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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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PCM briefing: Outlast introduces Xelerate fabric; Warmilu signs 2 distributors

Ben Welter - Friday, May 19, 2017

Drawing of Outlast Xelerate

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric. The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.

Warmilu, maker of the IncuBlanket infant warmer, reports that is on track for $300,000 in total 2017 sales after signing two distributors for Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia: Relief for Africa Foundation and Maternova. The IncuBlanket, which has been successfully tested in clinical trials in India, uses packs filled with sodium acetate trihydrate to keep infants warm for up to five hours. CEO Grace Hsia says the device recently cleared its first regulatory filing with Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Axiom Exergy has won a Gold Stevie for Energy Innovation in the 15th annual American Business Awards. Axiom's "refrigeration battery" enables supermarkets and food warehouses to store thermal energy at night when power is cheaper. The system, which uses salt-based phase change material, reduces peak power usage by up to 40 percent.

• Registration is open for IFAI's Expo 2017, set for Sept. 27-29 in New Orleans. The Industrial Fabrics Association International show will feature sessions on smart fabrics, military procurement, biomimesis and green certification.   

Pelican BioThermal has introduced a new Series 22 Universal system for its Credo brand of shippers. The system uses a dual PCM coolant system designed to be operational throughout the year.

National Law Review offers a fresh overview of green chemistry laws across the United States. "State chemical control regimes," the authors conclude, "are likely to increase cost and foster confusion about chemical safety, which is one reason that Congress agreed to modernize TSCA by adopting LCSA."

Monodraught's Cool-phase ventilation and cooling system was among the finalists honored at the National CSR Awards in London this week. The hybrid system, which won a "One to Watch" award, uses PCMs to store and release thermal energy, providing a free cooling load and reducing energy and maintenance costs.

• The agenda has been released for the 15th Cold Chain Global Forum to be held Sept. 25-29 in Chicago. Frank Butch, director of engineering at Sonoco ThermoSafe, will lead a master class on temperature assurance packaging certification.

Bloomberg BNA is offering a free webinar June 12: "Reviewing New Chemicals under Amended TSCA: Impact on Innovation." 

Outlast Europe's Martin Bentz spoke with T.EVO magazine this month about the company's new Xelerate fabric (shown below). The fabric, introduced at a German trade fair earlier this year, incorporates "heat spreader" technology, a process traditionally known for cooling electronic devices. Xelerate fabric features improved thermal conductivity, Bentz said, and is suitable for home textiles, sportswear and protective gear. In an email exchange with Phase Change Matters, Bentz declined to discuss specific partners or customers.

PCM briefing: MiraCradle wins commercialization award; ThermoSafe introduces Certis 2-Day Platform

Ben Welter - Friday, May 12, 2017

Pluss Advanced Technologies of India has won a Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises award for successful commercialization of the MiraCradle, a low-cost passive cooling device for treating newborns suffering from birth asphyxia. India's president, Pranab Mukherjee, presented the award Thursday at a National Technology Day event in New Delhi. The device uses form-stable inorganic phase change materials.

Energy Storage North America is seeking nominations for its 2017 Innovation Awards. Thermal storage projects are eligible. Winners will be honored at ESNA's annual conference and expo, Aug. 8-10 in San Diego, Calif. The deadline for entering is June 2.

Sonoco ThermoSafe has expanded the Certis brand of one-way shipping solutions to include a two-day platform for the distribution of pharmaceutical and biological products. Like its three- and five-day predecessors, the Certis 2-Day Platform employs the same pack-out for 2-8° C, 15-25° C and frozen shipments. It uses just four shippers and three types of phase change material to create 12 shipping solutions.

Entropy Solutions, maker of PureTemp phase change materials, will be among the companies honored with a Eureka! Innovation Award at a reception in June. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal awards program, now in its fourth year, recognizes "game-changing" Minnesota businesses in energy, manufacturing, media, health care, product design, engineering, architecture and other categories.

SupplyChainBrain recently spoke with supply chain executives about about the tools, talents and techniques needed to create accurate and responsive demand forecasts. Jane Kaiser, director of North American supply chain planning for Monsanto, cites collaborative forecasting as one way suppliers and customers can succeed. "It’s a question of [better] data mining, being truthful with each other, talking to one another," said Kaiser.

• As air freight rates remain high and capacity tightens, more temperature-sensitive medicines are moving by ocean freight, writes Cathy Robertson of Logistics Trends & Insights.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Phase Change Materials Market Forecast 2017-2022 Industry DuPont, BASF SE, Royal Dutch Shell, Climator Sweden."

• A seminar titled "PCM and Thermal Energy Storage: Characterization of TES Materials by Thermal Analysis, Calorimetry and Thermal Conductivity" will be held in Milan and Naples next week. The free seminar, presented by Automation Ltd. in collaboration with Milan Polytechnic and others, will focus on how the thermal analysis, calorimetric and thermal conductivity methods can be used to investigate the different TES techniques and to characterize the transitions or reactions of typically used materials (fatty acids, paraffins, organic substances, inorganic salts, adsorbents, clathrates).

• In a piece written for North American Clean Energy, Axiom Exergy's Ryan Anderson outlines the benefits of thermal energy storage systems. Saltwater-based systems, he writes, avoid "many of the often hidden, balance of systems costs that electrochemical or flow batteries must account for, such as power converters, fire suppression, and interconnection charges/regulatory time."

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PCM briefing: Encapsulation market projected to hit $17.9 billion; report casts shadow on solar-plus-storage

Ben Welter - Monday, February 27, 2017

• The global microencapsulation market is expected to reach $17.94 billion by 2025, according to a new report from Grand View Research. Microtek Laboratories, Encapsys, BASF and Aveka Inc. are among the companies profiled in the report, "Microencapsulation Market Estimates & Trend Analysis By Application (Pharmaceutical, Household Product, Agrochemical, Food Additive, Phase Change Material), By Region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, RoW), And Segment Forecasts, 2014 - 2025"

• A Rochester Institute of Technology study casts a shadow on the economics of residential solar-plus-storage. The conclusion: A customer must face high electricity bills and unfavorable net metering or feed-in policies for "grid defection" to work. 

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Reusable Ice Packs Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016-2024"

• New from QYResearch: "China Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2017"

A one-day workshop on energy storage for building, solar and wind sectors will be held March 4 at Anna University in Chennai, India. Topics include integration of PCMs for passive cooling in buildings, energy-efficient cool thermal energy storage systems and thermal energy storage technologies for solar applications. 

The National Law Review has posted a detailed update on implementation of the newly revised Toxic Substances Control Act. A key takeaway: Resource and budgetary constraints under the Trump administration could have an impact on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to implement the new provisions.

• The latest issue of Chemical & Engineering News features a piece on “natural catalysts” derived from wild plants, mud and earthworms. 

Samit Jain, director at Pluss Advanced Technologies, talks about his company’s pharma logistics products in an interview with India's Financial Express.

PCM briefing: Siemens touts packed-bed thermal storage breakthrough; TSCA's impact on chemical importers

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 20, 2016

Siemens says its recently launched packed-bed thermal storage concept for wind power could deliver energy at well below 0.10 euros per kilowatt-hour. The system uses surplus electricity to blow air at 600 degrees Celsius across a packed bed of basalt rocks in an insulated container.

• The National Law Review takes a detailed look at the impact of the newly revised Toxic Substances Control Act on chemical importers, noting that "companies planning to ship chemical-based products to the United States should have a basic understanding of the TSCA." 

• Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have invented a new thermal energy storage system that uses molten silicon to store up to 10 times more energy than existing storage devices. "The proposed new thermal energy storage system," according to a report in New Atlas, "involves heating the silicon in a container using either concentrated sunlight on surplus electricity generated by renewable power. The molten silicon – which can reach temperatures of around 1,400° C (2,552° F) – can be isolated from its environment until energy is needed, at which point the heat is converted to electricity."  

SolarReserve has proposed building the world's largest solar power plant in Nevada. The 2-gigawatt Sandstone project would include up to 10 concentrated solar arrays, each equipped with a molten salt thermal storage system. 

SUNCNIM has raised 60 million euros to help finance construction of the world’s first commercial Fresnel concentrated solar power plant with energy storage. The plant in the French Pyrenees will have four hours of thermal storage capacity. The thermal energy will be converted into electricity by a steam generation process.

Ministry, whose high-tech clothing line includes dress shirts infused with phase change material, has opened a store in downtown Chicago

• The American Society of Interior Designers has opened a Material ConneXion library at the society's new corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Materials ConneXion database lists more than 7,500 "unique, innovative and sustainable materials." PureTemp's biobased phase change materials were added to database last year.

Ember Technologies, which raised more than $350,000 on IndieGoGo last year to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, sent backers another update this week: "We are happy to announce that shipping will begin the first week of November for our pre-order customers." Delivery was initially set for April 2016. The $150 mug uses bio-based phase change material and a microprocessor-controlled heating system to maintain hot beverages at temperatures set by the user.

• New from Market Research Engine: "Global Microencapsulation Market Research Report - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2021." The report projects the market will reach $8.5 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent.

PCM quality association unveils redesigned website

Ben Welter - Friday, September 16, 2016

RAL Quality Association PCM logoRAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the PCM industry, has redesigned its website, www.pcm-ral.com.

"The new website has a modern and well-structured design – appropriate for a modern and advanced technology," said Stefan Thomann, the association’s managing director. "It provides information about application areas, planning/simulation software and the certification process for being awarded the RAL Quality Mark. People interested in using PCM will find the contact data of the leading manufacturers of high-quality products."

The redesigned site allows members to post content in sections devoted to each company. RAL Quality Association PCM member companies are Croda, BASF, Rubitherm, EMCO, va-Q-tec, Global Energy Systems Europe BV, Sasol Germany GmbH, Pluss Advanced Technologies, PCM Technology and Entropy Solutions.

PCM briefing: Grocery trucks equipped with PCMs; how to prepare for fluctuating feedstock pricing

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 25, 2016

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has posted a request for information on lower-grade waste heat recovery systems. ARPA-E says it is particularly interested in solid-state recovery technology.

High temperatures in the workplace are a major concern of trade union safety representatives, according to a survey conducted by the UK's Trades Union Congress. The federation is calling for a maximum temperature of 30º Celsius in the workplace; 27º C for those doing strenuous work. [pdf]

SK Telecom's new fresh groceries logistics service features delivery trucks equipped with phase change material. The South Korean company's Smart FreshX system eliminates the need to burn fuel to run on-board chillers. The PCM is chilled at night, when electricity is cheaper, and keeps groceries cold during daytime deliveries. 

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to publish proposed regulations under the revamped Toxic Substances Control Act by the end of this year.

U.S. chemical producers must continue to prepare for fluctuations in feedstock pricing, writes Michael Hinton of Allegro Development: "Trying to predict energy market moves can be a mugs’ game, but effective commodity management systems can analyse a company’s trading history against the specific risk factors in its portfolio."

PCM briefing: Phase change material in concept motorcycle and automotive interiors

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Can-Am Spyder e-motorcycle• Bombardier Recreational Products of Canada has produced an electric version of its three-wheel Can-Am Spyder motorcycle. The concept vehicle is equipped with a 16 kWh battery and has a range of about 170 km (106 miles). Phase change material is used to cool the lithium-ion batteries. No word on whether a production model is planned.

Dr. Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Industrial Fabrics Association International Expo in Charlotte, N.C. The topic of her Oct. 18 presentation: "Taking the heat – thermal control of the automotive interior with phase change material."

CALMAC is applauding the Massachusetts Legislature for approving an "energy diversity" bill that promotes the use of renewable energy sources and energy storage technologies. The legislation, signed into law Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, requires the state to seek long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and 1,200 MW of hydropower. Its broad definition of energy storage includes distributed thermal energy storage such as CALMAC's IceBank system. "It is unrealistic to believe that renewable energy will align itself perfectly with the demand of the power grid and consumers without adding energy storage," said Mark McCracken, the company's CEO. "Massachusetts has taken great steps to create a more reliable, smarter grid to adapt to future needs.”

• Got a big tank to clean? You might want to contact CYC International of Singapore. The plant maintenance company has created a snake-like robot to clean tanks at oil refineries. CYC says use of the remote-controlled robot reduces the number of workers needed to clean a tank, lowering health and safety risks and improving productivity.

PCM briefing: Guinea pigs heated up first calorimeter; new research on PCM global consumption

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drawing of early calorimeter• In the late 18th century, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier and Pierre-Simon Laplace of France designed the first calorimeter, a multichamber device that used ice to measure the amount of heat given off during combustion or respiration. Guinea pigs provided the heat in early experiments. Andrea Sella, a professor of chemistry at University College London, takes a look at the fascinating origin of the instrument.

• New from QY Research: "Global Phase Change Materials Consumption 2016 Market Research Report." BASF, Rubitherm, Croda, Pluss and Entropy Solutions are among the major manufacturers profiled.

• Britain's exit from the European Union could complicate the task of complying with Europe's network of chemical regulations, writes Michael Ravenscroft in IHS Chemical Week magazine. 

• PCM maker Entropy Solutions recently received ISO 9001: 2008 certification for its quality management system. The ISO 9001 standard is designed to help ensure that an organization’s products and services consistently meet customer requirements, and that the quality system of the organization continues to improve.

Strong reaction to Brexit in Europe's industrial, scientific communities

Ben Welter - Friday, June 24, 2016

Britain's vote on Thursday to leave the European Union is generating a variety of strong reactions in Europe's chemical, manufacturing and scientific communities.

From the Guardian:

Kurt Bock“The United Kingdom is and will remain an important market for BASF," said Kurt Bock, right, the company's chief executive. "It has always been our strong conviction that the UK is better off within the EU, we therefore very much regret that Great Britain and Northern Ireland want to leave the European Union. Although we respect the decision of the British people, this outcome of the referendum will cause considerable uncertainty for markets, companies and households.”

From the Engineer:

“Great care must be taken during the negotiation process to protect manufacturing’s interests and we will be working hard in the UK and in Brussels for that outcome," said James Selka, chief executive of the UK's Manufacturing Technology Association. "We believe that we can leverage UK manufacturing’s reputation for innovation and flexibility to secure the best possible deal for our members outside the EU.”

From ICIS News:

A European ethylene glycol (EG) buyer said he was sad to see the UK leaving the EU but added, however, that the country should be “happy” that it will no longer be subject to the “Euro printing press that is destroying pensions [and] creating housing bubbles.”

“It’s like a domino effect," said another EG buyer. "… Let the dust settle first and see what happens. All these contracts the UK has with other EU partners have to be revised. What will be the economic effect on all economies?” 

A polyethylene terephthalate buyer in Italy said Brexit was “a disaster” and will create a chain of events in the economy and forecast more countries to take the same path than the UK.

Other petrochemical market players reminded how “nothing will change for two years” at least, according to an olefins consumer in Germany, while others recognize the implications are totally unknown – it is the first time an EU member state has decided to leave the bloc.

From Chemistry World:

"EU membership has been part of the UK in broad and deep ways," said Dominic Tildesley, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry. "From the point of view of science, research and innovation there is now considerable uncertainty about how an EU exit will affect access to EU funding for research, the freedom of researchers to work across the EU and the application of EU regulations across the science and technology sector."

From European Rubber Journal [registration required]:

“It is not the decision that our sector wanted, but we fully respect the wish of the people for change,” said Steve Elliott, chief executive of the United Kingdom's Chemical Industries Association. “We now have to look to the future, and I am confident that an important and resilient industry such as ours can prosper in this new situation.”

From SeeNews:

“The vast majority of our members had fears of Brexit, and we will be consulting with them and government in the coming weeks to set out a plan for continued low carbon energy investment, deployment and assurance of the 117,000 jobs in this sector," said Dr. Nina Skorupska, chief executive at the UK's Renewable Energy Association.

PCM briefing: U.S. companies flock to renewables; molten salts could transform mining process

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

• Seventy-two percent of U.S.-based companies surveyed by PwC said they are actively pursuing renewable energy procurement, mainly wind and solar. 

• The University of South Australia has teamed up with Centrex Metals Limited to conduct research on higher-temperature molten salt. Centrex hopes to use the technology, which heats molten salt to 850º Celsius and higher, to convert potassium feldspar ore to potassium chloride fertilizer, using less water and energy than current processes.

• The American Chemistry Council says Toxic Substances Control Act, signed into law Wednesday by President Obama, will have "a meaningful impact on the economy and the marketplace." Up next: The Environmental Protection Agency begins work on implementing new rules

• In a guest blog post for Energy Storage News, Sunamp's business development manager writes about demonstrating the company's PCM/PV "heat battery" in Shenzhen, China, last month. Maurizio Zaglio says SunampPV is a great fit for the Chinese market, thanks to government incentives that have led to widespread use of PV panels.