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The award-winning Phase Change Matters blog tracks the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. E-mail tips and comments to Ben Welter, communications director at Entropy Solutions. Follow the blog on Twitter at @PureTemp. Subscribe to the weekly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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PCM briefing: Acumen invests in Promethean Power Systems; Viking Cold wins Cleanie award

Ben Welter - Monday, October 14, 2019

• Social venture capital investor Acumen has invested an undisclosed amount in Promethean Power Systems Inc., which makes PCM-based refrigeration systems for cold-storage and milk chilling applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Jiten Ghelani, chief executive of Promethean, which is based in Boston, Mass., and Pune, India, said the investment would help the company accelerate the adoption of its products across India and other markets, and also expand its cooling-as-a-service offerings. 

Air New Zealand pillow• Two new consumer products featuring temperature-control fabrics from Outlast Technologies hit the market recently: A pillow designed to improve the quality of sleep for passengers on Air New Zealand's long-haul flights and a Calloway pullover designed to keep golfers cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, won a Platinum Cleanie Award last month for a PCM-based storage and demand management project in Massachusetts. The Cleanie Awards, presented at this year's North America Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, Utah, recognize companies and individuals shaping the clean-tech and renewable energy industries. The Viking Cold project involved the installation and commissioning of TES systems to store refrigeration energy and facilitate 1.3 MW of energy demand reduction across eight customer facilities, including the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Sonoco ThermoSafe of Arlington Heights, Ill., has introduced a new temperature-controlled box rental service. "The new Orion r product line is based on the existing ChillTech product," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of engineering and product management at Sonoco. "We’ve made changes to make the product more reusable (added EPP) and have increased the VIP insulation. The PCMs remain the same, using paraffin-based materials. ChillTech was developed by Laminar Medica in the UK prior to their acquisition and integration into the ThermoSafe business. Solutions will exist for 2-8, 15-25 and frozen temperatures."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted an opening for a Senior Account Manager Europe, to be based in Netherlands.

Microtek Laboratories Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, has introduced a new line of PCM-equipped pouches and panels for use in temperature-controlled shipping.

Research roundup: Microencapsulated coconut oil; mixed alkanes microcapsules; low-hydration heat cement slurry; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 27, 2019

From Cellulose:

Microencapsulated organic coconut oil as a natural phase change material for thermo-regulating cellulosic fabrics

From Journal of Physics: Conference Series:

Numerical and experimental investigation of melting process in spherical PCM capsule used for low-temperature thermal energy storage systems

From Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of mixed alkanes microcapsules with phase change temperature below ice point for cryogenic thermal energy storage
Preparation of Low Hydration Heat Cement Slurry with Micro-encapsulated Thermal Control Material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

A Three-Dimensional Numerical Investigation of a Novel Shallow Bore Ground Heat Exchanger Integrated with Phase Change Material

From Polymer Science:

Preparation of Phase Change Microcapsules with Inorganic/Polymer Hybrid Shell Through a “Two-Step” Reaction

From Solar Energy:

Improved thermal energy storage for nearly zero energy buildings with PCM integration

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

A theoretical and experimental study of a TBAB salt hydrate based cold thermal energy storage in an air conditioning system

From Journal of Energy Storage:

A Review of Phase Change Materials for the Thermal Management and Isothermalisation of Lithium-Ion Cells

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Experimental performance evaluation of a novel designed phase change material integrated manifold heat pipe evacuated tube solar collector system

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Corrosion mechanisms in molten salt thermal energy storage for concentrating solar power

Croda began work on new microencapsulated PCM four years ago

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

UK-based Croda International recently announced the launch of a microencapsulated form of biobased phase change material developed at the company's PCM technical center in Netherlands. The new material is designed to be used to control temperatures in bedding, mattresses, automotive interiors, clothing and other applications.

Jerome Gonthier and Martin ButtersThe development was led by Marco Auerbach and Jerome Gonthier, working with colleagues who have expertise in microencapsulation and acrylic polymer. Martin Butters, a specialist in PCM applications and business development, also supported the project.

Gonthier and Butters provided details on the new material in an email interview.

Q: What prompted the decision to develop this technology?

A: "Having established a range of high-quality bio-based PCMs, market demand led us to explore the microencapsulation of these PCMs. Microencapsulation converts the PCM into particles that are offered to the market in two forms, powder and water-based dispersion. Microencapsulated PCMs are often advantageous for use in composite materials such as coatings, fibers and other matrices where PCM leakage needs to be avoided."

Q: How long did it take to complete the project?

A: "Overall the project ran for about four years leading to the launch of the first products in 2018."

Q: Did the team surmount any unexpected challenges, technical or otherwise?

A: "The challenges were mainly those we expected – achieving microcapsules with good durability, very low levels of free wax and overcoming sub-cooling (reduction in crystallisation temperature due to microencapsulation)."

Q: When did Croda officially launch the technology commercially?

SEM photo of CrodaTherm ME29P (powder grade) A: "The first products, CrodaTherm ME 29D (50% dispersion) and CrodaTherm ME 29P (powder), which are 29º C melting point products, were launched in Q4 2018. 32º C versions will be added to the range shortly and we expect the range to be further extended with other operating temperatures in due course."

Q: Does Croda manufacture fibers and textiles with the microencapsulated PCM? Or does it manufacture the MPCM and sell it to fiber and textile manufacturers?

A: "Croda does not produce fibers or textiles, instead we specialize in offering PCMs that are developed and manufactured in-house, for use in such applications (and many more)."

Q: What specs can you share on the MPCM, such as composition, peak melt point and latent heat storage capacity?

A: "We microencapsulate CrodaTherm bio-based PCMs with an acrylic-type shell. For CrodaTherm ME 29D and ME 29P, peak melting temperature is 29ºC and latent heat is typically about 180 J/g."

Q: Does the MPCM have any properties, such as latent heat storage capacity or ease of manufacture, that sets it apart from competing products?

A: "We use internally produced bio-based PCM, rather than paraffin waxes sourced externally from the market, meaning we have full control over quality and the products have high bio-based content and excellent thermal properties."

Q: Have textiles embedded with this MPCM undergone thermal effusivity testing or other tests that would confirm their effectiveness in managing temperatures in consumer products?

A: "Several tests have been carried out to confirm the performance of materials embedded with mPCM and further work will be carried out, including thermal effusivity."

Q: Will the technology be used in any products scheduled for release this year or next?

A: "A number of projects are underway for different applications, so we’ll have to wait and see!"

PCM briefing: PureTemp fabrics featured at Materio library; new round of funding for Ecozen Solutions

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

PureTemp-enhanced fabrics were among the new materials presented at a gathering of architects, designers and journalists at the MatériO library in Paris this week. The materials library, which also has showrooms in Brussels, Seoul and Shanghai, lists thousands of "cutting edge" materials and technologies in its online database, including PureTemp's biobased PCM.

Southern Research opened the new Energy Storage Research Center on its engineering campus in Birmingham, Ala., this month. The center will work to speed the development of clean and sustainable energy storage technology, including thermal energy storage systems. 

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, recently closed a Series A round of funding from investors including impact investment fund manager Caspian and Hivos-Triodos Fund, which is affiliated with Netherlands-based Triodos Bank. Omnivore Capital Management Advisors, which originally invested in Ecozen in 2015, also participated in the round, AgFunder News reports. The solar cold room's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather. 

PCM briefing: Axiotherm wins 2 innovation awards; newly commissioned pilot power plant in Sweden uses SaltX TES

Ben Welter - Friday, July 05, 2019

ESDA-Axiotherm GmbH won two awards in this year's INNOspace Masters ideas competition. The competition, sponsored by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center, honors innovative ideas that address the challenges faced by the space industry. The winners were announced this week in Berlin. ESDA-Axiotherm won the overall prize for the development of a PCM polymer compound for the thermal stabilization of components and systems. The German company also won the OHB Challenge, which honors ready-to-use solutions.

Noor Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest single-site solar power project with an installed capacity of 1,177 MW, has been successfully commissioned. The project is a joint venture between the government of Abu Dhabi and a consortium comprising Marubeni Corp., Japan, and Jinko Solar Holding, China. Abu Dhabi says the project's 3.2 million solar  panels provide enough power for 90,000 people. 

• The Swedish power producer Vattenfall has commissioned an industrial-scale, 0.5 MW/10 MWh, pilot test facility at its Reuter power plant, employing thermal energy storage technology developed by SaltX of Sweden. The technology uses nano-coated salts to store thermal energy. 

Croda International Plc posted a product announcement on its LinkedIn page this week: "CrodaTherm can be incorporated into wearable and non-wearable textile fibres to improve temperature regulation." There's more information on crodatherm.com. According to the website, Croda has encapsulated its bio-based phase change material "in a durable acrylic polymer shell, so that when the bio-based core changes phase, the particle remains solid." I hope to have more details on the technology in time for next week's newsletter.

PCM briefing: Building Skins conference agenda; tough words for CALMAC and Axiom Exergy

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

• The agenda is set for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will be the keynote speaker. Among the more than 150 speakers is Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, who will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by May 31 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Mike HopkinsIn a LinkedIn post, former Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shared his take on two of the California company's competitors in distributed thermal energy storage. "Look at @CALMAC, a Portfolio of Trane - been in our industry forever, good product, but haven't been able to secure utility deals because their large bespoke systems make it too risky to commit to MWs in a location on a schedule," wrote Hopkins, who is now CEO at Bakken Midstream. "Relative newcomer [Axiom Exergy] came to market with their #refrigeration #battery. Good concept but not plug and play. Not surprising, they seem to have recast themselves as a #cloud based power management company."

• Speaking of CALMAC: CEO Mark McCracken will speak on "some of the myths surrounding ice-based TES" at an ASHRAE technical seminar on thermal energy storage in building design in Hong Kong June 13. 

FedEx Express has launched a temperature-controlled shipping solution in Japan, Korea and Singapore. The company says its Medpak VIºC packaging, first introduced in Europe, provides 96-hour temperature stability. The reusable thermal packaging features vacuum insulated panels and phase change material validated to International Safe Transit Association 7D standards.

CIC energiGUNE, a research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a researcher in its thermal energy storage area. The research will focus on the storage of heat through reversible chemical reactions "in a range of temperature few explored so far (120 - 250 °C)." The application deadline is Sept. 11, 2019.   

Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Advances in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo. Her topic: "Measuring and Modeling the Thermal Performance of Products Equipped with Phase Change Materials." 

• Thermal energy storage startup NET Energy of Chicago is among 10 finalists for the University of Chicago’s 19th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge. Winners will be announced next week, with the top companies sharing $250,000 in cash, along with $250,000 worth of office space and professional services from program sponsors. 

Research roundup: High-conductivity nanomaterials; paper board packaging; battery thermal management; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, May 16, 2019

From Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental and numerical analysis of composite latent heat storage in cooling systems for power electronics

From Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology:

A robust, flexible superhydrophobic sheet fabricated by in situ growth of micro-nano-SiO2 particles from cured silicone rubber

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

High-conductivity nanomaterials for enhancing thermal performance of latent heat thermal energy storage systems

From Building Simulation:

Optimization and sensitivity analysis of design parameters for a ventilation system using phase change materials

From Journal of Packaging Technology and Research:

Thermal Analysis of Paper Board Packaging with Phase Change Material: A Numerical Study

From Energy Storage:

Thermal performance of battery thermal management system using composite matrix coupled with mini‐channel

From Phase Transitions:

A study on preparation and properties of carbon materials/myristic acid composite phase change thermal energy storage materials

From ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces:

Melamine Foam Supported Form-stable Phase Change Materials with Simultaneous Thermal Energy Storage and Shape Memory Property for Thermal Management of Electronic Devices

From International Conference on Thermal Engineering:

Performance Enhancement of Unitary and Packaged Air Conditioners With Phase Change Material
Performance Comparison of Different Phase Change Materials For Solar Cooking During off Sun Sunshine Hours
A Review on Enhancement of Thermophysical Properties of Paraffin Wax PCM With Nanomaterials
Nano-Enhanced PCMs for Low Temperature Thermal Energy Storage Systems and Passive Conditioning Applications

From Chemistry Select:

Designing Coconut Oil Encapsulated Poly(stearyl methacrylate‐co‐hydroxylethyl metacrylate) Based Microcapsule for Phase Change Materials

From Evolution in Polymer Technology Journal:

Enhancement of Thermo-Regulating Textile Materials Using Phase Change Material

From Materials Research Express:

Improved thermal characteristics of Ag nanoparticles dispersed myristic acid as composite for low temperature thermal energy storage

From Applied Energy:

On the performance of ground coupled seasonal thermal energy storage for heating and cooling: A Canadian context

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Thermal stability enhancement of d-mannitol for latent heat storage applications

PCM briefing: Cold chain veteran joins Phase Change Energy Solutions; Outlast showcases new nylon filament yarn

Ben Welter - Friday, May 10, 2019

Bruce TruesdaleBruce Truesdale has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., as director of business development - cold chain. He was formerly senior supply chain consultant at Verta Life Sciences and director of health care at Protek Pharma Worldwide. He declined an interview request, but his new job title suggests that PCES, whose product line now focuses on HVAC, building and thermal energy storage, has an interest in the temperature-controlled packaging market. Earlier this year, PCES announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. The company said it would use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally.

Chalmers University of Technology of Sweden has an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in thermal energy storage for building applications. The research group Building Physics is working "to find out how novel TES with phase change materials (PCM) could complement the existing district heating and cooling networks and co-operate with other peak shaving techniques (water accumulator tanks, ground heat storage pumps, etc.) through smart thermal grids." The application deadline is June 9.

Outlast will showcase its new nylon filament yarn at the Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, next week. "The PCMs optimized for this specific application," Outlast says, "are included directly inside the polyamide fibers." Potential applications include next-to-skin products such as undergarments, shapewear, sportswear and hosiery. The company says it now sources the majority of PCMs used in its products from renewable instead of synthetic raw materials.

PCM coolerA PCM coating designed to absorb heat from rockets is among the dozens of NASA spinoffs listed in the latest issue of Spinoff, an annual publication that has been documenting space agency spinoffs since 1976. In the early 2000s, Raj Kaul, a materials scientist at Marshall Space Flight Center, began researching a way to use PCM to keep the outside of spacecraft at a safe temperature. An entrepreneur eventually snapped up the patent for the coating Kaul developed and is working on a number of products based on the technology, including aircraft paint, pipe heat traps and an iceless cooler, shown at right. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced $89 million in funding for "innovative, advanced manufacturing research and development projects." "Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials," one of three areas to receive funding, includes phase change storage materials for heating and cooling applications. The department anticipates making up to 55 awards for up to three years. Concept papers are due on June 20.

PCM briefing: $33M in funding for CSP thermal storage research; Walero undergarment put to the test in race simulator

Ben Welter - Friday, March 29, 2019

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $33 million in research funding to advance technologies that work toward achieving the department's 2030 cost target of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for CSP-generated electricity with at least 12 hours of thermal energy storage. "This research," DOE writes, "includes new materials and technologies that significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing, enable new energy storage technologies, and develop solutions that enable a solar field to operate autonomously without any human input."

Jack MitchellWalero racewear, which uses Outlast phase change technology to regulate temperature in race and rally drivers, has been put to the test on reigning British GT4 champion Jack Mitchell in a temperature-controlled race simulator. The tests were directed by racing performance coach Dean Fouache. On the first day, Mitchell, right, wore standard Nomex underwear; on the second day, he wore Walero underwear. Three measurements were recorded every five minutes during the hourlong tests: body temperature, heart rate and weight loss. In all three areas, Walero showed measurable advantages over the Nomex. "Jack sweated around 40 percent less in the Walero underwear and his average heart rate was eight beats less over the course of the hour," Fouache told Autosport magazine. "So, all in all, relatively conclusive results - even though it is a small comparison test."

• New this month from Central West Publishing in Australia: "Phase Change Materials," edited by Vikas Mittal, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi.

• The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy in the United Kingdom earlier this month featured a number of experiments with phase change materials, including Auburn University's development of micro-encapsulated phase change materials that can be combined with many different media. Other PCM research included a bio-composite made with hemp lime concrete and a novel utilization of fly ash to encapsulate phase change materials.

James Joule• The 200th anniversary of the birth of physicist James Prescott Joule will be commemorated with the unveiling of a plaque in Sale, United Kingdom, in April. The English physicist and mathematician, who gave his name to the unit of energy, was born on Dec. 24, 1818, in Salford. He died in Sale in 1889.

• The deadline for submitting manuscripts for "Phase Change Materials of Buildings," a special issue of the journal Buildings, is Sunday, March 31. Dr. Morshed Alam of Australia's Swinburne University of Technology is the guest editor.

PCM briefing: Sonoco ThermoSafe partners with Cargolux; Axiom Exergy partners with Leap

Ben Welter - Friday, March 22, 2019

Amrit RobbinsAxiom Exergy has announced a partnership with Leap, a technology company that serves as an aggregator of flexible power loads in California. Axiom says the arrangement will unlock grid services revenue for its customers, including three Whole Foods Market facilities in Northern California.

Axiom's "Refrigeration Battery" system is designed to reduce a supermarket's peak power use by up to 40 percent and provide backup cooling during power outages. It uses the excess capacity of existing refrigeration systems to "store cooling" at night by freezing tanks of salt water.  

"Axiom Exergy is excited to announce that Whole Foods has connected three of their buildings to our platform, which will serve as our first Virtual Power Plant," Axiom CEO Amrit Robbins wrote in a LinkedIn post Friday. "Axiom’s platform will intelligently manage 340 kW of dispatchable load across these facilities in order to generate more value for Whole Foods and to help stabilize California’s electricity grid."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has announced a global partnership agreement with Cargolux for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from the all-cargo airline based in Luxembourg.

• On LinkedIn this week, Ice Energy posted an update on its 5 MW contract with Riverside Public Utilities in California: "We are working to install 9 Ice Bear thermal #energystorage batteries and 13 rooftop units with Inland Mechanical Services Inc. at a car dealership in Riverside."

• A high-temperature thermal energy storage system inaugurated in Denmark this week stores heat in stones. The test system uses surplus wind power to generate hot air, which heats up small stones in an insulated container to 600 degrees. The stored heat is used to generate electricity when the wind doesn't blow. The system was developed by the energy company Seas-NVE, in collaboration with DTU Energy, Aarhus University Geoscience, Danish Energy, Energinet.dk and Rockwool.

Alexium International CEO Bob Brookins was among the presenters at the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating in Berlin earlier this month. His topic: "Advanced applications of phase change materials."

• The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is investigating whether Germany’s coal plants can be refitted to serve as thermal energy storage sites. "The research body, which has a track record in concentrated solar power (CSP) development, is planning a pilot that will involve ripping out the boiler from an old coal plant and replacing it with a molten salt thermal storage tank that will be heated using excess renewable energy," Greentech Media reports. "If the concept works, then advocates say it could help safeguard coal generation jobs while giving Germany tens of gigawatts of storage capacity for renewable energy load-shifting on the German grid." DLR says it is preparing a commercial-scale pilot in association with an unnamed German utility.