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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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INUTEQ donates hundreds of cooling vests to Dutch hospitals

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

Hundreds of INUTEQ cooling vests developed for use by Dutch athletes at the Tokyo Olympics this summer have been donated for use in Dutch hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

INUTEQ PCM pulloverThe PCM-equipped pullovers, designed to help athletes cope with heat stress, became available when the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021. The pullovers can be worn under the heavy, heat-trapping protective gear used by doctors and nurses.

The pullovers are manufactured in Netherlands. The cooling material is Croda's CrodaTherm 21, a biobased PCM with a melting temperature of 21 degrees C. The 1.3-kg pullover is a simple "one-size-fits-most" garment, with two adjustable buckles and no fabric shell. 

“Doctors and nurses at the ICU, who are treating corona patients, can work comfortably for up to three hours longer thanks to this cooling vest," said Dr. Thijs Eijsvogels, physiologist at Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen. "The cooling vests ensure a stable body temperature, less sweating, maintenance of concentration and a faster recovery after each intensive work session.”

The pullover is marketed as "PCM CoolOver" on the INUTEQ website. It can be worn "under military combat gear, hazardous materials suits, mascot costumes and other professional apparel."   

https://inuteq.com/pcm-coolover-medical-nl/pcm-coolover-medical-eng/

Phase Energy announces a new shape-stable PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

Phase Energy Ltd. has announced the development of shape-stable technology for organic wax-based PCMs.

The company, based in Hull, United Kingdom, said a tetradecane-based shape-stable material would typically contain more than 90% PCM; the new technology has achieved levels of up to 96%. "Initial tests indicate that little, if any, enthalpy is lost, possibly due to the very low level of additives required," the company said.

The technology was jointly developed with Rainer Busch of IBC Europe, Germany.

"So far, the technology has been used for paraffins, esters etc. and on a range of PCMs with [melt points] of up to 53 degrees Centigrade," Phase Energy said in a LinkedIn post. "The technology permits the production of leak-resistant packs/pouches using very simple process technology." 

"We’re currently working with some companies in the cold chain area; looking at cold packs/pouches, pallet covers etc.," Ian Biggin, director at Phase Energy, said in an e-mail. "As the technology can be adapted to higher temperature PCMs we are also interested in those areas as well but we decided that cold chain was the obvious place to start."

The photo below illustrates the material's flexibility. According to the company, it "shows a shape stable sample, 100 x 30 x 12mm, containing 92% tetradecane and 8% additives, being stretched to >700mm. When released the sample returned to its original size."

http://phase-energy.com/new-shape-stable-pcm-development/

PCM briefing: EnergyNest is finalist for startup award; Croda website offers live chat

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

EnergyNest is one of 15 start-ups nominated as finalists of the Start Up Energy Transition Award 2020. EnergyNest's thermal battery consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in a special type of concrete. The Norwegian company announced earlier this year that an EnergyNest battery with a capacity of 6-8 MWh would be installed at a brick manufacturing plant in Austria.

• "T-History Simplified: Combining a Universal Standard with an IoT Strategy," presented by Madison Hammerberg, product development engineering manager at CAVU Group, will be among the presentations at the Advancements in Thermal Management conference in Denver, Aug. 6-7, 2020.

Croda now offers live chat on its CrodaTherm website, www.crodatherm.com. The "Chat with a Croda Expert" feature is designed to provide visitors with "instant support."

Terrafore Technologies of Minneapolis is one of 13 companies to be awarded a Launch Minnesota Innovation Grant from the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development. The grants total $344,000; the amounts of individual grants were not disclosed. Terrafore is developing thermal energy storage to provide dispatchable solar power generation to the grid.

RayGen Resources Pty. Ltd. of Australia has been awarded $3 million AUD toward a feasibility study for a 4 MW “solar hydro” power plant in Victoria. The money will come from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. RayGen's system extracts heat from solar panels and stores it in a water reservoir acting as a heat store. The hot reservoir is paired with cold reservoir chilled by electricity from the solar panels and the grid. The temperature difference powers an Organic Rankine Cycle engine to generate electricity with a round-trip efficiency of 70%.

• The Swedish thermal energy storage company Azelio has completed the installation of "a system that will store solar energy from what is claimed to be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant project," Energy Storage Journal reports. "The complex [in Morocco] is 2,500 hectares in size, and solar panels cover 1,000 square metres — which means it could potentially harvest a total of 2.6GW a year." The system uses recycled aluminum as the heat storage material.

Sunamp Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland, has signed a memo of understanding with Ripple Energy, a company that enables customers to part-own large-scale wind farms to power their homes. Under the agreement, Ripple will offer its customers Sunamp heat batteries, which use a specially formulated phase change material to store large amounts of energy from renewable and other sources and release it as heat to deliver hot water and space heating as needed.

Cubesat propulsion concept wins $225,000 National Science Foundation grant

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

A Cubesat propulsion system that uses phase change material to store solar thermal energy for use when needed has been awarded a $225,000 National Science Foundation SBIR grant. The ThermaSat concept, developed by Howe Industries of Tempe, Ariz., is designed to provide propulsion for a typical 15kg cubcubesat for 10 years.

Cubesats are tiny satellites — weighing as little as 200 grams — that orbit close to Earth’s atmosphere. They are cheaper to develop and launch than larger satellites. Cubesats have a wide range of purposes, including the collection of mapping and weather data. More than 1,100 have been successfully deployed.

Troy Howe, owner of Howe Industries, answered questions about the ThermaSat propulsion system.

Q: How long has your company been working on the concept?

A: "We have been working on this topic for only about a year in preparation for our NSF proposal, but have experience with optical systems and phase change materials going back about five years."

Q: Can you briefly describe how the system works?

A: "The ThermaSat works by heating liquid water propellant to high temperature steam using incident sunlight. Normally, it is difficult to reach high enough temperatures to use water as propellant, but our optical filtration system is designed to reject long wavelengths of light and only transmit short wavelengths- similar to the greenhouse effect. The phase change materials in the thermal capacitor store the solar energy over a period of hours and then heat the propellant during a 'burn' phase.

ThermaSat cutaway drawing"The PCM will be distributed throughout a graphite matrix in the form of small beads. Flow channels will run axially down the length of the cylinder for the propellant to pass through. The design is based loosely on the old NERVA fuel elements from the nuclear rocket program in the 1970s, with the UC kernels being replaced with our PCM. The drawing here shows a cutaway of the thermal capacitor surrounded by the optical system.

"The system is very conceptual at this point and has not been tested, although the propulsion characteristics are well understood. Our task at this point is to show that the optical system works as predicted and can reach the desired temperatures. Phase II will address the effects of a vacuum environment on a prototype."

Q: What type of PCM is used?

A: "We chose a salt (80LiOH+20LiF) as our PCM, it melts at 700K and has a latent heat of fusion of 1163 J/g. The material was selected based on a study performed by NASA in 1986 on space energy storage. The paper was called 'Technology for Brayton-Cycle Space Powerplants Using Solar and Nuclear Energy' by Robert English.""

Q: How much PCM would be used in a system powering a typical Cubesat?

A: "The standard design includes 0.62 kg of PCM. "

Q: Are you working with any Cubesat manufacturers at this point?

A: "We received letters of interest from Pumpkin Space Systems, Aster Labs, and Arizona State University. They all expressed interest in having a safe and reliable Cubesat propulsion system but we have not formally formed collaboration with any manufacturers at this point.”

Q: How will you use the NSF SBIR grant?

A: "Our goals for this topic include demonstrating the optical system in a lab bench test, fabricating photonic crystals, and performing computational analysis on the thermal, structural, and propulsion systems."

Q: What's the next major step in commercializing the system?

A: "Our commercialization strategy right now is to build a functioning prototype and demonstrate operation on earth. From that point we will aim to do a flight test which performs a set of orbital maneuvers and successfully de-orbits itself. From there we will work with Cubesat manufacturers to move forward."

Q: What excites you most about this project?

A: "We are excited about how near term and effective this technology will be for the upcoming Cubesat revolution. We hope to provide a safe, reliable, and effective propulsion solution that can be used with thousands of different satellites and drastically increase the performance of new technologies in space in the timeframe of just a few years.”

PCM briefing: Ice Energy files for bankruptcy; Viking Cold has opening for thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 10, 2020

Ice Energy, the Santa Barbara, Calif., company that made and distributed ice-based thermal energy storage systems, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's Ice Bear system makes ice at night when demand for electricity is low and capacity is abundant. During the day, the stored ice is used to provide cooling. Details of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in December, are sparse. The company's website is no longer active. Over the years, Ice Energy had won several major energy storage and distribution contracts with utilities, and had begun marketing a smaller version of the Ice Bear system aimed at retail customers. 

Viking Cold Solutions has an opening for a chemical/thermal engineer in Houston. The engineer will "conduct research in Thermal Science, Storage/Heat Transfer and Phase Change Materials (PCM) for low temperature applications (<10⁰C)."

Axiom Exergy has secured more than $1 million in orders for the Axiom Cloud, a software platform that helps manage energy consumption in supermarkets and cold storage facilities that use the company's PCM-powered thermal storage systems.

• The 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 6-7 in Denver, has issued a call for presentations. Topics include thermal materials, thermal modeling and characterization and measurement of thermal materials. Abstracts are due Feb. 12.

EnergyNest will install a large thermal energy storage battery at a Senftenbacher brick factory in Austria. The system will temporarily store excess energy in the form of hot air from a tunnel furnace. The stored heat be converted to steam and later reused in production.

Devan Chemicals, the Belgium-based developer of finishing technologies for textiles, introduced its Tones of Cool Bio technology at the Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, last month. The technology "stimulates the textile to dissipate redundant heat from the body and to instantly reduce the body temperature," the company says. The phase change materials "are derived from sustainable, natural sources.

Registration is open for the 23rd Microencapsulation Industrial Convention to be held June 8-11 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

PCM newsletter marks 5th anniversary

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Phase Change Matters newsletter is celebrating its fifth anniversary with the publication of issue No. 224. Only a handful of folks received issue No. 1; the first issue of 2020 was e-mailed to 1,303 subscribers. More than 40,000 people from more than 160 countries visited puretemp.com last year. Here are the most-viewed newsletter posts from 2019:

1. PureTemp introduces temperature-control fabric coating (Jan. 23)

2. New dorm at Massachusetts college features 18,000+ square feet of PCM mats (Aug. 15)

3. Croda began work on new microencapsulated PCM four years ago (July 26)

4. PCM-equipped infant warming mat set for large-scale trial in Rwanda (Jan. 7)

5. Novel PCM microspheres keep new therapy pack flexible when frozen (June 15)

6. Croda adds 2 biobased phase change materials to its lineup (May 17)

7. PCM system inefficiencies blamed on design flaws, operator errors (March 25)

8. Sunamp signs agreement with Chinese heat pump maker (March 18)

9. PureTemp shows energy-saving potential in EnergyPlus simulations (Aug. 28)

10. Microtek introduces new PCM built with nextek encapsulation technology (March 11)

Sunamp's UniQ heat storage product earns RAL certification

Ben Welter - Monday, December 16, 2019

The RAL Quality Association PCM has awarded the RAL Quality Mark to Sunamp Ltd. for its UniQ line of thermal batteries.

RAL quality markThe product, which has been installed in thousands of homes across Europe, uses a specially formulated phase change material to store large amounts of energy from renewable and other sources and release it as heat to deliver hot water and space heating as needed. The PCM is sodium acetate trihydrate-based with a patented formulation giving a melt point of 58 degrees Celsius. 

In independent testing conducted by ZAE Bayern, the PCM was successfully melted and solidified in a UniQ heat battery for 10,000 cycles. At the end of the test, no significant differences in stored thermal energy capacity were found between the cycled samples and an uncycled sample of the PCM. The product, which also passed leak testing, earned the association's highest level of certification, Grade A. 

Over 3,000 UniQ units are now in service, with Sunamp projecting a tenfold growth in sales next year. The quality mark will be featured on Sunamp’s website and in other marketing materials, UniQ manuals and product labels.

“We are delighted that our thermally charged UniQ product range of heat batteries has been awarded a globally recognized mark of quality,” said Kate Fisher, Ph.D., a materials integration scientist at Sunamp, which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. “RAL certification is a huge accolade and cements Sunamp’s position as world leaders at the forefront of the technology.”

Sunamp UniQ heat batteriesThe RAL Quality Association PCM was established in 2004 to develop standards for the PCM industry. Members include Axiotherm, Microtek Laboratories, Rubitherm, Croda Europe, va-Q-tec, PCM Technology, Global-Systems Europe, Sasol, Sunamp, Pluss Advanced Technologies and PureTemp LLC.

Members and non-members alike can submit their products to the association for independent testing and earn the RAL Quality Mark. To qualify for the mark, products and materials must meet standards for energy storage capacity and phase transition temperature and stability, as defined in RAL-GZ 896.

“I am delighted that more and more products with PCM technology can be awarded the RAL Quality Mark as meaningful and transparent proof of quality and longevity,” said Stefan Thomann, the association’s managing director. “The great thing about Sunamp´s UniQ heat batteries is that they can be installed and used in homes very easily and save a lot of energy costs and carbon emissions immediately. The fact that they passed more than 10,000 cycles make sure that users will be able to profit from these benefits for decades.”

PCM briefing: Advanced Building Skins presentations are online; Ecozen raises $6 million

Ben Welter - Monday, December 16, 2019

• Presentations given at the 14th Conference on Advanced Building Skins in Switzerland in October are available via download for 80 euros. Among the topics: "Thermal performance of engineered wood flooring impregnated with phase-change materials," Damien Mathis, University LAVAL, Fontenay-sous-Bois, France; "Thermal comfort modelling and its impact on building energy performance," Vikram Sami, Olson Kundig, Seattle, Wash.; and "Integrated solar electric/thermal cooling system with storage," Mohannad Bayoumi, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Loughborough University researchers have been awarded funding to help with the design and development of a four-wheeled electric vehicle for research, teaching and outreach in India. Engineers at Vellore Institute of Technology and PSG College of Technology, both located in Tamil Nadu, will work with Loughborough researchers to explore the use of phase change material and other technologies to manage battery heat. The high ambient temperatures in south India and similar climates can significantly reduce battery life in electric vehicles.  

• Energy storage specialist 1414 Degrees has announced plans to acquire SolarReserve Australia II, which owns the Aurora Solar Energy Project in South Australia and two solar sites in New South Wales. The Adelaide, Australia, company plans to use the Aurora site to build a 400 MW solar farm with thermal storage capacity of several thousand megawatt hours. The technology stores electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon.

• Agritech startup Ecozen of Pune, India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, has raised a total of $6 million to fuel its growth phase. The cold rooms feature a PCM-equipped thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.  

Advanced Cooling Technologies Inc. of Lancaster, Penn., is seeking qualified research and development engineers at various experience and education levels to work on space, defense and energy-related applications. 

• Andreas Hauer, head of the energy storage department at ZAE Bayern (the Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research) has joined the board of directors at the International Solar Energy Society.

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.

PCM briefing: Viking Cold is finalist for innovation award; Sonoco launches sustainable packaging initiative

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

Viking Cold Solutions is a finalist for an Energy Storage of North America Innovation Award. The behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems up for the award are part of an Eversource demand management program in Massachusetts. 

A thermal storage project in Northamptonshire, England, is expected to provide 47 new homes with hot water and heat via renewable energy sources such as solar power. The borehole technology, developed by Caplin Solar of Leicester, stores heat in the ground in warmer months for later use in colder periods.

• Packaging giant Sonoco of Hartsville, S.C., has announced the creation of its EnviroSense sustainable packaging initiative. EnviroSense products are designed to incorporate a number of elements associated with more sustainable packaging, including optimized package-to-product ratio; increased use of recycled and recyclable content; fiber sourcing; compostability; and the use of bio-based materials.

• Registration is open for Sonoco ThermoSafe's next Leading Minds Seminar, "Collaborative Learning that FUELS Your Temperature Sensitive Healthcare Products," to be held Nov. 14 in Amsterdam. The seminar is designed for European supply chain, logistics, quality and packaging professionals responsible for the protection and management of temperature sensitive healthcare clinical supplies and finished products. 

Hydrostor, a Canadian developer of advanced compressed air energy storage projects, has announced the closing of $37 million (USD) in growth financing. Hydrostor has three projects in operation or under construction in Canada and Australia 

• A projected tripling of heat-related deaths in the United Kingdom over the next 30 years will require a drastic rethinking of ways to cool buildings, a parliamentary select committee warns. “The risk of overheating in terms of minimising risks to health and safety of occupants should be enshrined into regulations for new build homes and retrofits," the Environmental Audit Committee said. "This should be considered alongside an integrated review of energy efficiency and ventilation, and be included in the government’s planned Future Homes Standard, to include improvement in the measurement of current and future overheating risk and prioritise passive cooling measures.”

• The most entertaining obituary of a self-taught chemist you will read this month. Rest in peace, Joe Heller.