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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: Sunamp among 'Scottish tech companies to watch' in 2019; C-Therm webinar on new thermal conductivity instrument

Ben Welter - Monday, January 07, 2019

Rail shipping container with PCM

• The University of Birmingham's Center for Energy Storage has teamed up with a Chinese railway equipment manufacturer to develop a shipping container that uses phase change materials to maintain a low temperature over several days without a power supply. "Once ‘charged’, PCM inside the container - which can be transferred from train to truck and vice versa - can keep the inside temperature between 5-12 ˚C for up to 120 hours," the university reports.

CNET's Scott Stein takes a close look at PowerStation, "a battery of sorts that can keep a low-power sensor running off the temperature differences in everyday weather conditions." The device, made by Matrix Industries of Menlo Park, Calif., stores heat in a substance the company calls "Luna Phase Change Material" and later releases the heat in the form of electricity.

Scottish Business Insider has named Sunamp Ltd. one of five Scottish tech companies to watch in 2019. "The £2.2m raised in its latest fundraising sets the company up for a Series A round in 2019 as it looks to expand its international footprint and further scale its operations," Insider writes. "Sunamp heat batteries have so far been installed in over a thousand homes across the UK." 

C-Therm managing director Adam Harris is hosting a webinar this week to introduce the company's new thermal conductivity instrument, the C-Therm Trident. Advance registration is required for the webinar, which will be held at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 10.

• At a business summit in Wisconsin last month, Encapsys President Mary Goggans said the Appleton-based company offers internships to students at regional colleges, including the children of employees. “The interns see the jobs and technologies they are interested in right here in the area,” Goggans said. “They realize they don’t need to get a job outside of the region to have the career they are looking for.”

Agenda set for 6th Swiss symposium on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Monday, December 03, 2018

The agenda is confirmed for the 6th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage, to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2019. The symposium will focus on seasonal storage systems and the sector coupling of power and heat. Here are the speakers and topics:

• "Heat Storage in Switzerland": Elimar Frank, Frank Energy GmbH, Switzerland

• "Thermal Energy Storage, one Key Element to link Energy Sectors": Peter Schossig, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany

• "Enhanced Phase-Change Materials for Heat-Storage applications": Colin Pulham, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

• "High-Temperature Latent Heat Storage and Applications": Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stuttgart, Germany

• "High-Temperature Phase Change Materials": Yulong Ding, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

• "Network Convergence and Sector Coupling at St. Galler Stadtwerke": Simon Schoch, St. Galler Stadtwerke, Switzerland

• "Heat4Cool – Multienergy Solutions for Heating & Cooling": Marcello Aprile, Politecnico di Milano and Philipp Schütz, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Large-Scale Thermal Energy Storage and Multi-Energy Networks in Vienna": Robert Hammerling, Wien Energie GmbH, Austria

• "Current and Future Use of Seasonal Thermal Storage in Ground Heat Exchangers": A Swedish Perspective: José Acuña, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

• "Avoided System Cost for Grid Reinforcement and Peaker Plants by using Ecovat Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage": Aris de Groot, Ecovat Renewable Energy Technologies, Netherlands

• "Optimization of Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Buildings": Willy Villasmil, Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Switzerland

• "Seasonal Hot Water Storage with Vacuum Super Insulation": Matthias Demharter, Bayerisches Zentrum für Angewandte Energieforschung ZAE, Germany

The registration fee is 300 Swiss francs. Lunch is included. The 2018 symposium drew more than 100 participants.

PCM briefing: Traction battery for electric vehicles; Ember mug available in Apple stores

Ben Welter - Friday, October 19, 2018

• The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt, Germany, has developed a traction battery that can use thermal energy as a heat source in electric vehicles. A new type of fiber-reinforced composite sandwich housing protects the battery from temperature fluctuations. The phase change material composite system is designed to precondition the battery at low outside temperatures and reduce heat generation during rapid charging. The system was developed as part of the European Union's Optimized Energy Management and Use project. "We've developed material, structural and process technologies that can guarantee drivers a more reliable and uniform range for their battery-powered vehicles," said Felix Weidmann, project manager at Fraunhofer LBF.

Airec AB of Sweden has joined the EU Horizon 2020 project SWS-Heating. The project's goal is to develop seasonal thermal storage of solar energy. The energy will be stored in phase change materials. Airec will develop heat exchangers for the project. 

A process for extracting a biodegradable polymer from crustaceans is among the winners of this year's Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The awards were formerly known as the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute has collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to manage the awards since their inception in 1995. The EPA dropped out this year, citing long-term certainty about the program’s financial situation.  

Ember temperature-control tumblerEmber Technologies' temperature-control mugs are now available in Apple stores and on The travel version right, uses phase change material to bring hot beverages down to a drinkable temperature. Earlier this year, Nordstrom began selling the mugs online and in Nordstrom popup stores.

Capstone Turbine Corp. and Argonne National Laboratory have received funding from U.S. Department of Energy to refine Argonne’s high-efficiency, fast-charging and fast-discharging thermal energy storage system for use in combined heat and power systems. The system, originally developed for use in concentrated solar power applications, will use phase change material to capture waste heat from industrial manufacturing processes. The goal is to integrate Argonne's technology into a Capstone C200 CHP system.

• New from Persistence Market Research"Global Market Study on Salt Hydrate: Pharmaceutical Industry to Remain Dominant Consumer Through 2026"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status And Forecast 2025"

• New from Maia Research: "Inorganic PCMs Market Analysis, Market Size, Application, Analysis, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies And Forecasts, 2018 -2025"

• At the World Energy Engineering Congress in Charlotte, N.C., this week, Mark Richards of Phase Change Energy Solutions reports that the company demonstrated "a mini PhaseStor tank in action with 1/2 ton chiller and small heater (system hand made by Scott Queen) to charge and discharge the tank and includes on board DAQ system to show tank thermal performance." Richards presented at a panel discussion Friday, "Justifying HVAC Energy Savings in Buildings Using Phase Change Materials - A Debate with a Skeptical Engineer." Also presenting were Guy Frankenfield, energy division manager at DN Tanks Inc. ("Thermal Energy Storage - Uncovering the Value of Ice and Chilled Water TES Systems") and Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins ("Thermal Energy Storage in Package Units? Yes, it is Here").

PCM briefing: Energy storage projects get share of $28 million in ARPA-E grants; nominations due Oct. 1 for AOCS awards

Ben Welter - Friday, September 21, 2018

ARPA-E this week awarded $28 million to 10 R&D projects aimed at developing energy storage systems to power the electric grid for up to 100 hours, improving grid resilience and performance. Thermal energy storage projects were among the winners. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory won a $2.79 million grant to “develop a high-temperature, low-cost thermal energy storage system using a high-performance heat exchanger and closed loop Brayton cycle turbine to generate power.” Michigan State University won $2 million to "explore a process that heats a bed of magnesium manganese oxide to release oxygen, and then passes air over the particle bed to start a chemical reaction that releases the heat to drive a gas turbine generator," Greentech Media reported.

Mark Richards, applications engineering manager at Phase Change Energy Solutions, will give a presentation on "Testing and Modeling of Phase Change Materials for Building Applications" at next week's Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild in Chicago.

• Nominations for nine Scientific and Society Awards given by the American Oil Chemists' Society are due Oct. 1. The awards recognize leaders in fats, oils, proteins and surfactants who have advanced the science and technology of their interest areas.

The agenda has been posted for the CSP Madrid 2018 conference and exhibition, to be held Nov. 13-14. Topics include "Advancements in Thermal Storage Systems with Molten Salt" and "Thermal storage + PV, gas or other power generations."

Ember Technologies announced this week that its PCM-equipped coffee mug is now available at Bloomingdale's

• New from Decision Databases: "2018-2023 Global Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market Report

Entropy Solutions has been granted a U.S. trademark for the tagline "Global Authority on Phase Change Material," in use since 2014.  

• How green is your lab? The EU Science Hub invites European Union residents to submit photos that show how to reduce waste, save energy, maximize equipment efficiency or anything else that makes a lab green. Science Hub will post submitted photos on its Facebook page. The entry deadline is Oct. 19. The winning photographer will receive a two-day trip to Berlin to visit the hub's ARTEFACTS exhibition, where the winning photo will be displayed.   

• Children curious about science will have a chance to chat with researchers, observe demonstrations and take part in hands-on experiments at the annual "Science is Wonder-ful!" event Sept. 25-26 in Brussels, Belgium. The event, sponsored by the European Commission and European Parliament, drew 4,600 participants in 2017.

• The United States has removed 142 chemical and plastic products, including paraffin wax, from the latest round of tariffs that it will impose on Chinese imports next week, the American Chemistry Council said Tuesday.

• The Thermal Energy Systems Lab at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has an opening for a post-doctoral researcher to assist in the development of thermal energy storage material and systems. For details, contact Alessandro Romagnoli, "We are looking for an expert on industrial energy efficiency with capabilities to run exergy/energy analysis, skills with flow diagrams (e.g. Sankey) and well grounded in current and future technology development," Romagnoli said. "This is a short-term appointment (either full time or part-time)." 

PCM briefing: UCF wins $360,000 grant to develop solar storage module; Nike unveils prototype cooling vest

Ben Welter - Monday, September 17, 2018

• The University of Central Florida was awarded a $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation last month to develop and commercialize a grid-connected solar storage module. UCF is partnering with battery maker AllCell Technology to develop the system, known as iPV++. The system will use smart inverters and battery management to deliver stable and predictable PV-based solar power for grid-tied applications. AllCell phase change composite material will provide passive thermal management of the system's lithium-ion battery modules. Dr. Issa Batarseh, UCF electrical engineering professor and the project principal investigator, says use of the material "guarantees the safety of the battery modules, simplifies the installation and maintenance, and significantly increases lifetime due to temperature control.”

Nike prototype cooling vest• A prototype cooling vest developed by the Nike Sport Research Lab made its public debut at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., earlier this month. Scorching heat and high humidity marked the tennis tournament's later rounds, prompting players to do whatever they could to stay cool. Rafael Nadal, right, was among the players seen wearing the vest courtside. The form-fitting vest features four cooling packs -- two in the front and two in the back -- to quickly cool down players between sets and before and after matches. Nike declined to answer questions about the vest, but it appears similar to phase change vests already on the market, including versions made by TechNiche and Glacier Tek.

Peli BioThermal, the temperature-controlled packaging company, has opened a service center in Indianapolis. The company says the 50,000-square-foot facility will be one of the largest in Peli's Credo on Demand network.

Registration is open for the next ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10, 2019. The 10th annual conference and technology showcase will "bring together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways." 

• Australian energy storage startup 1414 Degrees began trading on the Australian Securities Exchange last week after raising $16.3 million AUS as part of its initial public offering. The company's technology stores electricity as thermal energy by heating an melting containers full of silicon at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries.

NETenergy, a Chicago startup that licenses technology developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago, plans to commercialize its hybrid air-conditioning system with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The $500,000 grant was awarded to NETenergy's partner, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The International Copper Association and Ingersoll-Rand are commercial partners on the grant, which will provide cash and in-kind matching funds. The technology uses phase change composites to store cold energy, allowing customers to shift A/C production to off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper. 

• Costs for U.S. chemical distributors could rise by nearly $1.3 billion if the United States imposes tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods from China, according to an analysis by John Dunham & Associates. Job losses could top 5,900, the analysis said.

PCM briefing: New EU energy standard takes effect; new research on inorganic phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, July 09, 2018

• The new version of the European Union's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive takes effect July 9. The directive is the EU's main legislative instrument designed to promote improved energy performance of buildings. Member states will have 20 months to transpose the new elements into national law.

• A proposal to use microencapsulated phase change material to help motor vehicles run smoothly in extreme cold has won the ClimateLaunchpad competition in Azerbaijan. A team of chemical engineering students from Baku Higher Oil School developed the concept. The team will represent Azerbaijan at the ClimateLaunchpad finals in Scotland Nov. 1-2, 2018.

• New from Research Reports: "2018 Global Inorganic PCMs Industry Report – History, Present and Future"

PCM briefing: Ecozen Solutions wins Ashden Award; Fraunhofer researchers among winners in Imagine Chemistry challenge

Ben Welter - Monday, June 11, 2018

Ecozen cold storage unit

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, is one of six international winners in the 2018 Ashden Awards competition. The Ecofrost system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather. The organizations will be honored at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday, June 14. 

Axel Kraft and Martin Peters of Fraunhofer UMSICHT are among the winners of the 2018 AkzoNobel Imagine Chemistry challenge. Kraft and Peters will receive support from LuxResearch to further develop a catalytic process for making alcohols from more sustainable raw materials. Overall, 10 startups and researchers were chosen as winners from a group of 20 finalists at a three-day event held at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden.

A call for papers has been issued for the 10th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation and Energy Conservation in Buildings. Topics include ventilation strategies and measurement techniques; HVAC systems; smart technologies for zero-energy buildings; and design and energy modeling. Abstracts are due by Nov. 1. The conference will be held Sept. 5-7, 2019, in Bari, Italy.  

• Researchers at the Jülich Solar Tower test facility in Germany have reached a milestone in the development of a new receiver concept for solar tower power plants. During a test of the centrifugal receiver CentRec for the generation and storage of solar high temperature heat, an average particle temperature of 965 degrees Celsius has been measured at the receiver outlet. The bauxite particles used in the system are available at prices that enable cost-effective thermal storage. “The proof of the high operating temperature is an essential condition for the targeted commercialization of this new receiver concept,” said Dr. Reiner Buck, head of solar tower systems at the DLR Institute of Solar Research

• June 15 is the last day to get the early bird rate for this year's Advancements in Thermal Management Conference (Denver, Aug. 8-9). Topics include thermal materials, thermal imaging, thermal characterization, modeling, battery cooling and thermal simulation. Joe Kelly, senior materials scientist at Outlast Technologies, is among the speakers. His topic: "Enhancing Thermal Stability and Performance of Lithium-ion Batteries using Latent Heat Storage (LHS) Technology."

Phase change composite shows potential to double AC compressor efficiency

Ben Welter - Friday, June 01, 2018

Using a phase change composite material, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a novel thermal energy storage system that has the potential to downsize conventional air-conditioner compressors by 50 percent and double compressor efficiency during off- and mid-peak hours.

The research is described in a paper titled “Design and optimization of a hybrid air conditioning system with thermal energy storage using phase change composite,” recently accepted for publication in Energy Conversion and Management. One of the authors, Said Al-Hallaj, a research professor of chemical engineering at UI-Chicago and CEO of AllCell Technologies LLC, answered a few questions by e-mail.

Q: Who led the research team, and how long did the project take?

A: “It is an ongoing project since 2015 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I work as a Research Professor of Chemical Engineering, and part of the PhD thesis for my graduate student Ahmed Aljehani.”

Q: Who funded the project? 

A: “Ahmed has a scholarship from his government in Saudi Arabia and we get technical support from our industry partners NETenergy and AllCell Technologies LLC.”

Q: Who supplied the PCM?

A: “I believe it is n-tetradecane (C14H30) PCM that we bought from a distributor and not sure about actual source.”

28 slabs of phase change composite materialQ: What is its peak melting point? 

A: “4-6 degrees Celsius.”

Q: What is its thermal storage capacity?

A: “180 kJ/kg (78% PCM, 22% graphite).”

Q: Describe the benchtop PCC/TES system size, components and functionality.

A: “The actual 4 kWh PCC-TES structure is made of 28 slabs of PCC [right]. The whole PCC-TES structure is thermally insulated with building insulation materials. Each slab represents a graphite structure that has been soaked into n-tetradecane for at least 24 h until impregnated with n-tetradecane. The slabs are numbered from top to bottom; top being number 1. The second component is the copper tubes or the copper coils, which pass back and forth in between the 28 slabs. The copper tubes enter the PCC-TES structure from the top and exits from the bottom of the structure.”

Q: Is the concept intended mainly for commercial AC systems, or could it be adapted for residential use?

A: “It should work for both, but commercial AC applications are more economically beneficial due to rate structure and peak demand requirements.”

Q: What are the next steps in developing this concept?

A: “NETenergy, our technology commercialization partner, is partnering with National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a major OEM to build and test a full-scale prototype at NREL facilities in the next year or so.”

Contributions sought for new database on thermal storage materials

Ben Welter - Monday, April 16, 2018

A new database for thermal energy storage materials is being developed within the framework of the International Energy Agency’s Energy Conservation through Energy Storage group, Annex 29 and SHC Task 42.

The database is designed to provide characteristic data for phase change, sorption and thermochemical materials. The website,, also offers a wiki with definitions related to thermal energy storage. Both areas are open for contributions.

The phase transition data provided for PCMs must be measured according to a DSC-measurement standard. To ensure the quality of the submitted data, contributors must provide a reference measurement using a PCM provided by Fraunhofer ISE.

Stefan Gschwander, head of Group Heat and Cold Storage at Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, Germany, said all submitted data will undergo a review process. “If the data is in line with our requirements it can be published in the public area,” he said.

So far, 15 PCMs are listed in the public area. A restricted area of the database is limited to  independently measured materials.

“The data stored is high-quality data which can be used for research, for example
simulation or to design a system,” Gschwander said. “So for our database, the manufacturers normally do not provide data but sample material that is measured from the institutions that are able to measure according the definitions. So far we have measured PCM from Rubitherm, Sasol and BASF. …

“So far we have about 20 different materials in the restricted area and, as we have used it for the development of the measurement standard, many of the materials have been measured several times by different laboratories so that we have a lot more measurements stored in the database.”

Fraunhofer ISE offers independent characterization of PCM, with fees depending on the material and the DSC required to do the measurement.

The ECES is a technology collaboration group that supports the development of electrical energy storage, thermal energy storage, distributed energy storage and borehole thermal energy storage. For more information on the material database project and characterization services, contact Gschwander at

Swedish university developing PCM/TES design tool for buildings

Ben Welter - Monday, April 09, 2018

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are developing a design tool for PCM-based thermal energy storage for heating and cooling of buildings.

The project is being conducted by the Division of Building Technology within the university's Architecture and Civil Engineering Department. Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Agency and the university are jointly funding the effort.

To better understand the needs of potential users of the tool, the research team is inviting professionals in the building sector – such as real estate owners, energy consultants, PCM producers and specifying engineers – to participate in a survey, whether or not they have PCM experience. The survey can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes. Personal data will be kept confidential. Participants who wish to receive the findings of the survey are asked to provide their email address at the end of the questionnaire.

For more information on the project, contact Dr. Nikolaos Stathopoulos, nikstat[at]