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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: Thermocline sensitivity analysis; solar district heating; d-mannitol stability; more

Ben Welter - Sunday, August 07, 2016

Sensitivity analysis for thermocline thermal storage tank design [Renewable Energy]

Solar district heating systems for small districts with medium scale seasonal thermal energy stores [pdf] [Energy Procedia]

Natural convection heat transfer of molten salt in a single energy storage tank [Science China Technological Sciences]

Assessing the Thermal Performance of Phase Change Material in a Photovoltaic/Thermal System [Energy Procedia]

Stability of D-mannitol upon Melting/Freezing Cycles under Controlled Inert Atmosphere [Energy Procedia]

Numerical simulation on heat transfer enhancement of phase change thermal storage devices for low-middle temperature [Advanced Materials]

Experimental Research of a Partition Composed of Two Layers of Different Types of PCM [Energy Procedia]

Research on Solar Heating System with Phase Change Thermal Energy Storage [Energy Procedia]

Process Steam and Chilled Water Production with CPC-collectors, Steam Jet Ejector Chiller and Latent Heat Storages [Energy Procedia]

Research roundup: Prosthetic cooling device; sodium nitrate-expanded vermiculite; PCM-water heat exchanger; more

Ben Welter - Monday, May 16, 2016

Prosthesis cooling deviceAn Automatic and Portable Prosthetic Cooling Device with High Cooling Capacity Based on Phase Change [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thermal properties of sodium nitrate-expanded vermiculite form-stable composite phase change materials [Materials & Design]

A PCM-Water Heat Exchanger With Polymeric Hollow Bres For Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage: A Parametric Study Of Discharging Stage [Journal of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics]

Distributed energy storage: Time-dependent tree flow design [Journal of Applied Physics]

Thermal energy storage project underway on NIH campus in Maryland

Ben Welter - Monday, March 14, 2016

The National Institutes of Health has begun construction of a thermal energy storage tank on its campus in Bethesda, Md. The tank will be 100 feet tall, 120 feet in diameter and hold 8 million gallons of chilled water. The tank is among upgrades designed to ensure uninterrupted cooling capability for a 240-bed hospital, three data centers and more than 12 million square feet of biomedical research facilities. The upgrades are scheduled to be completed by October 2017.

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."

Agenda set for next week's Energy Storage Europe conference in Germany

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Next week's Energy Storage Europe conference and expo in Dusseldorf, Germany, includes a number of sessions on thermal energy storage:

• "Integrated Thermal and Electric Storage at the District Scale," James Bererton of Integral Group 

• "Potentials for Thermal Storage Solutions," Glen Dimplex 

• "Spatial Distribution and Operator-Dependent Management of Thermal and Electrical Energy Storage Systems in Residential Areas," Andreas Bachmaier, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems 

• "Operational Results of a Combined Thermal Energy Storage with Electricity Generation System," Gu╠łnter Schneider, STORASOL GmbH 

• "Top-down and Bottom-up Analysis of the Economics of Thermal Energy Storage," Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern 

• "Characterization and Enhancement of Phase Change Slurries," Sophia Niedermaier, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems 

• "Use of an undercooled phase-change material heat storage system for seasonal use," Dr. Hermann Schranzhofer, Institute for Heating Technology, Graz University of Technology

PCM briefing: Borehole energy storage exceeding expectations; Masdar launches novel single-tank TES demonstration project

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Canada's Drake Landing, a large-scale solar community that uses borehole thermal energy storage to heat 52 single-family homes, has achieved up to 98 percent efficiency in recent years. The district heating system, now in its ninth year, combines garage-mounted solar panels with 144 boreholes, drilled 37 meters deep.

The Masdar Institute has initiated its concentrated solar power on demand demonstration project in Abu Dhabi. The aim is to show that the novel single-tank thermal energy storage system, which absorbs and stores thermal energy using molten salt, may prove to be more affordable and efficient than conventional two-tank systems.

AkzoNobel's potential purchase of BASF's industrial coatings business could put other chemical companies under pressure to re-structure their businesses, analysts say. Cheap oil means more cash is available for mergers and acquisitions.   

The team behind TheM, a PCM-powered thermal dining placemat, fell short of its goal of raising $30,000 on Indiegogo last fall. But the team is still plugging away on prototypes and hopes to develop a successful design by the end of February.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev hosted the second board meeting of the European project INPATH-TES this week. Around 30 researchers from different countries participated in the meeting, representing the 22 partners in the project. 

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have created a safety database on 10,000 chemicals registered in Europe for predicting the toxicity of many of the 90,000 or more other substances in consumer products.

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.

Research roundup: Stearic acid/graphene core-shell composite; binary mixtures of fatty acid methyl esters; ice TES system design; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Pickering emulsion route to a stearic acid/graphene core–shell composite phase change material [Carbon]

Binary mixtures of fatty acid methyl esters as phase change materials for low temperature applications [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Identification of Design Criteria for District Cooling Distribution Network with Ice Thermal Energy Storage System [Energy Procedia]

Numerical simulation of phase change materials for building applications: a review [Advances in Building Energy Research]

PCM briefing: Lime emerges as thermal storage medium; district energy shines at climate conference; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 08, 2015

• German researchers are working on a thermal storage system that uses lime as the storage medium. 

• Representatives of three district energy champion cities – St. Paul, Minn., and two Swedish cities, Malmö and Gothenburg – shared their success stories at the climate conference in Paris.

• A new report from Technavio, "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems 2016-2020," projects that market will see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 14 percent over the next five years.

• New research by Future Market Insights, "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025," will be published in January.

• A look inside Qatar Cool's new District Cooling Plant 3, which will feature a thermal energy storage tank with a 5,000-ton cooling capacity. 

• TechNiche Europe has introduced a washable version of its HyperKewl cooling fabric.

Research roundup: Nano-enhanced PCM in square cavity; TES retrofits; storage panel based on capillary network; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Simulation of melting of a nano-enhanced phase change material (NePCM) in a square cavity with two heat source–sink pairs [Alexandria Engineering Journal]

PCM-based High-density Thermal Storage Systems for Residential and Small Commercial Retrofit Applications [Procedia Engineering]

Review of Phase Change Materials Integrated in Building Walls for Energy Saving [Procedia Engineering]

Simulation on Phase Change Thermal Storage Panel Based on Capillary Network [Procedia Engineering]

Applicability of TES-BCHP System Based on the Degree of Mismatch between User Load Demands and Energy Supply [Procedia Engineering]

Study on Mathematical Model of the Coupling Operation of Solar Wind and the Phase Change Energy Storage [Procedia Engineering]

Research on Indoor Thermal Environment Improvement of Lightweight Building Integrated with Phase Change Material under Different Climate Conditions [Procedia Engineering]

Estimating the Adaptability of Phase Change Material Board on Building Envelope of Telecommunications Base Stations [Procedia Engineering]

Study on Encapsulation of Energy Storage Material in Northern Rural Residential [Procedia Engineering]