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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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Croda began work on new microencapsulated PCM four years ago

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

UK-based Croda International recently announced the launch of a microencapsulated form of biobased phase change material developed at the company's PCM technical center in Netherlands. The new material is designed to be used to control temperatures in bedding, mattresses, automotive interiors, clothing and other applications.

Jerome Gonthier and Martin ButtersThe development was led by Marco Auerbach and Jerome Gonthier, working with colleagues who have expertise in microencapsulation and acrylic polymer. Martin Butters, a specialist in PCM applications and business development, also supported the project.

Gonthier and Butters provided details on the new material in an email interview.

Q: What prompted the decision to develop this technology?

A: "Having established a range of high-quality bio-based PCMs, market demand led us to explore the microencapsulation of these PCMs. Microencapsulation converts the PCM into particles that are offered to the market in two forms, powder and water-based dispersion. Microencapsulated PCMs are often advantageous for use in composite materials such as coatings, fibers and other matrices where PCM leakage needs to be avoided."

Q: How long did it take to complete the project?

A: "Overall the project ran for about four years leading to the launch of the first products in 2018."

Q: Did the team surmount any unexpected challenges, technical or otherwise?

A: "The challenges were mainly those we expected – achieving microcapsules with good durability, very low levels of free wax and overcoming sub-cooling (reduction in crystallisation temperature due to microencapsulation)."

Q: When did Croda officially launch the technology commercially?

SEM photo of CrodaTherm ME29P (powder grade) A: "The first products, CrodaTherm ME 29D (50% dispersion) and CrodaTherm ME 29P (powder), which are 29º C melting point products, were launched in Q4 2018. 32º C versions will be added to the range shortly and we expect the range to be further extended with other operating temperatures in due course."

Q: Does Croda manufacture fibers and textiles with the microencapsulated PCM? Or does it manufacture the MPCM and sell it to fiber and textile manufacturers?

A: "Croda does not produce fibers or textiles, instead we specialize in offering PCMs that are developed and manufactured in-house, for use in such applications (and many more)."

Q: What specs can you share on the MPCM, such as composition, peak melt point and latent heat storage capacity?

A: "We microencapsulate CrodaTherm bio-based PCMs with an acrylic-type shell. For CrodaTherm ME 29D and ME 29P, peak melting temperature is 29ºC and latent heat is typically about 180 J/g."

Q: Does the MPCM have any properties, such as latent heat storage capacity or ease of manufacture, that sets it apart from competing products?

A: "We use internally produced bio-based PCM, rather than paraffin waxes sourced externally from the market, meaning we have full control over quality and the products have high bio-based content and excellent thermal properties."

Q: Have textiles embedded with this MPCM undergone thermal effusivity testing or other tests that would confirm their effectiveness in managing temperatures in consumer products?

A: "Several tests have been carried out to confirm the performance of materials embedded with mPCM and further work will be carried out, including thermal effusivity."

Q: Will the technology be used in any products scheduled for release this year or next?

A: "A number of projects are underway for different applications, so we’ll have to wait and see!"

PCM briefing: PureTemp fabrics featured at Materio library; new round of funding for Ecozen Solutions

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

PureTemp-enhanced fabrics were among the new materials presented at a gathering of architects, designers and journalists at the MatériO library in Paris this week. The materials library, which also has showrooms in Brussels, Seoul and Shanghai, lists thousands of "cutting edge" materials and technologies in its online database, including PureTemp's biobased PCM.

Southern Research opened the new Energy Storage Research Center on its engineering campus in Birmingham, Ala., this month. The center will work to speed the development of clean and sustainable energy storage technology, including thermal energy storage systems. 

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, recently closed a Series A round of funding from investors including impact investment fund manager Caspian and Hivos-Triodos Fund, which is affiliated with Netherlands-based Triodos Bank. Omnivore Capital Management Advisors, which originally invested in Ecozen in 2015, also participated in the round, AgFunder News reports. The solar cold room's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather. 

Glacier Tek adds flexible PCM microspheres to new line of cooling packs

Ben Welter - Monday, July 15, 2019

Glacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis has incorporated flexible PCM microspheres in the cooling packs used in its Flex Vest line of cooling vests. 

Glacier Tek's new cooling packsThe cooling packs, redesigned for improved comfort and performance, feature a soft, durable nylon shell. They reach a flexible state more quickly and feel colder than the previous packs. 

The Flex Vest is designed to maintain a comfortable microclimate of 18 degrees C for up to 2.5 hours. The new packs can be recharged in about 30 minutes in ice water or two hours in a refrigerator. But they are most effective when fully solidified in a freezer, which takes about an hour. The cooling packs weigh about 164 grams each and fit into 12 pockets inside the vest.

The novel cooling material, developed by PureTemp LLC of Minneapolis, is composed of a biobased phased change material. It is similar to the material used in the Glacier Tek therapy cooling packs introduced at the American College of Sports Medicine trade show in Orlando in May.

"PureTemp is excited to bring this shape-stabilized PCM format to the market," said Chris Servais, vice president of operations at PureTemp. "Glacier Tek has capitalized on its unique and improved characteristics.”

https://glaciertek.com/spare-flex-vest-cooling-pack-set/

PCM briefing: Axiotherm wins 2 innovation awards; newly commissioned pilot power plant in Sweden uses SaltX TES

Ben Welter - Friday, July 05, 2019

ESDA-Axiotherm GmbH won two awards in this year's INNOspace Masters ideas competition. The competition, sponsored by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center, honors innovative ideas that address the challenges faced by the space industry. The winners were announced this week in Berlin. ESDA-Axiotherm won the overall prize for the development of a PCM polymer compound for the thermal stabilization of components and systems. The German company also won the OHB Challenge, which honors ready-to-use solutions.

Noor Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest single-site solar power project with an installed capacity of 1,177 MW, has been successfully commissioned. The project is a joint venture between the government of Abu Dhabi and a consortium comprising Marubeni Corp., Japan, and Jinko Solar Holding, China. Abu Dhabi says the project's 3.2 million solar  panels provide enough power for 90,000 people. 

• The Swedish power producer Vattenfall has commissioned an industrial-scale, 0.5 MW/10 MWh, pilot test facility at its Reuter power plant, employing thermal energy storage technology developed by SaltX of Sweden. The technology uses nano-coated salts to store thermal energy. 

Croda International Plc posted a product announcement on its LinkedIn page this week: "CrodaTherm can be incorporated into wearable and non-wearable textile fibres to improve temperature regulation." There's more information on crodatherm.com. According to the website, Croda has encapsulated its bio-based phase change material "in a durable acrylic polymer shell, so that when the bio-based core changes phase, the particle remains solid." I hope to have more details on the technology in time for next week's newsletter.

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."

Novel PCM microspheres keep new therapy pack flexible when frozen

Ben Welter - Saturday, June 15, 2019

A novel phase change material developed by PureTemp LLC of Minneapolis is the key component of a new flexible therapy pack introduced at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Orlando, Fla., last month.

Glacier Tek therapy packThe flexible PCM microspheres have a melt point of 18 degrees C and remain pliable when frozen. The flexible GlacierPacks, developed by Glacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis, are designed to provide targeted cooling relief for bruises, muscle strains, headaches and more. The patent-pending packs can be recharged in ice water in about an hour, hold their target temperature of 18 C for more than two hours and can be reused indefinitely.

The packs can be applied directly to skin without damaging tissue or causing discomfort. They can be used safely and effectively for longer periods than traditional ice packs or cold water immersion (CWI) treatments.

In research led by Dr. Malachy P. McHugh and Susan Y. Kwiecien of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York, packs filled with PureTemp's biobased phase change material have been shown to provide a practical way to deliver prolonged post-exercise cooling and thereby accelerate muscle recovery.

A 2019 study, "Accelerated Recovery of Muscle Function in Baseball Pitchers Using Post-Game Phase Change Material Cooling," set out to examine the effectiveness of post-game PCM cooling on strength recovery in pitchers. Based on prior research (Kwiecien et al 2018 and Clifford et al 2018), it was hypothesized that PCM cooling would accelerate recovery. The flexible cooling packs were applied to the elbows and forearms of college pitchers after each had thrown 45 pitches. Pitchers in a control group received no PCM cooling treatment. The strength, soreness and creatine kinase levels of the athletes were then measured to gauge the effectiveness of the PCM cooling. CK is an enzyme released into the blood at elevated levels when there is muscle damage.

The researchers concluded that prolonged PCM cooling accelerated recovery of strength but did not affect soreness or CK levels. "The effect of PCM cooling of the medial elbow and forearm on grip strength recovery is very encouraging considering the role the wrist flexors play in dynamic stability of the elbow," the researchers wrote. 

"Can you believe it? A PCM that remains flexible when fully charged!" said RoxAnne Best, president of PureTemp and Glacier Tek. "I am really proud of our team for their commitment to bringing this technology to market. The consumer application possibilities are endless."

The therapy packs are available on Amazon and on the Glacier Tek website. A set of six packs retails for $229. Contact Glacier Tek to inquire about samples, volume discounts and custom configurations.

8 Viking Cold Solutions systems installed in Massachusetts

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

Viking Cold Solutions has completed the installation of eight thermal energy storage systems as part of a utility-backed demand management program in Massachusetts. The Houston company says its PCM-based system, designed for use in cold storage facilities,  stores enough energy to cycle off refrigeration for up to 13 hours per day and reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent. 

https://www.vikingcold.com/news/release-viking-cold-solutions-installs-1-3-mw-of-thermal-energy-storage-in-industrial-cold-storage-facilities-as-part-of-a-massachusetts-utility-demand-management-program/

Sunamp signs its first major UK contract

Ben Welter - Friday, June 07, 2019

Sunamp Ltd. has signed a memo of understanding to supply its PCM-based heat batteries to Fischer Future Heat under an original equipment manufacturer contract. Sunamp, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, says the deal involves "many thousands" of units and will be worth seven figures as sales ramp up. Leicester-based Fischer began selling the product, dubbed the Aquafficient, in February.

Andrew BissellIn an email interview, Sunamp CEO Andrew Bissell filled in a few details on the deal.

Q: Can you tell me about the PCM aspects of this product?

A: "Sunamp’s success in making a super-stable (40,000+ cycles tested) salt hydrate PCM (very energy dense) at 58C and combining it (in a highly insulated, cuboid enclosure) with a very high power heat exchanger (high power, high flow rate hot water) made a whole class of heat battery devices possible. Not least electric water heaters, with about 4x the energy density of a classic electric hot water tank and 5+ gallon per minute performance. A key innovation (patent pending around the details) was to use electric elements immersed inside the PCM to melt the PCM and charge the heat battery."

Q: What can you tell me about the manufacturing process?

A: "Because Aquafficient by Fischer Future Heat is based on Sunamp UniQ, it’s effectively been in production at Sunamp Factory for nearly a year. 

"By going down this OEM white label route, Fischer Future Heat could hit the ground running with Aquafficient - which they did! Sunamp’s manufacturing has had to scale already this year from 75 units a month to 75 units a week, with 75 a day on the near horizon. This to keep up with exponentially rising combined demand from Fischer, other OEMs, and large housing and regeneration projects.

“We keep scaling production and the demand keeps outpacing us! We're working really hard on scaling up production and appreciate our partners’ and their customers patience when they sometimes have to wait quite a number of weeks for the product they want.”

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/heat-storage-battery-pioneer-sunamp-16252849

Croda adds 2 biobased phase change materials to its lineup

Ben Welter - Friday, May 17, 2019

Marco AuerbachCroda International Plc introduced two new biobased phase change materials, CrodaTherm 32 and CrodaTherm 37, in March. The British specialty chemicals maker developed the products at its PCM lab in Gouda, Netherlands. Marco Auerbach, technology development manager, said development work began about three years ago. He discussed the project in an email interview.

Q: What prompted Croda to create these PCMs -- customer requests, anticipated demand based on market analysis or a combination of factors?

A: "A combination of factors. Market demand was picked up by various means and also verified by customers, which prompted us at one point to start the development."

Q: What was your role in development of these PCMs?

A: "I am leading the technical development of PCMs within Croda. Therefore my task was to put a team together to find the right chemistry for the best possible technical product properties. Mainly meaning high latent heat, narrow melting and crystallization points and high cycle stability."

Q: Did the team surmount any unexpected challenges, technical or otherwise? 

A: "As with most developments, our project team also encountered challenges and set-backs. We had a few options to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. One challenge that is and will be taking more effort and time in future are chemicals registrations in various countries, but also raw material availability and pricing can have an impact."

Q: What specs can you share on each of the products, such as composition, peak melt point and latent heat storage capacity?

A: "For each launched PCM we have Product Data Sheets (PDS) available, so we also issued these for CrodaTherm 32 and CrodaTherm 37. They can be found on our website,  www.crodatherm.com. CrodaTherm 32 has a melting temperature of 32°C and crystallizes at 29.5°C. Latent heat is 190 kJ/kg. For CrodaTherm 37 melting takes place at 36.8°C, crystallization at 35°C and latent heat is 203 kJ/kg, measured by DSC."

Q: Do the new products have any properties, such as latent heat storage capacity or material compatibility, that set them apart from competing products?

A: "It is important to define which competing products or technologies one compares our products with, but in general our PCMs are produced from renewable resources and are also biodegradable. They are non-corrosive to metals and have long-term stability. Another big advantage is the very much lower evaporation and higher flash points compared to the current paraffin industry standards."

Q: What applications are suited to each of the two PCMs?

A: "We do not define the applications our products can be used for, but we have seen most interest in personal cooling and heating applications, as well as temperature-controlled shipments. We are still regularly surprised where and how customers sometimes want to use our CrodaTherm PCMs."

Q: In what formats are the two PCMs available -- bulk, macroencapsulated, microencapsulated?

A: "Both CrodaTherms are available in IBCs and drums. We go down in size to about 16 kg pails as the lowest pack size, but on request other options are possible. Croda does not offer macro encapsulation as we see ourselves as PCM suppliers, not wanting to compete with our customers at the user level. We feel that our customers and partners are better equipped to do this from a technical and customer support point of view. Croda does give advice on materials compatibility and connect our customers with our partners for macro encapsulation though. We do offer micro encapsulated CrodaTherm and also plan to offer CrodaTherm 32 in micro encapsulated form. If there is interest, we will also consider to micro encapsulate CrodaTherm 37."

Q: In a LinkedIn post this month, Croda announced: "All our CrodaTherm materials are USDA certified bio based products." Croda lists 14 CrodaTherm materials on its site; I see only 13 CrodaTherm products listed on biopreferred.gov. Missing from the USDA list is CrodaTherm 9.5. Has that product been certified yet?

A: "CrodaTherm 9.5 is also a product that only has been launched quite recently. We target to have all our products on the USDA bio-preferred list and I am confident CrodaTherm 9.5 will be added to it as well, but all things take time. We expect this registration can be added to the list shortly."

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: "The development of new products and the joy when customers actually like the product and are buying it. At that point all the puzzle pieces come together and you know that the hard work is paying off. I am particularly pleased with our CrodaTherm PCMs because they do not only help to improve/protect the environment while in use (especially for building cooling/heating applications), but they are also made from renewable raw materials and are bio-degradable. The environment is important to me and as a developer I am really happy I can have a contribution in a sustainable future."

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.