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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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Patent application: Cushion with phase change material containers

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170055719 (applicant Bob Jacquart, Ironwood, Mich.):

Jacquart patent application drawing"A cushion comprising a body of cushioning material having a first surface and a second surface opposing the first surface. The first surface has a plurality of upwardly extending fingers and a plurality of spaced apart pockets defined between the fingers. The cushion has a plurality of phase change material (PCM) containers each containing a phase change material, each of the phase change material (PCM) containers being disposed in one of the pockets in the body of cushioning material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170055719.pdf

PCM briefing: California utility will buy up to 100 Ice Bears for residential use; Malouf unveils new graphite-PCM pillow

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 09, 2017

Ice Energy will join forces with the Southern California Public Power Authority to provide up to 100 Ice Bear 20 cooling units for residential use within utility's 12 member territories in 2017. Installations will begin in June. The Ice Bear 20 stores cooling energy during off-peak hours by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. The new deployment is designed to demonstrate the Ice Bear 20's grid value to utilities. The units will be installed in single-family homes chosen by Ice Energy based on site visits. Homes that need 4-, 5- or 6-ton air-conditioning systems replaced are the likely targets. The utilities pay for the Ice Bears; it's unclear at this point who will pay installation costs. If all 100 Ice Bear 20s are purchased, the total cost to the utilities will be $1.33 million (not including installation).

Malouf CarbonCool pillow• Bedding maker Malouf's new CarbonCool Plus OmniPhase pillow combines the temperature-regulation properties of graphite and microencapsulated phase change material. "At the molecular level," Furniture Today reports, "the material inside the capsules changes from a solid to a liquid when the temperature is high and vice versa when the temperature is low. This continuous cycle is designed keep the pillow surface between 87 and 91 degrees, which research shows is the ideal skin temperature range for deep sleep." The queen size shown here retails for $299.99.

• New from Absolute Reports: "United States Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market By Manufacturers, States, Type And Application, Forecast To 2022"

SPX Flow's new FLEX Series refrigerated air dryer uses phase change material to tightly regulate temperatures and reduce compressor cycling.

Prongo insulin bagPluss Technologies' PronGo bag, introduced last year for consumers to transport frozen and chilled food and beverages, is  now being promoted as a way to keep insulin at the right temperature for up to 10 hours. The 3-liter bag comes with two sets of PCM cooling packs. It's available on Amazon.in for about $52. In an interview with Express Pharma, company director Samit Jain talked about the Prongo and another new product, Celsure, a passive shipper designed to keep pharma products "at the right temperature for 96 hours and beyond at the tropical temperatures that countries like India, South East Asia and Africa have."

1414 Degrees, the Australian company that has developed a way to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, is now scaling up the technology and plans to launch the first commercial systems this year. Executive Chairman Kevin Moriarty said the company is waiting for AusIndustry, a division of Australia's Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, to sign off on the 10MWh project in February so manufacture can begin.

Patent application: Mattress containing microencapsulated PCM

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170020299 (applicant Milliken & Co., Spartanburg, S.C.):

"A mattress containing a core section, a high loft non-woven layer at least partially covering a first side of the core section and containing a plurality of heat and flame resistant fibers, bulking fibers, and binder fibers, a ticking layer at least partially covering the high loft non-woven layer and containing a textile layer, a pattern coated layer. The pattern coated layer may be printed on the high loft non-woven layer, the ticking layer, or any layer between the high loft non-woven layer and the ticking layer. The pattern coated layer contains a blend of microencapsulated phase change material (PCM) and a binder, wherein the PCM is fully encapsulated by the binder."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170020299.pdf

PCM briefing: Long-haul cyclists reach Myanmar; papers sought for symposium on waste heat

Ben Welter - Friday, January 27, 2017

Riccardo Rocchi and Chiara RicciardiRiccardo Rocchi and Chiara Ricciardi,  the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes, have reached Myanmar. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and needs a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair topped the 10,000-kilometer mark this week. They've pedaled across 16 countries, averaging 44 km per day. "We just realized that maybe we forgot to make a postcard from Nepal," the pair said in a Facebook post from Myanmar. "We might consider to cycle back to do it." Their final destination is Singapore.

• Organizers of a one-day symposium at Brunei University on the efficient use of waste heat have issued a call for abstracts. The symposium, "Heat Recovery and Efficient Conversion and Utilisation of Waste Heat," will be held April 20, 2017. Abstracts must be submitted by Jan. 31.

Pelican BioThermal has completed a $1.65 million expansion of the manufacturing facilities at its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minn. The company now has 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Minneapolis suburb, up from 54,000 square feet. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

Weise's Outlast Houston motorcycle jacket• New from Weise Motorcycle Clothing: The Outlast Houston, a fully armored waterproof jacket with a removable lining that features Outlast phase change material to regulate temperature. 

Serta is touting “breakthrough cooling technology” in the new version of its iComfort memory foam mattresses. Phase change material is embedded in the fabric and on the surface of the gel memory foam.

• The United Kingdom plans to spend £28 million ($35 million) on reducing the cost of energy storage, advancing demand side response technologies and improving energy efficiency measures for industry. Up to one-third of the money will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including thermal storage.

• The EU-funded Heat4Cool research project is developing a novel retrofit planning tool to help retrofit companies, architects, manufacturers, building administrators and residents weigh the potential benefits of three main technologies: gas and solar thermally driven adsorption heat pumps; PV-assisted DC-powered heat pumps connected to advanced modular PCM heat and cold storage systems; and energy recovery from sewage water with high performance heat exchangers. You are invited to help in this effort by completing a five-minute survey online.

• A Florida startup is calling its PCM-infused TempPro fabric “a gamechanger for luxury lingerie.” Giapenta, which launched a Kickstarter campaign this week, uses the temperature-regulating fabric in its line of bras, panties and sleep masks. The campaign has already met its modest target of raising $25,000. I've contacted the company and hope to have technical details on TempPro in time for next week's newsletter..

PCM briefing: Axiom Exergy's fast pitch; Peli BioThermal's new bulk freight shipper

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

• Six energy storage startups made speed pitches at last month's Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Greentech Media takes a look at three of the pitches, including one made by Axiom Exergy co-founder Amrit Robbins. Axiom's PCM-powered "refrigeration battery" is designed to cut energy costs at supermarkets. "They are scrambling to reduce costs by just a few basis points -- and energy is a huge opportunity," Robbins said. "Saving $30,000 on a utility bill is the same as selling an additional $1.5 million of groceries."   

Peli BioThermal has introduced its new CoolPall Vertos Advance, a single-use, passive bulk freight shipper that incorporates phase change materials and vacuum insulation panels. 

• Scientists in the United Kingdom are developing a way to turn pinene, a paper industry waste product, into plastic. "We're not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful," Helena Quilter, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bath's Center for Sustainable Chemical Technologies.

• Researchers at MIT have created three-dimensional samples of graphene that are up to 10 times stronger than steel, with just 5 percent of the density.

Sonoco ThermoSafe will offer its daylong master class on temperature assurance packaging on Feb. 2 at the Temperature Controlled Logistics conference in London. Sonoco, Peli BioThermal, CrodaTherm, Pluss Advanced Technologies, Ecocool and Cryopack will be among the exhibitors at the conference.

•  Symbol Mattress will launch its new climate-controlled SleepFresh line at the Las Vegas Market later this month. The mattresses use various combinations of gel foams, gel memory foams, phase-change gel latex and ventilated foams, along with the addition of graphite-infused foams. A climate control system in the foundation has the capacity to heat, ventilate and cool.

PCM briefing: Axiom founders make Forbes '30 Under 30' list; Massachusetts utility to test thermal storage using PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 05, 2017

Anthony Diamond and Amrit Robbins, cofounders of Axiom Exergy, have made Forbes' annual list of "30 Under 30" in the energy category. The two men developed a "refrigeration battery" that enables supermarkets and food warehouses to store thermal energy at night when power is cheaper. The battery, which uses salt-based phase change material, reduces peak power usage by up to 40 percent and provides backup cooling during power outages. The Berkeley, Calif., startup has raised $3.5 million from investors and, according to Forbes, has a $15 million sales pipeline. 

Alexium International has reached a preliminary agreement to supply its Alexicool phase change material to New York-based Pegasus Home Fashions Inc. for use in pillows. Alexium, based in Perth, Australia, and Greer, S.C., says the deal is worth $10 million in annual sales of PCM.

Eversource, New England's largest energy provider, is seeking $21.5 million from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to fund energy storage demonstration projects for commercial and industrial customers. The utility plans to test ice storage and phase change materials. A related opening for an energy efficiency consultant is posted on the company's website. 

• The University of Birmingham has posted an opening for a research fellow in energy storage integration. The work will involve "optimising the operation of cryogenic and thermal energy storage in energy systems."

• Engineering students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have developed a heat storage system that uses phase change material to store thermal energy from the sun during the day and release it after the sun sets.

PCM briefing: Karlsruhe professor wins $2.6M Leibniz Prize; outlook strong for U.S. chemical industry

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dr. Britta Nestler• Dr. Britta Nestler of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has won the 2017 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for her research into computer-aided materials modeling. The prize comes with $2.6 million in research funds to be used at her discretion. Her work includes the development of foam structures within integrated phase change materials for use in latent heat storage systems.

• The 2017 outlook for the U.S. chemical industry is better than that in Germany and Europe, the American Chemistry Council reports. The U.S. industry group expects a 3.6 percent production increase, compared with the 0.5% increase expected by the European Chemical Industry Council.

Alexium International, maker of Alexicool phase change material, has an opening for a senior sales rep at its office in Greer, S.C.

Setaram Instrumentation's next free webinar, "Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry Applied to Thermal Energy Storage," will be held Jan. 24, 2017.   

• New from QY Research: "United States Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials (MPCM) Market Report 2016"

Patent application: Mattress with a visco elastic polyurethane foam layer

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 17, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160331150 (HSM, Hickory, N.C.):

"A foam mattress is provided having a body facing surface comprising a viscoelastic foam layer. The body facing surface further comprises a recess or cavity into which a layer including a core of springs may be provided. The foam mattress further having a layer of open cell foam beneath the viscoelastic foam layer. The open cell, or reticulated, foam layer provides increased breathability. Support for the mattress may further be provided by a bottom layer of conventional foam. ... The viscoelastic foam may be gel infused and/or contain other elements including phase change materials, antimicrobials, or the like."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160331150.pdf

Research roundup: Thermal stability of renewable diesters; microencapsulated octadecane with silica shell; more

Ben Welter - Monday, October 24, 2016

Thermal stability of renewable diesters as phase change materials [Thermochimica Acta]

Synthesis and properties of microencapsulated octadecane with silica shell as shape–stabilized thermal energy storage materials [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Synthesis and characterization of novel solid-solid phase change materials with polyurethaneurea copolymer structure for thermal energy storage [RSC Advances]

A novel multi-dimensional model for solidification process with supercooling [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Assessment of a mattress with phase change materials using a thermal and perception test [Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science]

Energy Accumulation Using Encapsulated Phase Change Materials with Recycled Material Components [Energy Procedia]

PCM briefing: U.S. specialty chemicals index posts 3rd monthly gain; Alexium announces 2 more sales agreements

Ben Welter - Friday, October 21, 2016

• U.S. specialty chemical market volumes rose 0.3 percent in September, the third consecutive monthly gain.

Alexium International has announced sales agreements to supply its phase change cooling technology (Alexicool) to two unidentified mattress fabric producers based in the United States. The company says the three-year deals will generate $3 million in revenue per year.

• In a guest column for Outsourced Pharma, Kevin Lawler of Pelican BioThermal outlines "three reasons bulk freight forwarding and life science are turning to passive for cold chain."

Samit Jain, managing director at Pluss Advanced Technologies, gave a presentation on phase change material at this week's India Cold Chain Show. In a panel discussion on cold chain innovation in India's dairy industry, he outlined the advantages of passive cooling products that rely on less continuous power.