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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: Grocery trucks equipped with PCMs; how to prepare for fluctuating feedstock pricing

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 25, 2016

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has posted a request for information on lower-grade waste heat recovery systems. ARPA-E says it is particularly interested in solid-state recovery technology.

High temperatures in the workplace are a major concern of trade union safety representatives, according to a survey conducted by the UK's Trades Union Congress. The federation is calling for a maximum temperature of 30º Celsius in the workplace; 27º C for those doing strenuous work. [pdf]

SK Telecom's new fresh groceries logistics service features delivery trucks equipped with phase change material. The South Korean company's Smart FreshX system eliminates the need to burn fuel to run on-board chillers. The PCM is chilled at night, when electricity is cheaper, and keeps groceries cold during daytime deliveries. 

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to publish proposed regulations under the revamped Toxic Substances Control Act by the end of this year.

U.S. chemical producers must continue to prepare for fluctuations in feedstock pricing, writes Michael Hinton of Allegro Development: "Trying to predict energy market moves can be a mugs’ game, but effective commodity management systems can analyse a company’s trading history against the specific risk factors in its portfolio."

PCM briefing: Pelican BioThermal container keeps blood cool on battlefield; GSA looking for energy storage ideas

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pelican BioThermal medic pack• New from Pelican BioThermal: Golden Hour Medic, a reusable container that allows combat medics to carry life-saving whole blood onto the battlefield. Phase change material helps keep blood near 4 degrees Celsius for up to 24 hours in harsh conditions.

Greentech Media reports that the General Services Administration is preparing an energy storage request for information that could be the first step in improving energy efficiency at more than 10,000 U.S. government buildings under the agency's control.

• The U.S. Department of Energy and the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology have agreed to form a research consortium focused on energy storage and smart grid technology. The U.S. portion of funding for the $30 million project requires congressional approval.

PCM briefing: TES tank cuts cooling costs at Shippensburg; flow chart shows how all energy in U.S. is used

Ben Welter - Friday, August 12, 2016

• Inventor-entrepreneur Saul Griffith has developed a really, really detailed flow chart showing how all the energy in the United States is used. "This is really the first time that all of this data is brought together in one flow diagram, which is important if you really want to understand the consequences through the whole economy of things like defense," Griffith says.

Bill Gould, chief technology officer at SolarReserve, explains why he believes in the future of concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage. "CSP with storage is set to realize falling installation costs as global deployment accelerates," he writes. "It is a relatively young technology, with a strong roadmap for performance improvements, optimization and cost reduction. Future projects are already seeing 30 percent reductions in capital costs."

Viking Cold Solutions, maker of a PV/PCM cooling system, is generating sales leads with an offer of a free energy analysis to owners of supermarkets and cold storage warehouses.

• The new 3,000-ton high-efficiency cooling plant at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania features a 1.7-million-gallon thermal energy storage tank. The tank stores water chilled during off-peak hours and provides up to four hours of full-load capacity without mechanical cooling. The system cut energy consumption during last year's cooling season by 12 percent — despite an 11 percent increase in cooling degree days.

PCM briefing: Phase change material in concept motorcycle and automotive interiors

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Can-Am Spyder e-motorcycle• Bombardier Recreational Products of Canada has produced an electric version of its three-wheel Can-Am Spyder motorcycle. The concept vehicle is equipped with a 16 kWh battery and has a range of about 170 km (106 miles). Phase change material is used to cool the lithium-ion batteries. No word on whether a production model is planned.

Dr. Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Industrial Fabrics Association International Expo in Charlotte, N.C. The topic of her Oct. 18 presentation: "Taking the heat – thermal control of the automotive interior with phase change material."

CALMAC is applauding the Massachusetts Legislature for approving an "energy diversity" bill that promotes the use of renewable energy sources and energy storage technologies. The legislation, signed into law Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, requires the state to seek long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and 1,200 MW of hydropower. Its broad definition of energy storage includes distributed thermal energy storage such as CALMAC's IceBank system. "It is unrealistic to believe that renewable energy will align itself perfectly with the demand of the power grid and consumers without adding energy storage," said Mark McCracken, the company's CEO. "Massachusetts has taken great steps to create a more reliable, smarter grid to adapt to future needs.”

• Got a big tank to clean? You might want to contact CYC International of Singapore. The plant maintenance company has created a snake-like robot to clean tanks at oil refineries. CYC says use of the remote-controlled robot reduces the number of workers needed to clean a tank, lowering health and safety risks and improving productivity.

PCM briefing: Pelican BioThermal is looking for VP for new products; Ice Energy completes project at North Hollywood movie theater

Ben Welter - Friday, August 05, 2016

Pelican BioThermal has posted an opening for a vice president of engineering and new product development. The VP will "lead a team of highly-driven and innovative engineers to design and develop the next generation of best-in-class temperature controlled packaging solutions for the life sciences industry." 

Appearing at this week's Advances in Thermal Management 2016 conference in Denver, Colo.: Mark Hartmann, chief technology officer at Outlast Technologies, discussed the use of thermal materials to manage the heat generated by lithium-ion batteries. Croda International's CrodaTherm biobased phase change materials were on display at booth 35. Outlast materials scientist Joe Kelly spoke at the companion conference, Battery Power 2016

• The U.S. Department of Energy has introduced two new tools designed to help cities nationwide make more strategic energy decisions based on actual and estimated data and analysis. The City Energy Profile tool uses robust data science methodologies to derive data on energy use and costs for 23,400 cities. The Local Energy Toolbox allows cities to build a customizable list of actions to help make strategic energy decisions.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has begun verification testing of a solar thermal power system at the company's new facility in Yokohama, Japan. The hybrid system combines a low-temperature Fresnel evaporator, a high-temperature thermal storage system and a tower-type superheater that collects sunlight by heliostats.

• Safety expert John D. Modine is the new chief executive at the American Chemistry Council's Chemtrec division.

Ice Energy has installed four Ice Bear 30 thermal storage units at a Cinemark movie theater in North Hollywood, Calif. Ice Energy says the project qualifies for energy efficiency rebates from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

PCM briefing: Guinea pigs heated up first calorimeter; new research on PCM global consumption

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drawing of early calorimeter• In the late 18th century, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier and Pierre-Simon Laplace of France designed the first calorimeter, a multichamber device that used ice to measure the amount of heat given off during combustion or respiration. Guinea pigs provided the heat in early experiments. Andrea Sella, a professor of chemistry at University College London, takes a look at the fascinating origin of the instrument.

• New from QY Research: "Global Phase Change Materials Consumption 2016 Market Research Report." BASF, Rubitherm, Croda, Pluss and Entropy Solutions are among the major manufacturers profiled.

• Britain's exit from the European Union could complicate the task of complying with Europe's network of chemical regulations, writes Michael Ravenscroft in IHS Chemical Week magazine. 

• PCM maker Entropy Solutions recently received ISO 9001: 2008 certification for its quality management system. The ISO 9001 standard is designed to help ensure that an organization’s products and services consistently meet customer requirements, and that the quality system of the organization continues to improve.

PCM briefing: Research opening at Newcastle University; Pelican BioThermal lands Mexico partnership

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

• The Sir Joseph Swan Center for Energy Research at Newcastle University has an opening for a research associate with expertise in adsorption refrigeration, thermal energy storage, solar power engineering, heat and mass transfer, and thermodynamics. The full-time position is for 12 months to cover maternity leave.

Pelican BioThermal has expanded its presence in Central America, announcing a distribution partnership with Kryotec, a cold chain technology company based in Mexico City.

• "While the wave of EPA regulation that is soon to come will impose many challenges, the revised TSCA also provides some opportunities that should not be overlooked," writes Joseph J. Green of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Manufacturers, for example, "can seek an EPA 'safe to use' determination -- which could have obvious marketing advantages (and forestall potential state regulations)."

Strong reaction to Brexit in Europe's industrial, scientific communities

Ben Welter - Friday, June 24, 2016

Britain's vote on Thursday to leave the European Union is generating a variety of strong reactions in Europe's chemical, manufacturing and scientific communities.

From the Guardian:

Kurt Bock“The United Kingdom is and will remain an important market for BASF," said Kurt Bock, right, the company's chief executive. "It has always been our strong conviction that the UK is better off within the EU, we therefore very much regret that Great Britain and Northern Ireland want to leave the European Union. Although we respect the decision of the British people, this outcome of the referendum will cause considerable uncertainty for markets, companies and households.”

From the Engineer:

“Great care must be taken during the negotiation process to protect manufacturing’s interests and we will be working hard in the UK and in Brussels for that outcome," said James Selka, chief executive of the UK's Manufacturing Technology Association. "We believe that we can leverage UK manufacturing’s reputation for innovation and flexibility to secure the best possible deal for our members outside the EU.”

From ICIS News:

A European ethylene glycol (EG) buyer said he was sad to see the UK leaving the EU but added, however, that the country should be “happy” that it will no longer be subject to the “Euro printing press that is destroying pensions [and] creating housing bubbles.”

“It’s like a domino effect," said another EG buyer. "… Let the dust settle first and see what happens. All these contracts the UK has with other EU partners have to be revised. What will be the economic effect on all economies?” 

A polyethylene terephthalate buyer in Italy said Brexit was “a disaster” and will create a chain of events in the economy and forecast more countries to take the same path than the UK.

Other petrochemical market players reminded how “nothing will change for two years” at least, according to an olefins consumer in Germany, while others recognize the implications are totally unknown – it is the first time an EU member state has decided to leave the bloc.

From Chemistry World:

"EU membership has been part of the UK in broad and deep ways," said Dominic Tildesley, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry. "From the point of view of science, research and innovation there is now considerable uncertainty about how an EU exit will affect access to EU funding for research, the freedom of researchers to work across the EU and the application of EU regulations across the science and technology sector."

From European Rubber Journal [registration required]:

“It is not the decision that our sector wanted, but we fully respect the wish of the people for change,” said Steve Elliott, chief executive of the United Kingdom's Chemical Industries Association. “We now have to look to the future, and I am confident that an important and resilient industry such as ours can prosper in this new situation.”

From SeeNews:

“The vast majority of our members had fears of Brexit, and we will be consulting with them and government in the coming weeks to set out a plan for continued low carbon energy investment, deployment and assurance of the 117,000 jobs in this sector," said Dr. Nina Skorupska, chief executive at the UK's Renewable Energy Association.

PCM briefing: U.S. companies flock to renewables; molten salts could transform mining process

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

• Seventy-two percent of U.S.-based companies surveyed by PwC said they are actively pursuing renewable energy procurement, mainly wind and solar. 

• The University of South Australia has teamed up with Centrex Metals Limited to conduct research on higher-temperature molten salt. Centrex hopes to use the technology, which heats molten salt to 850º Celsius and higher, to convert potassium feldspar ore to potassium chloride fertilizer, using less water and energy than current processes.

• The American Chemistry Council says Toxic Substances Control Act, signed into law Wednesday by President Obama, will have "a meaningful impact on the economy and the marketplace." Up next: The Environmental Protection Agency begins work on implementing new rules

• In a guest blog post for Energy Storage News, Sunamp's business development manager writes about demonstrating the company's PCM/PV "heat battery" in Shenzhen, China, last month. Maurizio Zaglio says SunampPV is a great fit for the Chinese market, thanks to government incentives that have led to widespread use of PV panels. 

PCM briefing: Sustainable manufacturing good for bottom line; Ice Bear among technologies highlighted at White House

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adopting sustainable manufacturing processes can help companies boost their bottom line, improve their reputation and become more competitive, writes Doug Kramer, president and CEO of spray foam product maker Lapolla Industries

• The Global Cold Chain Forum is accepting nominations for the 2016 Cold Chain Excellence Awards. The four categories are Best Temperature Controlled Logistics Project; Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year; Most Sustainable Temperature-Controlled Project; and Most Effective Risk Assessment, Evaluation & Mitigation for Transportation. Nominations are due by July 29, 2016.

Nike is teaming up with MIT's Climate CoLab to speed the development of innovative materials and shrink the company's supply-chain footprint.

Ice Energy's new Ice Bear residential cooling system was among the technologies highlighted at a White House summit on renewable energy and storage last week. 

• Puma's new PCM-infused jerseys made the wrong kind of impression at the European Championships this week. Four jerseys worn by Swiss players in a match against France tore apart when tugged on by opponents. Puma later apologized, blaming the problem on a bad batch of material damaged during production. It does not appear that the problem involved the phase change material used in strategically placed tape inside the jersey.

Pluss Advanced Technologies' Celsure cold chain shipper won the innovation of the year award at the Cold Chain Strategy Summit in Mumbai last week.