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Phase Change Matters Newsletter March 20 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,


Aktivhaus, Stuttgart, Germany

A look inside Aktivhaus: Zero emissions, zero waste, zero fossil fuel

Architect/engineer Werner Sobek’s latest creation, a prototype of a modular home that generates twice as much energy as it uses, is featured in a CNN piece this week. The 900-square-foot Aktivhaus dwelling in Stuttgart, Germany, can be assembled in a single day. It is designed to produce no emissions or waste and derive no energy from fossil fuel, a standard that Sobek refers to as “Triple Zero.” 

The house is packed with energy-efficient features, including a rooftop solar system that produces electricity and heat, and a thermal-regulation system linked to an underground ice storage tank.

“In summer, the ice is used to cool the house. By melting, it absorbs heat energy,” Sobek says. “In winter, it gradually freezes. Each time a chunk of water turns into ice, a certain amount of heat energy is released, which is then used to heat the house via a heat pump, which brings the energy to a higher temperature level.”

Austin’s NexusHaus features rainwater thermal storage system

Austin EcoNetwork says an 850-square-foot solar-powered house under development in Austin demonstrates the “creative thinking” needed to address the Texas city’s limited access to local food, high energy demands, strained water resources and urban sprawl. NexusHaus, a collaboration of the University of Texas, the Technical University of Munich and the city of Austin, is designed to be an affordable solution. Features include “an integrated rainwater thermal storage system” that will shift cooling to off-peak hours and help cut energy consumption by about 80 percent during peak hours.  


A checklist for those considering an ice energy storage system

CALMAC, maker of ice-based energy storage systems, offers a short checklist for building owners who are considering such a system:

• Check your utility’s time-of-use rates, demand charges and incentives. Electricity is usually cheaper at night, but you might have to do a little digging to understand all the pricing factors.

• Check the amount of space available on your site. Ice storage tanks can be placed in basements, on roofs, in storerooms and in garages.

• Check the availability of contractors who can provide support before and after the system is installed.

Thermal energy storage shows rapid growth since 2006

Earlier this month, the BBC published a chart showing the top 10 energy storage nations, ranked by capacity. CleanTechnica’s Sandy Dechert digs into the underlying data supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Global Energy Storage Database. China (33,000 kW), Japan (29,000 kW), and the United States (22,000 kW) are the clear leaders. No other country can store more than 9,000 kW.

Breaking down the technology by type, CleanTechnica notes:

“Electromechanical sources dominated from 1978–2012, but their share of the pie has diminished. Electrochemical (think batteries) has grown rapidly since the turn of the millennium. Thermal storage has grown about twice as fast since 2006, overtaking electromechanical in 2013.”

11 energy storage developers to watch contributor Ucilia Wang takes a look at the key players in the global energy storage market. Topping her list: Solar energy giant SunEdison, PV manufacturer SunPower and rooftop solar system provider SolarCity.


Advanced PCM market to hit $1.18 billion by end of 2018

The global market for advanced phase materials, valued at $350 million in 2011, is expected to reach $1.18 billion by the end of 2018, according to the latest report from Transparency Market Research. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 percent. Europe was the largest market for advanced PCMs in 2011, with the United Kingdom, Germany and France recording the highest demand. Paraffin accounted for more than 50 percent of global demand by revenue that year, followed by salt hydrates (36 percent) and others, including biobased PCMs (12 percent).


VA pharmacy program posts RFI on temperature-controlled packaging

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ outpatient pharmacy program has posted a request for information in connection with efforts to standardize its cold-chain containers. The standardized packaging will be used to mail patient prescriptions in durable, secure, temperature-controlled packaging. It will be made up of either a mailing pouch, a mailing bag or a cooler; phase change materials; and, if needed, additional packing or shipping materials. The purpose of this RFI is to evaluate availability, obtain statements of capability, and gauge the interest and capability of small businesses.


Engineered foam and foam mattress with PCM

Sealy patent applicationU.S. patent application 20150067967 [Assignee Sealy Technology LLC]:

“In accordance with one aspect of the disclosure and inventions, there is provided engineered foam for use as a layer in a foam mattress construction having multiple layers including a top layer of foam and at least one additional layer of foam, and a coating of phase change material applied to a top surface of the top layer of foam. Surface application of phase change material to a top surface of a top layer of foam of a foam mattress provides more efficient transfer of heat away from a body on the mattress and reduced heat accumulation at the body-mattress interface.”


From Solar Energy:

Increased photovoltaic performance through temperature regulation by phase change materials: Materials comparison in different climates

Micro/nano encapsulated n-tetracosane and n-octadecane eutectic mixture with polystyrene shell for low-temperature latent heat thermal energy storage applications

Polymethyl methacrylate based phase change microencapsulation for solar energy storage with silicon nitride

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Lattice Boltzmann simulation for solid–liquid phase change phenomenon of phase change material under constant heat flux

From Construction and Building Materials:

Experimental study of geopolymer mortar with incorporated PCM

From Energy and Buildings:

Review of phase change emulsions (PCMEs) and their applications in HVAC systems

Development, Mechanical Properties and Numerical Simulation of Macroencapsulated Thermal Energy Storage Concrete

Fabrication and thermal characterization of kaolin-based composite phase change materials for latent heat storage in buildings

From International Conference on Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics:

Temperature boundary conditions for ATES systems

Characterization of a lime-pozzolan plaster containing phase change material

From Journal of Materials Chemistry A:

Preparation and Characterization of Side-chain Liquid Crystal Polymer/paraffin Composites as Form-stable Phase Change Materials

Enhanced thermal conductivity of PEG/diatomite shape-stabilized phase change materials with Ag nanoparticles for thermal energy storage

From Applied Energy:

Heat transfer fluids for concentrating solar power systems – A review

Performance of a free-air cooling system for telecommunications base stations using phase change materials (PCMs): In-situ tests

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

Preparation, thermal properties and applications of shape-stabilized thermal energy storage materials

From Fibers and Polymers:

Development of thermal stable multifilament yarn containing micro-encapsulated phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Use of encapsulated zinc particles in a eutectic chloride salt to enhance thermal energy storage capacity for concentrated solar power

From Carbon:

Enhanced comprehensive performance of polyethylene glycol based phase change material with hybrid graphene nanomaterials for thermal energy storage

From Applied Mechanics and Materials:

Research on Expanded Graphite/Nitrate High-Temperature Composite Phase Change Materials

From International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education:

Testing a model for wearable product materials research


Dr. Mohammed Farid

Got a question about PCMs or TES? Ask our expert

Dr. Mohammed Farid, an Entropy Solutions advisor and professor of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, has agreed to answer your questions about phase change material and thermal energy storage. We’ll select the best questions sent to and post the answers here each Friday.