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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 monthly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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PCM briefing: ThermoSafe-ACL Airshop agreement; new CEO at Phase Change Energy Solutions

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 06, 2020

Pegasus ULDSonoco ThermoSafe and ACL Airshop have announced a global agreementfor the handling and repair of ThermoSafe’s Pegasus ULD bulk temperature-controlled containers ACL Airshop, of Greenville, S.C., provides cargo support equipment and logistics solutions for airlines and air cargo carriers. Sonoco says the unit load device is made of composite materials that are lighter and more damage-resistant than traditional metal containers. It uses a gelled phase change material to maintain pharmaceutical-safe temperatures for five days or more, depending on the PCM used.

Has long-term thermal energy storage come of age? That's the premise of a recent advertorial sponsored by Viking Cold Solutions on Greentech Media's website. The Houston company says its PCM-based system, designed for use in cold storage facilities, stores enough energy to cycle off refrigeration for up to 13 hours per day and reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent. Not much new in the article, but the reader comment section might be of interest to people who are familiar with the technology.

• A cycling club in Great Britain teamed up with Peli BioThermal this summer to deliver temperature-sensitive prescriptions to housebound people. The company supplied Banbury Star Cyclists with Crēdo ProMed temperature-controlled medical transport bags. The PCM-equipped bags are designed to transport pharmaceutical samples and medical supply payloads within two ranges, 2-8°C and 15-25°C.

Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., has a new chief executive officer. Govi Rao, co-founder and managing partner at CARBON Group Global, joined the company in April. His predecessor, Dennis McGill, had held the position since December 2018.

Sunamp Ltd. of Scotland has raised 4.5 million pounds in a Series A financing round led by Chilean venture capital firm Aurus Capital. Sunamp says it will use the funds to support commercial scaling in the United Kingdom and expansion in Central Europe, Asia and North America.

• The 15th Conference on Advanced Building Skins will be held as scheduled Oct. 26-27 in Bern, Switzerland. "In the unlikely event that the conference will not take place, or the participant may not be able to travel," organizers say, "paid registration will be credited to our conference next year." The 12 sessions, with over 70 presentations, will also be available online.

• A four-man canoe team put Glacier Tek's PCM-powered cooling vests to the test last month at the Missouri 340, a 340-mile paddle race from Kansas City to St. Charles, Mo. Team Mississippi, led by Scott Miller, 44, of Minneapolis, finished 11th overall in the race, completing the course in 44 hours, 38 minutes. The race drew more than 350 entries. Team members used the vests to cool down at checkpoints. Miller, second from left in the photo, plans to use the vests to battle the heat in the Great Alabama 650, which bills itself as the world's longest annual paddle race. That event begins Sept. 26 on the Coosa River in northern Alabama.

PCM briefing: Ph.D. opening at University of Twente; Denver thermal conference moves online

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

• The University of Twente, Netherlands, has an opening for a four-year Ph.D. position in phase change materials for heat storage. "This research project will try to introduce a smart composite material which can store the heat for both short and long-term storage time," according to the posting. "This smart material will be based on inorganic salt hydrates having controllable discharging speed which is very advantageous for future smart heat batteries." The starting salary is 2,325 euros per month, plus an annual 8.3% year-end bonus.

• Because of uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, scheduled for Aug. 6-7 in Denver, will be held as a virtual event on the same dates. According to the conference website: "Thermal 2020 presentations will be webcast with live slide presentations, audio, and real-time Q&A. Attendees may revisit these presentations after the event via recordings delivered directly to them. Exhibit booths feature rich, virtual profiles. Networking is done all-day via video conference rooms and though scheduled 1x1 meetings." A full conference pass costs $295 through June 12.

Peli BioThermal says air ambulance crews in Europe are transporting blood products via the company's Credo ProMed transport bags. The temperature-controlled bags are designed to protect blood products needed for transfusions at emergency scenes.

 • Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are working to integrate a new thermal energy storage technology within CHP systems from Capstone Turbine Corp. to boost heat recovery. In the Argonne system, high-temperature PCMs are embedded within highly thermally conductive foam. The foam is then sealed with inert gas inside a module, preventing moisture or oxygen from getting inside and degrading the components.

PCM briefing: EnergyNest is finalist for startup award; Croda website offers live chat

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

EnergyNest is one of 15 start-ups nominated as finalists of the Start Up Energy Transition Award 2020. EnergyNest's thermal battery consists of steel cassettes with pipes encased in a special type of concrete. The Norwegian company announced earlier this year that an EnergyNest battery with a capacity of 6-8 MWh would be installed at a brick manufacturing plant in Austria.

• "T-History Simplified: Combining a Universal Standard with an IoT Strategy," presented by Madison Hammerberg, product development engineering manager at CAVU Group, will be among the presentations at the Advancements in Thermal Management conference in Denver, Aug. 6-7, 2020.

Croda now offers live chat on its CrodaTherm website, www.crodatherm.com. The "Chat with a Croda Expert" feature is designed to provide visitors with "instant support."

Terrafore Technologies of Minneapolis is one of 13 companies to be awarded a Launch Minnesota Innovation Grant from the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development. The grants total $344,000; the amounts of individual grants were not disclosed. Terrafore is developing thermal energy storage to provide dispatchable solar power generation to the grid.

RayGen Resources Pty. Ltd. of Australia has been awarded $3 million AUD toward a feasibility study for a 4 MW “solar hydro” power plant in Victoria. The money will come from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. RayGen's system extracts heat from solar panels and stores it in a water reservoir acting as a heat store. The hot reservoir is paired with cold reservoir chilled by electricity from the solar panels and the grid. The temperature difference powers an Organic Rankine Cycle engine to generate electricity with a round-trip efficiency of 70%.

• The Swedish thermal energy storage company Azelio has completed the installation of "a system that will store solar energy from what is claimed to be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant project," Energy Storage Journal reports. "The complex [in Morocco] is 2,500 hectares in size, and solar panels cover 1,000 square metres — which means it could potentially harvest a total of 2.6GW a year." The system uses recycled aluminum as the heat storage material.

Sunamp Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland, has signed a memo of understanding with Ripple Energy, a company that enables customers to part-own large-scale wind farms to power their homes. Under the agreement, Ripple will offer its customers Sunamp heat batteries, which use a specially formulated phase change material to store large amounts of energy from renewable and other sources and release it as heat to deliver hot water and space heating as needed.

PCM briefing: Ice Energy files for bankruptcy; Viking Cold has opening for thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 10, 2020

Ice Energy, the Santa Barbara, Calif., company that made and distributed ice-based thermal energy storage systems, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's Ice Bear system makes ice at night when demand for electricity is low and capacity is abundant. During the day, the stored ice is used to provide cooling. Details of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in December, are sparse. The company's website is no longer active. Over the years, Ice Energy had won several major energy storage and distribution contracts with utilities, and had begun marketing a smaller version of the Ice Bear system aimed at retail customers. 

Viking Cold Solutions has an opening for a chemical/thermal engineer in Houston. The engineer will "conduct research in Thermal Science, Storage/Heat Transfer and Phase Change Materials (PCM) for low temperature applications (<10⁰C)."

Axiom Exergy has secured more than $1 million in orders for the Axiom Cloud, a software platform that helps manage energy consumption in supermarkets and cold storage facilities that use the company's PCM-powered thermal storage systems.

• The 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 6-7 in Denver, has issued a call for presentations. Topics include thermal materials, thermal modeling and characterization and measurement of thermal materials. Abstracts are due Feb. 12.

EnergyNest will install a large thermal energy storage battery at a Senftenbacher brick factory in Austria. The system will temporarily store excess energy in the form of hot air from a tunnel furnace. The stored heat be converted to steam and later reused in production.

Devan Chemicals, the Belgium-based developer of finishing technologies for textiles, introduced its Tones of Cool Bio technology at the Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, last month. The technology "stimulates the textile to dissipate redundant heat from the body and to instantly reduce the body temperature," the company says. The phase change materials "are derived from sustainable, natural sources.

Registration is open for the 23rd Microencapsulation Industrial Convention to be held June 8-11 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

PCM briefing: ThermoSafe introduces new passive shipper; PCM-cooled rail containers hit market in China

Ben Welter - Saturday, August 24, 2019

ThermoSafe Pegasus ULD shipper• Sonoco ThermoSafe has announced the creation of a passive, temperature-controlled container that will be manufactured by AEROTUF of Charleston, S.C. The Pegasus ULD container will use AEROTUF’s patented AeroTHERM composite material technology, along with a gelled phase change material. "The Pegasus ULD will ultimately provide 2-8, CRT, and frozen temperature ranges depending on the PCM used for durations up to and exceeding five days," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of Engineering and Product Management at ThermoSafe, which is based in Arlington Heights, Ill. A launch date for the product has not been announced.

• The Chinese rail company that worked with the UK's University of Birmingham last year to develop a prototype of PCM-based freight container is bringing the concept to market. Hebei-based transport business CRRC Shijiazhuang sold 49 of the containers to a manufacturer in China this month. The low-emissions freight containers keep payloads cold without the need for fuel-generated refrigeration. "We are delighted to see our cold storage technologies start to make the commercial market," said Yulong Ding, director of the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage. "We are working with our partners to extend the cold storage technologies to more applications."

Lagunitas Phase Change ale• Here's a co-branding opportunity for a PCM manufacturer with a taste for hops: Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, Calif., has introduced Phase Change, "an unfiltered, wet-hop ale packed full of lupulin-drenched Simcoe, Citra & Mosaic hops." The brewer describes the beer as "somewhere between a solid and a liquid... a Phase Change of sorts."  

• More than 170 speakers are lined up for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will deliver the keynote address. Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." Damien Mathis of Ai Environnement, Paris, will give a presentation on the "thermal performance of engineered wood flooring impregnated with phase-change materials." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by Aug. 30 will receive a 10 percent discount.

PCM briefing: Building Skins conference agenda; tough words for CALMAC and Axiom Exergy

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

• The agenda is set for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will be the keynote speaker. Among the more than 150 speakers is Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, who will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by May 31 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Mike HopkinsIn a LinkedIn post, former Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shared his take on two of the California company's competitors in distributed thermal energy storage. "Look at @CALMAC, a Portfolio of Trane - been in our industry forever, good product, but haven't been able to secure utility deals because their large bespoke systems make it too risky to commit to MWs in a location on a schedule," wrote Hopkins, who is now CEO at Bakken Midstream. "Relative newcomer [Axiom Exergy] came to market with their #refrigeration #battery. Good concept but not plug and play. Not surprising, they seem to have recast themselves as a #cloud based power management company."

• Speaking of CALMAC: CEO Mark McCracken will speak on "some of the myths surrounding ice-based TES" at an ASHRAE technical seminar on thermal energy storage in building design in Hong Kong June 13. 

FedEx Express has launched a temperature-controlled shipping solution in Japan, Korea and Singapore. The company says its Medpak VIºC packaging, first introduced in Europe, provides 96-hour temperature stability. The reusable thermal packaging features vacuum insulated panels and phase change material validated to International Safe Transit Association 7D standards.

CIC energiGUNE, a research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a researcher in its thermal energy storage area. The research will focus on the storage of heat through reversible chemical reactions "in a range of temperature few explored so far (120 - 250 °C)." The application deadline is Sept. 11, 2019.   

Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Advances in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo. Her topic: "Measuring and Modeling the Thermal Performance of Products Equipped with Phase Change Materials." 

• Thermal energy storage startup NET Energy of Chicago is among 10 finalists for the University of Chicago’s 19th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge. Winners will be announced next week, with the top companies sharing $250,000 in cash, along with $250,000 worth of office space and professional services from program sponsors. 

PCM briefing: $33M in funding for CSP thermal storage research; Walero undergarment put to the test in race simulator

Ben Welter - Friday, March 29, 2019

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $33 million in research funding to advance technologies that work toward achieving the department's 2030 cost target of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for CSP-generated electricity with at least 12 hours of thermal energy storage. "This research," DOE writes, "includes new materials and technologies that significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing, enable new energy storage technologies, and develop solutions that enable a solar field to operate autonomously without any human input."

Jack MitchellWalero racewear, which uses Outlast phase change technology to regulate temperature in race and rally drivers, has been put to the test on reigning British GT4 champion Jack Mitchell in a temperature-controlled race simulator. The tests were directed by racing performance coach Dean Fouache. On the first day, Mitchell, right, wore standard Nomex underwear; on the second day, he wore Walero underwear. Three measurements were recorded every five minutes during the hourlong tests: body temperature, heart rate and weight loss. In all three areas, Walero showed measurable advantages over the Nomex. "Jack sweated around 40 percent less in the Walero underwear and his average heart rate was eight beats less over the course of the hour," Fouache told Autosport magazine. "So, all in all, relatively conclusive results - even though it is a small comparison test."

• New this month from Central West Publishing in Australia: "Phase Change Materials," edited by Vikas Mittal, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi.

• The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy in the United Kingdom earlier this month featured a number of experiments with phase change materials, including Auburn University's development of micro-encapsulated phase change materials that can be combined with many different media. Other PCM research included a bio-composite made with hemp lime concrete and a novel utilization of fly ash to encapsulate phase change materials.

James Joule• The 200th anniversary of the birth of physicist James Prescott Joule will be commemorated with the unveiling of a plaque in Sale, United Kingdom, in April. The English physicist and mathematician, who gave his name to the unit of energy, was born on Dec. 24, 1818, in Salford. He died in Sale in 1889.

• The deadline for submitting manuscripts for "Phase Change Materials of Buildings," a special issue of the journal Buildings, is Sunday, March 31. Dr. Morshed Alam of Australia's Swinburne University of Technology is the guest editor.

PCM briefing: Energy Storage Europe includes sessions on thermal storage; C-Therm offers webinar on thermal performance of textiles

Ben Welter - Monday, March 04, 2019

• The Energy Storage Europe conference and trade fair, set for March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany, includes a number of sessions on thermal energy storage: "Heat Storage - an essential contribution to energy transition," Oliver Baudson, TSK Flagsol Engineering GmbH; "Advanced Thermal Energy Storage Concepts," Dr. Robert Pitz-Paal, DLR Institute of Solar Research; "High Temperature Storage," Doron Brenmiller, Brenmiller Energy; "Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage," Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern; and "Thermal Energy Storage for Cost-Effective Energy Management & CO2 Mitigation," Dr. Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center - DLR e.V.

• The deadline for submitting paper proposals for next fall's Advanced Building Skins conference in Bern, Switzerland, is March 10. The list of topics includes thermal performance of phase change materials.

• Thermal battery maker Sunamp Ltd.'s collaboration with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry won the "Powerful Partnership" award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019 last month. The organizations began work on the development of new phase change materials in 2010. 

• Croda International Plc has been recognized for its commitment to "a deforestation-free supply chain." Croda earned an A- in that category in CDP's climate change report for 2018, up from a B the previous year. The specialty chemical company says it has a special focus on palm oil and is committed to supplying RSPO-certified palm oil derivatives. 

• Thermal instrumentation maker C-Therm Technologies Ltd. is hosting a free webinar this week, "Quantifying Thermal Performance of Textiles (Warm Feel / Cool Touch)." The webinar, aimed at "anyone working in the product performance testing of textiles and fabrics where temperature regulation is an important function," will be held at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.

PCM briefing: McGill joins Phase Change Energy Solutions as CEO; Croda is No. 3 on Britain's Most Admired Companies list

Ben Welter - Friday, December 21, 2018

Dennis McGillDennis McGill, operations advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors, has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions as chief executive officer and chairman of the board. McGill, right, has more than 30 years of experience in senior financial and executive leadership roles. For the past three years, he has been the CEO and chairman of the board for ReCommunity Recycling of Charlotte, N.C. 

Malta Inc., a spinoff of Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, has raised $26 million in Series A funding. The Massachusetts company is developing an electro-thermal energy storage system that stores energy in the form of the thermal differential between hot and cold storage media. 

Croda International, maker of phase change materials and other specialty chemicals, is No. 3 on Management Today's list of Britain's Most Admired Companies 2018. Diageo and McDonald's took the top two spots.

• From Andrew Chang, regional operations director at Ice Energy, on LinkedIn: "Today was a major milestone for Ice Energy. We commissioned our 100th Ice Bear in the SCE LCR program in #OrangeCounty! We are currently offsetting about 1.5MW for 4 hours every day in Orange County."

MIT researchers have developed a way to use light to trigger the storage and release of waste heat from car engines and other sources. "Once melted and activated by ultraviolet light, the [phase change] material stores the absorbed heat until a beam of visible light triggers solidification and heat release," Phys.org reports. "Key to that control are added molecules that respond to light by changing shape from one that impedes solidification to one that permits it."

Nebu Block T10• Via LinkedIn: "It might not look like it, but this is how VIPs help to store energy. Vacuum insulated panels, that is. ZAE Bayern cooperates with va-Q-tec, Nebuma GmbH, Verallia, and Lungmuß Feuerfest to make industrial high-temperature energy storages more efficient and less hard to find." Nebuma's 20-foot mobile container, shown at right, is designed to store about 16 MWh of heat at a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Dr. Yixiang Gan of the University of Sydney is among 11 researchers to win fellowships from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund for 2019. His focus: "Optimizing thermal energy storage with phase change materials: with applications to solar energy storage in Australia and India." 

• Registration is open for the 44th Stanford Geothermal Workshop, to be held Feb. 11-13 at Stanford University in California.

• Registration is open for Energy Storage Europe, "the leading international trade fair for energy storage," to be held March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

• The 14th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29, 2019, in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. The deadline for submissions is June 1. Registration for the conference is expected to open once the program is published in April. 

Pelican BioThermal has appointed Lynaye Reynolds as worldwide director of quality. She joined the company three years ago as the quality manager at its site in Leighton Buzzard in the United Kingdom.

1414 Degrees’ molten silicon biogas energy storage system will be installed at a wastewater treatment plant in South Australia. The $3.2 million (AUS) pilot project is a joint effort of 1414 Degrees and SA Water.

PCM briefing: RAL members to meet in Dusseldorf next week; reliability test completed at Morocco CSP plant

Ben Welter - Friday, November 09, 2018

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will meet in Dusseldorf on Thursday, Nov. 15. The agenda includes discussions on quality and testing specifications; reference materials in calorimetry; PCM product certification; and the promotion of PCM products in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

A 10-day reliability test has been completed at the 150MW Noor Ouarzazate III concentrated solar power plant in Morocco. The plant's molten salt storage system is designed to produce electricity in the absence of sunlight for 7.5 hours. During the test, the plant output over 13.2 GWh to the grid.

Kathu Solar Park, the 100MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, has begun generating steam, an important step in the plant's commissioning process. The plant uses molten salt to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity.

• The agenda is taking shape for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International Congress, to be held April 4-5, 2019, in Paris. Among the topics: "Sourcing & Production of Sustainable Oils & Fats" and "Creating, Maintaining, Controlling Sustainable Supply Chain." 

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corp. says it is on track to establish the world’s largest district cooling project by increasing its capacity of district cooling in Business Bay, Dubai. Business Bay is now served by three major district cooling plants with a total capacity of 135,000 refrigeration tons. The addition of three more plants will bring the collective capacity to 350,000 RT.