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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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PCM briefing: Energy Storage Europe includes sessions on thermal storage; C-Therm offers webinar on thermal performance of textiles

Ben Welter - Monday, March 04, 2019

• The Energy Storage Europe conference and trade fair, set for March 12-14 in Dusseldorf, Germany, includes a number of sessions on thermal energy storage: "Heat Storage - an essential contribution to energy transition," Oliver Baudson, TSK Flagsol Engineering GmbH; "Advanced Thermal Energy Storage Concepts," Dr. Robert Pitz-Paal, DLR Institute of Solar Research; "High Temperature Storage," Doron Brenmiller, Brenmiller Energy; "Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage," Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern; and "Thermal Energy Storage for Cost-Effective Energy Management & CO2 Mitigation," Dr. Dan Bauer, German Aerospace Center - DLR e.V.

• The deadline for submitting paper proposals for next fall's Advanced Building Skins conference in Bern, Switzerland, is March 10. The list of topics includes thermal performance of phase change materials.

• Thermal battery maker Sunamp Ltd.'s collaboration with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry won the "Powerful Partnership" award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019 last month. The organizations began work on the development of new phase change materials in 2010. 

• Croda International Plc has been recognized for its commitment to "a deforestation-free supply chain." Croda earned an A- in that category in CDP's climate change report for 2018, up from a B the previous year. The specialty chemical company says it has a special focus on palm oil and is committed to supplying RSPO-certified palm oil derivatives. 

• Thermal instrumentation maker C-Therm Technologies Ltd. is hosting a free webinar this week, "Quantifying Thermal Performance of Textiles (Warm Feel / Cool Touch)." The webinar, aimed at "anyone working in the product performance testing of textiles and fabrics where temperature regulation is an important function," will be held at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Need a PCM coating on that coat? Ohio company has a solution

Ben Welter - Friday, March 01, 2019

Therma-SprayMCMENT Inc., an Ohio company that makes a PCM spray designed for use by consumers, launched a new website last month, teamapini.com, to market the product.

"We have been working on the Team Apini Therma-Spray product for a couple of years to give consumers a way to apply PCM technology to the clothing, bedding or other textile products they may already own," said Monte Magill, the company's senior vice president for PCM technologies. The coating is designed to absorb and release thermal energy to enhance thermal comfort.

"It is a water-based formulation containing microencapsulated PCMs and a heat curable binder material to affix the microPCMs to the various textile substrates," said Magill, who has worked in the PCM industry since the mid-1990s. "We do the final packaging in house but have the microPCMs and the binder formulation contract manufactured."

Therma-Spray-treated socks are also available on the site. The company has been selling Infinite R PCM products for the building and construction industry on its main site, mcmentinc.com, since 2016.

Magill says more retail products are in the pipeline: "Look for Team Apini thermal underwear, henleys, pillow cases and sheeting, a bunzy protector (seat cushion thermal protector for home, auto, camping, stadium, etc.), heating and cooling packs (for work, first responder and dietary applications) as well as an equestrian line we are working on now for both horse and rider (dressage focus)."

Patent application: Cushioning arrangement for temperature control of a sole structure

Ben Welter - Friday, March 01, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190062614 (applicant Nike Inc., Beaverton, Ore.):

"A sole structure for an article of footwear includes a chamber having a first barrier element, a second barrier element, and a tensile member. The tensile member is disposed within an interior void defined by the first barrier element and the second barrier element. The sole structure further includes a phase change material [70, above] disposed within the interior void and operable between a first state in a first temperature range and a second state in a second temperature range. The first temperature range is from 30° C. to 35° C. and the second temperature range is from 35° C. to 42° C. The sole structure further includes an insulating member disposed between the chamber and a ground contacting surface."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190062614.pdf

PCM briefing: PureTemp joins RSPO; Reda's new PCM fabric on display in Milan

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

PureTemp LLC has joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil as an associate member. The nonprofit organization, which has more than 4,000 members worldwide, promotes the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products. In November, RSPO adopted stricter standards for certified sustainable palm oil, including a total ban on deforestation by its members.

Reda Group's new Active Phase temperature-control fabric was on display at the Milan fabric trade show earlier this month. The material uses phase change material to keep body temperature constant when ambient temperature fluctuates. Reda says the material features enhanced breathability and softness and is "easy to clean, even in water."

University of Maryland fabric•  University of Maryland researchers have created a temperature-control fabric that does not rely on phase change material. The fabric changes its insulating properties in response to the environment. In warm and humid conditions, the fabric allows radiant heat to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. Two types of synthetic materials in the fabric — one that absorbs water and another other that repels it — are coated with carbon nanotubes. The fibers warp and relax in response to changing humidity, opening and closing pores in the fabric. 

• In interviews with Advanced Textiles Source, four entrepreneurs were asked: What do you wish you had known early on when you were first dealing with intellectual property law and patent issues? “Get feedback on why you need a patent,” said Jeremy Wall, founder and CEO of smart-clothing startup Lumenus. “Where else could you spend $20,000?” Said Matt Kolmes, CEO of VOLT Smart Yarns: “Even if you are on a tight budget, file that Provisional application immediately before you show your idea to anyone, or talk about it with anyone."

• The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action program is seeking applicants for a one- to two-year research fellowship at the Oslo Metropolitan University. The European Union-funded fellowship will focus on the energy-performance aspects of phase change material in buildings. "In this collaboration," OsloMet says, "we intend to gain our understanding and explore about the micro-structural aspect to relate the macro-scale behavior at continuum level." The application deadline is March 7.

Patent application: Article of apparel with PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, November 12, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180317574 (applicant Under Armour Inc., Baltimore, Md.):

"The present invention is directed toward an article of apparel including a base textile with a comfort regulation membrane. The comfort regulation membrane contains a plurality of system-reactive components selectively engaged heat and/or moisture. In an embodiment, the printed coating includes a cooling agent, a phase change material, and a heat dissipation material. The system reactive components may be provided in particulate form, being suspended in a binder. In operation, the article of apparel is effective to delay/diminish the rise in skin temperature (compared to a garment lacking the membrane) and/or improve the overall moisture management capacity of the substrate, either of which may improve wearer comfort."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180317574.pdf

Research roundup: Heat capacities of potential organic PCMs; asphalt binders; novel smart textile; modeling hysteresis; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

From Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics:

Heat capacities of potential organic phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Effects of microencapsulated phase change materials on the performance of asphalt binders
An improved, generalized effective thermal conductivity method for rapid design of high temperature shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage systems
Multi-objective optimisation of thermal energy storage using phase change materials for solar air systems

From Energy:

A comprehensive study of properties of paraffin phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Evaluation of a novel solar driven sorption cooling/heating system integrated with PCM storage compartment

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Shape-stabilized phase change materials based on porous supports for thermal energy storage applications
Novel smart textile with phase change materials encapsulated core-sheath structure fabricated by coaxial electrospinning

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental research on the effective heating strategies for a phase change material based power battery module
Modeling hysteresis in the phase transition of industrial-grade solid/liquid PCM for thermal energy storages

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Determination of heat transfer coefficients in direct contact latent heat storage systems

PCM briefing: Ice Energy seeks distributors in Australia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia; Thermetrics' new manikin can measure PCM effects

Ben Welter - Friday, August 31, 2018

• In an interview with Energy Storage Report, CEO Mike Hopkins discussed Ice Energy's plans to distribute its ice-based thermal energy storage technology in Australia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. In June, the California company announced a $40 million cash infusion from Argo Infrastructure Partners to finance the delivery of Ice Energy's residential and commercial thermal storage contracts.

Thermetrics manikin ANDIThermetrics says its new ANDI sweating thermal manikin has the "unrivaled ability" to measure both positive and negative heat flux and to respond to changing environmental conditions with "unprecedented" speed and accuracy. The new manikin was unveiled this week at the 12th International Meeting of Manikins and Modeling, hosted by the Swiss research institute Empa, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The manikin can be used to evaluate the thermal performance of apparel, blankets and seats, as well as quantify the cool-to-touch or warm-to-touch temperature-buffering effect in fabrics containing phase change materials. 

• New from LP Information: "2018-2023 Global Eutectic Phase Change Material Consumption Market Report"

• New from Research and Markets: "Phase Change Materials (PCMs) - A Global Market Overview"

• The journal Nature reports that India is cracking down on predatory journals, publications that "actively solicit manuscripts and charge authors hefty fees without providing the services they advertise, such as editing and peer review." 

• Life science laboratories are finding creative ways to reduce the amount of plastic they throw away, The Scientist reports. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe will hold its next Leading Minds Seminar Nov. 6-7 at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel Heathrow, London, England. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

Viking Cold Solutions says the thermal energy storage system the company installed at a 93,000-square-foot frozen food distribution center in Richmond, Calif., has reduced peak period energy consumption by up to 43 percent and reduced overall freezer energy consumption by 35 percent. Viking installed the system at the Dreisbach Enterprises warehouse earlier this year. Plastic panels filled with a proprietary salt hydrate are installed evenly throughout the warehouse atop the existing product racks. The PCM absorbs heat as it melts, allowing chillers to run less frequently and still keep the warehouse within a few degrees of the target temperature. The system also includes intelligent controls and sensors to optimize energy use and alert managers to temperature abnormalities, equipment failure and power outages.

PCM briefing: va-Q-tec opens Uruguay office; U.S. Army issues RFQ for 'cooling radio vest'

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

• A bipartisan bill promoting innovation in sustainable chemistry was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate last week. The bill is sponsored by Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Chris Coons, D-Del. Collins said the legislation "would create a coordinated national effort to support research and development in the sustainable chemistry field; provide grants, training, and educational opportunities for scientists and engineers; and support American jobs by maintaining our nation’s scientific leadership." 

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG is expanding its international presence with a new Latin American head office and operations facility in Montevideo, Uruguay. The new site will function as a hub for va-Q-tec’s pharma shipper rental service.

Sener and Acciona Industrial have begun the salt melting process at the 100MW Kathu concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province. The molten salt will be used to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered later to produce steam and generate electricity.

• In response to a U.S. threat to raise a proposed tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent, China has threatened to impose tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

• The U.S. Army is seeking proposals for a "cooling radio vest" that uses phase change material to keep the wearer at a comfortable 72 degrees F. The vest must include two radio pockets, a cell phone pocket, two utility pockets and space for a hydration panel. The list of requirements also specifies: "Cooling elements are a non-gel. Non ice mil spec aluminum packet consisting of a phase change material measuring 4.5" x 2.6" x 0.3." The deadline for proposals is Aug. 13. One other detail: Just 22 units are needed. 

Patent application: Self-warming insulation

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180142383 (applicant PrimaLoft Inc., Latham, N.Y.):

"The invention provides an insulation material that includes exothermic fibers, heat capturing fibers capable of retaining heat, and synthetic fibers. The heat capturing fibers having a density of at least 1.17 g/cm3or 2.0 Dtex linear density. Also provided are articles comprising, and methods of making the inventive insulation material. ... In some embodiments, the heat capturing fibers are selected from fibers containing ceramic, fibers containing carbon, and fibers containing phase change material (PCM)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180142383.pdf

Patent application: Articles of footwear with cooling features

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

Under Armour patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180103714 (applicant Under Armour, Baltimore, Md.):

"The present invention is directed toward an article of footwear effective to regulate the temperature of the feet of a wearer. In an embodiment, the article of footwear includes an upper and an insole with a thermal effect membrane. The thermal effect membrane contains a plurality of system-reactive components selectively engaged heat and/or moisture. In an embodiment, the printed coating includes a cooling agent, a phase change material, and a heat dissipation material. The bottom of the sole structure of the article of footwear further includes a multiple openings in the forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot regions. The multiple openings promote airflow into the interior of the upper. In operation, the article of footwear is effective to delay/diminish the rise in skin temperature (compared to footwear lacking the membrane and/or openings), increasing wearer comfort."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180103714.pdf