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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: Thermal storage capacity on the rise; clinical trial for prosthetics liner

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

• Thermal energy storage exceeds the capacity of battery storage now in operation, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. Greentech Media reports that a recent resurgence in concentrated solar power development promises to increase that advantage.

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022"

• New from Persistence Market Research: "Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020"

Alpha SmartTemp liner• The effectiveness of a PCM-infused prosthetics liner made by Ohio Willow Wood Co. will be put to the test in a two-year clinical trial. The liner is designed to absorb heat and reduce sweating where a prosthesis meets skin. The study, funded by a $140,000 Department of Defense grant, will be conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and Widener University.

• Registration is open for "2-8°C Solutions: Design variables and constraints," the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and Lisa Barbieri Moher, North American head of distribution packaging and graphics at Sanofi, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Nov. 14.

Sonoco ThermoSafe's development of the LD7 Quarter PMC pallet shipper won first place for Excellence in Collaboration at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Global Forum in Chicago last month. ThermoSafe's ChillTech reusable PCM system was runner-up in the Excellence in Technological Innovation category.

In a recent interview with Innovation in Textiles, CEO Dirk Van Hyning of PCM-maker Alexium International discussed U.S. efforts to curb the use of halogenated flame retardants.

PCM briefing: SaltX Technology wins Swedish prize; Axiom has opening for field engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

• SaltX Technology has been awarded Sweden's E-Prize, presented by European energy company E.ON and Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer. SaltX won the category “Renewable Energy” as well as the “People’s Award.” SaltX's nano-coated salt energy storage technology is used in EnerStore, the company's large-scale energy storage system for heat and power generation.

Brooks Danahy, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, is one of 13 University of Kansas students to receive a $1,000 Undergraduate Research Award. His project: "Characterization of Melting Point Depression and Phase Change Behavior in Ionic Liquid + Compressed Gas Systems.”

• California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of a "Refrigeration Battery" designed to reduce supermarket energy costs, has posted an opening for a field engineer

• Registration is open for a SpecialChem online course, "Essential Concepts for Optimal Compounding," to be held on Nov. 2. The cost for three attendees on one connection is 300 euros.

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson got a virtual peek inside X, the secretive lab where Google's parent company is researching advanced technology. Current projects include salt-based thermal storage, which X believes could become the cheapest grid-scale storage technology in the world. 

• A ceramic-based mechanical pump developed at Georgia Tech is able to operate at record temperatures of more than 1,400º Celsius, expanding the range of materials that can be used in high-temperature thermal storage systems. “The hotter we can operate, the more efficiently we can store and utilize thermal energy," said Asegun Henry, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. "This work will provide a step change in the infrastructure because now we can use some of the highest-temperature materials to transfer heat. These materials are also the hardest materials on Earth.” 

Schneider Electric of Andover, Mass., says augmented reality and mixed reality training regimens will become increasingly important at chemical plants as advances occur in both hardware and software. 

PCM briefing: Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

• Alas, no chemistry prize was handed out at the Ig Noble awards ceremony at Harvard University earlier this month. The annual "Igs," first awarded in 1991, are designed to recognize research efforts that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." This year's physics prize was awarded to Marc-Antoine Fardin, a physicist at Paris Diderot University, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?" His conclusion: Yes.

• The World Wildlife Fund has partnered with the American Chemistry Council, Recycling PartnershipOcean Conservancy, Target, Nestle and other organizations to find opportunity and economic value in expanding the availability and use of secondary material. Members of the initiative, known as the Cascading Materials Vision, introduced the concept of "cascading value" in two sessions at this week's Verge Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

• New from COMSOL: Modeling a novel PCM-enhanced plaster with numerical simulation 

• New from QY Research: "2017 Market Research Report on Global Energy Storage Devices Industry"

PCM briefing: Inventory reset rule takes effect; va-Q-tec reports strong first half

Ben Welter - Monday, August 28, 2017

• Thermal energy storage, a proven technology for years in Europe, is now a "budding HVAC option" in the United States, ACHR News reports. “In many ways, applications haven’t changed,” said Steve Benz, a 35-year veteran of the thermal storage industry and Evapco’s director of global thermal storage and district energy. “What has changed is related to the electric market — with an emphasis today on sustainable energy production and electricity storage."

Jane Chen• In an appearance at Stanford School of Engineering, Embrace founder Jane Chen, right, talked about the challenges she faced in developing and expanding the use of the PCM-based infant warming blanket. "You will inevitably fail," she said, "and you need to have the courage and the persistence to get back out there, learn from your mistakes, and try again."

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published the final TSCA inventory reset rule. The rule, which is effective immediately, creates new reporting obligations for companies that manufacture or import chemical products.

Va-Q-tec AG is reporting a strong first half of the year, with revenue 44 percent higher than the same period last year. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. 

• Monday, Aug. 28, is the deadline for submitting entries in Bio-Based World News' bio-based innovation competition for the Americas. The two categories are product of the year and chemical innovation of the year. The awards will be presented at the Bio-Based Live conference in San Diego Sept. 25-26. 

Singapore's "Grid 2.0" may include district cooling systems that incorporate phase change materials. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for product manager in Arlington Heights, Ill. 

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Research Report - Forecast to 2022"

SaltX Technology of Sweden and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd of China have reached an agreement to jointly develop and commercialize a "groundbreaking solution" for wind power with integrated energy storage.  

PCM briefing: A baby manikin that sweats; a salt and antifreeze TES system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

Alphabet Inc.'s secretive development lab is developing a system for storing renewable energy in tanks filled with salt and antifreeze. "The system takes in energy in the form of electricity and turns it into separate streams of hot and cold air," Bloomberg reports. "The hot air heats up the salt, while the cold air cools the antifreeze, a bit like a refrigerator. ... Flip a switch and the process reverses. Hot and cold air rush toward each other, creating powerful gusts that spin a turbine and spit out electricity when the grid needs it. Salt maintains its temperature well, so the system can store energy for many hours, and even days, depending on how much you insulate the tanks."

Thermetrics baby manikinThermetrics LLC has introduced an 11-zone thermal baby manikin that features a thermally conductive carbon-epoxy shell, a “sweating skin system” and internal heater elements and temperature sensors. Nicknamed “Ruth,” the manikin can be used to evaluate the thermal properties of clothing, diapers, bedding, car seats and strollers.

Axiom Exergy and Ice Energy are on a list of 25 companies notable for developing innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption in commercial and industrial buildings.  

Croda International has announced the acquisition of Enza Biotech AB, a research enterprise established as a spin-out company from Lund University in Sweden.

AkzoNobel has announced the winners of its 2017 Imagine Chemistry initiative, recognizing and supporting efforts to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and to uncover sustainable opportunities for the company’s specialty chemicals business. Among the winners is Industrial Microbes of Emeryville, Calif., for its work on the biocatalysis of ethylene to ethylene oxide.

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins and Magnum CAES CEO Richard Walje will be among the speakers at the Energy Storage North America conference in San Diego next week. 

ONE Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., has selected Acme Aerospace to provide lithium ion battery systems to be used in ONE’s “Project Canada” aircraft. The Acme system features a proprietary phase change material to improve battery performance.

Reuters reports that Dow Chemical and DuPont are seeing increased benefits in developing sustainable "green" products, as the chemical giants seek new areas of growth and build a stronger connection with millennials.

TemperPack, a Virginia-based manufacturer of sustainable packaging for perishable goods, has raised $10 million in an investment round that will help it further expand operations and add jobs.

Digital strategies “will have a significant impact on many areas of the chemical industry, with the potential to change value chains, lead to higher productivity and more innovation, and create new channels to market,” according to a McKinsey & Co. analysis.

• The Bioencapsulation Research Group has posted the program for the 3rd Latin-America Symposium on Microencapsulation, to be held in Chile Nov. 27-29.

1414 Degrees, the Australian startup that has developed a way to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, has posted openings for a chief financial officer and an energy storage and power network system analyst.

• New from QY Research: "Global Inorganic Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market Research Report 2017"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Energy Harvesting Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2014 - 2020" and "Chilled Water Storage System Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 – 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017 – 2027"

ThermoSafe ChillTechSonoco ThermoSafe has launched a new range of reusable, universal solutions for the pharmaceutical and biologics markets. ChillTech is a pre-qualified range of 2°C to 8°C PCM systems providing temperature control from two days up to six days for payloads from 4L to 40L. The range uses Laminar Medica’s ChillPhase paraffin phase change material.

• A new reference manual for the oleochemical industry is now available. "Fatty Acids: Chemistry, Synthesis, and Applications" presents new information on industrially important fatty acids including detailed descriptions of fatty acid crystallization, enzymatic synthesis and microbial production.

Pluss Advanced Technologies has received a 50 lakh grant (about $78,000 USD) under India’s Millennium Alliance Program to promote the use of the company’s MiraCradle cooling device in hospitals and neonatal care units across India. The device uses phase change material to treat birth asphyxia in newborns. 

• Why haven't phase change materials taken off in the UK construction industry? Ian Biggin of Phase Energy Ltd., which is developing novel shape-stabilized technologies, says the industry needs to address what he calls the "4Ps": price, performance, proof and promotion.

PCM briefing: Abstracts due for heat and thermal energy conference; chemical industry employment projections

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

• Abstracts are due July 14 for the 19th International Conference on Heat and Thermal Energy, to be held in London Sept. 20-21. Conference topics include novel storage concepts; thermal energy storage in buildings; thermal energy storage materials; polymeric materials; and micro- and macro-encapsulation methods. Researchers from  Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts will present their findings on "Unbranched, Saturated, Carboxylic Esters as Phase Change Materials."

• From Chem.Info: "How Much Will Chemical Industry Employment Grow By 2019?

• A mattress powered by Zotto's "ThermaPhase technology" is one of eight products on Forbes magazine's "Must Have Summer Tech Gift Guide." 

• Unrelated link of the week, from Bored Panda: "Architect Turns Old Cement Factory Into His Home, And The Interior Will Take Your Breath Away

UK student honored for designing mobile cooler for fish vendors

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fish vendor basket

A University of Hertfordshire student who designed a fish cooler for street vendors is the runner-up in the UK’s prestigious New Designer of the Year competition. The New Designers exhibition, now in its 32nd year, features the work of top students from the UK’s leading design schools.

Kiran Sunil’s “Machhalee Basket” is essentially an EPS cooler equipped with phase change material. Judges described it as “a sensitively designed product – an example of bottom-up, frugal innovation, demonstrating genuine social impact and purpose.” The award includes a cash prize of £500.

Sunil, 22, was born and raised in the United Kingdom and is of South Indian descent. He recently earned a bachelor's degree in industrial design at Hertfordshire. He discussed details of his final-year project in an email interview.

Kiran Sunil with winning displayQ: What does “Machhalee” mean?

A: "Machhalee" is a Hindi word for “fish.”

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: My family and I regularly travel to India usually every 2-3 years, so for me the sight of fish vendors on street corners and at local marketplaces was a common and familiar sight, as it is to native Indians. However it always occurred to me the huge contrast between our experience in places like the UK of buying fish in comparison to theirs. Often their platform was very makeshift, working from the ground unprotected in the baking hot sun and with little to no ice. Generally poor quality.

In conjunction for my dissertation I gained a deeper insight into what I wanted to do for my final project, when I began tackling issues between wealth divides and how this affects the designs that we consume and use. Inspired by the works of Victor Papanek and Emily Pilloton of designing for social change, I decided that for this project I wanted to design something for those less well off in developing countries, those who were in true need of good design. However it was important for me that I didn't want to create a product that revolved around aid. This was about empowerment and strengthening honest business, more importantly I wanted to create a product from the people and for the people.


Q: Did you talk with fish vendors as part of your research?

A: While I wasn’t able to talk directly to fish vendors in India due to the disconnect, I came pretty close. It was important that I design honestly and according to the needs of the vendors. I enlisted the help of many NGOs including the likes of the Selco Foundation in India as well as the National Association of Street Vendors of India, two huge players in my research. With their help I was able to identify all the key needs, patterns and processes in order to create the most appropriate design.

Q: How did you hear about phase change material?

A: One of my visiting lecturers, Ian Hunter from Material Council, mentioned its usage in cheap and effective cooling systems and so it piqued my interest. For a while we gained and lost interest in the idea while the designs developed before finally realizing it massive potential.

Q: How many PCM types did you try before settling on one?

A: I researched PCMs for a duration while doing the project. I moved from organic paraffin wax based ones to salt hydrates and so on. Ultimately I decided that using more environmentally friendly sources such as vegetable and animal fat PCMs would be better due to their stability, sustainability, re-use and wide temperature range. Also it occurred to me that it was possible for these PCMs to be locally manufactured and sourced by farmers, making it possible for them to benefit from the mix as well.

Q: Which PCM are you using and how is it contained?

Sunil basket cutawayA: After getting in contact with your associates at Entropy Solutions, I decided that PureTemp 8 from your range was the most appropriate due to it being agriculturally sourced and having a great heat storage capacity of 178J/g. It was also important that the PCMs be cooled passively at similar temperatures that ice are stored and manufactured in. In this case it was so that Ice vendors were still inclusive in process and could supply and recharge the PCM packs using their facilities at a fixed lease based price to the fish vendors. The fish vendors in turn would use the packs and return them in the evening for recharging, creating a harmonious cold chain.

I decided macroencapsulation was the best and most secure way to go using the plastic pouch method. On top of this the pouches [shown in yellow in cutaway drawing] would sit inside thin sheet metal aluminum containers, adding an extra layer of protection while still allowing for heat conduction
.

Q: What if any insulation material is used in the cooler?

A: The majority of the insulation comes from the medium grade EPS that makes up the main body of the basket. This is a common and cheap material used in the fishing trade and so seemed appropriate. On top of this on the interior the fish sits inside a polyester tarpaulin bag and on the exterior the main body sits inside a secondary woven bamboo basket.

Q: How long did it take you to complete the project, from concept to prototype?

A: About 3½ months. It was part of our second semester and made up our final major project.

Q: What do you estimate the retail cost might be, when in full production?

A: I designed and planned the cooler in such a way for minimal cost with maximum effect. I truly made use of the fruits of India's economy when considering how to do this. All materials are locally sourced and in abundance either by methods of cheap manufacture or locally available materials making it easy to repair and easy/cheap to replace.

On top of this I took into consideration the consumption styles of vendors and realized that what might work best was a lease-based platform. In this case the vendors could buy the basket outright for a small price and were given the opportunity to lease/purchase the PCM packs and display assembly if they required it. All costs considered, I estimate the vendors expenses would be no more than 20 rupees a week.


Q: Do you have plans to commercialize the cooler?

A: A few companies have shown interest in commercializing the cooler. However while it shows great promise and practicality, for now it is just a concept and has room for development and improvement, if it is to be successfully implemented. I believe in an open sourcing philosophy, especially when it comes to the potential for my target audience that it could help.

Q: What do you plan to do with the £500 prize?

A: I plan on using it to re-invest in my career, however I’m not sure entirely how. I might purchase a new laptop, or I could possibly use it for a plane ticket if the opportunity to take my work elsewhere calls!

PCM wood flooring concept is finalist for Schweighofer Prize

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

A Canadian Ph.D. student who wants to develop PCM-enhanced engineered wood flooring is one of six finalists for the 2017 Schweighofer Prize Student Award. 

Damien Mathis of Laval University in Quebec proposes flooring with a layer of solid-solid PCMs, which would allow the boards to be cut and installed without the risk of leakage associated with solid-liquid PCMs. He envisions a product with four times the thermal mass of standard EWF.

"I'm planning to use new solid-solid PCMs that are currently in development," he said in an interview. "It's nonflammable white powder with a PC enthalpy of ~100 J/g."

The Schweighofer Prize recognizes innovative ideas, technologies, products and services aimed at strengthening Europe's wood products industry. The winner in the student category, which will be determined in part by online voting, will be honored at an awards ceremony June 20 in Vienna. A prize of 5,000 euros accompanies the award.  

https://www.schweighofer-prize.org/student_award/?lang=EN

PCM-enhanced table selected for French accelerator program

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

Table ClimatiqueA table designed to reduce energy costs by absorbing heat when indoor temperatures rise above a comfortable level is among 25 innovations chosen for FAIRE Paris, an accelerator program supporting "innovative urban design and architecture projects" in France. 

"Table Climatique," designed by Jean-Sébastien Lagrange and Raphaël Ménard, contains microencapsulated Micronal phase change material within triangular folds of lightweight anodized aluminum. The PCM has a melting point of 22º Celsius. It releases heat when temperatures fall below a comfortable level.

"The waved geometry of the conductive aluminum fosters thermal exchanges between the room and the PCMs located inside the Climatic Table," according to the creators' website. "The folds of the light-weight sheet of aluminum give also an excellent structural rigidity and carrying strength. Thus, the plateau might have a very large span."

Ménard and Lagrange hope to develop a line of "zero energy furniture" products based on the table.  

http://www.faireparis.com/en/

PCM briefing: Outlast introduces Xelerate fabric; Warmilu signs 2 distributors

Ben Welter - Friday, May 19, 2017

Drawing of Outlast Xelerate

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric. The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.

Warmilu, maker of the IncuBlanket infant warmer, reports that is on track for $300,000 in total 2017 sales after signing two distributors for Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia: Relief for Africa Foundation and Maternova. The IncuBlanket, which has been successfully tested in clinical trials in India, uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours. CEO Grace Hsia says the device recently cleared its first regulatory filing with Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Axiom Exergy has won a Gold Stevie for Energy Innovation in the 15th annual American Business Awards. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" enables supermarkets and food warehouses to store thermal energy at night when power is cheaper. The system, which uses salt-based phase change material, reduces peak power usage by up to 40 percent.

• Registration is open for IFAI's Expo 2017, set for Sept. 27-29 in New Orleans. The Industrial Fabrics Association International show will feature sessions on smart fabrics, military procurement, biomimesis and green certification.   

Pelican BioThermal has introduced a new Series 22 Universal system for its Credo brand of shippers. The system uses a dual PCM coolant system designed to be operational throughout the year.

National Law Review offers a fresh overview of green chemistry laws across the United States. "State chemical control regimes," the authors conclude, "are likely to increase cost and foster confusion about chemical safety, which is one reason that Congress agreed to modernize TSCA by adopting LCSA."

Monodraught's Cool-phase ventilation and cooling system was among the finalists honored at the National CSR Awards in London this week. The hybrid system, which won a "One to Watch" award, uses PCMs to store and release thermal energy, providing a free cooling load and reducing energy and maintenance costs.

• The agenda has been released for the 15th Cold Chain Global Forum to be held Sept. 25-29 in Chicago. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, will lead a master class on temperature assurance packaging certification.

Bloomberg BNA is offering a free webinar June 12: "Reviewing New Chemicals under Amended TSCA: Impact on Innovation." 

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric (shown below). The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.