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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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India's new high-altitude shelters use PCM, water tanks to store thermal energy

Ben Welter - Monday, October 05, 2015

Chang La research station, northern India

India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has established the highest research station on Earth. The Chang La station, near Pangong Lake in northern India, stands at 17,500 feet above sea level. Along with the station, DRDO is also introducing a new technology for solar-heated shelters. According to the Tribune of India:

"DRDO has also developed a unique green energy based micro-climate-controlled shelter for use in high-altitude areas that traps and utilises solar energy to maintain the temperature inside. DRDO scientists said while power generated from solar energy could be stored in batteries, it is very difficult to store heat energy derived from the sun for later use. The new shelter, called Dhruv, uses phase change materials for night applications, heat trapping roof design, freeze-resistant underground water storage tanks and solar energy based thermal budgeting."

Rare and endangered plants will be preserved at the Chang La station, where temperatures can fall as low as -40º C. The station will also be used to conduct extreme-altitude research on plants, animals and bio-medical material. The station will house up 20 scientists and support staff. Solar power will be the primary source of energy. 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/at-17-500-ft-world-s-highest-research-station-becomes-functional-in-ladakh/141003.html

PCMs cut energy costs in pilot project at Army warehouse in California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bio-based phase change material reduced energy costs significantly in a pilot project at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, Calif. 

The PCM, supplied by Phase Change Energy Solutions, was installed in one of two identical warehouses. The Redstone Rocket, a publication of the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Decatur, Ala., reported on the pilot project this week:

"For four months, exterior and interior temperatures in the two buildings were recorded every 15 minutes at multiple locations. The monitoring showed how temperatures fluctuated much less within the building where the PCM was installed, especially during winter months. Natural gas consumption data showed a 50 percent energy savings, proving that the heat turned on less in the building with the PCM.

" 'We have statistically significant data showing the impacts of the material on the warehouse temperatures,' Charles King with TriVector Services said. 'What’s most important though is the relationships we’ve built with Sierra, and we look forward to furthering that in the future.'

"Sierra would like to expand the current effort across multiple facilities in the future, pending the availability of funds."

http://www.theredstonerocket.com/military_scene/article_888cf0b0-4bee-11e5-be49-0fc5a834ee77.html

UCLA team gets $1.6 million grant to build hybrid energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dr. Pirouz KavehpourIn partnership with Southern California Edison, a team of UCLA engineers has received a $1.62 million grant from the California Energy Commission to build a hybrid energy storage system that combines compressed air and thermal energy storage technologies. The system will store energy produced by renewable sources such as solar and wind and then transmit the energy to the grid when demand is high. 

Dr. Pirouz Kavehpour, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the lead investigator. The system will be built on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/dept/faculty/ucla-engineers-receive-1-6m-grant-to-develop-new-hybrid-energy-storage-system

Research roundup: Mmmm, peppermint-scented PCM; DSC test errors; PCM-bearing facades; hard resin capsules; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Preparation, Properties, and Supercooling Prevention of Phase Change Material n-Octadecane Microcapsules with Peppermint Fragrance Scent [Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research]

DSC test error of phase change material (PCM) and its influence on the simulation of the PCM floor [Renewable Energy]

Energy Efficiency Indicators for Assessing Construction Systems Storing Renewable Energy: Application to Phase Change Material-Bearing Façades [Energies]

Performance enhancement of hermetic compressor using phase change materials [Materials Science and Engineering]

Cooling Capacity Figure of Merit for Phase Change Materials [Journal of Heat Transfer]

Encapsulation of hydrophobic ingredients in hard resin capsules with ultrahigh efficiency using a superoleophobic material [Polymer Bulletin]

Low-Cost Phase Change Material for Building Envelopes [SciTech Connect]

Power plant cooling research focuses on tiny paraffin beads in 'rotary heat exchanger'

Ben Welter - Monday, June 22, 2015

Drexel University offers a detailed look at the novel dry-cooling technology being studied to reduce water use at thermoelectric plants. The research team, which includes Drexel, the University of Memphis, Evapco, WorleyParsons and the Electric Power Research Institute, is focusing on phase change material in the form of tiny wax beads:

PCM cooling unit"The group’s design uses large mesh disks, 20 meters in diameter, woven from quarter-inch-thick tubes filled with tiny bead-like capsules of paraffin just a few millimeters in diameter. The discs would be stacked 15 meters-high in a cylinder the team calls a 'rotary heat exchanger unit.' With the look of a sophisticated water wheel, the unit will have openings on the top and bottom for hot water to flow in, cooled water to drain out and ambient air to keep the system moving.

"As the hot water enters the unit from the steam condenser, the beads in the mesh will absorb the heat. The discs will continue to rotate as the water enters the unit. When the heated portion of the disc reaches the cooling side of the unit, ambient air is pumped in to let the beads release the heat before returning to the atmosphere outside the plant. The cooled beads spin back to the other side as the disc rotates, ready to repeat the process."

IRENA app helps identify potential locations for wind, solar, hydro and geothermal projects

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 18, 2015

The International Renewable Energy Agency's Web-based Global Atlas, a research tool that helps identify potential locations for wind, solar, hydro and geothermal projects, is now available as an app for mobile devices. The Global Atlas Pocket combines a thousand datasets, including 3Tier solar and wind data and GOCE gravity disturbance maps

RenewableEnergyWorld.com's Vince Font reports:

"Upon launch, the app pulls up a satellite view world map. Navigating to specific points on the globe can be accomplished manually via pinch and zoom or by typing the name of a location in the search box. Users can also launch their mobile device’s GPS to zero in on their current position.

"Once a geographical location has been selected, users can access a series of maps that produce visual overlays of existing renewable energy resources. Information returned includes such data as annual solar exposure and crop sustainability indexes based on average yearly rainfall. Personalized search and sharing capabilities are also included with the app, allowing a user to forward information via email and social media."

Global Atlas Pocket is a free download for iOS, Android, Blackberry 10 and Windows Phone devices. It's a great fit for tablets such as the iPad Air 2, but difficult to use on devices with smaller screens. And it consistently crashed on my Nexus 5 smartphone.  

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2015/06/finding-renewable-energy-opportunities-theres-an-app-for-that.html

New director sought for National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Alliance for Sustainable Energy is seeking candidates for the position of director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. The current director, Dr. Dan Arvizu, is retiring this fall. 

Alliance, which manages NREL for the U.S. Department of Energy, is seeking candidates who have "a demonstrated record of inspiring and guiding a research organization toward a compelling vision for impact, proven skill in leading innovation in science and engineering, a track record for delivering high-quality research results that are relevant and impactful, and experience in guiding operational excellence that enables mission accomplishment while meeting contractual requirements."

https://www.nrel.gov/labdirectorsearch/position-description.html

Masdar Institute's retooled solar concentrator uses a single tank

Ben Welter - Monday, April 13, 2015

In an interview with CSP Today, Dr. Nicolas Calvet, who leads the Masdar Institute's thermal energy storage research group, talked about the design of Masdar's 100 kW solar platform. The experimental "beam-down" solar concentrator in Abu Dhabi is being retooled to demonstrate the feasibility of a more cost-effective and flexible TES solution. 

The new design, which brings light into a ground-level tank, has a number of advantages.

Dr. Nicolas Calvet"You don’t pump the molten salts up the tower," he noted. "You don't need pump, pipes, you don't need electrical tracing to avoid the freezing in the pipes. You reduce a lot parasitic energy consumption by not moving molten salt in pipes. And you have direct absorption between the concentrated light and the salt in the tank.

"Instead of two tanks there’s only one tank. There is a moving divider plate inside it separating the upper part which should be hot and the lower part which should be cold. When you charge your system, this plate is moving down and you have only hot salts. And when you discharge, the plate is moving up and you have only cold salts."

http://social.csptoday.com/markets/executive-viewpoint-dr-nicolas-calvet-assistant-professor-masdar-institute-science-and-techn

Dutch-led project explores use of high-temperature PCMs to improve industrial efficiency

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 02, 2015

A consortium led by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) is working to develop industrial heat storage applications using phase change materials. The two-year LOCOSTO project is focusing on the application of new PCMs with a substantial heat storage density at temperatures between 100°C and 250°C.

Participants include end users Dow Chemical and Emmtec Services, engineering consultant DWA, system supplier Bronswerk Heat Transfer and materials suppliers Nedmag, Salca and Croda.

https://www.ecn.nl/news/item/locosto-improving-industrial-energy-efficiency-by-storage-of-heat/

Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

Ben Welter - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Phase Change Matters logoNew on LinkedIn: A group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage, a place for PCM and TES experts and industry leaders from around the world to gather and share ideas. It's called Phase Change Matters, and it's intended as a highly interactive complement to the blog and newsletter of the same name.

The first topic up for discussion: PCM and off-peak cooling systems:

TES pioneers like CALMAC and Ice Energy have been installing ice-based energy storage systems for years. And district cooling has been around for decades. What are the main barriers to wider adoption of phase change material in these types of thermal energy storage systems? Complexity? Education? Cost?

You are invited to join the discussion. Here's a link to the group:

https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=6953237