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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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Effort to commercialize EpiPen container hits unexpected roadblock

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

Commercializing an invention can be a herculean task. There are technical hurdles. Funding hurdles. Patent hurdles. Manufacturing hurdles. Regulatory hurdles. Eric and Sandy Wengreen, co-founders of a company working to commercialize a small container that uses phase change material to keep EpiPens close to room temperature, are familiar with all of it.

Sandy and Eric WengreenFirst, the invention:

After their son nearly died of a severe allergic reaction to macadamia nuts a few years ago, the Seattle couple realized the importance of having an EpiPen auto-injector handy at all times. Sandy invented the container, now known as MedShell, to ensure that people can take their EpiPen wherever they go, even if it’s hot or cold outside. It’s not just about being prepared for an unexpected allergic reaction. EpiPens are expensive. Leave one in a hot car or gym bag for a few hours and you’re out $300.

The Wengreens began developing their device, originally called EpiShell, a few years ago. They filed for patents and successfully tested prototypes.

Biobased phase change material is a key component of the MedShell, which is designed to keep EpiPens between 15º and 30º Celsius (59º and 86º Fahrenheit).

“I learned about PCM while I was researching how to change the melting temperatures of liquids,” says Eric, who has a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University. “I was very happy to discover that Entropy Solutions had already engineered highly reliable PCM. At that point, I realized that I didn't need to re-invent the wheel. Instead, I simply ordered PureTemp samples for prototyping and testing. I also received samples from other PCM manufacturers, but I quickly found out that PureTemp PCM was superior.”

Last fall, after receiving written assurance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the container would not be considered a medical device subject to FDA regulatory requirement, the Wengreens launched an Indiegogo campaign. The fundraising target: A modest $35,000.

Medshell temperature-control container for medicines“My goal was to raise awareness (rather than just raise money),” Eric says. “Most people don't know many medicines have strict storage-temperature requirements. I also wanted to test the market to see if other people cared about protecting their medicines from temperatures that are hotter and colder than the FDA-approved temperature limits.”

The response was strong. Within a few months, the campaign drew hundreds of backers and raised nearly $30,000. Two product videos were watched more than 15,000 times on YouTube. The Wengreens continued to refine the design of the vacuum flask and thermal management system. They began evaluating manufacturing options.

In November, they decided to change the name of the product to MedShell.

“Many people have talked with us about applications beyond epinephrine, the active ingredient in EpiPens,” Eric says. “As a result, we wanted the name to reflect our broader mission to protect many medicines from hot and cold temperatures. … Essentially, the storage-temperature requirements vary depending on the medicine, but the fundamental technology is the same, so MedShell can be adapted to just about any medicine.”

On Dec. 7, Eric alerted Indiegogo backers to an unexpected development:

“Recently, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily asked the FDA to conduct a second review of our product.  This time, we had detailed product information that was not available during the first review (because we had not finished the design details at the time of the first review). During this second review, the FDA decided that MedShell is a medical device subject to FDA regulatory requirements.”

The FDA’s decision, Eric told backers, “will dramatically delay our launch and increase our expenses.” The Wengreens suspended the Indiegogo campaign and offered refunds to all backers.

The Wengreens announced a new strategy in a January post on Indiegogo: “We now need to find a larger company that has the FDA expertise and resources to bring MedShell to market.” They continue to fund development with money earned from previous inventions.

The regulatory hurdle looms large, but the Wengreens remain committed to commercializing the product.

“Whether MedShell is a medical device is debatable,” Eric says. “Honestly, I don't know exactly what would be required to either convince the FDA that MedShell is not a medical device or meet the FDA's medical-device requirements. I reached out to the FDA for guidance, but I have not gotten specific answers regarding next steps.”

Although they have no plans to reopen the Indiegogo campaign, the Wengreens say they want to make sure supporters have the first opportunity to get the device when it launches. Consumer interest remains strong; MedShell's YouTube videos have now been viewed more than 76,000 times. 

“My goal is to transfer my patents and designs to a company with the resources to remove the FDA uncertainty and bring the product to market,” Eric says. “A larger company is better suited to making the invention widely available.”

Research roundup: Polystyrene microcapsules; vermiculite composites; topology optimization; more

Ben Welter - Friday, June 16, 2017

Polystyrene Microcapsules with Palmitic-Capric Acid Eutectic Mixture as Building Thermal Energy Storage Materials [Energy and Buildings]

Preparation and characterization of capric-palmitic-stearic acid ternary eutectic mixture/expanded vermiculite composites as form-stabilized thermal energy storage materials [Journal of Materials Science and Technology]

Topology optimization for heat transfer enhancement in Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Investigating thermal properties of using nano-tubular ZnO powder in paraffin as phase change material composite for thermal energy storage [Composites Part B: Engineering]

PCM replacement cap keeps insulin pens at the right temperature

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

VIVA insulin cap

Insulin pens must be kept between 15° and 30° Celsius to ensure safe and effective injection. An Israeli company has developed a cap that combines phase change material with monitoring electronics to keep these pens from overheating in hot environments.

TempraMed’s first-generation Vivi Cap1 fits over any type of insulin pen and adjusts constantly to keep the insulin at the higher end of room temperature. When the device is exposed to temperatures above 29° C, the bio-based PCM begins to absorb heat and change from solid to liquid. When the ambient temperature falls below 28° C, the PCM starts to return to its solid state, allowing it to regain its heat-absorbing property. A push of a button at the base allows the user to confirm that the insulin is at the proper temperature.

“We are not aware of similar products that are available on the market,” said Ron Nagar, TempraMed president and CEO. “Until now, most commonly used products for ‘keeping insulin cool’ use water evaporation technology, which requires frequent user intervention, and is not effective in closed bags (where medication is commonly carried) or in humid environments.

“With the insulation and PCM we use, we offer very compact solutions (slightly larger than current insulin pen cap) which can maintain the proper conditions for time durations that are typically longer than the exposure expected during daytime or when outdoors, and allow recovery during the night or when back indoors, without user intervention.”

TempraMed is based in Tel Aviv with an office in Washington State. The products are manufactured in Israel.

The FDA- and CE-registered Vivi Cap1 is available now on the company’s website, www.my-vivi.com, at a cost of $49.90. The next generation of Vivi products will be available in the fall: Vivi Epi for epinephrine pens; Vivi Vial for insulin vials; and Vivi Cool 8° C and Vivi Vial 8° C for storing insulin at lower temperatures.

Nagar said TempraMed is working with several distributors to make the products widely available, including retail chains.

http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/insulin-cooling-tempramed-giveaway

Patent application: System for energy consumption reduction and cost savings in a building

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170146251 (applicant Stasis Group Inc., Woodland, Calif.):

"A system for obtaining energy consumptions, savings and cost reduction in structures adapted for human habitation which includes the utilization of a plurality of mats including phase change material encapsulated within first and second layers of plastic material [3.6, above] having heat transfer capability disposed within the plenum area above a ceiling of a room within a building with the amount of phase change material contained within each mat being between 0.5 lbs. and 0.67 lbs. per square foot. ... [The] solid to liquid transition point for said phase change material is from 72° F. to 76° F. and the liquid to solid transition point for said phase change material is from 71° F. to 68° F."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170146251.pdf

Research roundup: Cenospheres in concrete; form-stable composites with polyacrylic; rice bran distilled fatty acid; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Numerical studies on thermal and electrical performance of a fully wetted absorber PVT collector with PCM as a storage medium [Renewable Energy]

Integrating phase change materials into concrete through microencapsulation using cenospheres [Cement and Concrete Composites]

Testing and performance analysis of micro encapsulated rice bran distilled fatty acid [International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology]

Enhanced thermal management with microencapsulated phase change material particles infiltrated in cellular metal foam [Energy]

Thermal performance study of form-stable composite phase change material with polyacrylic [AIP Conference Proceedings]

Design and Preparation of Carbon Based Composite Phase Change Material for Energy Piles [Materials]

Single-walled carbon nanotube for shape stabilization and enhanced phase change heat transfer of polyethylene glycol phase change material [Energy Conversion and Management]

Applications of Nanocomposite-Enhanced Phase-Change Materials for Heat Storage [Materials Science Forum]

Fatty acids and related phase change materials for reliable thermal energy storage at moderate temperatures [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

A study of a eutectic salt of lithium nitrate and sodium chloride (87–13%) for latent heat storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Thermal stabilization and permanent deformation resistance of LWA/PCM-modified asphalt road surfaces [Construction and Building Materials]

Research roundup: SiO2 nanoparticles; multilayer wall thermal performance; spherical shells

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Effects of SiO2 nanoparticles on structure and property of form-stable phase change materials made of cellulose acetate phase inversion membrane absorbed with capric-myristic-stearic acid ternary eutectic mixture [Thermochimica Acta]

Influence of the PCM Layer Location on the Multilayer Wall Thermal Performance [Open Journal of Energy Efficiency]

Numerical Model for Solidification and Melting of PCM Encapsulated in Spherical Shells [Energy Procedia]

Research roundup: Fast charging with expanded graphite; rebar corrosion in PCM-enhanced concrete; hybrid cooling vest; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fast charging of thermal energy storage systems enabled by phase change materials mixed with expanded graphite [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Synthesis and characterization of a narrow size distribution nano phase change material emulsion for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Analysis of the effects of use of thermal energy storage device (TESD) in solar air heater [Alexandria Engineering Journal]

Experiment and simulation of thermal management for a tube-shell Li-ion battery pack with composite phase change material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Novel model for the prediction of SSLE temperatures and crystallization paths of any mixture containing palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid [Thermochimica Acta]

A review on recent advancements in photovoltaic thermal techniques [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

A comparative study on corrosion behavior of rebar in concrete with fatty acid additive as phase change material [Construction and Building Materials]

Novel phase change materials based on fatty acid eutectics and triallyl isocyanurate composites for thermal energy storage [Journal of Applied Polymer Science]

Optimal cooling intervention for construction workers in a hot and humid environment [Building and Environment]

Research roundup: PCM compatibility with metals, plastic; desiccant packet for cooling vest; paraffin viscosity; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 23, 2017

Investigation of the corrosive properties of phase change materials in contact with metals and plastic [Renewable Energy]

Preparation and thermal properties of SAT-CMC-DSP/EG composite as phase change material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

A numerical study on the usage of phase change material (PCM) to prolong compressor off period in a beverage cooler [Energy Conversion and Management]

Abilities and limitations of thermal mass activation for thermal comfort, peak shifting and shaving: A review [Building and Environment]

Corrosion effect of phase change materials in solar thermal energy storage application [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

A review for phase change materials (PCMs) in solar absorption refrigeration systems [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Sodium nitrate – Diatomite composite materials for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Innovative PCM-desiccant packet to provide dry microclimate and improve performance of cooling vest in hot environment [Energy Conversion and Management]

Heat transfer study of phase change materials with graphene nano particle for thermal energy storage [Solar Energy]

Energy performance evaluation of heat-storage gypsum board with hybrid SSPCM composite [Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry]

Empirical equation to estimate viscosity of paraffin [Journal of Energy Storage]

Yearly energy performance of a photovoltaic-phase change material (PV-PCM) system in hot climate [Solar Energy]

Patent application: PCMs comprising alkanolamides and diesters and methods of making and using them

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170044414 (applicant Entropy Solutions LLC, Plymouth, Minn.):

"This invention generally relates to thermoregulation and temperature stabilization, thermal protection and insulation, and nucleating agents. In particular, in alternative embodiments, provided are organic phase change materials comprising diesters and alkanolamides. In alternative embodiments, provided are Phase Change Material (PCMs) compositions comprising diesters and alkanolamides, and methods for making and using them. In alternative embodiments, the Phase Change Material (PCMs) compositions are used for thermal energy management, including energy storage and/or temperature stabilization, in various applications such as building, automotive, packaging, garment and footwear, textiles, fabrics, synthetic fibers, foods, microcapsules and other energy storage systems."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170044414.pdf

PCM briefing: New denim features phase change material; Sasol 'back on the expansion trail'

Ben Welter - Monday, February 06, 2017

• Thinking about attending BiobasedWorld 2017 in Cologne, Germany, this month? Sorry, the trade show was canceled a few months ago due to the industry's "challenging economic environment." A related show is on the horizon: Bio-Based Live Europe in Amsterdam, May 31-June 1. The focus will be on "Process Innovation and Technology" and "Sustainable Products." Speakers include Freek Snieders, managing director, Croda International; and Jean Luc Dubois, scientific director, Arkema.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory takes a look at how University of Michigan researchers used a Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer to study melting in two-dimensional systems. Deeper understanding of the process, Oak Ridge says, "could yield insights into surface interactions in materials important to technologies like solar panels, as well as into the mechanism behind three-dimensional melting." 

• The cold chain packaging class developed by Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Labs will be offered at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in San Diego in May. The all-day session on May 25 will cover the design, development and qualification of temperature-controlled packaging. The conference agenda is available for download.

Biznews.com reports that chemicals giant Sasol is "back on the expansion trail, seeking out suitable acquisitions."

• Among the new fabrics on display at the Munich Fabric Start trade show this week: Cordura denim combined with Schoeller phase change material. 

• The University of the West of England has installed two Monodraught Cool-Phase hybrid units in the university's Estates Management Office in Bristol. Monodraught says its PCM-equipped systems have been shown to "use up to 90% less energy than traditional a/c systems."  

• The 12th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, scheduled for Oct. 2-3 in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. Possible topics include financial models, new products, advanced design and building performance. The deadline is Feb. 10. 

Pelican BioThermal has announced that its new passive pallet shipper system, CrÄ“do Cargo, is now available to rent or buy. The reusable bulk shipper uses phase change material cooling panels to maintain temperature ranges +2C to +8C and +15C to +25C.