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PhaseChange Matters Newsletter Feb 6 2015

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,


Growing demand for PCM in building and construction

The global market for microencapsulated phase change material in building and construction will reach $111.4 million in 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan. That’s nearly double the size of the market in 2013 and reflects a compound annual growth rate of 14.8 percent.

“MPCMs can provide thermal mass in buildings on a smaller scale of material mass and weight while regulating temperature comfort, making them suitable in compact and lightweight building structures,” said Frost & Sullivan analyst Raghu Tantry. “Focus on green buildings has also increased the range of applications for construction products incorporating MPCM.”


Project Exergy aims to tap cloud computing’s excess heat

Lawrence OrsiniCloud-based data centers generate a lot of excess heat. Can it be harnessed to heat homes? New York inventor Lawrence Orsini, right,  thinks so. He has proposed installing distributed supercomputers in homes and offices to reduce heating bills and energy consumption. Orsini’s Project Exergy seeks to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter.

A prototype of the heat storage system uses a water tank. A future version will use phase change material to store the heat.

New resource for clean energy entrepreneurs

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Electric Power Research Institute have launched the Clean Energy Incubator Network. Through its website,, the federally funded program will assist business incubators, connect industry and energy sector partners, and boost clean energy technologies emerging from universities and government labs.

“This website of resources and tools for incubators and entrepreneurs will serve as a focal point of the network,” said Matt Ringer, NREL’s project manager. “With our past experience building databases for a variety of related energy resources, NREL is well positioned to develop this type of resource for the clean tech industry.”


ARPA-E seeks technology-to-market scholars, fellows

ARPA-E is accepting applications for technology-to-market scholars and fellows. During their 8- to 12-week tenure, scholars will conduct analysis and research to support the commercialization of ARPA-E’s energy technology projects and programs. During their two-year tenure, ARPA-E fellows will focus on identifying breakthrough energy technologies.


High-tech prosthetic leg a perfect fit for active amputee

An inspiring story from, a website that covers the prosthetics and orthotics community:

Kevin JohnsonThirty-six years ago, Kevin Johnson lost his right leg below the knee in a combine accident on his family’s farm in Ohio. As a teen, he avoided “painful” prosthetics and used crutches to get around. But he knew that was not a good long-term solution. He eventually found a prosthetic leg that worked well enough to support an active life. Johnson’s work involves operating bulldozers and piloting helicopters, and he also races motorcycles and ropes cattle. When the prosthetic broke, as it did often, he used a welding torch and duct tape to fix it.

By the end of 2007, the prosthetic leg was broken beyond repair. Johnson got in touch with WillowWood, a prosthetics company in Ohio that was looking for amputees to test technology being developed for military veterans: a prosthetic system that features vacuum pressure, intelligent controls and phase change material. He was the perfect test patient, offering developers valuable feedback and pushing the leg to its limits.

The result: A high-performance prosthetic leg that fits better and is far more comfortable than its predecessors, thanks to the PCM-infused liner that absorbs heat and reduces perspiration and skin irritation.


A primer on temperature-regulating mattress components

Sleeping womanBedTimes magazine, “the business journal for the sleep products industry,” offers a fine  2,000-word primer on the challenge of regulating temperatures in today’s all-foam and hybrid mattresses.

“Companies are becoming more innovative with the applications they use PCMs in — from fabrics to foams to gels and fill,” said Joe Wehrle, director of sales for Microtek Laboratories Inc. “The mattress marketplace is experiencing the cooling/warming effects that PCM technology provides, helping to create the ‘perfect sleep experience’ that end users value. Every day, new and inventive products are being introduced in the bedding segment which capitalize on the thermal benefits of phase change materials.”


  • Organogel used as phase change material: solvent effects on structure, leakage and thermal performance [RSC Advances]

  • Experimental study on melting and solidification of phase change material in indirect contact mobilized thermal energy storage container [Chemical Industry and Engineering Progress]

  • Thermal behavior of a passive solar wall with silica aerogel and phase change materials [Proceedings of Energy Forum on Advanced Building Skins]

  • Effect of internal void placement on the heat transfer performance – Encapsulated phase change material for energy storage [Renewable Energy]

  • Microencapsulation mechanism and size control of fragrance microcapsules with melamine resin shell [Colloids and Surfaces]

  • Enhanced heat transfer for PCM melting in the frustum-shaped unit with multiple PCMs [Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry]

  • Diurnal thermal analysis of microencapsulated PCM-concrete composite walls [Energy Conversion and Management]

  • Using Generalized Integral Transforms to solve a perturbation model for a packed bed thermal energy storage tank [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

  • Numerical modeling of aquifer thermal energy efficiency under regional groundwater flow: a case study at Oslo Airport [Hydrology Research]


    Phase change material in thermal packaging: Not just a phase

    In the latest issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer, design engineer Richard Harrop notes that, not so long ago, water was the filler material of choice for most cooling packs. The initial response to using phase change materials was, well, a bit chilly. They were thought to be costly and unnecessary. But now, Harrop writes, “the benefits of size, weight and cost saving are apparent. It is becoming clear that the growing inclusion of PCMs is not just a phase, but rather something that we can be excited to see much more of.”