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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 monthly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.




Research roundup: Synthesized polymeric solid-solid PCMs, corrosion of metal containers and more

Ben Welter - Friday, December 12, 2014

PCMs, the gift that keeps on giving

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 11, 2014

Phase change materials are appearing in more consumer goods every year. In the spirit of the season, we'll share links to PCM-themed gift ideas over the next few weeks.

  • Fohm Inc.'s Silhouette Pillow, "a pillow that stays cool all night long," uses phase change material in two ways: PCMs are embedded in the memory foam and in one side of the liner. 

  • Kjus Hawk ski jacket
  • Thanks to PCMs, the Kjus Hawk ski jacket "absorbs heat when you have plenty of it, and re-releases it when you need more." Assuming you have $1,200 to spare. 

  • Oppo's R5 smartphone, aimed at consumers in China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Australia, uses phase change material to "keep it at a constant cool temperature" and maintain functionality. With a width of 4.85 mm, it is advertised as the world's thinnest phone.

  • Designed by Science Photo Library, these greeting cards feature scanning electron microscope images of PCM-laden microcapsules embedded in fabric. 

  • Surface water TES system honored

    Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    IF Technology of the Netherlands has received a Sustainable Urban Delta Award for its innovative thermal energy storage system for a residential complex in Wageningen. The system takes advantage of temperature differences in surface water near the complex. In summer, for example, warm water is stored in an aquifer thermal storage system that helps heat the complex in winter. Overall, the system is said to be 25 percent more efficient than a conventional seasonal TES system.

    The Delta Award recognizes Dutch companies that offer innovative solutions to the climate-change challenges faced by cities in low-lying, densely populated coastal areas with large river estuaries.

    Trend toward smart textiles is driving growth in microencapsulated PCMs

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

    The latest Frost & Sullivan research on the global market for microencapsulated phase change materials in textiles and mattresses is out. F&S reports that the industry earned revenues of $45.1 million in 2013 and projects that number will reach $99 million in 2018.

    The report covers fibers, yarns, fabrics, foams and gels that incorporate microencapsulated PCMs. F&S says the trend toward smart textiles that comfortably regulate temperature is driving the use of microencapsulated PCMs in clothing and mattresses.

    Research roundup: Graphene aerogel, polyaniline-based polymer shells, smart composites and more

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

    A chilling effect on hot flashes

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

    CoolCami camisoleIs there any temperature-regulation problem that phase change material can't solve? CoolCami, a form-fitting camisole, is designed to reduce the discomfort of hot flashes. A cooling liner made from PCMs absorbs the heat generated by a woman's body when a hot flash kicks in. 

    The CoolCami company also sells CoolMeMat, designed to provide relief for people who suffer from night sweats. The liners for both products recharge in about an hour at room temperature and provide relief for up to four hours. 

    PCMs offer 'low-tech, low-cost' passive heat regulation

    Ben Welter - Monday, December 08, 2014

    Ian Hunter and Brad Turner, founding partners of the London-based Materials Council, love concrete, bamboo, crystal titanium and phase change materials.

    PCMs "offer a low-tech, low-cost method of passive heat regulation," the industrial designers and materials experts explained in an interview with Design Milk. "We have a little vial of phase change wax on our desks. When that melts it is officially too hot in the studio and time for a game of table tennis in the sun!"

    New database to help PCM selection in construction

    Ben Welter - Friday, December 05, 2014

    Using CES Selector software, researchers in Spain have created a database of phase change materials to help engineers select the right PCM for thermal energy storage in buildings. More than 300 PCMs have been entered in the database, noting thermophysical properties such as melting temperature and melting enthalpy.

    According to an abstract of the research reported in Volume 57 of Energy Procedia: "This database can be completed in the future with other relevant properties ... such as chemical properties (durability in different media etc), reported density or viscosity at a given temperature or even cost of each material."

    The full report, "New database on phase change materials for thermal energy storage in buildings to help PCM selection," is available via ScienceDirect.

    Pluss Polymers' MiraCradle neonate cooler wins innovation award

    Ben Welter - Thursday, December 04, 2014

    Pluss Polymers of India has won a CII Industrial Innovation Award for its neonate cooler. The MiraCradle, the New Delhi company's first health-care product, is a low-cost passive cooling device for treating newborns suffering from birth asphyxia. It was developed in collaboration with Christian Medical College of Vellore, India.

    Birth asphyxia – lack of sufficient oxygen at birth – kills hundreds of thousands of newborns in the developing world each year. Research shows that cooling the body temperature of a newborn suffering from birth asphyxia can help protect the brain from damage. 

    The device uses Pluss Polymers' "form-stable" phase change materials, savE FS-21 and FS-29. The manufacturer says the PCMs can be charged in a typical refrigerator.

    Low-cost HIV diagnostics tool uses PCMs

    Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 02, 2014

    Photo of NINA courtesy PATHResearchers have developed a low-cost, electricity-free device capable of detecting the DNA of infectious pathogens, including HIV-1.

    "The device uses a small scale chemical reaction, rather than electric power, to provide the heat needed to amplify and detect the DNA or RNA of pathogens present in blood samples obtained from potentially infected individuals," according to the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research. 

    Phase change material in the device stabilizes the test material within a narrow temperature range. The device, developed by the Seattle-based nonprofit PATH, is designed to be used in remote parts of the world that lack electricity and refrigeration.