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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: California utility will buy up to 100 Ice Bears for residential use; Malouf unveils new graphite-PCM pillow

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 09, 2017

Ice Energy will join forces with the Southern California Public Power Authority to provide up to 100 Ice Bear 20 cooling units for residential use within utility's 12 member territories in 2017. Installations will begin in June. The Ice Bear 20 stores cooling energy during off-peak hours by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. The new deployment is designed to demonstrate the Ice Bear 20's grid value to utilities. The units will be installed in single-family homes chosen by Ice Energy based on site visits. Homes that need 4-, 5- or 6-ton air-conditioning systems replaced are the likely targets. The utilities pay for the Ice Bears; it's unclear at this point who will pay installation costs. If all 100 Ice Bear 20s are purchased, the total cost to the utilities will be $1.33 million (not including installation).

Malouf CarbonCool pillow• Bedding maker Malouf's new CarbonCool Plus OmniPhase pillow combines the temperature-regulation properties of graphite and microencapsulated phase change material. "At the molecular level," Furniture Today reports, "the material inside the capsules changes from a solid to a liquid when the temperature is high and vice versa when the temperature is low. This continuous cycle is designed keep the pillow surface between 87 and 91 degrees, which research shows is the ideal skin temperature range for deep sleep." The queen size shown here retails for $299.99.

• New from Absolute Reports: "United States Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market By Manufacturers, States, Type And Application, Forecast To 2022"

SPX Flow's new FLEX Series refrigerated air dryer uses phase change material to tightly regulate temperatures and reduce compressor cycling.

Prongo insulin bagPluss Technologies' PronGo bag, introduced last year for consumers to transport frozen and chilled food and beverages, is  now being promoted as a way to keep insulin at the right temperature for up to 10 hours. The 3-liter bag comes with two sets of PCM cooling packs. It's available on Amazon.in for about $52. In an interview with Express Pharma, company director Samit Jain talked about the Prongo and another new product, Celsure, a passive shipper designed to keep pharma products "at the right temperature for 96 hours and beyond at the tropical temperatures that countries like India, South East Asia and Africa have."

1414 Degrees, the Australian company that has developed a way to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, is now scaling up the technology and plans to launch the first commercial systems this year. Executive Chairman Kevin Moriarty said the company is waiting for AusIndustry, a division of Australia's Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, to sign off on the 10MWh project in February so manufacture can begin.

Patent application: Systems, devices and methods for bodily fluid sample transport

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170020425 (applicant Theranos Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.):

Theranos patent drawing"Bodily fluid sample transport systems, devices, and method are provided. In at least one embodiment described herein, methods are provided for the physical transport of small volumes of bodily fluid in liquid form from one location to another location. By way of nonlimiting example, the samples are collected in liquid form at a collection site, transported in liquid form, and arrive at an analysis site in liquid form. In many embodiments, the liquid form during transport is not held in a porous matrix, wicking material, webbing, or similar material that prevents sample for being extracted in liquid form at the destination site. ... In one embodiment, the thermal control material may be but is not limited to embedded phase change material (PCM) material that maintains the temperature at a prior, or desired temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170020425.pdf

Research roundup: Encapsulated paraffin wax and sand nanoparticles; 1,6-hexanediol/lauric acid; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 26, 2017

New hybrid nanofluid containing encapsulated paraffin wax and sand nanoparticles in propylene glycol-water mixture: Potential heat transfer fluid for energy management [Energy Conversion and Management]

Thermal properties and stabilities of the eutectic mixture: 1,6-hexanediol/lauric acid as a phase change material for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Adaptability research on phase change materials based technologies in China [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Design of a Low cost Non Electrical Type Baby Incubator for Developing Country [pdf] [International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research]

Patent application: Devices, systems and kits for regulating skin temperature for mammals

Ben Welter - Monday, January 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170014266 (applicant Slumber Science LLC, Sunnyvale, Calif.):

"A heat transfer system may include a heat transfer machine adapted to thermally couple to an heat transfer pack housed within an heat transfer device and transfer heat from the heat transfer pack using a power supply. The heat transfer device may include a housing and a heat transfer pack. The heat transfer pack may be adapted to thermally couple to the heat transfer machine, transfer heat to the heat transfer machine while thermally coupled to the heat transfer machine, and transfer heat from a mammal's skin when the heat transfer device is in contact with the mammal's skin and uncoupled from the heat transfer machine. ... The heat transfer pack may include one or more phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170014266.pdf

Warmilu infant blankets are headed to Kenya for testing

Ben Welter - Friday, January 20, 2017

Grace Hsia, co-founder and CEO of Warmilu LLC, reports that her Michigan startup shipped three infant warming blankets to Kenya this week for regulatory review. 

Warmilu infant warmerThe IncuBlanket, designed to help preterm infants born in remote parts of developing countries, will undergo testing by Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board. Once approval is granted, the nonprofit Relief for Africa Foundation, based in Ann Arbor and Nairobi, plans to distribute between 2,500 and 5,000 IncuBlankets throughout the East African nation. Hsia says Warmilu is close to signing distribution agreements with two other medical device distributors.

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.

Warmilu recently moved from a small incubator space into a 2,000-square-foot production facility in Ann Arbor.

"It has been just an amazing dream come true, opening this space up and being able to cut and sew our IncuBlankets here," said Hsia, whose company now has six employees. "[We will] be able by March to make all of our InstaWarmer packs here." 

Patent application: Heat deformable material for face seal

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170007861 (applicant Scott Technologies Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.):

Respirator patent application drawing"Thermally deformable face seals and respirators including such face seals. The thermally deformable face seal structures comprise composite phase change materials that mold to the face of a user to provide a personalized but one-size-fits-all facial fit having excellent shape retention after use and long term durability. The phase change material is applied onto a base component to cover all or substantially all of the surface area of the base component and adapts to the face of the user to provide a secure, leak-free seal."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170007861.pdf

Patent application: Protective dressing with reusable PCM insert

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 29, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160374847 (applicant Hill-Rom Services Inc., Batesville, Ind.):

Protective dressing patent drawing"A protective dressing includes an outer dressing and an adhesive layer. The outer dressing includes an opening and a cavity sized to receive a phase-change material (PCM) insert (1408) inserted through the opening. The adhesive layer is configured to adhere to a patient's skin surrounding an anatomic site. When adhered to the patient's skin, the PCM insert modifies the patient's skin at the anatomic site. The PCM insert may be removed and replaced with another PCM insert. For example, a warm PCM insert may be replaced with a refrigerated PCM insert. The opening of the outer dressing may be self-sealing. The opening of the outer dressing may be sealed with an upper layer dressing coupled to the PCM cooling insert."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160374847.pdf

Patent application: Insulated storage and transport system

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 07, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160347532 (applicant Savsu Technologies, Bethpage, N.Y.)

"A thermal storage system includes a thermally insulated storage container and a payload container adapted to retrievably house a temperature sensitive payload. The system includes layers of first and second phase change materials arranged in a stack with the payload container. The first phase change material has a phase change temperature within a target temperature range of the payload, and the second phase change material has a phase change temperature outside the target temperature range. The layers are arranged to isolate the payload from the second phase change material. In the case of biological materials that must not freeze while stored in the container, this arrangement enables a cold pack containing the layers of phase change materials to be placed in direct contact with the contents container even with a cold pack starting temperature well below the freezing point of the contents."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160347532.pdf

PCM briefing: University of Nebraska installing 2nd TES system; Credo-packing cyclists reach India

Ben Welter - Monday, November 21, 2016

• The University of Nebraska has begun construction on its second thermal energy storage facility in Lincoln. The system will chill water at night and on weekends, when electricity costs are low. The water will be used to cool buildings during the day.

Italian couple cycling across India• Do you remember the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes? Chiara Ricciardi and Riccardo Rocchi reached India last week. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and requires a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair have pedaled 7,130 kilometers so far, across 13 countries, averaging 49 km per day. Their final destination: Singapore.

• The Naval Post Graduate School’s Integrated Multi-Physics Renewable Energy Laboratory in Monterey, Calif., has integrated the CALMAC's ice-based energy storage technology into an on-site microgrid. The lab is testing and evaluating the integration of a variety of energy storage technologies with solar and wind power.

Boca International Ltd. has signed a $3.4 million contract with Differ Commercial Management Ltd. to supply and install BocaPCM-TES systems in Differ properties in Xiamen City, China. Boca says its salt-based aqueous system is similar to ice- and water-based TES systems but covers a wider range of temperatures, allowing for "even and controllable energy usage, drawing energy from the storage directly during peak hour, which ultimately reduces the operating costs."

Sunamp Ltd. has completed installation of its SunampPV heat batteries in more than a thousand homes at Castle Rock Edinvar, one of Scotland's largest housing associations. The company says the hybrid system will save households up to $370 a year each on their hot water and heating bills.

Patent application: Sorption-based adhesive contact cooling apparatus and method

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 10, 2016

Patent drawing of patient cooling apparatus

U.S. patent application 20160324683 (Medivance Inc., Louisville, Colo.):

"A sorption-based, adhesive contact apparatus and method for contact cooling a patient via conductive thermal exchange are described. The apparatus includes a pad, having a fluid containing layer and adhesive contact surface, and a sorption-based device, fluidly interconnectable to the fluid containing layer, for vaporizing fluid contained in the fluid containing layer and for sorping the vaporized fluid. The fluid vaporization and the vapor sorption cools the adhesive contact surface of the pad. ... The sorption-based device also may be provided to include a phase-change material (e.g., a hydrated salt or paraffin-based material) for extracting thermal energy attendant to sorption of vaporized fluid by the sorptive material. "

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160324683.pdf