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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: CEO Hopkins leaves Ice Energy; 1414 Degrees says TESS-IND commissioning verified

Ben Welter - Monday, January 21, 2019

Mike HopkinsMike Hopkins, right, CEO of Ice Energy since 2014, has left the Riverside, Calif., company to pursue a "soon to be revealed" opportunity. Ice Energy makes ice-based thermal energy storage systems. According to an Ice Energy representative: "Dr. Marcel Christians (previously CIO) and Alex Collins (VP at Pacific Advantage Capital, majority shareholder in Ice Energy) have joined together to lead the company as co-COOs. Other than that, it’s business as usual as the company pushes most of its resources towards finding viable candidates for its 20+ MW thermal energy storage contract with major California utility, Southern California Edison."

AIMPLAS, a plastics technology center in Spain, is among 10 participants in a European project led by the Polytechnic University of Valencia. The consortium is developing new components for geothermal systems offering high thermal-conductivity properties.  

1414 Degrees Ltd. has announced that the commissioning of the Australian company's TESS-IND has been verified by Bureau Veritas. In three- and eight-hour test runs, the molten silicon heat store powered the system's turbine to generate average electricity outputs of 104kW and 148kW. "The maximum verified temperature of the phase change material heat store was 1418 degrees Celsius," the company said.

Microtek sponsors Spanish entry in Solar Decathlon Europe 2019

Ben Welter - Saturday, January 12, 2019

A team representing the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, plans to use phase change material in the energy-efficient home it is building for Solar Decathlon Europe 2019. Azalea, one of 16 teams selected for the competition, is made up of 30 students and professionals representing fields such as architecture and engineering. 

Microtek Laboratories of Dayton, Ohio, is providing Azalea with technical and financial support.

Tim Riazzi"We are proud to be a sponsor of the Polytechnic team and the Azalea Project," said Tim Riazzi, Microtek president. "As a company who practices and is concerned with environmental stewardship, we are excited about their efforts to create a sustainable ecological dwelling that will reduce our impact on the environment and reduce our energy consumption." 

Riazzi said Microtek provided Azalea with Micronal 28D (formerly Micronal 5528X).

"Instead of providing them with a final product," Riazzi said, "we have worked with the team and decided that it would be better to provide them our dried Micronal product so that they could use it in the specific areas that they needed. We can say that they are incorporating it into a variety of elements/components of their wall and floor design, but they have asked us not to divulge the exact use of it because the competition is active. ... We can say that we have provide them over 200 kg of material."

https://www.microteklabs.com/blog/azalea-project-solar-decathlon-europe

PCM briefing: Sunamp among 'Scottish tech companies to watch' in 2019; C-Therm webinar on new thermal conductivity instrument

Ben Welter - Monday, January 07, 2019

Rail shipping container with PCM

• The University of Birmingham's Center for Energy Storage has teamed up with a Chinese railway equipment manufacturer to develop a shipping container that uses phase change materials to maintain a low temperature over several days without a power supply. "Once ‘charged’, PCM inside the container - which can be transferred from train to truck and vice versa - can keep the inside temperature between 5-12 ˚C for up to 120 hours," the university reports.

CNET's Scott Stein takes a close look at PowerStation, "a battery of sorts that can keep a low-power sensor running off the temperature differences in everyday weather conditions." The device, made by Matrix Industries of Menlo Park, Calif., stores heat in a substance the company calls "Luna Phase Change Material" and later releases the heat in the form of electricity.

Scottish Business Insider has named Sunamp Ltd. one of five Scottish tech companies to watch in 2019. "The £2.2m raised in its latest fundraising sets the company up for a Series A round in 2019 as it looks to expand its international footprint and further scale its operations," Insider writes. "Sunamp heat batteries have so far been installed in over a thousand homes across the UK." 

C-Therm managing director Adam Harris is hosting a webinar this week to introduce the company's new thermal conductivity instrument, the C-Therm Trident. Advance registration is required for the webinar, which will be held at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 10.

• At a business summit in Wisconsin last month, Encapsys President Mary Goggans said the Appleton-based company offers internships to students at regional colleges, including the children of employees. “The interns see the jobs and technologies they are interested in right here in the area,” Goggans said. “They realize they don’t need to get a job outside of the region to have the career they are looking for.”

Horwath is new president of North American PCM manufacturers association

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Peter Horwath, chairman and CEO of Insolcorp. LLC of New London, N.C., has been chosen to lead the Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

Peter HorwathRepresentatives of eight founding companies elected Horwath, right, in an e-mail vote completed this week. He replaces Joseph A. Grzyb, who announced his resignation from the post earlier this year.

The association was founded in October 2017. Its mission is to promote the development and use of phase change material in North America.

“Phase change materials have the ability to impact many industries and lives in a very positive way," Horwath said. "Our industry is growing exponentially and a manufacturers association has been much needed to create awareness, improve standardization and help drive market growth. I’m looking forward to helping launch the new association. It is an honor to work with such a great group of people and companies helping to move this industry forward.”

The association's founding members are Insolcorp; Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.; Microtek Laboratories, Dayton, Ohio; Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.; Outlast LLC, Golden, Colo.; Croda Inc., Edison, N.J.; Cold Chain Technologies, Franklin, Mass.; and PureTemp LLC, Minneapolis, Minn.

Most-viewed blog posts of 2018: New coffee mug, new testing protocol

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

News about a new coffee mug and a new way to measure the cooling capacity of PCM-enhanced fabrics tops the list of most-viewed Phase Change Matters blog posts in 2018:

1. ThermAvant's new coffee mug is designed to get the 'burn' out faster (Aug. 27)

2. Alexium says it's working to establish wide acceptance of new testing protocol  (June 8)

3. Fluorination process enhances barrier properties of HDPE (Jan 12)

Marxer Haus4. Inspired by nature, 'active energy building' takes wing in Liechtenstein (Feb. 8)

5. Patent application: Thermal battery with encapsulated PCM (Jan. 3)

6. Alexium International CEO Dirk Van Hyning resigns (June 1)

7. PCM heat-recycling system keeps tugboats ready for action (Jan. 19)

8. Phase change material ensures a hot shower from the start (April 20)

9. PCM-equipped heat exchanger designed for use in reefer trucks, cold rooms (Sept. 14)

10. Sunamp, Trina Solar sign deal to combine thermal batteries with heat pumps (Nov. 5)

The PureTemp website welcomed visitors from 166 countries and more than 6,000 cities this year. The top 10 countries:

1. United States
2. India
3. United Kingdom
4. Canada
5. Germany
6. China
7. Australia
8. France
9. Netherlands
10. South Korea

Illustrating the breadth of interest in phase change material, each dot on the map below represents a city that generated one or more visits to puretemp.com in 2018.

PCM briefing: McGill joins Phase Change Energy Solutions as CEO; Croda is No. 3 on Britain's Most Admired Companies list

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Dennis McGillDennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors, has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions as chief executive officer and chairman of the board. McGill, right, has more than 30 years of experience in senior financial and executive leadership roles. For the past three years, he has been the CEO and chairman of the board for ReCommunity Recycling of Charlotte, N.C. 

Malta Inc., a spinoff of Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, has raised $26 million in Series A funding. The Massachusetts company is developing an electro-thermal energy storage system that stores energy in the form of the thermal differential between hot and cold storage media. 

Croda International, maker of phase change materials and other specialty chemicals, is No. 3 on Management Today's list of Britain's Most Admired Companies 2018. Diageo and McDonald's took the top two spots.

• From Andrew Chang, regional operations director at Ice Energy, on LinkedIn: "Today was a major milestone for Ice Energy. We commissioned our 100th Ice Bear in the SCE LCR program in #OrangeCounty! We are currently offsetting about 1.5MW for 4 hours every day in Orange County."

MIT researchers have developed a way to use light to trigger the storage and release of waste heat from car engines and other sources. "Once melted and activated by ultraviolet light, the [phase change] material stores the absorbed heat until a beam of visible light triggers solidification and heat release," Phys.org reports. "Key to that control are added molecules that respond to light by changing shape from one that impedes solidification to one that permits it."

Nebu Block T10• Via LinkedIn: "It might not look like it, but this is how VIPs help to store energy. Vacuum insulated panels, that is. ZAE Bayern cooperates with va-Q-tec, Nebuma GmbH, Verallia, and Lungmuß Feuerfest to make industrial high-temperature energy storages more efficient and less hard to find." Nebuma's 20-foot mobile container, shown at right, is designed to store about 16 MWh of heat at a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Dr. Yixiang Gan of the University of Sydney is among 11 researchers to win fellowships from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund for 2019. His focus: "Optimizing thermal energy storage with phase change materials: with applications to solar energy storage in Australia and India." 

• Registration is open for the 44th Stanford Geothermal Workshop, to be held Feb. 11-13 at Stanford University in California.

• Registration is open for Energy Storage Europe, "the leading international trade fair for energy storage," to be held March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

• The 14th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29, 2019, in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. The deadline for submissions is June 1. Registration for the conference is expected to open once the program is published in April. 

Pelican BioThermal has appointed Lynaye Reynolds as worldwide director of quality. She joined the company three years ago as the quality manager at its site in Leighton Buzzard in the United Kingdom.

1414 Degrees’ molten silicon biogas energy storage system will be installed at a wastewater treatment plant in South Australia. The $3.2 million (AUS) pilot project is a joint effort of 1414 Degrees and SA Water.

PCM briefing: RSPO orders ban on deforestation; ESA calls on Congress to clarify tax credit

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

• The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has ordered a total ban on deforestation by its members, amid growing pressure from both companies and consumers. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban at the group’s annual general assembly in Malaysia Nov. 15. The ban is now part of the RSPO core standards, which member companies must comply with for their products to be certified “sustainable.”

Sunamp Ltd. reports that it has received $2.8 million in new seed funding. The latest round of investors includes Scottish Investment Bank, Equity Gap, PAR Equity and the Japanese energy utility Osaka Gas. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently signed a memo of understanding with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

• From Andreas Hauer, head of ZAE Bayern's Energy Storage Division; via LinkedIn: "The Progress Report for the working group 'Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage' (http://task58.iea-shc.org/) has been approved by the Executive Committee of #IEA #EnergyStorage programme. One more year for international collaboration and inspiring discussions among material experts and applied scientist on advanced thermal energy storage!" Task 58 Annex 33 deals with advanced materials for latent and chemical thermal energy storage, PCMs and thermochemical materials.

• Registration is open for an all-day Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The free event "will present and discuss current innovations within the field of energy storage and efficiency in the built environment. Joining together industry and academia for discussions focussing on integrated solutions for residential, commercial and public buildings using renewable sources. Results will be presented from the ongoing TESSe2b European project, as well as results from other projects in the field of energy efficiency, generation & storage in buildings." 

AQUACHILL Cool Coating, a water-based phase change material coating for bedding materials and other cooling applications, is among six Dow technologies to make R&D Magazine's 2018 R&D 100 list. The awards recognize "revolutionary technologies" introduced during the past year. 

• The RAL Quality Association PCM's next meeting has been set for April 2, 2019, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• A coalition led by the Energy Storage Association is calling on Congress to clarify that energy storage systems qualify for the Investment Tax Credit. The ESA said bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would "ensure a level playing field" for storage resources. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded nearly $2.8 million to develop a system for grid electricity storage and power generation. The system includes a high-temperature charging device, low-cost thermal energy storage modules, a high-performance heat exchanger, and a closed-loop Brayton cycle turbine. 

Ecozen Solutions of India has won Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The award recognizes innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. Ecozen, one of five finalists, won both the Jury’s Prize of $15,000 and the Audience’s Prize of $5,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Energy Storage News reports that Lumenion's new storage technology, now being trialled in Berlin by Vattenfall, can store energy in steel structures for up to 48 hours. The technology is designed to provide low-cost energy storage for combined heat and power applications, using steel as the medium. The steel modules store energy thermally at up to 650 degrees Celsius.

PCM briefing: RAL members to meet in Dusseldorf next week; reliability test completed at Morocco CSP plant

Ben Welter - Friday, November 09, 2018

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will meet in Dusseldorf on Thursday, Nov. 15. The agenda includes discussions on quality and testing specifications; reference materials in calorimetry; PCM product certification; and the promotion of PCM products in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

A 10-day reliability test has been completed at the 150MW Noor Ouarzazate III concentrated solar power plant in Morocco. The plant's molten salt storage system is designed to produce electricity in the absence of sunlight for 7.5 hours. During the test, the plant output over 13.2 GWh to the grid.

Kathu Solar Park, the 100MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, has begun generating steam, an important step in the plant's commissioning process. The plant uses molten salt to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity.

• The agenda is taking shape for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International Congress, to be held April 4-5, 2019, in Paris. Among the topics: "Sourcing & Production of Sustainable Oils & Fats" and "Creating, Maintaining, Controlling Sustainable Supply Chain." 

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corp. says it is on track to establish the world’s largest district cooling project by increasing its capacity of district cooling in Business Bay, Dubai. Business Bay is now served by three major district cooling plants with a total capacity of 135,000 refrigeration tons. The addition of three more plants will bring the collective capacity to 350,000 RT.

Sunamp, Trina Solar sign deal to combine thermal batteries with heat pumps

Ben Welter - Monday, November 05, 2018

Sunamp Ltd. has signed an agreement with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries now made in Scotland with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

With more than 14,000 employees, Trina is one of the world's largest PV panel manufacturers. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, has about 30 employees. Sunamp's Uniq heat batteries, made at Sunamp's factory in East Lothian, use a salt-based phase change material to store excess energy generated by solar PV systems. The stored energy is released on demand to provide heat and hot water.

The two companies signed a memo of understanding Oct. 20 at the opening of Trina’s new heat pump factory.

Trina Solar VP John Ding, left, with Sunamp CEO Andrew BissellThe combined system will use Sunamp’s batteries in conjunction with solar panels and heat pumps to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. According to Sunamp, the system will offer 23 to 35kWh of storage.

“Our unique heat battery technology extends and enhances the range of capabilities of heat pumps, and the combination of solar PV, heat pumps and heat batteries has exceptional potential to cut fuel costs, address climate change and improve air quality," said Sunamp CEO Andrew Bissell (right, with Trina Solar VP John Ding).

Sunamp’s heat batteries, which have been installed in thousands of homes across the UK, will be paired with Trina heat pumps as part of a trial of the integrated solution in 20 homes in northern China this winter. If the trial is successful, the integrated solution will be launched in China in the second half of 2019.

The collaboration with Trina is Sunamp's largest to date, in terms of manufacturing scale and potential revenue. He and Maurizio Zaglio‎, Sunamp's international business development manager, provided details on the agreement in phone and email interviews last week.

Q: How did Sunamp make the initial contact with Trina?

A: "Mr Eagle Su and Professor Feng visited our factory earlier in the year. Eagle is the general manager of Trina Energy Management Co. Ltd, which is the section charged with launching Trina into the heat pump market. Professor Feng heads up the Trina Institute of Strategic Studies in Beijing."

Q: The article mentions Trina's "expansion into the heat pump market." Is the new factory in Changzhou producing Trina's first heat pumps?

A: "Yes. We signed our memo of understanding at the launch event. We were one of only two non-Chinese Companies invited to the launch (the other was Danfoss). The launch was 'full on' with over 1,000 installers visiting the Trina Energy heat pump factory on the Friday and a large indoor event on the Saturday with over 350 attendees, including key management from all leading heat pump vendors in China, local and national government and institutions fully represented, and led in 'keynote style' by the CEO of Trina Solar, Jifan Gao."

Q: What stood out for you on your visit to the factory?

A: "It had very modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and we were struck by the very full lineup of products ranging from small room-scale to 150kW large commercial/industrial heat pumps. Trina are clearly VERY serious in entering the heat pump market."

Sunamp's UniQ heat batteriesQ: What are the key features of the latest version of the Uniq heat battery?

A: "They are even more compact and installable than our previous Gen 2 (SunampPV) products ... Very flexible on inputs (solar PV, thermal, grid electricity, heat pumps ... Two outputs at once (e.g. heating and hot water) ... No need for the usual extra plumbing needed with a hot water cylinder ... Highest thermal efficiency and A+ rated under Europe’s ErP (Energy-related Products) directive at all sizes UniQ 3, 6, 9 and 12 NB. No range of hot water cylinders is A+ rated across the range. Most can muster a B or A at the smallest size (like 70L, equivalent of the UniQ 3) but this drops off to B, C or D at larger sizes. Sunamp is A+ all the way ... They are ready for deep integration to heat pumps via refrigerant loop ... We warranty the storage for 10 years ... Extremely cost effective on all of lifetime, OpEx and CapEx measures ... They look good (much less clutter than water tanks)."

Q: Talk about the PCM used in the battery.

A: "It's our flagship material, SU58, with a melt point of 58 Celsius, sodium acetate trihydrate, with a couple of components that are there to ensure nucleation and ensure stability. And they do that. [In testing] we've reached 40,000 cycles now, which is, we think, pretty convincing at full heat battery scale. These are done on a 2.5 kWh heat battery, full cycle being 40 degrees to 80 degrees back to 40. It still has significantly more than 95 percent capacity at that point. To be honest, we stopped testing. That's a lifetime's use for any reasonable product ... about 50 years."

Q: Assuming the trial goes well, will you shift some production to China?

A: "More than likely. It doesn't make sense to ship things over a huge distance that can be made efficiently and effectively right next to where they can be integrated with the heat pump for the local market. Trina has a very large campus, with three PV factories and the heat pump factory. If they want us to be on that campus, there's more than enough space."

Q: The combined system is said offer between 23 and 35kWh of storage. Are those numbers based on tests of full-scale prototypes?

A: "We have fully trialled this kind of heat pump plus heat battery (plus solar PV) in a number of UK test homes. These sizes come from that trial base. A full trial is planned in China over this winter involving Sunamp and led by Trina."

Q: What excites you most about this opportunity?

A: "The scale of ambition shown by both the Chinese government and Trina in responding to it. 66 million homes in China still source their heat and hot water from coal. This has major impacts on both air quality and carbon emissions leading to climate change. We are really excited to be partnered with Trina in their strategy to address this. And also to be partnered on the wider level with such a leading company."

PCM briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.