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.




Drake Landing seen as model for combining solar power, thermal storage in cold climate

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2015

Schematic drawing of Drake Landing Solar Community

CleanTechnica's Glenn Meyers offers a fresh look at Drake Landing Solar Community near Calgary, Alberta. The subdivision's district heating system, which combines garage-mounted solar panels with thermal storage, supplies more than 90 percent of the space heating needs of 52 single-family houses. An array of 144 boreholes 37 meters deep serves as an in-ground heat sink for seasonal storage.

"U.S. developers with renewable energy goals should look closely at the DLSC model," Meyers writes. "When calculating the energy savings, the large infrastructure costs can be offset over time. Potential homeowners may need convincing about future economic benefits that might be gained from being more independent from traditional utilities."

EU seeks proposals for next-gen district energy pilot project

Ben Welter - Friday, May 08, 2015

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy is seeking proposals for a pilot project to develop next-generation district heating and cooling technology.   

"The pilot should contribute to developing the next generation district heating and cooling by integrating the intelligent use and control of distributed energy storage systems in the network; improving design and control of substations in the building; integrating multiple thermal generation inputs (renewable solar thermal, geothermal, waste heat) and storage, and to providing solutions for intelligent control of the overall network, in particular the thermal energy demand of the connected buildings, and both distributed and collective thermal energy storage systems."

The two-year contract is worth 1.75 million euros (1.9 million USD). The deadline for receipt of tenders is June 19, 2015.

In pilot study, radiators store heat, cut use of peak load boilers

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Johan KensbyJohan Kensby, a Ph.D. student at Chalmers University in Sweden, is investigating how district energy systems can reduce the use of peak load boilers by storing heat in buildings connected to the network.

“Buildings have large thermal mass. Heat can be stored in the floor, walls, ceiling, and in the water in the radiator system,” he noted in a piece posted this week on the university's website.

In a pilot study, he found it is possible to store as much as 0.1 kilowatt hours of heat per square meter of a building without the indoor temperature varying by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius.

“The residents do not notice it," he said. "Temperature variations of this size are already present, for example when cooking.”

Modernization of system in Italy earns Global District Energy Climate Award

Ben Welter - Friday, May 01, 2015

The modernization of the district heating system in Lodi, Italy, was among the projects honored at the annual Global District Energy Climate Awards in Estonia this week. Improvements to the 11-year-old system include the addition of thermal energy storage tanks designed to store up to 10 MWh, with a peak charge/discharge of 5 MW.

Also honored were:

• A CHP system based on renewable biomass in Braunschweig, Germany. The new Hungerkamp system replaces 34 oil- and coal-fired boilers and is projected to eliminate 8,000 tons of CO₂ a year. 

• A combined heating and cooling system in Helsinki, Finland. An overall 80 percent energy saving is projected for the system, which relies on seawater for both heating and cooling.

• A deep geothermal system in Kirchweidach, Germany. The system supplies residents with renewable heat and electricity and heats a 30-acre greenhouse that grows peppers and tomatoes that would otherwise be imported.