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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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Phase Energy announces a new shape-stable PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

Phase Energy Ltd. has announced the development of shape-stable technology for organic wax-based PCMs.

The company, based in Hull, United Kingdom, said a tetradecane-based shape-stable material would typically contain more than 90% PCM; the new technology has achieved levels of up to 96%. "Initial tests indicate that little, if any, enthalpy is lost, possibly due to the very low level of additives required," the company said.

The technology was jointly developed with Rainer Busch of IBC Europe, Germany.

"So far, the technology has been used for paraffins, esters etc. and on a range of PCMs with [melt points] of up to 53 degrees Centigrade," Phase Energy said in a LinkedIn post. "The technology permits the production of leak-resistant packs/pouches using very simple process technology." 

"We’re currently working with some companies in the cold chain area; looking at cold packs/pouches, pallet covers etc.," Ian Biggin, director at Phase Energy, said in an e-mail. "As the technology can be adapted to higher temperature PCMs we are also interested in those areas as well but we decided that cold chain was the obvious place to start."

The photo below illustrates the material's flexibility. According to the company, it "shows a shape stable sample, 100 x 30 x 12mm, containing 92% tetradecane and 8% additives, being stretched to >700mm. When released the sample returned to its original size."

http://phase-energy.com/new-shape-stable-pcm-development/

PCM briefing: Ph.D. opening at University of Twente; Denver thermal conference moves online

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

• The University of Twente, Netherlands, has an opening for a four-year Ph.D. position in phase change materials for heat storage. "This research project will try to introduce a smart composite material which can store the heat for both short and long-term storage time," according to the posting. "This smart material will be based on inorganic salt hydrates having controllable discharging speed which is very advantageous for future smart heat batteries." The starting salary is 2,325 euros per month, plus an annual 8.3% year-end bonus.

• Because of uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, scheduled for Aug. 6-7 in Denver, will be held as a virtual event on the same dates. According to the conference website: "Thermal 2020 presentations will be webcast with live slide presentations, audio, and real-time Q&A. Attendees may revisit these presentations after the event via recordings delivered directly to them. Exhibit booths feature rich, virtual profiles. Networking is done all-day via video conference rooms and though scheduled 1x1 meetings." A full conference pass costs $295 through June 12.

Peli BioThermal says air ambulance crews in Europe are transporting blood products via the company's Credo ProMed transport bags. The temperature-controlled bags are designed to protect blood products needed for transfusions at emergency scenes.

 • Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are working to integrate a new thermal energy storage technology within CHP systems from Capstone Turbine Corp. to boost heat recovery. In the Argonne system, high-temperature PCMs are embedded within highly thermally conductive foam. The foam is then sealed with inert gas inside a module, preventing moisture or oxygen from getting inside and degrading the components.

Patent application: Modified dry ice system

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200072523 (inventors Chang Yup Seo, Woodridge, Ill.; Soujanya N. Jampala, Chicago, Ill.; Sameer H. Israni, Darien, Ill.; and Robert R. Sever, Arlington Heights, Ill.):

"This invention relates to a novel two-stage dry ice system for preserving perishable items during transport and methods thereof. The improved two-stage dry ice system includes dry ice and a phase change material specifically configured within a single and continuous holding volume with perishable items. Preservation of the perishable items for extended durations in comparison to other refrigeration techniques can be achieved as a result of the two-stage dry system having the ability to re-orient itself during transport."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200072523.pdf

More U.S. patent applications:

Sanitary mask | Turbo machine starter-generator | Phase change nanoparticles for lithium-ion battery safety | Thermal management material and matrix | Breast prosthesis

Patent application: Temperature controlled product shipper

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200033045 (applicant Packaging Technology Group Inc., Fall River, Mass.):

"A temperature-controlled product shipper includes a phase change material bladder which can be filled at the point of packaging. The shipper includes an internal product box and an outer box where the product box is received within the outer box. The phase change material bladder is received within a cavity defined between the outer surface of the product box and the inner surface of the outer box. The shipper may also include an insulated liner which is received between the product box and the bladder."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200033045.pdf

PCM briefing: Acumen invests in Promethean Power Systems; Viking Cold wins Cleanie award

Ben Welter - Monday, October 14, 2019

• Social venture capital investor Acumen has invested an undisclosed amount in Promethean Power Systems Inc., which makes PCM-based refrigeration systems for cold-storage and milk chilling applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Jiten Ghelani, chief executive of Promethean, which is based in Boston, Mass., and Pune, India, said the investment would help the company accelerate the adoption of its products across India and other markets, and also expand its cooling-as-a-service offerings. 

Air New Zealand pillow• Two new consumer products featuring temperature-control fabrics from Outlast Technologies hit the market recently: A pillow designed to improve the quality of sleep for passengers on Air New Zealand's long-haul flights and a Calloway pullover designed to keep golfers cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, won a Platinum Cleanie Award last month for a PCM-based storage and demand management project in Massachusetts. The Cleanie Awards, presented at this year's North America Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, Utah, recognize companies and individuals shaping the clean-tech and renewable energy industries. The Viking Cold project involved the installation and commissioning of TES systems to store refrigeration energy and facilitate 1.3 MW of energy demand reduction across eight customer facilities, including the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Sonoco ThermoSafe of Arlington Heights, Ill., has introduced a new temperature-controlled box rental service. "The new Orion r product line is based on the existing ChillTech product," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of engineering and product management at Sonoco. "We’ve made changes to make the product more reusable (added EPP) and have increased the VIP insulation. The PCMs remain the same, using paraffin-based materials. ChillTech was developed by Laminar Medica in the UK prior to their acquisition and integration into the ThermoSafe business. Solutions will exist for 2-8, 15-25 and frozen temperatures."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted an opening for a Senior Account Manager Europe, to be based in Netherlands.

Microtek Laboratories Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, has introduced a new line of PCM-equipped pouches and panels for use in temperature-controlled shipping.

Patent application: Method and apparatus for transporting temperature sensitive products

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190285328 (applicant Illuminate Consulting LLC, Tampa, Florida):

"Embodiments of the subject invention relate to a method and apparatus for thermally protecting a product, such as when storing and/or shipping a product, so as to control the temperatures the products are exposed to. Embodiments can [increase] the amount of time the product and/or portions of the product experience a desired temperature range and/or reduce the amount of time the product and/or portions of the product experience temperatures outside of the desired temperature range and/or experience an undesirable temperature range. Embodiments can incorporate thermally conductive materials, such as aluminum sheets, positioned around and/or near the product positioned inside a packaging container, such that the conductive materials conduct heat from one or more locations in the interior of the package to one or more other locations in the interior of the package."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190285328.pdf

PCM briefing: Viking Cold is finalist for innovation award; Sonoco launches sustainable packaging initiative

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

Viking Cold Solutions is a finalist for an Energy Storage of North America Innovation Award. The behind-the-meter thermal energy storage systems up for the award are part of an Eversource demand management program in Massachusetts. 

A thermal storage project in Northamptonshire, England, is expected to provide 47 new homes with hot water and heat via renewable energy sources such as solar power. The borehole technology, developed by Caplin Solar of Leicester, stores heat in the ground in warmer months for later use in colder periods.

• Packaging giant Sonoco of Hartsville, S.C., has announced the creation of its EnviroSense sustainable packaging initiative. EnviroSense products are designed to incorporate a number of elements associated with more sustainable packaging, including optimized package-to-product ratio; increased use of recycled and recyclable content; fiber sourcing; compostability; and the use of bio-based materials.

• Registration is open for Sonoco ThermoSafe's next Leading Minds Seminar, "Collaborative Learning that FUELS Your Temperature Sensitive Healthcare Products," to be held Nov. 14 in Amsterdam. The seminar is designed for European supply chain, logistics, quality and packaging professionals responsible for the protection and management of temperature sensitive healthcare clinical supplies and finished products. 

Hydrostor, a Canadian developer of advanced compressed air energy storage projects, has announced the closing of $37 million (USD) in growth financing. Hydrostor has three projects in operation or under construction in Canada and Australia 

• A projected tripling of heat-related deaths in the United Kingdom over the next 30 years will require a drastic rethinking of ways to cool buildings, a parliamentary select committee warns. “The risk of overheating in terms of minimising risks to health and safety of occupants should be enshrined into regulations for new build homes and retrofits," the Environmental Audit Committee said. "This should be considered alongside an integrated review of energy efficiency and ventilation, and be included in the government’s planned Future Homes Standard, to include improvement in the measurement of current and future overheating risk and prioritise passive cooling measures.”

• The most entertaining obituary of a self-taught chemist you will read this month. Rest in peace, Joe Heller.

PCM briefing: ThermoSafe introduces new passive shipper; PCM-cooled rail containers hit market in China

Ben Welter - Saturday, August 24, 2019

ThermoSafe Pegasus ULD shipper• Sonoco ThermoSafe has announced the creation of a passive, temperature-controlled container that will be manufactured by AEROTUF of Charleston, S.C. The Pegasus ULD container will use AEROTUF’s patented AeroTHERM composite material technology, along with a gelled phase change material. "The Pegasus ULD will ultimately provide 2-8, CRT, and frozen temperature ranges depending on the PCM used for durations up to and exceeding five days," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of Engineering and Product Management at ThermoSafe, which is based in Arlington Heights, Ill. A launch date for the product has not been announced.

• The Chinese rail company that worked with the UK's University of Birmingham last year to develop a prototype of PCM-based freight container is bringing the concept to market. Hebei-based transport business CRRC Shijiazhuang sold 49 of the containers to a manufacturer in China this month. The low-emissions freight containers keep payloads cold without the need for fuel-generated refrigeration. "We are delighted to see our cold storage technologies start to make the commercial market," said Yulong Ding, director of the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage. "We are working with our partners to extend the cold storage technologies to more applications."

Lagunitas Phase Change ale• Here's a co-branding opportunity for a PCM manufacturer with a taste for hops: Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, Calif., has introduced Phase Change, "an unfiltered, wet-hop ale packed full of lupulin-drenched Simcoe, Citra & Mosaic hops." The brewer describes the beer as "somewhere between a solid and a liquid... a Phase Change of sorts."  

• More than 170 speakers are lined up for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will deliver the keynote address. Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." Damien Mathis of Ai Environnement, Paris, will give a presentation on the "thermal performance of engineered wood flooring impregnated with phase-change materials." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by Aug. 30 will receive a 10 percent discount.

Patent application: A passive temperature control system for transport and storage containers

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 18, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190219320 (applicant Softbox Systems Ltd., Long Crendon, Great Britain):

"The present invention relates to the field of the transportation and storage of goods and to a passive temperature control system for such a transport and storage containers. The present invention seeks to provide a system that can enable goods to be securely and reliably transported and stored for limited periods within specified temperature ranges. Pharmaceuticals, proteins, biological samples and other temperature sensitive products, including food items, are regularly shipped in containers year round and are subjected to a wide range of temperatures. Though they are shipped in insulated containers and/or climate controlled environments, the temperature stability of the shipping containers can be significantly improved by utilising suitable phase change materials in an ordered fashion. The present invention provides a simple solution to the maintenance of temperature profiles for the transport and storage of temperature sensitive products."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190219320.pdf

PCM briefing: Lineup set for TES forum in Duesseldorf; CIC Energigune joins European research network

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

Christoph Rathgeber of ZAE Bayern and Michael Andretzky of the University of Duisburg-Essen are among the speakers at next week's Thermal Energy Storage Forum in Dusseldorf, Germany. The forum will focus on the use of thermal storage in industrial processes. Rathgeber's topic is "Economy of thermal energy storage." Andretzky's topic: "PCM in buffer tank for CHPs."

Crystallize bubble• Another frosty gem from Physics Today: "Bubbles freeze in a swirl of ice crystals"

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has launched an electric thermal energy storage system designed to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively. The pilot plant in Hamburg can store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. It uses a steam turbine to convert stored energy into electricity. 

CIC Energigune, a thermal energy storage research center in Spain's Basque Country, has joined the ALISTORE-ERI network. The European network brings together 20 research centers and 12 companies engaged in advanced energy storage research.

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston has made Food Logistics' list of Top Green Providers 2019. Viking was honored in two categories, refrigeration and alternative fuels &  energy. The company says its PCM-based thermal storage system, designed for use in cold storage facilities, can reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent.

Cryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, says it is taking steps toward reducing its carbon footprint with the launch of a new line of shipping solutions. The company, based in Edison, N.J. says its R3 Service Program "minimizes the need for insulation materials, phase change solutions, bottles and their necessary disposal by handling the coordination of container delivery, reverse logistics and required refurbishment."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for a sales manager with "experience in strategic selling across Europe."