Phase Change Matters RSS


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.




Stanford's new heating/cooling system wins top honors in engineering competition

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 10, 2016

SESI central plant drawing

Stanford University's new $485 million heating and cooling system has won the Editors' Choice Award in the annual Engineering News-Record Best of the Best competition. The Stanford Energy System Innovations project, completed in April 2015, has cut campus energy use by 50 percent. Three heat-recovery chillers in the new central energy facility (CEF) strip waste heat from 155 campus buildings via a chilled-water loop and use it to preheat a separate hot-water loop that distributes heat to the same buildings.

ENR describes the system in detail:

"The system captures 57% of building waste heat, reusing it to meet 93% of campus heating needs. For most of the year, the system precludes the need for cooling towers to discharge excess heat, which reduces water consumption on campus by 15%.

"Each heat-recovery chiller (HRC) provides a 2,500-ton cooling capacity for chilled water and simultaneously can produce 40 million BTUs of heat per hour. The HRCs send out chilled water to the campus at 42°F, which returns at 56°F to 60°F. The heat removed from the chilled water as it is cooled back down to 42°F reheats spent hot water (which returns to the CEF from campus at 130°F) back up to 160°F to 170°F to supply heating. ...

"The CEF’s thermal storage system contains two 5-million-gallon tanks to store cold water and a 2.3-million-gallon tank for hot water. The tanks double as reservoirs for power, allowing flexibility to operate the heat-recovery chillers and other equipment during times of lower energy pricing or when outside air temperatures are optimal. For example, when it’s hot during the day, excess heat can be converted and stored as hot water, instead of being rejected out of evaporative cooling towers, and then used during the cooler nighttime hours."

PCM briefing: PCM-equipped heat pump is up for Dutch award; Axiom Exergy is looking for a product engineer

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Coolmark's TripleAqua heat pump, which uses phase change material to store hot and cold energy, is one of three finalists in the energy savings category of the 2016 VSK Awards. The awards honor Dutch innovation and initiative in engineering. Winners will be announced Feb. 3 at the VSK trade show in Utrecht.

California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of a "Refrigeration Battery" designed to reduce supermarket energy costs, has posted an opening for a product engineer. Candidates are invited to answer this question: "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?" 

Abu Dhabi International Airport's new district cooling plant, completed this week, has 18 chillers, two thermal energy storage tanks and a total capacity of 55,000 metric tons of refrigerant.

Restonic is infusing phase change material into the surface of the TempaGel memory foam used in the mattress maker's new ComfortCare Hybrid Signature line.

The $20 million Jemalong Solar Thermal Station, which uses molten salt as a thermal storage medium, has entered the commissioning phase, developer Vast Solar says. The grid-connected pilot plant in New South Wales, Australia, is expected to reach full operation as early as May. 

BoTemp, a Dutch company that produces cold storage systems for the transport and container industry, has added two eutectic systems to its product line: The on-board Cold Battery uses chilled air forced into the cargo area to give a wide controllable temperature range from -18º C to 4º C. The stationary Cold Charger can quickly charge multiple vehicles or containers at the same time.

Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, is on's list of 10 start-ups to watch in 2016.

$100,000 in prize money awaits winners of 2016 FLoW business plan competition

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 31, 2015

Entries are being sought for the 2016 FLoW program, a business plan competition for American university students and recent graduates focused on clean-tech and sustainability. Mentors will be assigned to help contestants develop their ideas and refine their pitches. $100,000 in prize money is available to winners. Submissions are due March 7, 2016.

Axiom Exergy took first place in 2015 with a refrigeration battery technology designed to help the food industry reduce energy costs. The battery charges by freezing tanks of salt water at night, when electricity is cheaper, and then provides refrigeration throughout the day. Axiom, led by a Stanford University team, won $75,000.

PCM briefing: Market research on organic PCMs and advanced energy storage; Costa Rica running on renewables

Ben Welter - Monday, December 21, 2015

• New from Decision Databases: "Global Organic Phase Change Material Market Research Report - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2021."

• New from Infiniti Research Ltd.: "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market 2016-2020." 

• Renewable resources generated 99 percent of the electricity used in Costa Rica this year, the state utility reports. Hydroelectric plants generated three-quarters of the electricity. Geothermal, wind, biomass and solar sources accounted for the rest.

Dr. Issam Mudawar, whose research focuses on phase change mechanisms and applications in energy, has been named the Betty Ruth and Milton B. Hollander Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

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.

NETenergy, five other clean-tech startups join Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 10, 2015

NETenergy of Chicago is one of six clean-technology startups selected to join the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, a five-year, $10 million program designed to accelerate innovative environmental technologies. The thermal energy storage company’s module integrates with air conditioning systems in small commercial buildings to shift energy demand and consumption to off-peak hours. 

The other five companies are 7AC Technologies, Beverly, Mass.; Go Electric Inc., Anderson, Ind.;  Heliotrope Technologies, Alameda, Calif.; Polyceed Inc., Encinitas, Calif.; and ThermoLift Inc., Stony Brook, N.Y.

Each company will receive up to $250,000 in cash and in-kind technical consultation. Innovation Incubator is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Attention, young chemists: Application deadline is Feb. 8 for 2016 Reaxys PhD Prize

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2016 Reaxys PhD Prize. The international competition is open to Ph.D. students or recent graduates conducting innovative research in synthetic chemistry. Forty-five finalists will be selected based on originality of research, rigor of methodology, quality of published work and supervisor's letter of recommendation. The application deadline is Feb. 8, 2016. 

The finalists will present their research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium. Three winners will then be selected and receive $2,000. 

The 2015 winners:

Andrew Jupp, University of Oxford, "Reactivity of the 2-phosphaethynolate anion and phosphinecarboxamide"

John Tellis, University of Pennsylvania, "Single-Electron Transmetalation: Enabling C(sp3) Cross-Coupling via Photoredox/Nickel Dual Catalysis"

Shin-nosuke Uno, University of Tokyo, "A spontaneously blinking fluorophore based on intramolecular spirocyclization for live-cell super-resolution imaging"

Virginia power plant with TES cooling is Gas-Fired Project of the Year

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Dominion Virginia Power's newest power station has been named Gas-Fired Project of the Year by the editors at Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World magazines. The 1,329-megawatt, natural gas-fueled Warren County Power Station can generate enough electricity to fuel about 325,000 homes. Features include a thermal energy storage system to chill the air supply for the combustion turbines.

Nominations due Dec. 31 for Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

Ben Welter - Friday, December 04, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting nominations for the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Companies or institutions that have developed a process or product that better protects public health and the environment are eligible.

Nominations will be accepted through Dec. 31, 2015. There are six award categories this year:

  • Greener Synthetic Pathways
  • Greener Reaction Conditions
  • The Design of Greener Chemicals
  • Small Business 
  • Academic 
  • Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change
  • Dr. William R. Sutterlin, Entropy Solutions' chief science officer, was a member of a University of Missouri team that won the academic award in 2006 for developing an inexpensive method to convert waste glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel fuel production, into propylene glycol.

    Va-Q-tec is finalist in 3 categories in cold chain competition

    Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    Va-Q-teq Ltd. is a finalist in three of four categories in the 2016 Temperature Controlled Logistics Awards. Online voting will determine the winner. Here are the finalists:

    Best Temperature Logistics Project: Johnson & Johnson, QED Scientific, va-Q-tec Ltd. Va-Q-tec partnered with Gilead Sciences to produce an improved version of the va-Q-tainer, a passive pallet shipper equipped with phase change material.

    Supply Chain Innovation: CargoSense, Locus Trax Worldwide, va-Q-tec Ltd. Va-Q-tec partnered with Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo to offer rental of va-Q-tec shippers worldwide.

    Cold Chain IQ Newcomer: Alan Wu, PointRFID Co. Ltd.; Stefan Braun, SmartCAE; Katharina Wuensche, va-Q-tec Ltd. Wuensche was nominated for building a global network of more than 50 airline partners in less than five years.

    Cold Chain IQ Influential Media: The Load Star, Life Science Leader, Freshlogistics Magazine.

    Winners will be announced at the Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 25-28.