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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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Extremely high-temperature TES prototype under development in Europe

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7huVnCnK8s

At seven locations around Europe, a consortium of universities, R&D centers and an Italian company is investigating materials and devices for thermal energy storage at temperatures of up to 2000º C, well beyond the maximum operating temperatures of systems in use today.

The AMADEUS project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, aims to build a prototype of a system that stores electricity in the form of extremely dense heat, using a solid state device known as a hybrid thermionic-photovoltaic converter. The project’s success hinges on the development of novel silicon and boron alloys with melting temperatures well above 1000º C and energy densities of more than 1 kilowatt hour per liter.

Alejandro DatasAlejandro Datas, a research scientist at the Technical University of Madrid’s Institute of Solar Energy, is the project’s scientific coordinator. He responded to questions about the project by email.

Q: What is your role as scientific coordinator?

A: My role is to coordinate the project activities and make them converge at the end in a single prototype, which will demonstrate the feasibility of this new concept. I’m also involved in the development of the infrared-sensitive PV cell (or thermophotovoltaic cell) that will be used to convert radiant heat into electricity in these systems.

Q: Work on the project began about seven months ago and is scheduled to continue through 2019. What important milestones have you reached so far, and what are the next important milestones?

A: During the first six months of the project, we have characterized some Si-B alloys with different compositions to determine their most important thermophysical parameters, such as latent heat and thermal conductivity. By means of solubility and wettability experiments, we have also studied the interaction of these alloys with some nitride- and carbide- refractories that are intended to be used for the container walls. Also, we have fabricated an experimental setup that will enable the characterization of the energy converters at very high temperatures. The next expected milestones will be the fabrication of the first generation of hybrid thermionic-photovoltaic converters, as well as the determination of the optimal Si-B alloy composition based on an exhaustive analysis of their thermophysical properties and their reactivity with the container walls.

Q: Can you describe, briefly, the PCM you are developing, and what is meant by "the silicon-boron system"?

A: The Si-B system refers to an alloy containing silicon and boron elements in some specific proportions. Silicon and boron have two of the highest latent heats among all the elements in the periodic table. But they show some important drawbacks: in the case of silicon, it expands upon solidification (like water) which leads to very severe constraints for the vessel design; in the case of boron, it has a high cost. The Si-B system is expected to exploit the best of both elements. For instance, the eutectic composition of this alloy (having only 5% of boron) is expected to notably improve the properties of pure silicon PCM at a reasonable cost increment. In brief, Si-B alloys have potential to meet the main requirements for being considered an ideal PCM: low cost, high latent heat and high thermal conductivity. Surprisingly, very little attention has been paid to this system so far, and to our knowledge, AMADEUS is the very first project to investigate these materials in detail for energy storage applications.

Q: What are some of the PCM containment materials and structures under consideration?

A: One advantage of Si-B PCMs is their high thermal conductivity. Thus, they could be stored in relatively large containers without needing very advanced encapsulation arrangements. This minimizes the impact of the container in the final cost of the system. In order to achieve the minimum interaction between the container and the Si-B PCM, we are investigating several kinds of vessel liners based on nitrides (e.g. BN or Si3N4), carbides (e.g. SiC) and oxides (e.g. SiO2).

Q: How does AMADEUS differ from the molten silicon storage technology under development by 1414 Degrees in Australia?

A: Apparently, 1414 Degrees uses pure silicon PCM and “conventional” dynamic engines to transform latent heat into electricity. 1414 Degrees probably needs to reach the market soon, so that they must use reliable and mature technologies. In AMADEUS we are exploring new technologies with greater potential that still require further development. This is the case of Si-B alloys, which may enable higher energy densities and more efficient vessel designs. This is also the case of the thermionic and thermophotovoltaic converters, which will eventually enable more efficient, compact and simpler systems, not requiring working fluids or moving parts. We certainly hope that companies such as 1414 Degrees, and others that could start activities in the near future, could benefit from the results of AMADEUS project.

PCM briefing: Managing heat in low-orbit satellites; Expert Forum on VDI 2164 canceled

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Roccor LLC of Longmont, Colo., is using phase change material in a device designed to manage internal heat in low-orbit satellites. “We have one product with paraffin wax inside a flat structure. When the spacecraft is hot, it dumps heat into that paraffin wax and turns that into a liquid — basically a store of energy,” Chris Pearson, Roccor’s vice president of space programs, said in an interview with Via Satellite. The heat is later released into the satellite to keep temperatures stable.

• A new research portal for energy-optimized construction summarizes some of the funding measures of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under one umbrella. The German-language site, www.projektinfos.energiewendebauen.de, also has research on thermal energy storage and provides examples of projects and activities that apply PCM to optimize the energy needs of buildings.

Lloyds reports that Maersk Line is planning to make advanced monitoring data on premium perishables and pharma products available to its shipping customers later this year. 

• New from Research and Markets: "Global District Cooling Market By Type and Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2012-2026"

• New from HJResearch: "Global Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Industry Market Research 2017"

Pluss Advanced Technologies of Gurgaon, India, is seeking candidates for the position of research associate to design and perform experiments for the development of inorganic and organic phase change materials.

• The Swedish environmental group ChemSec has launched a free website linking companies selling alternatives to hazardous chemicals with those seeking to buy them. The first product request posted on The Marketplace: Clothing retailer H&M is looking for alternatives to the bisphenol A used in thermal paper for cash register and credit card receipts.

Celsia Inc.'s redesigned website, celsiainc.com, features a heat pipe performance calculator, a spreading delta-T calculator and a heat sink size calculator.

Glacier Tek, maker of cooling vests powered by PureTemp phase change material, has launched a redesigned website at www.glaciertek.com. The new site features improved navigation, fresh photography and a new tagline: "Prepare to be Cool."

• The City Council of Goderich, Ontario, has approved a proposal by NRStor to build a 1.75-megawatt compressed air energy storage plant in an unused salt cavern. The electricity created will feed into Ontario's energy grid.

• The Expert Forum on VDI Guideline 2164, scheduled for June 20 in Düsseldorf, Germany, has been canceled. The forum, organized by the Association of German Engineers' building and building technology group in cooperation with the RAL Quality Association PCM, may be held at a later date.

Maryland legislators approve energy storage tax credit

Ben Welter - Monday, April 17, 2017

By wide margins, Maryland legislators have passed a bill that calls for a 30 percent tax credit for the deployment of energy storage technologies, including thermal storage.

The total funding, capped at $750,000 a year for five years, starting in 2018, is relatively modest. But the credit is apparently the first of its kind in the United States, and it could serve as a model for states interested in boosting the storage market without imposing mandates.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate and by a 90-vote margin in the House, is now in the hands of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. A veto seems unlikely.

The bill defines "energy storage system" as a system designed "to store electrical energy, or mechanical, chemical, or thermal energy that was once electrical energy, for use as electrical energy at a later date or in a process that offsets electricity use at peak times.” Thus the tax credit would apply to a variety of storage technologies, including batteries, flywheels and compressed air, as well as systems based on ice and other phase change materials.

The Maryland Energy Administration will oversee the program and determine eligibility specifics. Funding is capped at $5,000 for residential and $75,000 for commercial projects and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

“This is a way to create an economic signal for using storage to provide grid reliability and resiliency, reduce peak capacity needs, and help integrate more renewable resources,” Jason Burwen, policy and advocacy director at the Energy Storage Association, told Greentech Media. “It is also a more conservative approach, executing this policy through the tax code with cost caps. That's an approach that got bipartisan agreement in Maryland."

"By enacting the energy storage tax credit, Maryland is showing real leadership in moving from fossil fuels to renewables," Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins said in an email sent to Phase Change Matters. "The success of renewables depends on cost-effective and reliable energy storage being adopted as a meaningful part of the electricity grid."

Ice Energy makes ice-based thermal storage systems that store cooling energy by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent.

Hopkins continued:

"Storage obviously mitigates the intermittency of solar and wind. As we are seeing in places like Hawaii and California, a duck curve is replacing the traditional middle of the day peak. While the later in the day peak is a problem, as it is steeper than the traditional middle of the day peak, the over-generation in the middle of the day is the bigger problem that threatens grid stability. Energy storage flattens the duck curve, provided of course you are using the appropriate storage technologies.

"California was a leader in seeing the criticality of energy storage to the continued success of renewables and driving its adoption just like they did renewables, by a mandate through the Energy Storage Act in 2013. It had the same logic as the RPS and I would say drove the same results – increased competition and investment resulting in innovation and lower cost than anyone forecast.

"Maryland’s approach is another bold move to drive the adoption of energy storage.

"Playing off the federal tax credit, which has been of very limited value to storage given the need to be so tightly tied to renewables, the Maryland tax credit should be a powerful driver for energy storage in Maryland. It is also noteworthy that Maryland has explicitly recognized all forms of energy storage as qualifying, something that some others have failed to do by falling into the trap of equating storage with chemical batteries, especially lithium-ion. 

"Chemical batteries have had an outsized share of the PR and the market to date, but as the market is quickly developing, cost is becoming more and more important and that’s where policy makers need to be smart like Maryland and make sure they get the best value for their storage dollar, which means a portfolio of different technologies optimized to most cost effectively solve the various grid problems storage can solve."

PCM briefing: A call for presentations on renewable heating and cooling; EnergyNest, Tata team up on demo project

Ben Welter - Friday, April 07, 2017

Frank Bruno, leader of the Thermal Energy Storage Group at the University of South Australia, talks about the advantages of thermal storage in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

Robert Riebolge, chief network analyst of the Adelaide-based energy storage company 1414 Degrees, tells Ecogeneration magazine that storage is “quite clearly” the solution to the intermittency problem of wind and solar. But, he says, the way in which the Australian market is constructed and the regulatory system is set up doesn’t allow for its easy introduction.

• The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has teamed with Basque technology company Tecnalia to develop On Site Robotics, a 3D printing construction project in which sustainable, low-cost buildings can be built on-site with a special clay-based material made of natural, biodegradable, recyclable and locally sourced materials.

• Get the latest information on the Toxic Substances Control Act in a free webinar April 19. The presentation by Mark N. Duvall of the environmental law firm Beveridge & Diamond will identify the principal amendments, discuss the impact on manufacturers and compare the amended TSCA to the European Union's REACH regulation.

• In a video posted on YouTube, Adam Tetz of Pelican BioThermal and other industry experts discuss the future of temperature controlled logistics at last month's Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe 2017.

• The Eu­ro­pean Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Plat­form on Re­new­able Heat­ing & Cool­ing has issued a call for presentations to be made at the group's an­nual event in Brus­sels June 20. Topics include biomass; district heating and cooling; solar thermal heating and cooling; hybrid systems; and thermal energy storage. Applications are due by May 22. 

Tata Steel and EnergyNest have begun work on a thermal energy storage demo project at Tata's plant in IJmuiden, Netherland. EnergyNest's concrete-based TES system will store exhaust heat from steel production to cover some of the plant's energy demands. EnergyNest, meanwhile, won the top prize in the 2017 Nordic Cleantech Open last week. The contest, organized by Cleantech Scandinavia, consisted of several competitive rounds in which hundreds of companies applied.

Chris Pais has joined Axiom Exergy as director of field operations. Pais was previously director of system architecture at LightSail Energy. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" system, aimed at supermarkets and cold storage warehouses, stores water chilled at night, when electricity is cheapest, to take the load off condensers and compressors during the day.

Vaibhav Bahadur, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of eight faculty members at the university to receive National Science Foundation early career development awards totaling more than $2 million. Bahadur received funding for his project “Influence of electric fields on liquid-to-solid phase change associated with clathrate hydrate formation.”

• In a piece posted on LinkedIn, Liam Holmes, Europe and Asia engineering team lead at Sonoco ThermoSafe, writes about the role of industrial design in the temperature-assurance packaging industry's shift from single-use products to modular reusable green systems.

Patent application: TES facility with heat storage and heat release functions

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170030656 (applicant SFI Electronics Technology Inc., Taiwan):

SFI patent drawing"A thermal energy storage facility for use in heat storage and heat release comprises a heat storage/release mechanism constituted by multiple heat storage/heat exchange units stacked up, each unit at least comprises a heat storage board having parallel grooves for loading phase-change material (PCM) therein and a heat exchange plate having micro-channel groups for heat transfer fluid (HTF) flowed through to exchange heat with the PCM; particularly two or more the thermal energy storage facilities can be worked together by combination in series or/and in parallel to input of thermal energy, absorption of thermal energy and both simultaneously from the PCM, and the thermal energy storage facility capably operating at a heat storage temperature higher than 1200° C. is suited for use in solar thermal power generation system to improve overall efficiency of solar thermal power to reach 35-40%."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170030656.pdf

PCM briefing: Long-haul cyclists reach Myanmar; papers sought for symposium on waste heat

Ben Welter - Friday, January 27, 2017

Riccardo Rocchi and Chiara RicciardiRiccardo Rocchi and Chiara Ricciardi,  the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes, have reached Myanmar. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and needs a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair topped the 10,000-kilometer mark this week. They've pedaled across 16 countries, averaging 44 km per day. "We just realized that maybe we forgot to make a postcard from Nepal," the pair said in a Facebook post from Myanmar. "We might consider to cycle back to do it." Their final destination is Singapore.

• Organizers of a one-day symposium at Brunei University on the efficient use of waste heat have issued a call for abstracts. The symposium, "Heat Recovery and Efficient Conversion and Utilisation of Waste Heat," will be held April 20, 2017. Abstracts must be submitted by Jan. 31.

Pelican BioThermal has completed a $1.65 million expansion of the manufacturing facilities at its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minn. The company now has 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Minneapolis suburb, up from 54,000 square feet. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

Weise's Outlast Houston motorcycle jacket• New from Weise Motorcycle Clothing: The Outlast Houston, a fully armored waterproof jacket with a removable lining that features Outlast phase change material to regulate temperature. 

Serta is touting “breakthrough cooling technology” in the new version of its iComfort memory foam mattresses. Phase change material is embedded in the fabric and on the surface of the gel memory foam.

• The United Kingdom plans to spend £28 million ($35 million) on reducing the cost of energy storage, advancing demand side response technologies and improving energy efficiency measures for industry. Up to one-third of the money will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including thermal storage.

• The EU-funded Heat4Cool research project is developing a novel retrofit planning tool to help retrofit companies, architects, manufacturers, building administrators and residents weigh the potential benefits of three main technologies: gas and solar thermally driven adsorption heat pumps; PV-assisted DC-powered heat pumps connected to advanced modular PCM heat and cold storage systems; and energy recovery from sewage water with high performance heat exchangers. You are invited to help in this effort by completing a five-minute survey online.

• A Florida startup is calling its PCM-infused TempPro fabric “a gamechanger for luxury lingerie.” Giapenta, which launched a Kickstarter campaign this week, uses the temperature-regulating fabric in its line of bras, panties and sleep masks. The campaign has already met its modest target of raising $25,000. I've contacted the company and hope to have technical details on TempPro in time for next week's newsletter..

Colorado's first certified passive house 'has gone well past expectations'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Colorado's first certified International Passive House is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains north of Denver. The 1,200-square-foot MARTaK house, designed by architect and author Andrew Michler, is used primarily as an off-the-grid workspace. The structure has now been occupied continuously for six months. Has it met Michler's energy expectations?

MARTaK passive house photo by Andrew Michler"Yes," Michler says, "it's gone well past my expectations. ... We haven't turned on the heating system this year." 

A solar array shared with a neighboring home provides all electrical power and most of the heating, with a propane-powered hydronic system serving as backup. Passive House Planning Package software was used to find the most efficient mix of insulation, windows and shading. Natural, nontoxic and recycled materials are used throughout the house. 

Biobased phase change material with a melt point of 23º C is used to help even out temperature spikes. The PCM is contained in 500 square feet of ENRG Blankets made by Phase Change Energy Solutions. Most of the material is installed a south-facing interior wall. 

Is it possible to measure the PCM's impact on overall performance?

"That's the question that I haven't found anybody able to answer," Michler says. "It's more about experiential. It's hard to isolate the PCM performance. There's no good modeling software for this. ...

"Overheating has been the biggest issue with passive houses, and we're seeing some anecdotal success with PCMs. We had a really warm fall, and the PCM did seem to level out the interior temperature, leveling out at 78 degrees Fahrenheit."

Has Michler used PCM in other projects? "No, this is the first. I do have interest in trying it again."

http://www.archello.com/en/project/martak-passive-house

PCM briefing: Papers sought for thermal management conference; Ice Energy has eyes on Australia

Ben Welter - Friday, December 09, 2016

• Registration is open for the Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held in Denver Aug. 9-10, 2017. Organizers have issued a call for papers; the deadline for submitting an abstract is Feb. 17. Companies attending past conferences include Croda, Outlast Technologies, Phase Change Materials Ltd., Microtek LaboratoriesC-Therm Technologies and Entropy Solutions.

Ice Energy of Glendale, Calif., is looking for distributors in Australia to extend the reach of the company's ice-based energy storage systems. The Ice Bear and smaller Ice Cub store cooling energy by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. 

• The use of phase change material in infant warmers (Little Lotus) and temperature-control fabrics (Outlast Technologies) is featured in NASA's Spinoff 2017. The annual report highlights technologies developed for the space program.

Tata Steel is integrating Energy Nest's thermal energy storage system into one of the steelmaker's plants in the Netherlands. The system captures waste heat in a special concrete and stores it for later use. 

A new technical report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examines the possibility of replacing fossil-fuel combustion in industry with small nuclear reactors, solar thermal and geothermal energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Phase change materials that exploit the relatively high energy involved in melting or freezing a material" are identified as among the thermal energy storage options critical to such a strategy.  

PCM briefing: Cone calorimeters, thermal effusivity and four new elements

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 06, 2016

• Registration is open for "Cone Calorimeter: Quantifying Easily Flammability & Heat Release Rate," an online course offered by SpecialChem.com. The instructor is 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 Dec. 8. The cost is $309 for three participants on a single connection.

C-Therm is promoting its TCi thermal conductivity analyzer as a tool to directly measure "thermal effusivity," a material's ability to exchange thermal energy with its surroundings. Sarah Ackermann, laboratory services manager at Thermal Analysis Labs, says direct measurement of a PCM's thermal effusivity is not subject to "errors associated with the assumption of constant density and thermal conductivity the way most of the DSC calculations are." 

Google has confirmed it will hit its target of offsetting 100 percent of the energy used at its data centers and offices with power from renewable sources in 2017. LinkedIn, meanwhile, has opened what it describes as its first “net zero energy” building at its campus in Sunnyvale, Calif.

• The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has officially named four new super-heavy elements — nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og) — and added them to the periodic table. The lab-created elementw have atomic numbers of 113, 115, 117 and 118, respectively. 

PCM briefing: University of Nebraska installing 2nd TES system; Credo-packing cyclists reach India

Ben Welter - Monday, November 21, 2016

• The University of Nebraska has begun construction on its second thermal energy storage facility in Lincoln. The system will chill water at night and on weekends, when electricity costs are low. The water will be used to cool buildings during the day.

Italian couple cycling across India• Do you remember the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes? Chiara Ricciardi and Riccardo Rocchi reached India last week. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and requires a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair have pedaled 7,130 kilometers so far, across 13 countries, averaging 49 km per day. Their final destination: Singapore.

• The Naval Post Graduate School’s Integrated Multi-Physics Renewable Energy Laboratory in Monterey, Calif., has integrated the CALMAC's ice-based energy storage technology into an on-site microgrid. The lab is testing and evaluating the integration of a variety of energy storage technologies with solar and wind power.

Boca International Ltd. has signed a $3.4 million contract with Differ Commercial Management Ltd. to supply and install BocaPCM-TES systems in Differ properties in Xiamen City, China. Boca says its salt-based aqueous system is similar to ice- and water-based TES systems but covers a wider range of temperatures, allowing for "even and controllable energy usage, drawing energy from the storage directly during peak hour, which ultimately reduces the operating costs."

Sunamp Ltd. has completed installation of its SunampPV heat batteries in more than a thousand homes at Castle Rock Edinvar, one of Scotland's largest housing associations. The company says the hybrid system will save households up to $370 a year each on their hot water and heating bills.