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PhaseChange Matters Newsletter April 15 2016

The Phase Change Matters e-mail newsletter is a weekly summary of the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. To subscribe, visit For more frequent updates, follow @puretemp on Twitter or visit the Phase Change Matters blog,


Australian team pursues low-cost PCM for commercial refrigeration market

The University of South Australia is leading an effort to develop a low-cost phase change material for commercial and industrial refrigeration systems powered by solar photovoltaics. The goal is to increase efficiencies and reduce costs by optimizing control and operation of these integrated systems. Potential customers include food warehouses, wineries, dairies and food-processing plants.

The $2.1 million (AUD) project is funded in part with a $995,000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The University of South Australia is working in partnership with Glaciem Cooling Technologies, the Solar Project Pty. Ltd. and the University of Lleida, Spain.


Improved phase change compositions

U.S. patent application 20160102232 (applicant Sunamp Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland):

“There are herein described phase change materials containing sodium acetate trihydrate having improved homogeneity, a process for the preparation of said materials, and their utility in phase change systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to the use of phase change compositions comprising sodium acetate trihydrate, at least one alkali soluble polymer for inhibition of sodium acetate anhydrous crystal formation in sodium acetate trihydrate containing phase change materials, and at least one sodium acetate trihydrate nucleation promoter, and, if a lower phase change temperature is required, at least one melting point depressing agent.”


Draft agenda released for Cold Chain Global Forum in Boston

A draft agenda has been released for the 14th Cold Chain Global Forum to be held Sept. 26-30 in Boston. The conference, touted as “the world’s largest event for temperature-controlled life science supply chains,” will feature more than 120 speakers.

Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, will lead a master class on temperature assurance packaging certification.

Fabian Eschenbach, head of thermal packaging at Va-Q-Tec Ltd., will lead a workshop on packaging design essentials.

Jerry King, senior scientist at Farrar Scientific, will lead a workshop on the viability of a -80º C reusable phase change material.

Kevin O’Donnell, vice president of cold chain standards, practices and compliance at BioLife Solutions, will lead a session on maximizing the value of sensor-based shipments.

Registration is open, with early bird rates available through June 3.


NASA has partnered with the International Space Station to test the next generation of phase change material heat exchangers for use aboard the Orion spacecraft. The PCM HX helps maintain a comfortable environment by absorbing and ejecting excess heat. The test platform pumps a mix of propylene glycol and water through the PCM HX at temperatures between -10º and 30º Celsius. The wax PCM was developed by UTC Aerospace Systems.

ARPA-E is looking for input on the development of low-cost occupancy sensors to help minimize the energy used to heat and cool buildings.

• A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that many developing nations that now rely on a “high share of renewable energy in their power mix” are increasingly turning to fossil fuels to meet growing demand for cheap electricity.

• The world’s renewable energy capacity grew by a record 152 gigawatts in 2015, or about 8.3 percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Solar capacity grew by 47 gigawatts, or 26 percent, as the cost of PV panels continued to fall.

• Appearing at last month’s Solar Heating and Cooling Workshop in Melbourne, Frank Bruno, associate research professor at the University of South Australia, said phase change material thermal storage is cheaper than batteries for solar storage, costing around $200 (AUD) per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, compared to $1,500/kWh for batteries.

Installer magazine takes a close look at Viessmann‘s Ice Store home heating and cooling system.

• A provocative headline in the MIT Technology Review last week: “Texas and California Have Too Much Renewable Energy.” The rapid growth of wind and solar, with no large-scale storage in place, has made a mess of energy prices in those states.

Chaffey College TES tankA 709,500-gallon thermal storage tank, right, is helping Chaffey College of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., cut cooling costs. The centerpiece of the school’s newly expanded central plant helps shift chiller operation from on-peak to off-peak hours, when electricity is less costly.

Steffes Corp., a North Dakota company that makes electric thermal storage systems, has earned a Greentech Media Grid Edge Award. The company’s partnership with Hawaiian Electric, Sequentric and Battelle on a grid-interactive water heater system earned Steffes a place on the Grid Edge list. Other honorees this year include Duke Energy, BMW Group and Tesla

National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers have demonstrated that carbon nanotubes have the potential to act as a thermoelectric power generator that captures and uses waste heat.

Suman Jha, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Dr MGR University in Chennai, India, is sold on the importance of phase change material in reducing energy consumption. His study of smart construction materials has found that PCMs can cut air-conditioning loads by 40 to 50 percent.


For our full list of recent academic research, see Here are highlights from the past week:

From Composites Part B: Engineering:

Effects of exfoliated graphite on the thermal properties of erythritol-based composites used as phase-change materials

From Applied Energy:

Ultrafine lauric–myristic acid eutectic/poly (meta-phenylene isophthalamide) form-stable phase change fibers for thermal energy storage by electrospinning
Novel microstructured polyol–polystyrene composites for seasonal heat storage
Optimizing performance of a bank of chillers with thermal energy storage

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

Thermal conductivity enhancement of recycled high density polyethylene as a storage media for latent heat thermal energy storage

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal performance analysis of PCM in refrigerated container envelopes in the Italian context – Numerical modeling and validation
Integration of Thermal Energy Storage Unit in a Metal Hydride Hydrogen Storage Tank
Nano-PCMs for enhanced energy storage and passive cooling applications
Thermal properties improvement of Lithium nitrate/Graphite composite phase change materials

From International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology:

Eutectic: Phase Change Material for Food Storage [pdf]

From Energy Technology:

Warming-Up Effects of Phase Change Materials on Lithium-Ion Batteries Operated at Low Temperatures

From Energy:

Effect of N-isopropylacrylamide on the preparation and properties of microencapsulated phase change materials
Rheological and energy transport characteristics of a phase change material slurry
Exergy analysis of an adiabatic compressed air energy storage system using a cascade of phase change materials

From Fibers and Polymers:

Encapsulation of phase change materials by complex coacervation to improve thermal performances and flame retardant properties of the cotton fabrics


Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

Nearly 700 of your peers have joined a LinkedIn group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage. The Phase Change Matters group is an interactive complement to the award-winning blog and newsletter of the same name.

You are invited to join the group and connect with PCM and TES experts from around the world. New members this week include Mara Ronan, CEO at Klothos LLC, New York; Paul Steffes, CEO at Steffes Corp., Dickinson, N.D.; Timo Roeder, a student at Hochschule Kaiserslautern, Germany; and Simone Mancin, assistant professor at DTG University of Padova, Italy. Simone writes:

“My research activity is mainly focused on heat transfer enhancement. Re PCMs, I have recently worked on the use of copper foams to improve the heat transfer capabilities of paraffin waxes for electronics cooling applications. Moreover, with my colleague from CNR, I have developed and tested Al2O3 and CB (Carbon Black) based nano-PCMs to improve the thermophysical properties of pure paraffin waxes for TES applications. Currently, I am also working on Al foam based latent TES.”


Wanted: News tips about PCMs and thermal energy storage

Does your company, agency or university have a job opening, new research, new product or other news you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you. Please contact Ben Welter of Entropy Solutions at