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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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PCM briefing: Three molten salt projects projects move forward in U.S., Germany

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Terrafore salt encapsulation• The U.S. Department of Energy has released funding to the Argonne National Laboratory for a scaled-up round of independent testing of Terrafore Technologiesencapsulated thermal energy storage in phase change salts. The materials, shown at right, are designed to operate in temperatures to greater than 800° C in a single tank that acts as both storage and heat exchanger.

• The Department of Energy has invited Terrestrial Energy USA to submit the second part of its application for a federal loan guarantee to support the licensing and construction of its Integrated Molten Salt Reactor

DLR has fired up the TESIS thermal storage facility in Cologne, Germany. One hundred tons of molten salt is alternately heated and cooled from 250 to 560 degrees Celsius in the test facility, which is designed to allow industrial-scale testing of temporary storage methods for renewable energy and waste heat. 

• Va-Q-tec AG is reporting a strong increase in its service business in the first half of 2017, up 54 percent to 8.8 million euros. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. 

• New from Zion Market Research: "Global thermal storage market is expected to reach USD 5.7 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.7% between 2017 and 2022"

Advanced combat clothing featuring "four-way stretch phase-change material" was on display last week at the annual Defense and Security Equipment International show in London. Royal College of Art researchers and designers collaborated with the Ministry of Defense on the prototypes, which are designed to be easy to run in and comfortable to wear.  

German researchers roll out PCM warming mats for greenhouse plants

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Researchers at the University of Zwickau's Institute for Textile and Leather Technologies are developing a latent heat storage mat that uses phase change material to increase plant root temperatures in cold seasons. 

Dr. Silke HessburgThe passive system, designed for use in greenhouses, requires no additional energy supply. Dr. Silke Hessberg, who is directing the research, says root climate control promotes plant growth efficiently.

"There are already various heating systems on the market, such as underfloor heating systems, hot water systems or electric and gas heaters," she says. "These are always cost-intensive heating systems, since energy must be actively supplied."

The Thuringian Institute of Textile and Plastics Research (TITK) is supporting the two-year project. TITK's Martin Geissenhöner identifies the PCM as paraffin. 

"We have different melting points. For the root project we use melting points between 5 and 42° C, specially 17° C," he says. "The PCM is encapsulated in a network polymer. It's like a sponge structure."

Research associate Nancy Schrader says the mats are placed on the soil surface. Work on the project began in May 2015 and is expected to conclude in December. 

Patent application: Cellulosic fibers with enhanced reversible thermal properties

Ben Welter - Monday, August 28, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170241045 (applicant Outlast Technologies LLC, Golden, Colo.):

"A cellulosic fiber includes a fiber body including a cellulosic material and non-encapsulated phase change material dispersed within the cellulosic material. The non-encapsulated phase change material forms a plurality of distinct domains dispersed within the cellulosic material. The non-encapsulated phase change material has a latent heat of at least 40 Joules per gram and the cellulosic fiber has a latent heat between 9.8 Joules per gram and 132 Joules per gram and a transition temperature in the range of 0° C. to 100° C., and cellulosic fiber provides thermal regulation based on at least one of absorption and release of the latent heat at the transition temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170241045.pdf

Research roundup: Stearyl alcohol/ HDPE /expanded graphite composite PCM; perlite-based PCM wallboard; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Improved thermal properties of stearyl alcohol/high density polyethylene/expanded graphite composite phase change materials for building thermal energy storage [Energy and Buildings]

Development and thermal performance of an expanded perlite-based phase change material wallboard for passive cooling in building [Energy and Buildings]

Numerical and experimental investigation of an insulation layer with phase change materials (PCMs) [Energy and Buildings]

Polyurethane foams with microencapsulated phase change material: Comparative analysis of thermal conductivity characterization approaches [Energy and Buildings]

Flammability assessment of Phase Change Material wall lining and insulation materials with different weight fractions [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal analysis of nanoparticle-enhanced phase change material solidification in a rectangular latent heat storage unit including natural convection [Energy and Buildings]

A portable solar-powered air-cooling system based on phase-change materials for a vehicle cabin [Energy Conversion and Management]

Thermal performance and economic evaluation of a newly developed phase change material for effective building encapsulation [Energy Conversion and Management]

Fabrication of three-dimensional metal-graphene network phase change composite for high thermal conductivity and suppressed subcooling phenomena [Energy Conversion and Management]

Researches of composite phase change material cooling/resistance wire preheating coupling system of a designed 18650-type battery module [Applied Thermal Engineering]

The impact of the heating/cooling rate on the thermoregulating properties of textile materials modified with PCM microcapsules [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Fatty acids/1-dodecanol binary eutectic phase change materials for low temperature solar thermal applications: Design, development and thermal analysis [Solar Energy]

An Experimental Evaluation of Direct Flow Evacuated Tube Solar Collector Integrated with Phase Change Material [Energy]

Heat capacities of some sugar alcohols as phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications [Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics]

PCM briefing: 'New paradigm' in pharma cold chain; opening for sales manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe

Ben Welter - Monday, July 24, 2017

GoSun solar stove• The makers of the GoSun portable stove, which uses solar energy to bake, roast or steam food at temperatures up to 290° C, have raised nearly $400,000 from investors on seedinvest.com. The stove initially used high-temperature phase change material to store the sun's energy. "We abandoned the PCM a couple years ago after we started doing testing with it," said GoSun's Matt Gillespie. He said the material did not match the performance promised by the PCM maker, degrading "significantly" after just a few cycles. The current design uses compound parabolic reflectors and a horizontal vacuum tube to convert nearly 80 percent of sunlight into usable heat. The Cincinnati company has sold 10,000 stoves online and in retail outlets such as Home Depot, REI and Cabela's. GoSun plans to use the SeedInvest funds to support continued growth. 

• A “new paradigm” is evolving in the pharma cold chain to address the rapid advance in cellular and genetic therapies that require extremely low temperatures, Pharmaceutical Commerce reports.  

Bio-based chemical processes that include a thermochemical conversion step are finding favor as early forms of industrial bio-based processing mature, Chemical Processing reports.

• New from Accuray Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025

• New from QYResearch: "Global High Temperature Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2017"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Smart Fabrics Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2016-2026"

• The University of Warwick has posted an opening for a Ph.D. studentship in thermal energy storage. The 3.5-year research position is open to candidates from the United Kingdom and European Union.  

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted an opening for a regional sales manager

Creative Ticking of Gastonia, N.C., has announced two new PCM-based cooling technologies. Kyla treatments can be applied to fabrics at different levels depending on the desired cooling level, the company said. Kyla+ is a specially designed yarn that "is durable enough to withstand repeated washing without losing any cooling effects.” Creative Ticking is the bedding specialty division of Beverly Knits.

PCM briefing: Energy storage rebate falters in California Assembly; at Los Alamos lab, it's ice ice ice ice ice ice ice baby

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

• The California Assembly has essentially killed a bill to create a long-term energy storage rebate. The bill, known as SB 700, had earlier cleared the state Senate. Last week's unexpected move pushes consideration of the rebate, which would have applied to a wide range of technologies, including thermal energy storage, into next year. 

"Ice Energy and others interested in energy storage for the residential market have closely followed and supported SB 700," said Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins. "The Duck Curve problem is serious and storage is the solution. SB 700 would have significantly accelerated the solution so the delay is disappointing to anyone who cares about replacing fossil fuels with renewables, lowering the cost of power, and improving grid reliability. In the meantime, Ice Energy will continue to work with utilities and utilize SGIP to deliver cost effective and reliable energy storage to the residential market."

• For the first time, scientists have recorded water freezing into a structure called Ice VII under extreme, controlled conditions in the lab, Science Alert reports. "These experiments with water are the first of their kind, allowing us to witness a fundamental disorder-to-order transition in one of the most abundant molecules in the Universe," says geophysicist Arianna Gleason of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

• The Hohenstein Institute for Textile Innovation has developed a new method for measuring the cooling effect of intelligent textiles, a heat release tester called WATson. The institute's thermophysiological evaluation system "will compare the results of the WATson heat loss tester to data from experiments on subjects in a climate chamber under a range of ambient conditions," Advanced Textiles Source reports.   

• A team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has submitted a precise new calculation of a key formula to redefine the kilogram based on a fundamental universal constant. 

• California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems, has an opening for a computational thermal systems engineer. Axiom announced a deal last week to collaborate with Hillphoenix, a manufacturer of refrigeration equipment used in U.S. supermarkets. The two companies plan to develop and market storage-enabled refrigeration platforms.

Research roundup: INPATH-TES Ph.D. program; waste-to-energy plants; EnergyPlus-based building model; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 29, 2017

INPATH-TES: Innovative pathways to PhD research in thermal energy storage [Sustainable and Renewable Energy Engineering]

Application of high temperature phase change materials for improved efficiency in waste-to-energy plants [Waste Management]

Experimental investigation and EnergyPlus-based model prediction of thermal behavior of building containing phase change material [Journal of Building Engineering]

Experimental Analysis of Graphite Dispersed Salt Hydrates based Phase Change Materials to Determine Enhancement in their Thermophysical Properties [pdf] [Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences]

Use of phase change materials during compressed air expansion for isothermal CAES plants [35th UIT Heat Transfer Conference]

Simulation of Melting Process of a Phase Change Material (PCM) using ANSYS (Fluent) [pdf] [International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology]

Cellulose/Paraffin Composite Fibers for Thermal Energy Storage and Temperature Regulation [IUMRS International Conference in Asia]

Enhanced Specific Heat Capacity of Binary Chloride Salt by Dissolving Magnesium for High-temperature Thermal Energy Storage and Transfer [Journal of Materials Chemistry A]

PCM briefing: New oil palm varieties show sharply increased yields; thermal energy workshop in Germany

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

Dr. Halime Paksoy, EnerSTOCK 2018 chair, reports that the energy storage conference has received more than 200 abstracts. Acceptance notifications will be sent out at the end of June. The conference will be held April 25-28, 2018, at Cukurova University in Adana, Turkey. 

• A workshop on “Thermal Energy Storage System for Energy Efficient Buildings" will be held June 22 at Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany. The workshop, which will be conducted in English, is part of the EU-supported project TESSe2b.

• Ryan Adelman, formerly chief commercial officer at Axiom Exergy, is now executive sales director for distributed energy at Direct Energy Business.

• New industry analysis from McKinsey & Co.: "What to do when a specialty chemical business gets commoditized."

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Sales Market Report 2017"

KOTUG International BV has been nominated for a Maritime Innovation Award for its zero-emission heat recycling system, which uses phase change material to store and regenerate heat on tugboats. The annual award is presented by Netherlands Maritime Technology.

• Dutch food supplier Huuskes is using BoTemp's “Cold Battery” in cold chain logistics.
The refrigerated transport system, which does not require continuous electrical power, uses phase change material to remove heat in the cargo space and maintain a temperature anywhere from -20º C to +4º C.

Two new varieties of oil palm developed in Indonesia will increase crude palm oil yields by up to double current levels, says SMART Tbk, a subsidiary of Golden-Agri Resources. The two clones of oil palm planting material – called Eka 1 and Eka 2 – were approved for use in April by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. The new varieties also have a quicker time to harvest – 24 months – compared to the industry average of 30 months.

Sunamp Ltd.'s PCM heat battery system was featured in a BBC News piece this week: "From hand-warmer to house-warmer for tech firm."

PCM briefing: Tessol featured in Forbes India; Terrafore Technologies selected for Argonne program

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

Thermal Energy Service Solutions, maker of a PCM-based "plug-and-chill" refrigeration system for delivery trucks, is profiled in this month's issue of Forbes India. The system's heat exchanger is designed to keep the refrigerator on the truck within the optimal temperature range for a full day’s operation without drawing power from the engine. The heat exchanger can be fully charged in about six hours at any power outlet.

C-Therm Technologies will be among the exhibitors the Techtextil North America trade show in Chicago June 20-22. The company will demonstrate its non-destructive TCi Property Analyzer, which is designed to characterize the thermal performance (the “warm feel” or “cool touch”) of textiles, fabrics and apparels.

Terrafore Technologies of Minneapolis is one of seven small businesses recently selected to collaborate with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory as part of the Department of Energy's Small Business Vouchers program. Terrafore and Argonne will test the reliability of phase change salt capsules for a compact high-temperature thermal energy storage system for concentrated solar power.

SpecialChem is offering an online course titled "How to Search & Map U.S. Patents for Patentability." The 90-minute course, scheduled for June 28, is designed to for R&D people "looking to avoid patent infringement by enhancing their patent searching and mapping skills." The cost for three attendees on one connection is 300 euros.

PCM briefing: Outlast introduces Xelerate fabric; Warmilu signs 2 distributors

Ben Welter - Friday, May 19, 2017

Drawing of Outlast Xelerate

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric. The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.

Warmilu, maker of the IncuBlanket infant warmer, reports that is on track for $300,000 in total 2017 sales after signing two distributors for Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia: Relief for Africa Foundation and Maternova. The IncuBlanket, which has been successfully tested in clinical trials in India, uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours. CEO Grace Hsia says the device recently cleared its first regulatory filing with Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Axiom Exergy has won a Gold Stevie for Energy Innovation in the 15th annual American Business Awards. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" enables supermarkets and food warehouses to store thermal energy at night when power is cheaper. The system, which uses salt-based phase change material, reduces peak power usage by up to 40 percent.

• Registration is open for IFAI's Expo 2017, set for Sept. 27-29 in New Orleans. The Industrial Fabrics Association International show will feature sessions on smart fabrics, military procurement, biomimesis and green certification.   

Pelican BioThermal has introduced a new Series 22 Universal system for its Credo brand of shippers. The system uses a dual PCM coolant system designed to be operational throughout the year.

National Law Review offers a fresh overview of green chemistry laws across the United States. "State chemical control regimes," the authors conclude, "are likely to increase cost and foster confusion about chemical safety, which is one reason that Congress agreed to modernize TSCA by adopting LCSA."

Monodraught's Cool-phase ventilation and cooling system was among the finalists honored at the National CSR Awards in London this week. The hybrid system, which won a "One to Watch" award, uses PCMs to store and release thermal energy, providing a free cooling load and reducing energy and maintenance costs.

• The agenda has been released for the 15th Cold Chain Global Forum to be held Sept. 25-29 in Chicago. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, will lead a master class on temperature assurance packaging certification.

Bloomberg BNA is offering a free webinar June 12: "Reviewing New Chemicals under Amended TSCA: Impact on Innovation." 

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric (shown below). The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.