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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: 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: 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.

PCM briefing: Ice Bear 20 to be installed at CEO's California ranch; $7.8 trillion to be invested in renewable power in next 25 years

Ben Welter - Monday, June 13, 2016

• About $7.8 trillion will be invested in renewable power worldwide over the next 25 years, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report, New Energy Outlook 2016, projects that wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy sources will generate 70 percent of Europe’s power in 2040, up from 32 percent in 2015. In the United States, 44 percent of power will come from renewables in 2040, up from 14 percent in 2015.

Ice Bear 20Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins reports on LinkedIn: "I'm excited to be getting an Ice Bear 20 for my ranch in Santa Barbara. It will be our first installation in California. Here's a picture of it all wrapped up and ready for shipping from our factory in Hammondsport, New York. It will have a stopover at our facility in Riverside and then up to my place." The Ice Bear 20, a smaller version of the company's commercial thermal energy storage system, is designed for the residential market. The ice-based system has a 265-gallon tank and a thermal storage capacity of 240,000 BTUs. It is 44 inches wide, 40 inches high and 75 inches deep.

Cold Chain Technologies, a manufacturer and distributor of temperature-controlled packaging solutions, has promoted Richard M. Formato to the new position of principal technologist. Formata led the commercial development of the company's line of phase change materials and, more recently, gelled PCMs.

PCM briefing: Vertellus files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; investment in renewables topped $328 billion in 2015

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 02, 2016

Vertellus Specialties Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Indiana-based chemical company, whose products include paraffin-based phase change material, says its term loan lenders have agreed to open the bidding at an auction for most of its business. Vertellus has received court approval to operate its business as usual during the bankruptcy process. 

Hydro, wind and solar accounted for 14.6 percent of Australia's electric power in 2015, the Clean Energy Council says.

Renewable energy sources accounted for 52.2 percent of Spain’s power generation in the first five months of 2016, according to grid operator Red Electrica de Espana.

A record $328.9 billion was invested globally in solar, wind and other renewable energy sources in 2015, according to a report by REN 21, a coalition of governments, renewable energy trade associations and financial institutions. Spending in Europe was $48.8 billion, down from $62 billion a year earlier.

PCM briefing: Renewables milestone in Portugal; PCM conference in Germany

Ben Welter - Friday, May 20, 2016

Portugal ran for a record four days straight on renewable energy alone last week. Solar, wind and hydro power typically account for about half of the country's electricity needs. Renewables provided only about 23 percent as recently as 2013, the Guardian reports. 

Puma women's Blaze golf shoePuma's new Blaze golf shoe for women features Outlast phase change technology to promote thermal comfort. 

• The PCM 2016 conference in Karlsruhe, Germany, drew more than 60 participants this week. In opening sessions, Drs. Thomas Johansson of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics and Hans-Martin Henning of Fraunhofer ISE touched on the importance of thermal storage for heating and cooling efficiency and a sustainable energy future. 

PCM briefing: A low-cost 'thermal blanket' for preemies; SolarReserve gains foothold in China

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 03, 2016

© icddr,b/ Shahzad Noorani• U.S. and Bangladeshi scientists have developed a low-cost "thermal blanket" designed to save the lives of premature babies in developing countries. The device contains sodium acetate, a phase change material that releases latent heat as it changes from liquid to solid form. “One of our contributions to product development is the use of semi-solid hydrogenated oil as a buffer to absorb excess heat and extend the duration of optimal heat maintenance in the blanket,” says M.A. Quaiyum, co-principal investigator and scientist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research in Bangladesh.

• California-based SolarReserve and Shenhua Group of China have agreed to work together to develop 1,000 megawatts of advanced solar energy projects in China. SolarReserve technology uses mirrors to focus sunlight to directly heat molten salt and then store it so electricity can be produced around the clock.

• A new method to analyze and define chemical risk will make it easier and cheaper to manage potential risks, according to new research published in the journal Risk Analysis.

Paul Valento, CALMAC's vice president of sales and marketing, was among the speakers at this week's High Performance Buildings & Workplaces show in Austin, Texas. The topic: "Using Ice Storage to Enhance Solar Assets & Reduce Peak Demand."

PCM briefing: Thermal battery maker Sunamp raises $4.6 million; Viking Cold Solutions' cooling system is on display in Hannover

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

• U.K. thermal battery maker Sunamp has raised 3.2 million pounds ($4.6 million) in its latest investment round. Sunamp said “an international private investor in the energy market” led the funding round, along with existing investors Scottish Investment Bank, Par Equity, Equity Gap, Highland Venture Capital and Old College Capital. The company said the money would be used to fund expansion and product development.

Viking Cold Solutions' hybrid cooling system is on display at the industrial technology show in Hannover, Germany, this week. The new system combines phase change material with solar photovoltaics for use in supermarkets and food warehouses. The Houston-based company says the system can reduce electricity peak demand by up to 90 percent.

EGO Power+ string trimmer• The new EGO Power+ 15-inch string trimmer, which uses phase change material to keep its rechargeable battery cool, was the highest-rated of 11 battery-powered trimmers reviewed this month by Pro Tool Reviews.

• The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has signed an agreement with the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to work together to stimulate development of "high-potential, high-impact clean energy technologies" in the state. The collaboration will focus on a broad range of technology, including smart grid, distributed energy, renewable energy and energy storage.

• New report from Future Market Insights: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025".

• South Africa's new Bokpoort concentrated solar power plant has set an African record for continuous supply of electricity: 161 hours, or nearly six days. The plant's molten salt system provides 9.3 hours of thermal storage.

PCM briefing: NASA testing PCM heat exchanger for Orion spacecraft; 'too much' renewable energy in Texas, California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 13, 2016



NASA has partnered with the International Space Station to test the next generation of phase change material heat exchangers for use aboard the Orion spacecraft. The PCM HX helps maintain a comfortable environment by absorbing and ejecting excess heat. The test platform pumps a mix of propylene glycol and water through the PCM HX at temperatures between -10º and 30º Celsius. The wax PCM was developed by UTC Aerospace Systems.

ARPA-E is looking for input on the development of low-cost occupancy sensors to help minimize the energy used to heat and cool buildings.

• A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that many developing nations that now rely on a "high share of renewable energy in their power mix" are increasingly turning to fossil fuels to meet growing demand for cheap electricity.

• The world's renewable energy capacity grew by a record 152 gigawatts in 2015, or about 8.3 percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Solar capacity grew by 47 gigawatts, or 26 percent, as the cost of PV panels continued to fall.

• Appearing at last month's Solar Heating and Cooling Workshop in Melbourne, Frank Bruno, associate research professor at the University of South Australia, said phase change material thermal storage is cheaper than batteries for solar storage, costing around $200 (AUD) per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, compared to $1,500/kWh for batteries.

Installer magazine takes a close look at Viessmann's Ice Store home heating and cooling system.

• A provocative headline in the MIT Technology Review last week: "Texas and California Have Too Much Renewable Energy." The rapid growth of wind and solar, with no large-scale storage in place, has made a mess of energy prices in those states.

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.