right to hold office and vote on matters put before the association. Annual dues: $2,000.

Associate: Businesses or individuals performing work related to phase change material. Associate members cannot vote or hold office. Annual dues: $1,000.

Academic/research: Organizations or individuals performing research related to phase change material. Such members cannot vote or hold office. Annual dues: $50.

Honorary: Persons who by virtue of their contributions to the industry and who are no longer employed by a general member are eligible for honorary membership. Such members will pay no dues.

The association tentatively plans to meet again in six months. Organizations or individuals interested in joining or working with the association should contact Jan Kosny at jkosny@cse.fraunhofer.org or Joe Grzyb at jgrzyb@phasechange.com

PCMIA inaugural toast

A champagne toast followed the PCM Industry Association's inaugural meeting.

PCM briefing: Solar-powered micro cold rooms; Axiom Exergy's jazz connection

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

• The German company Covestro is providing technology for use in solar-powered micro cold rooms in India. The cold rooms employ phase change material to keep produce cool until it can be transported from farm to market. Eight hundred units will be built in the Indian state of Telangana over the next two years. 

• In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Anthony Diamond talks about the musical connection he shares with Axiom Exergy co-founder Amrit Robbins. They met as undergrads at Stanford University. "I play saxophone, he’s actually a trumpet player," Diamond said. "He was like, the best jazz trumpet player on campus. So whenever I had a gig, I would call him, and vice-versa. We had an opportunity to collaborate a lot within that context. I knew that I worked really well with him and we were a really great team."

• Heat battery maker Sunamp Ltd. is one of 15 European scaleups selected to give presentations in California next week at Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley

Pelican BioThermal has opened a service center in Puerto Rico. The center will serve as a depot for the company’s Credo on Demand rental program and enable customers to receive and return reusable temperature controlled packaging systems.

Facebook has announced that its cloud campus in Odense, Denmark, will be connected to a neighborhood district heating system. The company expects the system will warm 6,900 homes.

Evelyn Wang, director of MIT’s Device Research Laboratory and an internationally recognized leader in phase change heat transfer on nanostructure surfaces, has been named associate department head of operations in the school's Department of Mechanical Engineering.  

Long-Qing Chen, professor of engineering science, mechanics and mathematics at Penn State University, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. Chen will work with Jürgen Rödel, professor of materials science and engineering at the Technische Universität Darmstadt, on areas of mutual interest, including multiferroic thin films and phase change materials.

MIT researchers are taking a look at 3,000-year-old technology that could help reduce the use of fossil fuels. Under the proposal, electric resistance heaters would convert excess electricity into heat. The heat would be stored in a large mass of firebricks, which can retain heat for long periods if they are enclosed in an insulated casing. The heat could be used directly for industrial processes, or it could feed generators that convert it back to electricity when the power is needed.  

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions lands deal in Phoenix; study finds ARPA-E is doing what it was designed to do

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

Viking Cold Solutions has announced a collaboration between Salt River Project and Bashas' Supermarkets to install and evaluate the performance of Viking's PCM-based thermal energy storage system at Bashas' distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system is expected to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

A six-year study finds that ARPA-E, the U.S. Energy Department program that supports cutting-edge energy technologies, is meeting the goals of the 2007 law that created it even as the Trump administration seeks to eliminate its funding. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report concludes that the program is moving in the right direction and does not require major changes to keep bringing new energy technologies to market.

• The co-creator of a camisole that uses phase change material to reduce the discomfort of hot flashes is profiled in ChicagoInno this month. Nancy Munro, who is selling "CoolCami" online, hopes to partner with a women’s undergarment company like Spanx or Soma. CoolCami is made of absorbent bamboo fabric and features a PCM-filled cooling liner.

Peli BioThermal reports that its ProMed thermal transport bags performed well in a five-month trial in the United Kingdom. The Great North Air Ambulance Service used the bags to transport blood plasma to accident scenes.

Ministry of Supply, the Boston startup that integrates phase change material in its high-tech menswear, has added a lightweight polo shirt to its lineup. The machine-washable Apollo 3 Polo sells for $70. 

Axiom Exergy, maker of "refrigeration batteries" designed to reduce energy use in supermarkets, is looking to fill eleven positions, including product engineer, product engineer manager and engineering intern. Candidates for the internship are asked to give a concise response to a "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?"

CIC energiGUNE is looking for a laboratory technician to join the Thermal Energy Storage unit's materials development and characterization group.

• The European Commission, in with collaboration with Skanska, Saint-Gobain, Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils, has developed an open-source assessment framework for measuring the energy performance of buildings. Level(s) links a building’s environmental impact with resource priorities at the European level. The voluntary tool will be ready for testing this fall.

Va-Q-tec AG has established a Japanese subsidiary in Tokyo. The German company develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials for use in thermal packaging, air freight containers and other applications. Va-Q-tec Japan GK will focus on providing "small box and container sales and rental solutions" in the Asian market.

• A recent New York Times piece answered the question: "What if you need a battery? A really big one — big enough to run a city?" A 2.35-million-square-foot office tower in New York City is among many buildings around the world equipped with a system that stores energy in the form of ice. The system freezes water overnight to help cool the building during the day, when electricity is typically more expensive.  

Massachusetts has awarded $1.5 million to help fund installation of more than 200 residential thermal energy storage units on Nantucket. Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear units, is partnering with Genbright LLC on the project. The goal is to help reduce peak energy demand and demonstrate an alternative to a third undersea transmission line to the island.

SaltX Technology and Aalborg CSP have agreed to work together to develop and commercialize an integrated energy storage solution for concentrated solar power based on EnerStore, SaltX's patented technology for large-scale energy storage. A prototype is scheduled to be built later this year with the aim of securing a commercial pilot plant in 2018.

PCM briefing: New oil palm varieties show sharply increased yields; thermal energy workshop in Germany

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

Dr. Halime Paksoy, EnerSTOCK 2018 chair, reports that the energy storage conference has received more than 200 abstracts. Acceptance notifications will be sent out at the end of June. The conference will be held April 25-28, 2018, at Cukurova University in Adana, Turkey. 

• A workshop on “Thermal Energy Storage System for Energy Efficient Buildings" will be held June 22 at Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany. The workshop, which will be conducted in English, is part of the EU-supported project TESSe2b.

• Ryan Adelman, formerly chief commercial officer at Axiom Exergy, is now executive sales director for distributed energy at Direct Energy Business.

• New industry analysis from McKinsey & Co.: "What to do when a specialty chemical business gets commoditized."

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Sales Market Report 2017"

KOTUG International BV has been nominated for a Maritime Innovation Award for its zero-emission heat recycling system, which uses phase change material to store and regenerate heat on tugboats. The annual award is presented by Netherlands Maritime Technology.

• Dutch food supplier Huuskes is using BoTemp's “Cold Battery” in cold chain logistics.
The refrigerated transport system, which does not require continuous electrical power, uses phase change material to remove heat in the cargo space and maintain a temperature anywhere from -20º C to +4º C.

Two new varieties of oil palm developed in Indonesia will increase crude palm oil yields by up to double current levels, says SMART Tbk, a subsidiary of Golden-Agri Resources. The two clones of oil palm planting material – called Eka 1 and Eka 2 – were approved for use in April by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. The new varieties also have a quicker time to harvest – 24 months – compared to the industry average of 30 months.

Sunamp Ltd.'s PCM heat battery system was featured in a BBC News piece this week: "From hand-warmer to house-warmer for tech firm."

PCM wood flooring concept is finalist for Schweighofer Prize

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

A Canadian Ph.D. student who wants to develop PCM-enhanced engineered wood flooring is one of six finalists for the 2017 Schweighofer Prize Student Award. 

Damien Mathis of Laval University in Quebec proposes flooring with a layer of solid-solid PCMs, which would allow the boards to be cut and installed without the risk of leakage associated with solid-liquid PCMs. He envisions a product with four times the thermal mass of standard EWF.

"I'm planning to use new solid-solid PCMs that are currently in development," he said in an interview. "It's nonflammable white powder with a PC enthalpy of ~100 J/g."

The Schweighofer Prize recognizes innovative ideas, technologies, products and services aimed at strengthening Europe's wood products industry. The winner in the student category, which will be determined in part by online voting, will be honored at an awards ceremony June 20 in Vienna. A prize of 5,000 euros accompanies the award.  

https://www.schweighofer-prize.org/student_award/?lang=EN