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.




PCM briefing: Thermal energy storage symposium in Switzerland; paper on development of Ebola vaccine passive storage device

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

• Registration is open for the 3rd Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage to be held Jan. 22, 2016, in Lucerne. Topics include PCM systems for high-temperature heat storage; seasonal storage with subcooling PCM; and cooling buildings, processes or batteries with phase change slurries. Cost is $300.

• In a paper presented at the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, Michael Friend and Shannon Stone of Intellectual Ventures describe the development of the Arktek DF passive storage device" for the Ebola vaccine in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

• New from Decision Databases: "Global Microencapsulation Market Research Report - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2021"

• New from MarketsandMarkets: "Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market - Global Forecast to 2020"

• A team from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, one of four finalists in ESA Education’s Fly Your Thesis! competition, intends to verify a model of phase change material performance in a microgravity environment. The team's goal is to lay groundwork for more effective temperature control in future space applications.

The San Diego City Council has approved a legally binding climate action plan that commits the eighth-largest U.S. city to 100 percent renewables and a 50 reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. 

PCM briefing: Market research on organic PCMs and advanced energy storage; Costa Rica running on renewables

Ben Welter - Monday, December 21, 2015

• New from Decision Databases: "Global Organic Phase Change Material Market Research Report - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2021."

• New from Infiniti Research Ltd.: "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market 2016-2020." 

• Renewable resources generated 99 percent of the electricity used in Costa Rica this year, the state utility reports. Hydroelectric plants generated three-quarters of the electricity. Geothermal, wind, biomass and solar sources accounted for the rest.

Dr. Issam Mudawar, whose research focuses on phase change mechanisms and applications in energy, has been named the Betty Ruth and Milton B. Hollander Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

PCM briefing: Another city plans to unplug; 5 energy storage trends to watch in 2016

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nassau, N.Y., has pledged to unplug from the grid and get 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020.

Sunverge Energy CEO Ken Munson lists five energy storage trends to watch in 2016. No. 1: "Environmental and economic concerns will combine to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired generation and increase the importance of renewables."

BASF's Micronal phase change material was used in the meeting room ceilings of a new seven-story office building on the BASF campus in Ludwigshafen, Germany. As room temperatures increase, the microencapsulated PCM absorbs excess heat and releases it as needed to keep room temperatures constant.

The 11th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, set for Oct. 10-11, 2016, in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. Among the topics are smart materials for intelligent building envelopes and thermal performance of phase change materials for building skins. Proposals are due Feb. 15.

The physics in "Star Wars" isn't always correct, but that's OK, says blogger Rhett Allain, who's been writing on the topic for "a very long time."

SNC-Lavalin of Canada and Toledo Arabia Co. have been jointly awarded a contract to provide district cooling services for the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The project includes a thermal storage tank with an output capacity of 5,000 refrigeration tons.

PCM briefing: Clean energy award for midcareer women; a PCM primer for architects and engineers

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nominations are open through Jan. 8 for the 2016 C3E Awards, which recognize outstanding midcareer women who are advancing clean energy. Each winner will receive $8,000 and national recognition at the annual C3E Symposium. 

• The full text of "Phase Change Materials: A primer for Architects and Engineers," edited by Sarah McCormack and Philip Griffiths, is available for free on ResearchGate.

A 17-year-old high school student in Barcelona spotted renewable energy giant Abengoa's financial problems a year ago. “If it does not act soon, there is a strong risk Abengoa will go into bankruptcy,” Pepe Baltá wrote in a research paper, citing accounting flaws apparently overlooked by Deloitte and Standard & Poor’s.

Renewable electricity accounted for more than 50 percent of U.S. electricity capacity additions in 2014, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports. Solar led the pack, adding 5.5 gigawatts.

Phase Change Matters briefing: Cooling deep mines with ice; storing renewable energy underground

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

• South African mines are using ice-based cooling systems to manage excessive heat. At depths approaching 3000 meters, temperatures can soar to 60° Celsius. Ice provides far more cooling energy than traditional water-based systems.

• Where to store all that intermittent wind-, water- and solar-generated energy? Stanford and University of California-Berkeley researchers suggest putting it underground

• For the first time, emerging economies installed more renewable energy capacity than did wealthier nations last year, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Zeolite-filled tanks designed to meet the solar-energy storage demands of a single-family household are yielding promising results in Austria. “We reached a storage density of 180 kWh/m³, which has never been achieved before in a device of this size,” said Wim van Helden, head of the research project at AEE INTEC

Research roundup: Thermal characteristics of microencapsulated PCM; expanded graphite and paraffin; problems associated with PCMs; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 05, 2015

Micro-Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials for Latent-Heat Storage: Thermal Characteristics [pdf] [Materials and Technology]

Improvement of thermal conductivity of paraffin by adding expanded graphite [Journal of Composite Materials]

Figure of Merit for the Thermal Performance of Cementitious Composites Containing Phase Change Materials [Cement and Concrete Composites]

SigmaPipe as an Education Tool for Engineers [Education for Chemical Engineers]

Experimental study on crystallization process and prediction for the latent heat of ice slurry generation based sodium chloride solution [Applied Energy]

Review on Latent Heat Storage and Problems Associated With Phase Change Materials [pdf] [International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology]

Smart Building: Decision Making Architecture for Thermal Energy Management [Sensors]

Phase Change Matters briefing

Ben Welter - Friday, October 30, 2015

• A borehole thermal energy storage system has been installed at the U.S. Marine Corps logistics base in Albany, Ga.

Xcel Energy Inc. expects long-term contracts for wind energy to beat the cost of natural gas. The Minnesota-based utility is receiving bids for 20-year power-purchase agreements at about $25 a megawatt-hour for wind energy. It expects prices for electricity from natural gas to be closer to $32 a megawatt-hour over the same period.

• You might have to fly to Zurich to buy the new KJUS Hublot winter jacket featuring Schoeller-PCM phase change material. It's a limited-edition product, "inspired by the Big Bang Unico Carbon watch," and only 200 are available.

OVG Real Estate, and its Amsterdam office building, The Edge, have won CoreNet Global's H. Bruce Russell Global Innovator’s Award.

Alumina Energy of Santa Monica, Calif., whose packed bed thermal energy storage technology uses specially sized alumina ceramic storage material, is one of eight finalists in the 2015 NOVA Innovation Competition.

Global wind map features 1-km resolution, shows wind speed at 3 different heights

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 22, 2015

Global Wind Atlas

With help from the Technical University of Denmark, the International Renewable Energy Agency has launched its new Global Wind Atlas, providing accurate wind data down to the kilometer. Previously, global wind data was publicly available at a 10-kilometer resolution at best. The increased detail, plus the ability to display wind speed at three different heights, will help wind energy planners reduce risk and costs in the search for ideal locations for wind farms.

Patent application: Combined cycle plant with thermal energy storage and PCM

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150267566 (applicant Vassilios Vamvas, Bedford, Mass.): 

"A combined cycle power plant for frequent stops and startups comprises at least one gas turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, at least one steam turbine and a thermal energy storage and retrieval system utilizing latent heat of fusion. Phase change materials receive thermal charge from two sources: (a) renewable energy generation plants, when their production exceeds demand and (b) gas turbine exhaust heat. The thermal energy storage and retrieval system, discharges efficiently thermal energy for steam production, which keeps the at least one steam turbine preheated and ready for fast startups, thus increasing the plant's flexibility and efficiency."

Concrete-based TES pilot project results expected this month

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

EnergyNest is expected to announce the results of its concrete-based thermal energy storage pilot project in Abu Dhabi this month. Energy Storage Report's Jason Deign says concrete might be "the ace up the sleeve" for the Norwegian company and others pursuing similar forms of solar TES. Among the advantages: 

"In terms of supply chain, handling and construction, few materials are likely to be as cost effective, easy to obtain and simple to use. Concrete has decent thermal properties and is less likely than loose TES substrates, such as gravel, to suffer from thermal ratcheting. This is where the substrate packs itself into the bottom of the storage tank after repeated heating and cooling cycles cause the material to expand and contract."