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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.




PCM briefing: Job openings at ARPA-E, RGEES; how to thermally model a material with hysteresis

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 24, 2016

ARPA-E is seeking candidates for a number of openings in Washington, D.C.: senior advisor for technical assessment and impact; program director; technology to market advisors; ARPA-E fellows and technology-to-market scholars. 

• PCM manufacturer RGEES has posted an opening for a production technician at its plant in Arden, N.C. 

• Software maker COMSOL outlines a procedure for thermally modeling a material with hysteresis, which means that the melting temperature is different from the solidification temperature.

• Global investment in renewable energy hit a record $286 billion in 2015, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Program. Developing economies accounted for nearly 55 percent of the total. It's a different story in Europe, evidently. The Guardian reports that the clean technology industry there "has fallen into a rapid decline, with investment in low-carbon energy last year plummeting to its lowest level in a decade."

PCM briefing: Agenda posted for BioLogistics Summit; global economy grew as CO2 emissions stayed flat in 2015

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 16, 2016

• The agenda has been released for the 4th BioLogistics Summit to be held June 27-29 in San Francisco. Chris Anderson, quality systems director at Cardinal Health, will lead a roundtable discussion, "Overcoming Obstacles to Improve Cold Chain Management of Biologics. And a case study presentation will review the advantages and disadvantages of phase change material vs. single-use containers for transportation. 

• For the second straight year, the global economy has grown while energy-related CO2 emissions remained flat, thanks to energy efficiency and a surge in renewables, according to the International Energy Agency.

Minus7 Ltd., a British company that has developed a hybrid passive solar and thermal energy storage system aimed at the residential market, has acquired Engenius Ltd., a company with expertise in solar photovoltaic design, installation and maintenance.

PCM briefing: Jute-insulated packaging company is up for social impact award; premium mattress with PCM costs less than $1,000

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 10, 2016

TemperPack, maker of jute-insulated packaging for perishable foods, is one of nine finalists for CommonBond's annual Social Impact Award, competing for a chance to win $10,000. TemperPack's plastic-film cooling packs contain a solution of 95 percent water and 5 percent polyglycol.

• Online mattress startup Zen Bedding is offering its first product: a sub-$1,000 "premium" foam mattress that combines the thermo-regulation of phase change material with a cool gel memory foam.

• The Regulatory Assistance Project has taken a fresh look at how to close the projected gap between the total load a utility serves and what that load looks like after a significant amount of wind and solar energy is added to the system. Greentech Media notes that RAP gives one element — water — far more emphasis: "For the first time, managing water and wastewater pumping loads has been added as a strategy. Water heating and ice energy also have more prominent roles."

• Reporting on ARPA-E's annual innovation summit, Utility Dive says "it appears the stage is set for clean energy technology to benefit from a new wave of investment in the United States as investors take advantage of increased market certainty and public policy supportive of low-carbon energy solutions."

• Researchers at RWTH Aachen University are simulating the complex behavior of paraffin-water slurries in hydraulic networks. Possible uses include underfloor heating, cooling ceiling panels and district heating networks.

PCM briefing: 12 principles for green energy storage; 24x7 operation for EnergyNest pilot project

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

University of Michigan researchers have developed a set of 12 principles for green energy storage. No. 10: "Substitute non-toxic and non-hazardous materials."

EnergyNest AS has agreed to hire additional staff to provide around-the-clock operation of its thermal energy storage pilot facility at the Masdar Institute's beam-down solar power plant in Abu Dhabi. The increased staffing – seven engineers and technicians – is necessary for EnergyNest to demonstrate system performance over many charge/discharge cycles.

CALMAC founder Calvin D. MacCracken has been posthumously inducted into the ASHRAE Hall of Fame. CALMAC's IceBank energy storage technology, which shifts cooling production to off-peak hours, is among MacCracken's 80 patents.

Monodraught says it's getting positive feedback on the low-energy cooling and ventilation strategy the company developed for Cambridge University's Greenwich House. Monodraught installed its Cool-Phase systems and Windcatcher X-Air in a number of open plan office areas, several meeting rooms and a café area. The system combines a thermal energy store containing phase change material with an intelligently controlled air-handling unit.

• Mattress ticking producer Fine Cotton Factory has doubled its production space in Toronto to 80,000 square feet. The company is planning to introduce several products this year, including copper-infused fabrics and phase change yarns.

In a piece on, four industry experts offer a new way to measure the performance of passive cold-chain shipping containers. They say a "performance curve" chart could simplify the design process. [pdf]

PCM briefing: A new resource for green building professionals; a fresh look at green building trends

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The American Chemistry Council has launched to provide architects, material specifiers, interior designers and others with tools and information about green building codes, standards and material selection.

• A report projects strong growth for the green building market globally, but finds that the United States lags in measuring the benefits. "World Green Building Trends 2016," produced by Dodge Data & Analytics with support from United Technologies Corp., the U.S. Green Building Council and others, is based on a 2015 survey of more than 1,000 architects, engineers, contractors, owners and consultants from 69 countries. 

• The agenda for the 14th GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Summit - Canada, Feb. 29-March 3 in Toronto, is available for download at Sonoco ThermoSafe, va-Q-tec, Pelican BioThermal and Cryopak are among the sponsors. [pdf]

• A new study by the Brattle Group makes the case for tapping the thermal energy of electric water heaters in more than 50 million U.S. homes. The use of water heaters as thermal batteries could save consumers money, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, better manage electricity from renewable sources and help grid operators regulate voltage and frequency. [pdf]

• PureTemp phase change material, made by Entropy Solutions, has been selected for display at matériO showrooms in Paris, Seoul and Shanghai. The materials library, based in France, lists more than 7,400 "cutting edge" materials and technologies in its database. The Seoul and Shanghai showrooms are scheduled to open in June.

Thermal storage is in the mix for Texas utility seeking big increase in solar

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 09, 2016

In an effort to reach a goal of deriving 55 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, a Texas utility is adopting energy storage and software tools to accommodate a big increase in solar power. Utility Dive reports that Austin Energy is developing a plan for distribution-connected local storage of at least 10 MW complemented by as much as 20 MW of thermal storage. The test program is being implemented under a $4.3 million award from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.

PCM briefing: Upward pressure on palm oil prices; lab technician opening at CIC Energigune

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Global palm oil production is expected to be lower in 2016 than forecast due to the El Niño phenomenon, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council said Tuesday. The council projects an average price of $621 per metric ton and says the price is not likely fall below $480.

CIC Energigune, an energy research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a lab technician in its thermal energy storage group.

Johnson & Johnson and va-Q-tec Ltd. won first-place awards at the annual temperature controlled logistics conference in Frankfurt last month. Katharina Wuensche, va-Q-tec's director of business development, won the Cold Chain IQ Newcomer Award.  

• Among cold chain specialist Gary Hutchinson's predictions for 2016: Specialized packaging for specific drugs and tighter controls on clinical trial operations in extreme environments.

• In an interview with Health Care Packaging, cold chain consultant Geoff Glauser talks about the challenges of transporting the Ebola vaccine to West Africa. Intellectual Ventures' Arktek passive cooling device was adapted for use in clinical trials of the vaccine, using a specially formulated phase change liquid that freezes at -80º C.

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.

Research roundup: Paraffin/expanded perlite; thermal contact between exchanger and PCM; valorization of waste and byproduct materials; more

Ben Welter - Monday, January 25, 2016

Building Energy Storage Panel Based on Paraffin/Expanded Perlite: Preparation and Thermal Performance Study [Materials]

Heat transfer enhancement in latent heat thermal storage systems: Comparative study of different solutions and thermal contact investigation between the exchanger and the PCM [Applied Energy]

Advances in the valorization of waste and by-product materials as thermal energy storage (TES) materials [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Experimental investigation on a MnCl2–CaCl2–NH3 thermal energy storage system [Renewable Energy]

Coupling of phase change material with nighttime radiative cooling [pdf] [Sustain Conference 2015]

Preparation and textile application of poly(methyl methacrylate-co-methacrylic acid)/n-octadecane and n-eicosane microcapsules [Journal of the Textile Institute]

Plans for Dutch Windwheel include underground thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Friday, January 22, 2016

Drawing of proposed Dutch Windwheel

A consortium behind plans to build the Dutch Windwheel, a 570-foot-tall apartment and hotel complex in Rotterdam, has agreed to begin development and testing of a self-supporting energy system and other innovative technologies.

Underground thermal energy storage is among the components being studied for the "next-generation" windmill.

"Phase change materials, aquifer thermal energy storage and surface water thermal energy are a few of multiple options for managing the smart HVAC system in a sustainable way," said Gerard Blom, freshwater systems manager at the research institute Deltares, a member of the consortium. "Possibilities will be researched for local energy production (including the electrostatic wind energy convertor technology, solar and residual heat, and heat exchange), the water system, the development of a smart grid, the use of materials as well as technologies to enhance the experience and attraction value of the Dutch Windwheel and its environment."