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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: Polyethylene glycol/hydroxyapatite composite; root zone heating; lime plasters; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A polyethylene glycol/hydroxyapatite composite phase change material for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Phase diagrams, eutectic mass ratios and thermal energy storage properties of multiple fatty acid eutectics as novel solid-liquid phase change materials for storage and retrieval of thermal energy [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Analysis of the technical, environmental and economic potential of phase change materials (PCM) for root zone heating in Mediterranean greenhouses [Renewable Energy]

Effect of inclination angle on the melting process of phase change material [Case Studies in Thermal Engineering]

Densities of Selected Phase Change Materials in Liquid State [Chemical Data Collections]

Hygrothermal performance improvement of the Korean wood frame walls using macro-packed phase change materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Reinforcing and shape stabilizing of phase-change material via graphene oxide aerogel [Carbon]

PCM-enhanced Lime Plasters for Vernacular and Contemporary Architecture [Energy Procedia]

Characterisation and Enhancement of Phase Change Slurries [Energy Procedia]

Packed-bed Thermal Energy Storage Analysis: Quartzite and Palm-Oil Performance [Energy Procedia]

Thermal properties and reliability of eutectic mixture of stearic acid-acetamide as phase change material for latent heat storage [Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics]

Application of material assessment methodology in latent heat thermal energy storage for waste heat recovery [Applied Energy]

Research roundup: PV-solar thermal collectors with PCM; solaria in cold climates; thermal storage tank stratification; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Comparative analyses on dynamic performances of photovoltaic–thermal solar collectors integrated with phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

PCM thermal storage design in buildings: Experimental studies and applications to solaria in cold climates [Applied Energy]

Development of structural-functional integrated energy storage concrete with innovative macro-encapsulated PCM by hollow steel ball [Applied Energy]

Experimental investigation of the effect of dynamic melting in a cylindrical shell-and-tube heat exchanger using water as PCM [Applied Energy]

Role of PCM addition on stratification behaviour in a thermal storage tank – An experimental study [Energy]

PCM briefing: Siemens touts packed-bed thermal storage breakthrough; TSCA's impact on chemical importers

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 20, 2016

Siemens says its recently launched packed-bed thermal storage concept for wind power could deliver energy at well below 0.10 euros per kilowatt-hour. The system uses surplus electricity to blow air at 600 degrees Celsius across a packed bed of basalt rocks in an insulated container.

• The National Law Review takes a detailed look at the impact of the newly revised Toxic Substances Control Act on chemical importers, noting that "companies planning to ship chemical-based products to the United States should have a basic understanding of the TSCA." 

• Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have invented a new thermal energy storage system that uses molten silicon to store up to 10 times more energy than existing storage devices. "The proposed new thermal energy storage system," according to a report in New Atlas, "involves heating the silicon in a container using either concentrated sunlight on surplus electricity generated by renewable power. The molten silicon – which can reach temperatures of around 1,400° C (2,552° F) – can be isolated from its environment until energy is needed, at which point the heat is converted to electricity."  

SolarReserve has proposed building the world's largest solar power plant in Nevada. The 2-gigawatt Sandstone project would include up to 10 concentrated solar arrays, each equipped with a molten salt thermal storage system. 

SUNCNIM has raised 60 million euros to help finance construction of the world’s first commercial Fresnel concentrated solar power plant with energy storage. The plant in the French Pyrenees will have four hours of thermal storage capacity. The thermal energy will be converted into electricity by a steam generation process.

Ministry, whose high-tech clothing line includes dress shirts infused with phase change material, has opened a store in downtown Chicago

• The American Society of Interior Designers has opened a Material ConneXion library at the society's new corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Materials ConneXion database lists more than 7,500 "unique, innovative and sustainable materials." PureTemp's biobased phase change materials were added to database last year.

Ember Technologies, which raised more than $350,000 on IndieGoGo last year to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, sent backers another update this week: "We are happy to announce that shipping will begin the first week of November for our pre-order customers." Delivery was initially set for April 2016. The $150 mug uses bio-based phase change material and a microprocessor-controlled heating system to maintain hot beverages at temperatures set by the user.

• New from Market Research Engine: "Global Microencapsulation Market Research Report - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2021." The report projects the market will reach $8.5 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent.

PCM briefing; China tightens vaccine-handling rules; Pelican BioThermal has new partners in Chile, Brazil

Ben Welter - Monday, May 09, 2016

China has strengthened cold chain regulations in the wake of a scandal involving the illegal sale of expired and improperly handled vaccines. County health officials are now required to get vaccines directly from manufacturers before sending them to hospitals, instead of going through wholesalers. Hospitals, clinics and government authorities must also keep better records of purchases and inventory, with regular monitoring of vaccine temperatures.

Pelican BioThermal, the temperature-controlled packaging specialist, recently announced partnerships with BioThermal Solutions of Chile and NatBio of Brazil.

Ice Energy is a founding member of the recently launched Community Storage Initiative, an industry group that includes utility trade associations, environmental groups, manufacturers and more than a dozen utilities. The Glendale, Calif., company makes the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system. "Community storage" refers to utility-sponsored programs that aggregate distributed energy storage resources such as water heaters, electric vehicles and interconnected storage batteries to deliver electricity to consumers more efficiently.

The global market for green chemistry, estimated at $11 billion in 2015, will explode to about $100 billion by 2020,  the American Sustainable Business Council and the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council report. "In a nutshell," writes Libby Bernick of Trucost, "the green chemistry market is poised for takeoff."

• The U.S. Green Building Council has launched "Ask Brendan," an offbeat yet informative video series featuring Senior Vice President of Knowledge Rachel Gutter and Chief of Engineering Brendan Owens. The pilot episode is free but requires site registration. Subsequent episodes will be available only to Education @USGBC subscribers.

La Jolla research building makes AIA top 10 list for sustainable design

Ben Welter - Monday, April 25, 2016

Storage tank installation at J. Craig Venter Institute

The J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, Calif., is on the American Institute of Architects' top 10 list of projects that represent sustainable architecture and ecological design for 2016. 

The 44,607-square-foot building, the first net-zero biological lab in the world, was designed by ZGF Architects. It uses two 25,000-gallon thermal energy storage tanks — one for warm water, one for cool — to moderate temperatures. Cooling towers chill the TES at night, allowing the building to be cooled during the day without electric chillers. The underground tanks were made by South Gate Engineering of Chino, Calif.

PCMs helped this tiny house achieve Passivhaus status

Ben Welter - Monday, March 28, 2016

Mizu passive house | photo by © David Montigny

Designing a house that meets Passivhaus standards is made more difficult when the house is small. A small house has more surface area per cubic foot of living space than a large one. Thick concrete walls aren't the most efficient way to achieve thermal mass in a house of less than 130 square feet.

Thomas Primault, the designer of Mizu, a Japanese-style timber structure in Bretagne, France, chose another option: 6 mm of Enerciel wall coating impregnated with phase change material. The biobased PCM has a melt point of 23° Celsius, absorbing heat when the temperature inside the tiny office structure climbs above 23, and releasing heat when the temperature falls below 23. The building envelope also includes vacuum insulated panels in the floor and mineral fiber insulation in the ceiling and walls. 

TreeHugger's Lloyd Alter describes the result, a tiny house that meets Passivhaus standards, as "a stunning little gem." Blogger Elrond Burrell writes that monitoring data and experience indicate that the building is performing very well, but "it isn't obvious how much the PCM is playing a part in the performance."

Plans for Dutch Windwheel include underground thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Friday, January 22, 2016

Drawing of proposed Dutch Windwheel

A consortium behind plans to build the Dutch Windwheel, a 570-foot-tall apartment and hotel complex in Rotterdam, has agreed to begin development and testing of a self-supporting energy system and other innovative technologies.

Underground thermal energy storage is among the components being studied for the "next-generation" windmill.

"Phase change materials, aquifer thermal energy storage and surface water thermal energy are a few of multiple options for managing the smart HVAC system in a sustainable way," said Gerard Blom, freshwater systems manager at the research institute Deltares, a member of the consortium. "Possibilities will be researched for local energy production (including the electrostatic wind energy convertor technology, solar and residual heat, and heat exchange), the water system, the development of a smart grid, the use of materials as well as technologies to enhance the experience and attraction value of the Dutch Windwheel and its environment."

PCM briefing: California leads U.S. in net-zero buildings; Ice Energy CEO among speakers at green conference

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins and renowned architect Frank Gehry are among the speakers at the VerdeXchange green economy conference Jan. 24-26 in Los Angeles.

California is home to almost half of all the net-zero buildings in the United States, according to a new survey from the Net-Zero Energy Coalition. Sacramento is first among U.S. cities, with more than 925 zero-energy housing units and 800 more planned. 

MIT researchers have developed a new material that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat on demand. The transparent polymer film could be applied to window glass, clothing or other surfaces.

• New from Grand View Research: "Fatty Acid Ester Market Analysis By Product (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Glyceryl Monostearate, Isopropyl Esters), By Application (Personal Care & Cosmetics, Lubricants, Food Processing, Surfactants & Detergents, Pharmaceuticals) and Segment Forecasts To 2022"

A housing development in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is said to be the first in the world to run on solar-powered hydrogen energy storage.

PCM briefing: New paper on DSC/T-history; 'space-agey' PCM mats at Rocky Mountain Institute

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 05, 2016

In a new technical paper on, Dr. Mohammed Farid of the University of Auckland explains the complementary aspects of two methods of measuring the melting and freezing ranges of PCMs: differential scanning calorimetry and the T-history method.

The Rocky Mountain Institute's new 15,600-square-foot Innovation Center in Basalt, Colo., features "space-agey" phase change thermal mats behind the drywall. The BioPCM mats are made by Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C.

Four elements have been added to the periodic table, finally completing the table’s seventh row. The new synthetic elements – 113, 115, 117 and 118 – will be officially named by the teams that discovered them in the coming months.

Schoeller Textil AG's new Cosmopolitan textile collection includes warming and cooling fabrics that incorporate phase change materials.

PCM briefing: Clean energy award for midcareer women; a PCM primer for architects and engineers

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nominations are open through Jan. 8 for the 2016 C3E Awards, which recognize outstanding midcareer women who are advancing clean energy. Each winner will receive $8,000 and national recognition at the annual C3E Symposium. 

• The full text of "Phase Change Materials: A primer for Architects and Engineers," edited by Sarah McCormack and Philip Griffiths, is available for free on ResearchGate.

A 17-year-old high school student in Barcelona spotted renewable energy giant Abengoa's financial problems a year ago. “If it does not act soon, there is a strong risk Abengoa will go into bankruptcy,” Pepe Baltá wrote in a research paper, citing accounting flaws apparently overlooked by Deloitte and Standard & Poor’s.

Renewable electricity accounted for more than 50 percent of U.S. electricity capacity additions in 2014, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports. Solar led the pack, adding 5.5 gigawatts.