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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: Free webinar on industry disruption; how ice-making bacteria works

Ben Welter - Friday, May 13, 2016

Marija Jović, project manager and lead scientist at PreScouter Inc., will lead a webinar titled "How Phase Change Materials Are Disrupting Your Industry." The free event, set for 1-2 p.m. CDT on June 9, is aimed at leaders in a range of industries, from textiles and apparel to medicine and robotics. Illinois-based PreScouter provides corporate leaders with data and insights on which to base product development decisions.

Pharmaceutical Commerce's annual Cold Chain Sourcebook projects 52 percent growth in global cold chain market between 2014 and 2020.

Ben Singleton, business development manager at Pelican BioThermal, will be among the speakers at next week's Cold Chain & Product Handling: Temperature Controlled Logistics conference in Amsterdam. 

• Since the late 1980s, a company called Snowmax has supplied ski resorts with a bacteria-derived additive that makes snow production possible at higher temperatures. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, now say they've figured out how the ice-making bacteria works.  

Roccor to develop flexible PCM panels for miniature satellites

Ben Welter - Friday, April 29, 2016

A proposal by Roccor LLC of Louisville, Colo., to develop lightweight, flexible thermal energy management panels for CubeSats and other small satellites is one of 399 projects selected by NASA this week to support future missions into deep space. The thermal panels incorporate paraffin phase change material inside a metal case with an internal metal woven mesh to protect the electronics aboard miniaturized satellites.

Roccor's proposal describes the potential applications:

"The primary NASA target application for the proposed space-rated PCM panel technology is future NASA CubeSat and SmallSat spacecraft for which thermal control of on-board electronics is a major bottleneck in the system design. In particular, the proposed technology will enable efficient thermal control by maintaining a constant temperature heat sink or heat source for a range of electronic components in rapidly changing thermal environments. The PCM panel is being designed as a lightweight and flexible component, yet having high thermal capacity, requiring less mass and volume than currently used carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb composite panels."

Two other Roccor proposals were approved for Phase I development. Each will receive six-month contracts valued at up to $125,000. Watch the video below to learn more about the CubeSats being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California.

PCM briefing: ASHRAE offers building restoration guidelines; TNT lands customers for new va-Q-tec shipper

Ben Welter - Monday, April 18, 2016

ASHRAE has proposed guidelines that balance the need for energy conservation and authenticity in the restoration of historic buildings. The guidelines address planning and operation, mechanical systems, building envelopes and lighting.

• Express delivery company TNT has signed up two global customers for its new cold chain packaging and shipping solution, va-Q-tec Ltd.'s Medpak VI°C, which officially launches this month. One is a clinical trial company; the other is a biotech company.

• In partnership with 3D Systems and the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Maryland has used the latest 3D printing technology to manufacture a heat exchanger which is said to be 20 percent more efficient than current technology.

• The 2017 Zayed Future Energy Prize competition, which recognizes "significant contributions in the global response to the future of energy," is now open for entries. Winners are eligible to win up to $1.5 million. This year's winners included BYD Company Ltd. of China, the world's largest rechargeable battery supplier; and Kopernik, an Indonesia nonprofit that distributes solar lights, solar home systems, water filters and clean cookstoves in developing countries.  

PCM briefing: New TES tank at California college; Grid Edge Award for Steffes Corp.

Ben Welter - Monday, April 11, 2016

Chaffey College TES tankA 709,500-gallon thermal storage tank, right, is helping Chaffey College of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., cut cooling costs. The centerpiece of the school's newly expanded central plant helps shift chiller operation from on-peak to off-peak hours, when electricity is less costly.

Steffes Corp., a North Dakota company that makes electric thermal storage systems, has earned a Greentech Media Grid Edge Award. The company's partnership with Hawaiian Electric, Sequentric and Battelle on a grid-interactive water heater system earned Steffes a place on the Grid Edge list. Other honorees this year include Duke Energy, BMW Group and Tesla

National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers have demonstrated that carbon nanotubes have the potential to act as a thermoelectric power generator that captures and uses waste heat.

Suman Jha, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Dr MGR University in Chennai, India, is sold on the importance of phase change material in reducing energy consumption. His study of smart construction materials has found that PCMs can cut air-conditioning loads by 40 to 50 percent.

PCM briefing: Nevada CSP plant ready for commercial operation; Sonoco again makes list of most-admired companies

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 25, 2016

SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes solar tower with molten salt thermal storage has successfully generated electricity at its full 110 MW capacity. Over the next 12 months, the concentrated solar project will gradually ramp up to full commercial operation under its 25-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy, supplying electricity to Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada. Related: SolarReserve has submitted a plan to build a 110MW solar tower and thermal storage plant in South Australia.

Ares 1 helmet • Ares A1, Steelbird's new line of helmets for India's growing motorcycle market, uses phase change material to manage thermal comfort.

Packaging giant Sonoco has again made Fortune magazine's list of most-admired companies. Apple tops this list. 

Peli BioThermal officially unveiled its new European Service Center today in Leighton Buzzard, England. The company's re-usable thermal protection packaging systems, including the new Credo Cargo, will be reconditioned at the center.

• A new report from Stratistics MRC projects that the global market for thermal interface materials, which stood at $570 million in 2015, will reach $1.2 billion by 2022. 

At the CERAWeek conference in Houston this week, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said chemical firms must “manage the short term with a maniacal focus on productivity,” while still focusing on long-term strategies. He said the soon-to-merge Dow Chemical and DuPont plastics giants had each grown too large and sprawling.

PCM briefing: The latest innovations in heat exchanger technology; the latest praise for Ember 'smart' mug

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Expanded metal baffle / EMbaffle B.V.

Beyond shell and tube: POWER magazine's Aaron Larson takes a look at the latest innovations in heat exchanger technology. Expanded metal baffle designs, such as the one shown above from EMbaffle B.V., promise better heat transfer and eliminate flow-induced vibration.

Esquire magazine selected the Ember temperature-adjustable mug, powered in part by phase change material, as one of the top five gadgets among the thousands displayed at last month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

German researchers are developing a PCM-based thermal energy storage using salt hydrates and hybrid double-shell concrete tanks. The goal is to convert excess electricity from renewable sources and store it as heat for use in a single building or shared in a smart grid of neighborhood buildings.

NREL lays off 15 solar energy researchers, plans further cuts at Colorado lab

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 08, 2015

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., laid off 15 solar energy researchers this week and announced plans to eliminate 50 to 60 other positions via buyouts. Reduced federal funding for the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office – from $289 million in 2012 to $233 million this year – forced NREL to shift the priorities of its solar research program, spokesman George Douglas told the Denver Post. Additional cuts will come in areas such as business systems, information technology and public affairs.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_28934958/nrel-cutting-4-workforce-lays-off-solar-researchers

India's new high-altitude shelters use PCM, water tanks to store thermal energy

Ben Welter - Monday, October 05, 2015

Chang La research station, northern India

India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has established the highest research station on Earth. The Chang La station, near Pangong Lake in northern India, stands at 17,500 feet above sea level. Along with the station, DRDO is also introducing a new technology for solar-heated shelters. According to the Tribune of India:

"DRDO has also developed a unique green energy based micro-climate-controlled shelter for use in high-altitude areas that traps and utilises solar energy to maintain the temperature inside. DRDO scientists said while power generated from solar energy could be stored in batteries, it is very difficult to store heat energy derived from the sun for later use. The new shelter, called Dhruv, uses phase change materials for night applications, heat trapping roof design, freeze-resistant underground water storage tanks and solar energy based thermal budgeting."

Rare and endangered plants will be preserved at the Chang La station, where temperatures can fall as low as -40º C. The station will also be used to conduct extreme-altitude research on plants, animals and bio-medical material. The station will house up 20 scientists and support staff. Solar power will be the primary source of energy. 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/at-17-500-ft-world-s-highest-research-station-becomes-functional-in-ladakh/141003.html

PCMs cut energy costs in pilot project at Army warehouse in California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bio-based phase change material reduced energy costs significantly in a pilot project at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, Calif. 

The PCM, supplied by Phase Change Energy Solutions, was installed in one of two identical warehouses. The Redstone Rocket, a publication of the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Decatur, Ala., reported on the pilot project this week:

"For four months, exterior and interior temperatures in the two buildings were recorded every 15 minutes at multiple locations. The monitoring showed how temperatures fluctuated much less within the building where the PCM was installed, especially during winter months. Natural gas consumption data showed a 50 percent energy savings, proving that the heat turned on less in the building with the PCM.

" 'We have statistically significant data showing the impacts of the material on the warehouse temperatures,' Charles King with TriVector Services said. 'What’s most important though is the relationships we’ve built with Sierra, and we look forward to furthering that in the future.'

"Sierra would like to expand the current effort across multiple facilities in the future, pending the availability of funds."

http://www.theredstonerocket.com/military_scene/article_888cf0b0-4bee-11e5-be49-0fc5a834ee77.html

UCLA team gets $1.6 million grant to build hybrid energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dr. Pirouz KavehpourIn partnership with Southern California Edison, a team of UCLA engineers has received a $1.62 million grant from the California Energy Commission to build a hybrid energy storage system that combines compressed air and thermal energy storage technologies. The system will store energy produced by renewable sources such as solar and wind and then transmit the energy to the grid when demand is high. 

Dr. Pirouz Kavehpour, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the lead investigator. The system will be built on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/dept/faculty/ucla-engineers-receive-1-6m-grant-to-develop-new-hybrid-energy-storage-system