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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: Dynamic building envelope; multilayer glazing facades; spherical capsule with pin-fins; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 05, 2018

From Applied Energy:

Form-stable and thermally induced flexible composite phase change material for thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Influence of the storage period between charge and discharge in a latent heat thermal energy storage system working under partial load operating conditions
Dynamic building envelope with PCM for cooling purposes – Proof of concept

From Air Force Research Laboratory:

High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) [pdf]

From Solar Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of sensible thermal heat storage mixture containing phosphate compound of cobalt and sodium
Thermal performance of non-ventilated multilayer glazing facades filled with phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Charging nanoparticle enhanced bio-based PCM in open cell metallic foams: An experimental investigation
Thermal performance analysis and optimization of a spherical PCM capsule with pin-fins for cold storage
A phase change material with enhanced thermal conductivity and secondary heat dissipation capability by introducing a binary thermal conductive skeleton for battery thermal management

From Materials:

Characterization of MgCl2·6H2O-Based Eutectic/Expanded Perlite Composite Phase Change Material with Low Thermal Conductivity

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Size controlled lauric acid/silicon dioxide nanocapsules for thermal energy storage

From Energy Procedia:

Life Cycle Assessment of thermal energy storage materials and components

From MATEC Web of Conferences:

A Numerical Method for Analysing Heat Conduction in Composites Containing Encapsulated Phase Change Materials [pdf]

From Journal of Building Engineering:

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.

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.

First speakers lined up for Swiss symposium on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, November 05, 2018

Registration is open for the 6th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storageto 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. So far, five speakers have been confirmed: 

Dan Bauer, research area manager for thermal energy systems with phase change, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stuttgart, Germany.
Peter Schossig, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany.
Colin Pulham, head of school of chemistry, University of Edinburgh, U.K.
Yulong Ding, director of the Birmingham Center for Energy Storage, University of Birmingham, U.K.
Aris de Groot, founder and director of Ecovat Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage, Eindhoven, Netherlands.

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

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."

PCM briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Research roundup: Form-stable stearic acid PCM; spent diatomite from palm oil bleaching process; anisotrophic graphene aerogels; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Preparation and characterization of novel form stable phase change materials based on stearic acid

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermal performance enhancement of organic phase change materials using spent diatomite from the palm oil bleaching process as support

From Journal of Facade Design and Engineering:

Modelling Envelope Components Integrating Phase Change Materials (PCMs) with Whole-Building Energy Simulation Tools: A State of the Art [pdf]

From Renewable Energy:

Two side serpentine flow based photovoltaic-thermal-phase change materials (PVT-PCM) system: Energy, exergy and economic analysis

From Advanced Functional Materials:

Thermally Conductive Phase Change Composites Featuring Anisotropic Graphene Aerogels for Real‐Time and Fast‐Charging Solar‐Thermal Energy Conversion

From Indoor and Built Environment:

The year-round thermal performance of a new ventilated Trombe wall integrated with phase change materials in the hot summer and cold winter region of China

From Energy:

Solar thermal energy storage based on sodium acetate trihydrate phase change hydrogels with excellent light-to-thermal conversion performance

From Advances in Material Science and Engineering:

Shape Stability of Polyethylene Glycol/Acetylene Black Phase Change Composites for Latent Heat Storage [pdf]

From Solar Energy:

Energy performance comparison of concentrated photovoltaic – Phase change material thermal (CPV-PCM/T) system with flat plate collector (FPC)

From Cogent Engineering:

Evaluation of a concrete-graphite hybrid mixture for low-cost thermal energy storage material

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

Ben Welter - Monday, October 29, 2018

Array radiator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research roundup: Solar fish dryer; oscillating heat pipe; small-scale refrigeration system; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 22, 2018

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Experiments on comparative performance of water thermocline storage tank with and without encapsulated paraffin wax packed bed
Experimental study and performance prediction of the PCM-antifreeze solar thermal system under cold weather conditions
Improving System Performance of a Personal Conditioning System integrated with Thermal Storage

From Energy:

A methodological concept for phase change material selection based on multi-criteria decision making (MCDM): A case study

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Experimental analysis of solar fish dryer using phase change material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental investigation on thermal performance of phase change material coupled with three-dimensional oscillating heat pipe (PCM/3D-OHP) for thermal management application

From Sustainable Cities and Society:

Experimental investigation on melting and solidification behaviour of erythritol in a vertical double spiral coil thermal energy storage system

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Investigation of energy and exergy performance on a small-scale refrigeration system with PCMs inserted between coil and wall of the evaporator cabin

From Journal of Applied Physics:

Optimizing the design of composite phase change materials for high thermal power density

From Energy Procedia:

The technical and economic feasibility of utilizing phase change materials for thermal storage in district heating networks

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").