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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: RSPO orders ban on deforestation; ESA calls on Congress to clarify tax credit

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

• The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has ordered a total ban on deforestation by its members, amid growing pressure from both companies and consumers. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban at the group’s annual general assembly in Malaysia Nov. 15. The ban is now part of the RSPO core standards, which member companies must comply with for their products to be certified “sustainable.”

Sunamp Ltd. reports that it has received $2.8 million in new seed funding. The latest round of investors includes Scottish Investment Bank, Equity Gap, PAR Equity and the Japanese energy utility Osaka Gas. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently signed a memo of understanding with Trina Solar to develop an integrated solution combining Sunamp heat batteries with heat pumps manufactured at Trina's new factory in Changzhou, China.

• From Andreas Hauer, head of ZAE Bayern's Energy Storage Division; via LinkedIn: "The Progress Report for the working group 'Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage' (http://task58.iea-shc.org/) has been approved by the Executive Committee of #IEA #EnergyStorage programme. One more year for international collaboration and inspiring discussions among material experts and applied scientist on advanced thermal energy storage!" Task 58 Annex 33 deals with advanced materials for latent and chemical thermal energy storage, PCMs and thermochemical materials.

• Registration is open for an all-day Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. The free event "will present and discuss current innovations within the field of energy storage and efficiency in the built environment. Joining together industry and academia for discussions focussing on integrated solutions for residential, commercial and public buildings using renewable sources. Results will be presented from the ongoing TESSe2b European project, as well as results from other projects in the field of energy efficiency, generation & storage in buildings." 

AQUACHILL Cool Coating, a water-based phase change material coating for bedding materials and other cooling applications, is among six Dow technologies to make R&D Magazine's 2018 R&D 100 list. The awards recognize "revolutionary technologies" introduced during the past year. 

• The RAL Quality Association PCM's next meeting has been set for April 2, 2019, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• A coalition led by the Energy Storage Association is calling on Congress to clarify that energy storage systems qualify for the Investment Tax Credit. The ESA said bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate would "ensure a level playing field" for storage resources. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded nearly $2.8 million to develop a system for grid electricity storage and power generation. The system includes a high-temperature charging device, low-cost thermal energy storage modules, a high-performance heat exchanger, and a closed-loop Brayton cycle turbine. 

Ecozen Solutions of India has won Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The award recognizes innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. Ecozen, one of five finalists, won both the Jury’s Prize of $15,000 and the Audience’s Prize of $5,000. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Energy Storage News reports that Lumenion's new storage technology, now being trialled in Berlin by Vattenfall, can store energy in steel structures for up to 48 hours. The technology is designed to provide low-cost energy storage for combined heat and power applications, using steel as the medium. The steel modules store energy thermally at up to 650 degrees Celsius.

Patent application: Mattress containing microencapsulated phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, October 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180279796 (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/20180279796.pdf

Patent application: Enhanced thermally conductive cushioning foams

Ben Welter - Monday, October 22, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180298264 (applicant Peterson Chemical Technology LLC, Austin, Texas):

"Methods and combinations for making and using one or more thermally conductive cellular foam layers and other structures comprising flexible cellular foam and metallic material particulates, and said thermally-conductive cellular foam layers may be located on, under, or in cushioning foams and mattresses or placed between on, under, within, or between other layering substrates, columns, and other structures to increase the overall cooling capability of the composite. The thermally conductive foam may be used in mattresses, pillows, bedding products, seat cushions, medical cushioning foams, pet beds, and similar materials used in bedding and comfort products."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180298264.pdf

Patent application: Body support cushion with multiple layers of phase change material

Ben Welter - Sunday, September 23, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180263377 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

"A body support cushion, e.g., mattress, has multiple foam layers, including a viscoelastic foam layer and a reticulated foam layer, and an outer cover. At least one of the foam layers and the outer cover each includes phase change material having latent heat properties that provide two intervals of dermal cooling."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180263377.pdf

Patent application: Cooling beach blanket

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 06, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180249849 (inventor Christopher Wilkinson, Brooklyn, N.Y.):

Beach cooling blanket patent drawing"A personal cooling system for controlling personal body temperature at the beach comprises a first layer having a first edge region defining a size and a shape of the first layer, the first layer comprising a cooling gel pack, wherein the gel pack has an outer surface and a plurality of compartments for storing a temperature-controlling ingredient therein; a second layer having a second edge region defining a size and a shape of the second layer; and an outside bag, to an inside surface of the outside bag the first layer and the second layer are attached. The second layer in the system further comprises a liquid dispenser that is embedded in the mesh material of the second layer. The actions of the cooling system and the dispenser can be controlled by a remote controller."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180249849.pdf

PCM briefing: PureTemp blog is finalist for industry award; ACC urges Trump to remove all chemicals from tariffs list

Ben Welter - Friday, July 27, 2018

• The Phase Change Matters blog is a finalist in the 2018 PR News Platinum and Agency Elite Awards. Other finalists in the blog category include Shopfloor (National Association of Manufacturers), The Blonde Abroad (R&R Partners) and Transform (Microsoft Inc.). Winners will be announced at a luncheon in New York City on Sept. 21.

Phase Change Material Products Ltd. and Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE will be among the exhibitors at Chillventa 2018. The trade show for refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation and heat pumps will be held Oct. 16-18 in Nuremberg, Germany. 

FLIR One Pro LTFlir Systems has released the One Pro LT thermal image camera for the iPhone. The new model has many of the core features of the popular One Pro model but at a lower price: $299.

Ed Brzytwa, the American Chemistry Council's director of international trade, has urged the Trump administration to remove all chemicals and plastics products, valued at $2.2 billion, from a list of Chinese goods subject to possible increased tariffs. In testimony before officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative this week, Brzytwa said higher tariffs on those products “has the potential to harm America’s manufacturing renaissance and is counterproductive to U.S. economic interests.” 

• The program for the 13th Conference on Advanced Building Skins has been posted. The event will be held Oct. 1-2 in Bern, Switzerland. Last year's conference included at least 10 presentations on phase change material. "Phase change" appears just twice in this year's program. A presentation by Jose Manuel Montes Donaire of AKT II Envelopes, London, "Thermal tuning of envelopes and its use as a parametric design tool," will address the topic of energy buffering with phase change materials. A presentation by Annie Shaw of Manchester School of Art on the architectural potential of knitted textiles will explore "three-dimensional seamlessness and stretch, phase-change form-finding and form-fixing."

• Pillow talk: Phase change material is no longer enough. Manufacturers like Tulo and Blu Sleep are turning to titanium particles and essential oils in an effort to stand out it in the crowded pillow market.

Pelican BioThermal's newest temperature-control bulk shipper, the CoolPall Flex, is now available for purchase. The CoolPall Flex, unveiled in Milan in March, has a capacity range of 140 to 767 liters. Options include standard insulation or vacuum insulated panels and water-based or PCM coolants in single or double coolant configurations.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and United Cargo announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from United Cargo.

Alexium says it's working to establish wide acceptance of new testing protocol

Ben Welter - Friday, June 08, 2018

Alexium International Group Ltd. announced in April that it had developed an "innovative thermal analytical testing methodology" to measure the cooling capacity of PCM-enhanced products used in pillows, sheets and mattresses.

Alexium interim CEO Robert BrookinsAlexium, based in Greer, S.C., and Perth, Australia, makes flame-retardant and PCM-enhanced fabric treatments. Dr. Robert Brookins, Alexium’s executive vice president of research and development and newly appointed interim CEO, responded to questions about the new protocol this week.

Q: Your company's news release (https://alexiuminternational.com/8401-2/) says the protocol allows for "facile adoption by the industry." Is a detailed description of the protocol publicly available, so that results can be replicated and a new industry standard established? 

A: "At this point, the protocol has been openly shared with people in the industry, and Alexium has educated them on how to use this method. This work has been in conjunction with our customers. For more general usage, Alexium is working to introduce this as a formal test method through a standards organization."

Q: What retail pillows were evaluated (by type, if not by brand)? Do they contain microencapsulated phase change materials? 

A: "All of the pillows were purchased from general retail stores and were all based on the application of the PCM to a textile component. Based on the marketing included with the pillows and the apparent method of application, microencapsulated phase change materials were used on all of these. To clarify, none of the products specifically stated that PCMs were used."

Q: What is the MPCM load in each of the four Alexium-treated pillows shown in the chart? 

A: "We supply the analytical data as a testament to performance, but do not provide public information about the specific MPCM loading for products treated with our products."

Q: Are the four Alexium-treated pillows commercially available, as tested?

A: "These products represent four models that have gone into full production for commercialization by our customers."

Q: How do the results you obtained compare to other known methods used for quantifying cooling capacity, such as ASTM Standard D7984?

A: "We have used D7984 to test fabrics treated with different levels of PCM and found that MTPS provides no meaningful data. For this reason, Alexium undertook the work to develop this new test method. Based on our research, ASTM D7984 is effective for thermal effusivity and by our assessment provides insight related to sensible heat transfer; however, due to the test protocol for D7984, the thermal properties due to latent heat (i.e., PCM) are not effectively tested by that method. For our work, established DSC protocols were used as the starting place for the new method, because DSC has proven very effective at studying PCM-based materials."

Q: Do you use the DSC to measure the treated fabric’s thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity, so you can calculate the thermal effusivity?

A: "Our method is used to measure the latent heat absorbed by the PCM-treated fabric. This is important because this is the basis of the cooling effects provided by the PCM. The critical advance made with this test method is adapting established DSC methods so that they can be used reliably with PCM-treated textiles. We believe that building on an established test method is critical for the wide spread acceptance of this method."

Alexium International CEO Dirk Van Hyning resigns

Ben Welter - Friday, June 01, 2018

Alexium International Group Ltd. said its chief executive officer, Dirk Van Hyning, resigned this week for personal reasons. He was appointed CEO in June 2017.

Robert Brookins, Alexium’s executive vice president of research and development, has been appointed interim CEO. Alexium, based in Greer, S.C., and Perth, Australia, makes flame-retardant and PCM-enhanced fabric treatments.

In April, Alexium announced that it had developed an "innovative thermal analytical testing methodology" to measure the cooling capacity of PCM-enhanced products used on pillows, sheets and mattresses.

In an April 23 news release, the company said:

"Alexium developed a testing protocol using a standard industry tool to quantify the cooling capacity, or enthalpic cooling, of PCM products when applied to pillows and other bedding fabrics. As a result, using this testing protocol, pillows treated with Alexium’s Alexicool PCM solution were shown to deliver over 500% greater cooling capacity than commercially available pillows treated with other PCM products.

"Testing was conducted on microencapsulated octadecane-based PCM in a controlled lab environment using a differential scanning calorimetry method developed by Alexium scientists with a TA Instrument DSC 250. The method was developed to be applicable across a wide range of fiber composition, fabric construction, and types of PCM." 

Alexium said the protocol allows for "facile adoption by the industry." But the company has not responded to questions about whether a detailed description of the protocol would be made public so that results can be replicated and a new industry standard established. It is not clear how the protocol compares to other known methods used for quantifying cooling capacity, such as ASTM Standard D7984.

Patent application: Cooling pillow with phase change material

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Werner cooling pillow patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180140116 (applicant Marc L. Werner, Plantation, Fla.):

"A cooling pillow generates a gust of cooled air when compressed. A solid, resilient, compressible foam block forms a core of the cooling pillow. A phase change material layer adhered to a surface of the foam block. Holes can be formed in the foam block to enhance the feel of the pillow and to improve the speed at which air is displaced when the cooling pillow is compressed."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180140116.pdf

PCM briefing: Texas undergrads win ASHRAE equipment grant; 1414 Degrees among exhibitors at Australia energy storage conference

Ben Welter - Monday, May 21, 2018

• A University of North Texas research project, “Design of Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger Coupled with Phase Change Materials for Building Temperature Control,” is one of 25 undergraduate projects awarded a 2018 equipment grant from ASHRAE. The grants, totaling more than $113,000, will help the winning students complete undergraduate projects at schools around the world.

• New from HTF Market Intelligence: "United States Cold Chain Equipments Market Report 2018"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Salt Hydrate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017-2027"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"

CouchBed

• The retail market is full of PCM-topped mattresses, pillows and seat cushions. Here's the first fold-out couch we've seen that features the temperature-control technology. The CouchBed, made by an Arizona company, is a 10-inch memory foam mattress that’s “made with 100% CertiPur certified ultra-dense memory foam, combined with phase change material to actively cool the sleeping surface."

• The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $72 million for new projects to advance high-temperature concentrating solar power technologies. The high-temperature thermal storage systems targeted by this program seek to achieve at least 700 degrees C, which would boost the efficiency and lower the cost of electricity. Awardees include Brayton Energy, Hampton, N.H, $7.6 million; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., $7 million; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., $9.5 million.

• Under a new joint development agreement, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy will join Cleanergy AB's board of directors and help the Swedish firm advance its concentrated solar power and storage technology. The agency will fund a “substantial part” of Cleanergy's research and development work on thermal energy storage. Cleanergy, in turn, will be able to test its technology using the agency's facility in Ouarzazate, Morocco.

• A Ph.D. candidate at Delft University of Technology outlines a strategy to maximize the potential of aquifer thermal energy storage and phase out the use of natural gas in the Netherlands.

• Thermal energy storage company 1414 Degrees will be among more than 60 companies from around the world scheduled to attend the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition May 23-24 at the Adelaide Convention Center. Other exhibitors include Tesla, Toshiba, GE and Victron Energy.