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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.

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: Glacier Tek sponsors wheelchair cyclists in Kenya fundraiser; CCT closer to commercializing silicon battery

Ben Welter - Monday, September 09, 2019

Dom Coleman, Regain trustee and grants officerGlacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis is sponsoring seven quadriplegic cyclists taking part in a fundraising ride in Kenya's Rift Valley next month. The Kenya Cycle Challenge 2019, organized by Regain, a U.K.-registered charity, is on track to raise 80,000 pounds to support quadriplegic athletes in Great Britain. More than 50 riders are expected to participate. The seven sponsored riders will be wearing PureTemp-powered Glacier Tek cooling vests to help them handle the 32º C heat they will likely encounter on the five-day ride. People with spinal cord injuries are vulnerable to heat stress because their bodies cannot send the signals needed to initiate sweating in response to hot conditions. 

• Heat battery manufacturer Sunamp Ltd. is among the exhibitors at the InstallerSCOTLAND trade show in Glasgow, Scotland, on Thursday.

CCT Energy Storage is on track to install its first commercial thermal energy device at a mobile phone base station in Adelaide, South Australia, before the end of the year following an agreement in principle with an Australian infrastructure provider. CCT unveiled its first 24kW device in March, describing it as the world’s first working thermal battery using silicon as a phase change material.  

• Hundreds of Australia’s most environmentally advanced homes will open their doors to visitors on Sunday, Sustainable House Day 2019. At least two of the homes – Farrell’s House in Narara, New South Wales, and the 10 Star Home in Cape Paterson, Victoria – feature phase change technology. More than 33,000 people visited 226 homes across Australia last year.  

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.

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.