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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.




Research roundup: Fabrication of shape-stable composite PCMs; battery thermal management; segmented heat storage; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fabrication of shape-stable composite phase change materials based on lauric acid and graphene/graphene oxide complex aerogels for enhancement of thermal energy storage and electrical conduction [Thermochimica Acta]

Performance analysis of PCM based thermal energy storage system containing nanoparticles [International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology]

Cold temperature performance of phase change material based battery thermal management systems [Energy Reports]

Design and functionality of a segmented heat-storage prototype utilizing stable supercooling of sodium acetate trihydrate in a solar heating system [Applied Energy]

Macro-encapsulation and characterization of chloride based inorganic phase change materials for high temperature thermal energy storage systems [Applied Energy]

Parametric analysis of a residential building with phase change material (PCM)-enhanced drywall, precooling, and variable electric rates in a hot and dry climate [Applied Energy]

Fabrication of high thermal conductive shape-stabilized polyethylene glycol/silica phase change composite by two-step sol gel method [Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing]

Performance enhancement of cold thermal energy storage system using nanofluid phase change materials: A review [International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer]

Development of form stable Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) coated thermal phase change material for solar water heater applications [4th International Conference on Civil and Environmental Engineering for Sustainability]

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 ...

Contributions sought for new database on thermal storage materials

Ben Welter - Monday, April 16, 2018

A new database for thermal energy storage materials is being developed within the framework of the International Energy Agency’s Energy Conservation through Energy Storage group, Annex 29 and SHC Task 42.

The database is designed to provide characteristic data for phase change, sorption and thermochemical materials. The website,, also offers a wiki with definitions related to thermal energy storage. Both areas are open for contributions.

The phase transition data provided for PCMs must be measured according to a DSC-measurement standard. To ensure the quality of the submitted data, contributors must provide a reference measurement using a PCM provided by Fraunhofer ISE.

Stefan Gschwander, head of Group Heat and Cold Storage at Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, Germany, said all submitted data will undergo a review process. “If the data is in line with our requirements it can be published in the public area,” he said.

So far, 15 PCMs are listed in the public area. A restricted area of the database is limited to  independently measured materials.

“The data stored is high-quality data which can be used for research, for example
simulation or to design a system,” Gschwander said. “So for our database, the manufacturers normally do not provide data but sample material that is measured from the institutions that are able to measure according the definitions. So far we have measured PCM from Rubitherm, Sasol and BASF. …

“So far we have about 20 different materials in the restricted area and, as we have used it for the development of the measurement standard, many of the materials have been measured several times by different laboratories so that we have a lot more measurements stored in the database.”

Fraunhofer ISE offers independent characterization of PCM, with fees depending on the material and the DSC required to do the measurement.

The ECES is a technology collaboration group that supports the development of electrical energy storage, thermal energy storage, distributed energy storage and borehole thermal energy storage. For more information on the material database project and characterization services, contact Gschwander at

Research roundup: Solar thermal façades; domestic hot water system; triplex-tube heat exchanger; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Overheating protection of solar thermal façades with latent heat storages based on paraffin-polymer compounds [Energy and Buildings]

Single and combined phase change materials: Their effect on seasonal transition period [Energy and Buildings]

Macroencapsulation of sodium chloride as phase change materials for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Investigation of PCM Charging for the Energy Saving of Domestic Hot Water System [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Physical and mechanical properties of fly ash and slag geopolymer concrete containing different types of micro-encapsulated phase change materials [Construction and Building Materials]

Accelerated melting of PCM in energy storage systems via novel configuration of fins in the triplex-tube heat exchanger [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Research roundup: PCM-based radiant heat exchanger; thermal performance of PCM roof modules; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Design and Analysis of PCM Based Radiant Heat Exchanger for Thermal Management of Buildings [Energy and Buildings]

A new ventilated window with PCM heat exchanger – performance analysis and design optimization [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal enhancement of paraffin/hydrophobic expanded perlite granular phase change composite using graphene nanoplatelets [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal Performance of Microencapsulated Phase Change Material (mPCM) in Roof Modules during Daily Operation [Energies]

Synthesis and Characterization of Thermochemical Storage Material Combining Porous Zeolite and Inorganic Salts [Heat Transfer Engineering]

Effect of percussion vibration on solidification of supercooled salt hydrate PCM in thermal storage unit [Renewable Energy]

A review of the applications of phase change materials in cooling, heating and power generation in different temperature ranges [Applied Energy]

Experimental and numerical study on the performance of a new high-temperature packed-bed thermal energy storage system with macroencapsulation of molten salt phase change material [Applied Energy]

Energy and exergy efficiencies assessment for a stratified cold thermal energy storage [Applied Energy]

Eccentricity optimization of a horizontal shell-and-tube latent-heat thermal energy storage unit based on melting and melting-solidifying performance [Applied Energy]

Numerical study on the thermal performance of lightweight temporary building integrated with phase change materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thiol-yne photo-clickable electrospun phase change materials for thermal energy storage [Reactive and Functional Polymers]

Highly Graphitized 3D Network Carbon for Shape-stabilized Composite PCMs with Superior Thermal Energy Harvesting [Nano Energy]

Schematic illustration of PEG8000 @ CQDs-derived 3D porous carbon composite PCMs

PCM briefing: Thermal storage in focus at Energy Storage Europe; SaltX, Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop insulation paper

Ben Welter - Monday, March 12, 2018

• "Life Cycle Assessment of Thermal Energy Storage Materials, Components and System Concepts" (Björn Nienborg, Fraunhofer ISE) and "Development of PCM Based on the Prediction of Phase Diagrams of Salt Hydrate Mixtures" (Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern) are among more than a dozen presentations on thermal storage at this week's Energy Storage Europe expo and conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• The energy storage company SaltX Technology will collaborate with specialty paper producer Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop a large-scale manufacturing method for graphene-coated insulation paper. The paper will carry SaltX's patented nano coated salt, increasing the heat conductivity of the SaltX material by up to five times. 

• The March 2018 issue of the CIBSE Journal features a continuing professional development module sponsored by Monodraught: "Operating and enhancing PCM-cooled ventilation systems in office applications.

• New from Persistence Market Research: "Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020" and "Global Insulated Shipping Containers Market Research Report 2018"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"

• Registration is open for an Industrial Fabrics Association International webinar on recent smart fabric applications used in a number of government, commercial, medical and consumer market segments. The cost for the March 15 webinar, initially presented in January, is $29 for association members, $79 for non-members. 

Arizona State University researchers have shed new light on the anomalous properties of water, using specially treated water mixed with another chemical. "As they changed the temperature at high pressures," Gizmodo reports, "they noticed a sharp change in the water's molecular behaviour as it seemed to change phases - from a liquid to a liquid."  

• The first Lego blocks made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane will go on sale later this year. Lego’s current blocks are made from oil-based plastics.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking bids to replace a chiller at the department's Washington, D.C., headquarters. The chiller was originally installed in 1995 to make ice at night for a thermal energy storage system.

Sunamp Ltd. is among 35 finalists preparing to pitch to investors at Cleantech Innovate in London on March 20.

GTI, a not-for-profit research organization based in Illinois, has been invited to present its hybrid solar energy system project at ARPA-E's Congressional Showcase March 12. The system stores thermal energy in inert particles for on-demand use.

Research roundup: Biomass carbon aerogels from succulents; novel hybrid cooling for lithium-ion batteries; calcium carbonate, graphene oxide shell; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 08, 2018

Leakage-proof Phase Change Composites Supported by Biomass Carbon Aerogels from Succulents [Green Chemistry]

Experimental Investigation of a Novel Hybrid Cooling Method for Lithium-ion Batteries [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Modified phase change microcapsules with calcium carbonate and graphene oxide shell for enhanced energy storage and leakage prevention [Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering]

A Novel Thermal Energy Storage System in Smart Building Based on Phase Change Material [IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid]

Study of Material Compatibility for a Thermal Energy Storage System with Phase Change Material [Energies]

Is a self-sufficient building energy efficient? Lesson learned from a case study in Mediterranean climate [Applied Energy]

Research roundup: Heat transfer model based on energy asymmetry; smart concretes; traction transient cooling; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A new heat transfer model of phase change material based on energy asymmetry [Applied Energy]

Multifunctional smart concretes with novel phase change materials: Mechanical and thermo-energy investigation [Applied Energy]

The melting of salt hydrate phase change material in an irregular metal foam for the application of traction transient cooling [Thermal Science and Engineering Progress]

Solar Energy Latent Thermal Storage by Phase Change Materials (PCMs) in a Honeycomb System [Thermal Science and Engineering Progress]

Fabrication and characterization of diethylene glycol hexadecyl ether-grafted graphene oxide as a form-stable phase change material [Thermochimica Acta]

One-dimensional model of a stratified thermal storage tank with supercritical coiled heat exchanger [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Using silicagel industrial wastes to synthesize polyethylene glycol/silica-hydroxyl form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Steam-PCM heat exchanger design and materials optimization by using Cr-Mo alloys [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Sodium acetate trihydrate-chitin nanowhisker nanocomposites with enhanced phase change performance for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Preparation and thermal properties of fatty acid/diatomite form-stable composite phase change material for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Research roundup: Eutectic organic PCMs; diatomite/CNTs/PEG composites; cellulose insulation; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

From Data in Brief:

Prediction of the Properties of Eutectic Organic Phase Change Materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Diatomite/CNTs/PEG composite PCMs with shape-stabilized and improved thermal conductivity: Preparation and thermal energy storage properties

From Solar Energy:

Thermal performance of phase change materials (PCM)-enhanced cellulose insulation in passive solar residential building walls

From Energy Procedia:

A Parametric Study about the Potential to Integrate Phase Change Material into Photovoltaic Panel
Investigations on thermal environment in residential buildings with PCM embedded in external wall
Passive Cooling Using Phase Change Material and Insulation for High-rise Office Building in Tropical Climate
A Study on Latent Heat Energy Storage Performance of Tetradecane
Erythritol-Vermiculite form-stable phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Modification of expanded graphite and its adsorption for hydrated salt to prepare composite PCMs

From Renewable Energy:

Experimental Investigation of Solar Chimney with Phase Change Material (PCM)
Effect of retrofitting a silver/water nanofluid-based photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) system with a PCM-thermal battery for residential applications

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Thermal charging performance of enhanced phase change material composites for thermal battery design

From Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects:

Preparation and characterization of high-temperature non-flowing SiO2/EG/paraffin composites by high-temperature refining

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Experimental analysis of thermal energy storage by phase change material system for cooling and heating applications

From Materials & Design:

Thermal conductivity enhancement of phase change materials with form-stable carbon bonded carbon fiber network

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental study on thermal performance improvement of building envelopes by integrating with phase change material in an intermittently heated room

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Phase-change thermal energy storage using spherical capsules: performance of a test plant

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens North American headquarters; Viking Cold Solutions begins Phoenix-area installation

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG officially opened its new North American headquarters in Langhorne, Penn., this week. Va-Q-tec will use the 20,000-square-foot facility to showcase new products and to manufacture its small temperature-control shipping containers. The location will also serve as a hub for the company's rental and repair operation. “The investment in this new facility is a testament to our commitment to grow the business and expand our footprint in North America," said CEO Dr. Joachim Kuhn.

Drones that deliver sterile mosquitoes in the fight against the Zika virus will be field tested in Latin America early this year. The system, developed by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture's Insect Pest Control Laboratory, uses phase change material to keep the mosquitoes inactive during transportation. 

• New from Greentech Media: "The Next Five Years in Energy Storage According to 500 Energy Professionals"

• New from Global Info Research: "North America Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2022"

• New from Technavio: "Global Advanced Phase Change Materials Market 2017-2021

Viking Cold Solutions has begun installing its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in a 10,000-square-foot freezer at the Bashas food distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system, which consists of salt-hydrate-filled panels suspended from warehouse ceilings, is designed to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The cost of renewable energy is falling so fast that it should be a consistently cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuels by 2020, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency

Utility Dive takes a close look at Nantucket Island's "hybrid" plan to add energy storage, including thermal storage, to stave off expensive grid enhancements.