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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.




PCM briefing: Virginia Tech takes first place in Solar Decathlon; Pluss is expanding R&D team

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS team has won first place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The lone American team topped 14 other finalists and more than 60 total entrants. The team said its use of phase change material in the solar-powered home set it apart from the competition. Look for an interview with Joseph Wheeler, an architecture professor who directs Virginia Tech's FutureHAUS research program, in the next issue of Phase Change Matters.

• Via LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is hashtag#Expanding its hashtag#Research team for hashtag#PCM Business. Chemistry Graduates with 0-2 years of experience preferred. However, others will be considered too. Usual job descriptions apply! Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at Hurry! The vacancies are limited."

• U.S. and German researchers who have studied a PCM alloy made from germanium, antimony and tellurium say liquid water and liquid PCMs may have the same underlying physics. "The experiments reveal that the so-called Stokes-Einstein relation, which connects the viscosity of a liquid to the diffusion coefficient of its molecules, appears to break down above the melting point of the material and at very low viscosities – just as in water," Physics World reports. "The result will be important when making phase-change memories from GeSbTe alloys and related PCMs in the future."

CleanTechnica's Tina Casey takes a deep dive into the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to develop next-generation, long-duration energy storage systems. Her conclusion: "The new R&D program practically guarantees that the hurt will continue for coal miners, their families and their communities long after Trump leaves office."  

kW Engineering of Oakland, Calif., offers tips on how to use a famously complex energy modeling program: "Best Practices for Successful Building Energy Modeling with EnergyPlus." 

Agenda set for 6th Swiss symposium on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, December 03, 2018

The agenda is confirmed for the 6th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage, to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2019. The symposium will focus on seasonal storage systems and the sector coupling of power and heat. Here are the speakers and topics:

• "Heat Storage in Switzerland": Elimar Frank, Frank Energy GmbH, Switzerland

• "Thermal Energy Storage, one Key Element to link Energy Sectors": Peter Schossig, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany

• "Enhanced Phase-Change Materials for Heat-Storage applications": Colin Pulham, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

• "High-Temperature Latent Heat Storage and Applications": Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stuttgart, Germany

• "High-Temperature Phase Change Materials": Yulong Ding, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

• "Network Convergence and Sector Coupling at St. Galler Stadtwerke": Simon Schoch, St. Galler Stadtwerke, Switzerland

• "Heat4Cool – Multienergy Solutions for Heating & Cooling": Marcello Aprile, Politecnico di Milano and Philipp Schütz, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Large-Scale Thermal Energy Storage and Multi-Energy Networks in Vienna": Robert Hammerling, Wien Energie GmbH, Austria

• "Current and Future Use of Seasonal Thermal Storage in Ground Heat Exchangers": A Swedish Perspective: José Acuña, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

• "Avoided System Cost for Grid Reinforcement and Peaker Plants by using Ecovat Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage": Aris de Groot, Ecovat Renewable Energy Technologies, Netherlands

• "Optimization of Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Buildings": Willy Villasmil, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Seasonal Hot Water Storage with Vacuum Super Insulation": Matthias Demharter, Bayerisches Zentrum für Angewandte Energieforschung ZAE, Germany

The registration fee is 300 Swiss francs. Lunch is included. The 2018 symposium drew more than 100 participants.

Patent application: Solid-liquid phase change driven heat engine

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180320518 (inventor Yanming Wei, Ontario, Canada):

"A new kind of solid-liquid-solid cyclic phase change heat engine is presented with optional but highly recommended multiple cylinders aka multiple stages cascading powertrain. Unlike the traditional Rankine engine or Stirling engine, hereby the gaseous phase is prohibited, and the conventional turbine is abandoned too. Under the drive of heat flux, low expansion volume of the working Phase Change Material (PCM) replaces the high expansion volume of hot gas, and in compensation, high expansion pressure replaces the low expansion pressure of hot gas. ... Inspired by [Donald] Trump's book “the art of deal,” I audaciously make technical trade-off to combine but isolate standard hydraulic oil and PCM in a hydraulic ensemble, despite minor existence of PCM leakage, corrosion and excessive friction, which are caused by the non-ideal viscosity & fluidity."

PCM briefing: RAL members to meet in Dusseldorf next week; reliability test completed at Morocco CSP plant

Ben Welter - Friday, November 09, 2018

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will meet in Dusseldorf on Thursday, Nov. 15. The agenda includes discussions on quality and testing specifications; reference materials in calorimetry; PCM product certification; and the promotion of PCM products in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

A 10-day reliability test has been completed at the 150MW Noor Ouarzazate III concentrated solar power plant in Morocco. The plant's molten salt storage system is designed to produce electricity in the absence of sunlight for 7.5 hours. During the test, the plant output over 13.2 GWh to the grid.

Kathu Solar Park, the 100MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, has begun generating steam, an important step in the plant's commissioning process. The plant uses molten salt to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity.

• The agenda is taking shape for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International Congress, to be held April 4-5, 2019, in Paris. Among the topics: "Sourcing & Production of Sustainable Oils & Fats" and "Creating, Maintaining, Controlling Sustainable Supply Chain." 

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corp. says it is on track to establish the world’s largest district cooling project by increasing its capacity of district cooling in Business Bay, Dubai. Business Bay is now served by three major district cooling plants with a total capacity of 135,000 refrigeration tons. The addition of three more plants will bring the collective capacity to 350,000 RT.

Research roundup: Sodium acetate trihydrate; palm kernel vegetable fat; spiral-fin heat exchanger; gas flow through bed of granular PCM; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 06, 2018

From Energy:

Preparation and thermal properties of sodium acetate trihydrate as a novel phase change material for energy storage

From Journal of Building Engineering:

The Palm Kernel Vegetable Fat: a Low-cost Bio-based Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings

From International Journal of Applied Engineering Research:

Carbonaceous Phase Change Nanocomposites: A low cost energy storage approach [pdf]

From Applied Mathematical Modelling:

Investigation of Phase Change in a Spiral-Fin Heat Exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of the thermal performance enhancement of latent heat thermal energy storage using longitudinal rectangular fins and flat micro-heat pipe arrays

From Materials Science and Engineering:

The characteristics of temperature fluctuations in thermal insulation covered with layer of PCM [pdf]

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal properties and applications of microencapsulated PCM for thermal energy storage: A review

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Evaluation and optimization of thermal performance for a finned double tube latent heat thermal energy storage
Influence of gas compressibility on gas flow through bed of granular phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Investigating organic phase change behavior with thermal photography

Sunamp, Trina Solar sign deal to combine thermal batteries with heat pumps

Ben Welter - Monday, November 05, 2018

Sunamp Ltd. has signed an agreement with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries now made in Scotland with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

With more than 14,000 employees, Trina is one of the world's largest PV panel manufacturers. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, has about 30 employees. Sunamp's Uniq heat batteries, made at Sunamp's factory in East Lothian, use a salt-based phase change material to store excess energy generated by solar PV systems. The stored energy is released on demand to provide heat and hot water.

The two companies signed a memo of understanding Oct. 20 at the opening of Trina’s new heat pump factory.

Trina Solar VP John Ding, left, with Sunamp CEO Andrew BissellThe combined system will use Sunamp’s batteries in conjunction with solar panels and heat pumps to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. According to Sunamp, the system will offer 23 to 35kWh of storage.

“Our unique heat battery technology extends and enhances the range of capabilities of heat pumps, and the combination of solar PV, heat pumps and heat batteries has exceptional potential to cut fuel costs, address climate change and improve air quality," said Sunamp CEO Andrew Bissell (right, with Trina Solar VP John Ding).

Sunamp’s heat batteries, which have been installed in thousands of homes across the UK, will be paired with Trina heat pumps as part of a trial of the integrated solution in 20 homes in northern China this winter. If the trial is successful, the integrated solution will be launched in China in the second half of 2019.

The collaboration with Trina is Sunamp's largest to date, in terms of manufacturing scale and potential revenue. He and Maurizio Zaglio‎, Sunamp's international business development manager, provided details on the agreement in phone and email interviews last week.

Q: How did Sunamp make the initial contact with Trina?

A: "Mr Eagle Su and Professor Feng visited our factory earlier in the year. Eagle is the general manager of Trina Energy Management Co. Ltd, which is the section charged with launching Trina into the heat pump market. Professor Feng heads up the Trina Institute of Strategic Studies in Beijing."

Q: The article mentions Trina's "expansion into the heat pump market." Is the new factory in Changzhou producing Trina's first heat pumps?

A: "Yes. We signed our memo of understanding at the launch event. We were one of only two non-Chinese Companies invited to the launch (the other was Danfoss). The launch was 'full on' with over 1,000 installers visiting the Trina Energy heat pump factory on the Friday and a large indoor event on the Saturday with over 350 attendees, including key management from all leading heat pump vendors in China, local and national government and institutions fully represented, and led in 'keynote style' by the CEO of Trina Solar, Jifan Gao."

Q: What stood out for you on your visit to the factory?

A: "It had very modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and we were struck by the very full lineup of products ranging from small room-scale to 150kW large commercial/industrial heat pumps. Trina are clearly VERY serious in entering the heat pump market."

Sunamp's UniQ heat batteriesQ: What are the key features of the latest version of the Uniq heat battery?

A: "They are even more compact and installable than our previous Gen 2 (SunampPV) products ... Very flexible on inputs (solar PV, thermal, grid electricity, heat pumps ... Two outputs at once (e.g. heating and hot water) ... No need for the usual extra plumbing needed with a hot water cylinder ... Highest thermal efficiency and A+ rated under Europe’s ErP (Energy-related Products) directive at all sizes UniQ 3, 6, 9 and 12 NB. No range of hot water cylinders is A+ rated across the range. Most can muster a B or A at the smallest size (like 70L, equivalent of the UniQ 3) but this drops off to B, C or D at larger sizes. Sunamp is A+ all the way ... They are ready for deep integration to heat pumps via refrigerant loop ... We warranty the storage for 10 years ... Extremely cost effective on all of lifetime, OpEx and CapEx measures ... They look good (much less clutter than water tanks)."

Q: Talk about the PCM used in the battery.

A: "It's our flagship material, SU58, with a melt point of 58 Celsius, sodium acetate trihydrate, with a couple of components that are there to ensure nucleation and ensure stability. And they do that. [In testing] we've reached 40,000 cycles now, which is, we think, pretty convincing at full heat battery scale. These are done on a 2.5 kWh heat battery, full cycle being 40 degrees to 80 degrees back to 40. It still has significantly more than 95 percent capacity at that point. To be honest, we stopped testing. That's a lifetime's use for any reasonable product ... about 50 years."

Q: Assuming the trial goes well, will you shift some production to China?

A: "More than likely. It doesn't make sense to ship things over a huge distance that can be made efficiently and effectively right next to where they can be integrated with the heat pump for the local market. Trina has a very large campus, with three PV factories and the heat pump factory. If they want us to be on that campus, there's more than enough space."

Q: The combined system is said offer between 23 and 35kWh of storage. Are those numbers based on tests of full-scale prototypes?

A: "We have fully trialled this kind of heat pump plus heat battery (plus solar PV) in a number of UK test homes. These sizes come from that trial base. A full trial is planned in China over this winter involving Sunamp and led by Trina."

Q: What excites you most about this opportunity?

A: "The scale of ambition shown by both the Chinese government and Trina in responding to it. 66 million homes in China still source their heat and hot water from coal. This has major impacts on both air quality and carbon emissions leading to climate change. We are really excited to be partnered with Trina in their strategy to address this. And also to be partnered on the wider level with such a leading company."

Research roundup: Synthesis of n-butyl palmitate; graphite as heat-transfer enhancer in high-temperature inorganic PCM; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 25, 2018

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Synthesis and characterization of the n-butyl palmitate as an organic phase change material

From Renewable Energy:

Encapsulation of high-temperature inorganic phase change materials using graphite as heat transfer enhancer

From Synthesis, Technology and Applications of Carbon Nanomaterials:

Activated Carbon for Shape-Stabilized Phase Change Material

From Applied Energy:

Thermal conductivity enhancement of phase change materials with 3D porous diamond foam for thermal energy storage

From Energy and Technology Journal:

Enhancement of Thermal Storage Properties of Phase Change Material by Using Metallic Swarf [pdf]

From ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering:

Fabrication and Characterization of Flame-Retardant Nanoencapsulated n-Octadecane with Melamine–Formaldehyde Shell for Thermal Energy Storage

From Energy Storage Materials:

Polyurethane-Based Flexible and Conductive Phase Change Composites for Energy Conversion and Storage

From Materials Today:

PCM briefing: Traction battery for electric vehicles; Ember mug available in Apple stores

Ben Welter - Friday, October 19, 2018

• The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt, Germany, has developed a traction battery that can use thermal energy as a heat source in electric vehicles. A new type of fiber-reinforced composite sandwich housing protects the battery from temperature fluctuations. The phase change material composite system is designed to precondition the battery at low outside temperatures and reduce heat generation during rapid charging. The system was developed as part of the European Union's Optimized Energy Management and Use project. "We've developed material, structural and process technologies that can guarantee drivers a more reliable and uniform range for their battery-powered vehicles," said Felix Weidmann, project manager at Fraunhofer LBF.

Airec AB of Sweden has joined the EU Horizon 2020 project SWS-Heating. The project's goal is to develop seasonal thermal storage of solar energy. The energy will be stored in phase change materials. Airec will develop heat exchangers for the project. 

A process for extracting a biodegradable polymer from crustaceans is among the winners of this year's Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The awards were formerly known as the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute has collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to manage the awards since their inception in 1995. The EPA dropped out this year, citing long-term certainty about the program’s financial situation.  

Ember temperature-control tumblerEmber Technologies' temperature-control mugs are now available in Apple stores and on The travel version right, uses phase change material to bring hot beverages down to a drinkable temperature. Earlier this year, Nordstrom began selling the mugs online and in Nordstrom popup stores.

Capstone Turbine Corp. and Argonne National Laboratory have received funding from U.S. Department of Energy to refine Argonne’s high-efficiency, fast-charging and fast-discharging thermal energy storage system for use in combined heat and power systems. The system, originally developed for use in concentrated solar power applications, will use phase change material to capture waste heat from industrial manufacturing processes. The goal is to integrate Argonne's technology into a Capstone C200 CHP system.

• New from Persistence Market Research"Global Market Study on Salt Hydrate: Pharmaceutical Industry to Remain Dominant Consumer Through 2026"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status And Forecast 2025"

• New from Maia Research: "Inorganic PCMs Market Analysis, Market Size, Application, Analysis, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies And Forecasts, 2018 -2025"

• At the World Energy Engineering Congress in Charlotte, N.C., this week, Mark Richards of Phase Change Energy Solutions reports that the company demonstrated "a mini PhaseStor tank in action with 1/2 ton chiller and small heater (system hand made by Scott Queen) to charge and discharge the tank and includes on board DAQ system to show tank thermal performance." Richards presented at a panel discussion Friday, "Justifying HVAC Energy Savings in Buildings Using Phase Change Materials - A Debate with a Skeptical Engineer." Also presenting were Guy Frankenfield, energy division manager at DN Tanks Inc. ("Thermal Energy Storage - Uncovering the Value of Ice and Chilled Water TES Systems") and Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins ("Thermal Energy Storage in Package Units? Yes, it is Here").

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions to install system in Mexico; Pluss reaches distribution deal with Ferro-Plast of Italy

Ben Welter - Friday, October 12, 2018

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has reached a deal to install its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in one of Red de Frios' frozen food warehouses in Monterrey, Mexico. Viking systems are designed to reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The German Aerospace Center, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Stuttgart have signed an agreement to build a research facility in Germany to develop an efficient, cost-effective and "virtually loss-less" heat-based electrical storage technology. At this week's signing ceremony in Stuttgart, Stanford University Professor Robert B. Laughlin, right, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics, explained why he thinks heat storage will play a key role in the energy landscape of the future.

• The Conductive Plastics conference in Vienna Nov. 6-7 will include sessions on "Challenging the boundaries in thermally conductive and electrically conductive polyamides," "Boron nitride filler materials for high-performance thermal management applications," "Mineral flame retardants and metal oxides as thermally conductive fillers," "Investigating the effect of material molecular orientation on thermal conductivity of polymeric products" and "Thermally conductive materials based on synthetic rubber."

• In a LinkedIn post, Pluss Advanced Technologies of India announced it has reached a deal with Ferro-Plast Srl of Italy to distribute Pluss products in Europe.

• New from "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Trends, Applications, Analysis, Growth, And Forecast: 2018 To 2027"

• New from Invant Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Study 2015-2025"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Salt Hydrate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017 - 2027"

• New from Polaris Market Research: "Fatty Acid Esters Market, [By Product Type (Glycerol Monostearate, Medium Chain Trigylcerides, Isopropyl Esters (Myrsitate & Palmitate) and Others); By Application (Lubricants, Pharmaceuticals, Personal care & Cosmetics, Surfactants and Others); By Regions]: Market size & Forecast, 2018 – 2026"

Peli BioThermal has opened service centers in Basel and Berlin to support the company's line of Credo reusable temperature-control shippers.

• Nominations are being accepted for Metrohm USA's Young Chemist Award 2019. Entrants submit an abstract of their research for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to PITTCON 2019. The contest is limited to undergrad, grad, post-grad and doctoral students in the United States and Canada. Entrants must demonstrate novel research or a novel methodology using titration, ion chromatography, electrochemistry and/or spectroscopy. Applications are due by Dec. 31, 2018.

Sonoco ThermoSafe, a global provider of temperature assurance packaging in the life sciences sector, has an opening for a sales director, responsible for sales growth in North America.

• Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the next Leading Minds Seminar, to be held Nov. 6-7 in London. 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.

ASHRAE Learning Institute will offer 20 courses during the 2019 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo. The conference will be held in Atlanta Jan. 12-16. Courses include "Advanced Designs for Net Zero Buildings," "Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning" and "Solar PV and Thermal System Analysis and Design."

Research roundup: Ternary hydrated salt mixture; earth-air heat exchanger; shape-stabilized fly ash composite PCM; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 01, 2018

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Two types of composite phase change panels containing a ternary hydrated salt mixture for use in building envelope and ventilation system
Research on cooling performance of phase change material-filled earth-air heat exchanger
An experimental investigation of the phase change process effects on the system performance for the evacuated tube solar collectors integrated with PCMs

From Solar Energy:

Carbon based material included-shaped stabilized phase change materials for sunlight-driven energy conversion and storage: An extensive review

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experimental Study of Water Solidification Phenomenon for Ice-on-Coil Thermal Energy Storage Application Utilizing Falling Film

From Powder Technology:

Preparation and thermal properties of stearic acid-benzamide eutectic mixture/expanded graphite composites as phase change materials for thermal energy storage

From International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental and numerical study of melting of the phase change material tetracosane

From Particuology:

Effect of particle size on the thermal performance of NaNO3/SiO2/C composite phase-change materials

From Materials Chemistry and Physics:

Low-cost, shape-stabilized fly ash composite phase change material synthesized by using a facile process for building energy efficiency

From Construction and Building Materials:

Preparation and thermal properties of encapsulated ceramsite-supported phase change materials used in asphalt pavements

From Applied Energy: