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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: 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."

Patent application: Transport container

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190178534 (inventor Nico Ros, Riehen, Switzerland):

"In a transport container for transporting temperature-sensitive transport goods comprising a chamber for receiving the transport goods, a casing enclosing the chamber and at least one cooling element for temperature control of the chamber, the cooling element comprises an evaporation element with a cooling surface and a desiccant for receiving coolant evaporated in the evaporation element. The transport container further comprises a latent heat accumulator that communicates with the chamber for heat exchange. ... In a preferred embodiment, in which the transport goods are to be kept in the chamber at a temperature range of 2-8° C., the latent heat accumulator has a phase transition temperature of approx. 4-6° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190178534.pdf

PCM briefing: Building Skins conference agenda; tough words for CALMAC and Axiom Exergy

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

• The agenda is set 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 be the keynote speaker. Among the more than 150 speakers is Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, who will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by May 31 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Mike HopkinsIn a LinkedIn post, former Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shared his take on two of the California company's competitors in distributed thermal energy storage. "Look at @CALMAC, a Portfolio of Trane - been in our industry forever, good product, but haven't been able to secure utility deals because their large bespoke systems make it too risky to commit to MWs in a location on a schedule," wrote Hopkins, who is now CEO at Bakken Midstream. "Relative newcomer [Axiom Exergy] came to market with their #refrigeration #battery. Good concept but not plug and play. Not surprising, they seem to have recast themselves as a #cloud based power management company."

• Speaking of CALMAC: CEO Mark McCracken will speak on "some of the myths surrounding ice-based TES" at an ASHRAE technical seminar on thermal energy storage in building design in Hong Kong June 13. 

FedEx Express has launched a temperature-controlled shipping solution in Japan, Korea and Singapore. The company says its Medpak VIºC packaging, first introduced in Europe, provides 96-hour temperature stability. The reusable thermal packaging features vacuum insulated panels and phase change material validated to International Safe Transit Association 7D standards.

CIC energiGUNE, a research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a researcher in its thermal energy storage area. The research will focus on the storage of heat through reversible chemical reactions "in a range of temperature few explored so far (120 - 250 °C)." The application deadline is Sept. 11, 2019.   

Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Advances in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo. Her topic: "Measuring and Modeling the Thermal Performance of Products Equipped with Phase Change Materials." 

• Thermal energy storage startup NET Energy of Chicago is among 10 finalists for the University of Chicago’s 19th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge. Winners will be announced next week, with the top companies sharing $250,000 in cash, along with $250,000 worth of office space and professional services from program sponsors. 

PCM briefing: Cold chain veteran joins Phase Change Energy Solutions; Outlast showcases new nylon filament yarn

Ben Welter - Friday, May 10, 2019

Bruce TruesdaleBruce Truesdale has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., as director of business development - cold chain. He was formerly senior supply chain consultant at Verta Life Sciences and director of health care at Protek Pharma Worldwide. He declined an interview request, but his new job title suggests that PCES, whose product line now focuses on HVAC, building and thermal energy storage, has an interest in the temperature-controlled packaging market. Earlier this year, PCES announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. The company said it would use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally.

Chalmers University of Technology of Sweden has an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in thermal energy storage for building applications. The research group Building Physics is working "to find out how novel TES with phase change materials (PCM) could complement the existing district heating and cooling networks and co-operate with other peak shaving techniques (water accumulator tanks, ground heat storage pumps, etc.) through smart thermal grids." The application deadline is June 9.

Outlast will showcase its new nylon filament yarn at the Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, next week. "The PCMs optimized for this specific application," Outlast says, "are included directly inside the polyamide fibers." Potential applications include next-to-skin products such as undergarments, shapewear, sportswear and hosiery. The company says it now sources the majority of PCMs used in its products from renewable instead of synthetic raw materials.

PCM coolerA PCM coating designed to absorb heat from rockets is among the dozens of NASA spinoffs listed in the latest issue of Spinoff, an annual publication that has been documenting space agency spinoffs since 1976. In the early 2000s, Raj Kaul, a materials scientist at Marshall Space Flight Center, began researching a way to use PCM to keep the outside of spacecraft at a safe temperature. An entrepreneur eventually snapped up the patent for the coating Kaul developed and is working on a number of products based on the technology, including aircraft paint, pipe heat traps and an iceless cooler, shown at right. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced $89 million in funding for "innovative, advanced manufacturing research and development projects." "Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials," one of three areas to receive funding, includes phase change storage materials for heating and cooling applications. The department anticipates making up to 55 awards for up to three years. Concept papers are due on June 20.

PCM briefing: 'Awareness' of PCM technology seen as key challenge; researchers develop novel anti-icing material

Ben Welter - Friday, April 26, 2019

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers say they've developed a material that can inhibit the formation of ice much longer than existing technologies, New Atlas reports. The anti-icing material is made of phase-changing liquids that have heat-trapping properties. Researchers say the material works effectively in temperatures as low as -15° C.

Collin CokerIn an interview with Engineered Systems, Viking Cold Solutions' vice president of sales and marketing talks about the state of the thermal energy storage market and the company's PCM-based thermal storage systems. What's been the Houston company's biggest challenge over the past 18 months? "Awareness," said Collin Coker, right. "We constantly hear, 'This is really interesting; I've never seen it before; do you have fluid moving through the refrigeration system?' So, breaking it down and explaining that it’s non-mechanical and very simple is part of the challenge. Getting people to believe that this technology can provide savings in the range of 10-50% in some applications is also a challenge. A lot of folks are fairly guarded, because that level of savings has never been achieved in this industry before. It just seems too good to be true. "

• The World Bank announced a new program this week to accelerate the adoption of sustainable cooling technologies, including air conditioning, refrigeration and cold chain in developing countries. The program will provide technical assistance to ensure that efficient cooling is included in new World Bank Group investment projects.

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the company's next Leading Minds Seminar, to be held May 29 in Princeton, N.J. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminars offer a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment. Panelists for a discussion on reusable shipping systems include Mark Everitt, qualification engineer at AstraZeneca, and Michael English, director of engineering at Merck.