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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: Viking Cold Solutions lands deal in Phoenix; study finds ARPA-E is doing what it was designed to do

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

Viking Cold Solutions has announced a collaboration between Salt River Project and Bashas' Supermarkets to install and evaluate the performance of Viking's PCM-based thermal energy storage system at Bashas' distribution center in the Phoenix area. The system is expected to significantly reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

A six-year study finds that ARPA-E, the U.S. Energy Department program that supports cutting-edge energy technologies, is meeting the goals of the 2007 law that created it even as the Trump administration seeks to eliminate its funding. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report concludes that the program is moving in the right direction and does not require major changes to keep bringing new energy technologies to market.

• The co-creator of a camisole that uses phase change material to reduce the discomfort of hot flashes is profiled in ChicagoInno this month. Nancy Munro, who is selling "CoolCami" online, hopes to partner with a women’s undergarment company like Spanx or Soma. CoolCami is made of absorbent bamboo fabric and features a PCM-filled cooling liner.

Peli BioThermal reports that its ProMed thermal transport bags performed well in a five-month trial in the United Kingdom. The Great North Air Ambulance Service used the bags to transport blood plasma to accident scenes.

Ministry of Supply, the Boston startup that integrates phase change material in its high-tech menswear, has added a lightweight polo shirt to its lineup. The machine-washable Apollo 3 Polo sells for $70. 

Axiom Exergy, maker of "refrigeration batteries" designed to reduce energy use in supermarkets, is looking to fill eleven positions, including product engineer, product engineer manager and engineering intern. Candidates for the internship are asked to give a concise response to a "bonus question": "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?"

CIC energiGUNE is looking for a laboratory technician to join the Thermal Energy Storage unit's materials development and characterization group.

• The European Commission, in with collaboration with Skanska, Saint-Gobain, Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils, has developed an open-source assessment framework for measuring the energy performance of buildings. Level(s) links a building’s environmental impact with resource priorities at the European level. The voluntary tool will be ready for testing this fall.

Va-Q-tec AG has established a Japanese subsidiary in Tokyo. The German company develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials for use in thermal packaging, air freight containers and other applications. Va-Q-tec Japan GK will focus on providing "small box and container sales and rental solutions" in the Asian market.

• A recent New York Times piece answered the question: "What if you need a battery? A really big one — big enough to run a city?" A 2.35-million-square-foot office tower in New York City is among many buildings around the world equipped with a system that stores energy in the form of ice. The system freezes water overnight to help cool the building during the day, when electricity is typically more expensive.  

Massachusetts has awarded $1.5 million to help fund installation of more than 200 residential thermal energy storage units on Nantucket. Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear units, is partnering with Genbright LLC on the project. The goal is to help reduce peak energy demand and demonstrate an alternative to a third undersea transmission line to the island.

SaltX Technology and Aalborg CSP have agreed to work together to develop and commercialize an integrated energy storage solution for concentrated solar power based on EnerStore, SaltX's patented technology for large-scale energy storage. A prototype is scheduled to be built later this year with the aim of securing a commercial pilot plant in 2018.

Effort to commercialize EpiPen container hits unexpected roadblock

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

Commercializing an invention can be a herculean task. There are technical hurdles. Funding hurdles. Patent hurdles. Manufacturing hurdles. Regulatory hurdles. Eric and Sandy Wengreen, co-founders of a company working to commercialize a small container that uses phase change material to keep EpiPens close to room temperature, are familiar with all of it.

Sandy and Eric WengreenFirst, the invention:

After their son nearly died of a severe allergic reaction to macadamia nuts a few years ago, the Seattle couple realized the importance of having an EpiPen auto-injector handy at all times. Sandy invented the container, now known as MedShell, to ensure that people can take their EpiPen wherever they go, even if it’s hot or cold outside. It’s not just about being prepared for an unexpected allergic reaction. EpiPens are expensive. Leave one in a hot car or gym bag for a few hours and you’re out $300.

The Wengreens began developing their device, originally called EpiShell, a few years ago. They filed for patents and successfully tested prototypes.

Biobased phase change material is a key component of the MedShell, which is designed to keep EpiPens between 15º and 30º Celsius (59º and 86º Fahrenheit).

“I learned about PCM while I was researching how to change the melting temperatures of liquids,” says Eric, who has a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University. “I was very happy to discover that Entropy Solutions had already engineered highly reliable PCM. At that point, I realized that I didn't need to re-invent the wheel. Instead, I simply ordered PureTemp samples for prototyping and testing. I also received samples from other PCM manufacturers, but I quickly found out that PureTemp PCM was superior.”

Last fall, after receiving written assurance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the container would not be considered a medical device subject to FDA regulatory requirement, the Wengreens launched an Indiegogo campaign. The fundraising target: A modest $35,000.

Medshell temperature-control container for medicines“My goal was to raise awareness (rather than just raise money),” Eric says. “Most people don't know many medicines have strict storage-temperature requirements. I also wanted to test the market to see if other people cared about protecting their medicines from temperatures that are hotter and colder than the FDA-approved temperature limits.”

The response was strong. Within a few months, the campaign drew hundreds of backers and raised nearly $30,000. Two product videos were watched more than 15,000 times on YouTube. The Wengreens continued to refine the design of the vacuum flask and thermal management system. They began evaluating manufacturing options.

In November, they decided to change the name of the product to MedShell.

“Many people have talked with us about applications beyond epinephrine, the active ingredient in EpiPens,” Eric says. “As a result, we wanted the name to reflect our broader mission to protect many medicines from hot and cold temperatures. … Essentially, the storage-temperature requirements vary depending on the medicine, but the fundamental technology is the same, so MedShell can be adapted to just about any medicine.”

On Dec. 7, Eric alerted Indiegogo backers to an unexpected development:

“Recently, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily asked the FDA to conduct a second review of our product.  This time, we had detailed product information that was not available during the first review (because we had not finished the design details at the time of the first review). During this second review, the FDA decided that MedShell is a medical device subject to FDA regulatory requirements.”

The FDA’s decision, Eric told backers, “will dramatically delay our launch and increase our expenses.” The Wengreens suspended the Indiegogo campaign and offered refunds to all backers.

The Wengreens announced a new strategy in a January post on Indiegogo: “We now need to find a larger company that has the FDA expertise and resources to bring MedShell to market.” They continue to fund development with money earned from previous inventions.

The regulatory hurdle looms large, but the Wengreens remain committed to commercializing the product.

“Whether MedShell is a medical device is debatable,” Eric says. “Honestly, I don't know exactly what would be required to either convince the FDA that MedShell is not a medical device or meet the FDA's medical-device requirements. I reached out to the FDA for guidance, but I have not gotten specific answers regarding next steps.”

Although they have no plans to reopen the Indiegogo campaign, the Wengreens say they want to make sure supporters have the first opportunity to get the device when it launches. Consumer interest remains strong; MedShell's YouTube videos have now been viewed more than 76,000 times. 

“My goal is to transfer my patents and designs to a company with the resources to remove the FDA uncertainty and bring the product to market,” Eric says. “A larger company is better suited to making the invention widely available.”

PCM replacement cap keeps insulin pens at the right temperature

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

VIVA insulin cap

Insulin pens must be kept between 15° and 30° Celsius to ensure safe and effective injection. An Israeli company has developed a cap that combines phase change material with monitoring electronics to keep these pens from overheating in hot environments.

TempraMed’s first-generation Vivi Cap1 fits over any type of insulin pen and adjusts constantly to keep the insulin at the higher end of room temperature. When the device is exposed to temperatures above 29° C, the bio-based PCM begins to absorb heat and change from solid to liquid. When the ambient temperature falls below 28° C, the PCM starts to return to its solid state, allowing it to regain its heat-absorbing property. A push of a button at the base allows the user to confirm that the insulin is at the proper temperature.

“We are not aware of similar products that are available on the market,” said Ron Nagar, TempraMed president and CEO. “Until now, most commonly used products for ‘keeping insulin cool’ use water evaporation technology, which requires frequent user intervention, and is not effective in closed bags (where medication is commonly carried) or in humid environments.

“With the insulation and PCM we use, we offer very compact solutions (slightly larger than current insulin pen cap) which can maintain the proper conditions for time durations that are typically longer than the exposure expected during daytime or when outdoors, and allow recovery during the night or when back indoors, without user intervention.”

TempraMed is based in Tel Aviv with an office in Washington State. The products are manufactured in Israel.

The FDA- and CE-registered Vivi Cap1 is available now on the company’s website, www.my-vivi.com, at a cost of $49.90. The next generation of Vivi products will be available in the fall: Vivi Epi for epinephrine pens; Vivi Vial for insulin vials; and Vivi Cool 8° C and Vivi Vial 8° C for storing insulin at lower temperatures.

Nagar said TempraMed is working with several distributors to make the products widely available, including retail chains.

http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/insulin-cooling-tempramed-giveaway

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: New RAL quality mark approved; Alexium working on undergarment for auto racing

Ben Welter - Monday, April 17, 2017

RAL Quality Mark• The RAL Quality Association PCM, established in 2004 to develop standards for the phase change materials industry, has received RAL approval to use a English-language version of its quality mark. The mark signifies that a PCM has met the association's quality and testing specifications (RAL-GZ 896) for PCM and PCM composites, objects and systems. 

Alexium International has announced plans to work with Benwel Inc. to introduce a fire-retardant undergarment for the auto racing industry. The undergarment will be treated with Alexiflam and Alexicool, Alexium's PCM-based cooling technology. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe is expanding its line of temperature-controlled pallet solutions with the launch of the LD7 Half PAG pallet shipper. The Half PAG is available for 2-8° C or 15-25° C temperature ranges with durations in excess of five days.

• The inaugural Chemical Watch Expo, REACH into the Future, will be held in Berlin April 25-26. The expo offers workshops on preparation for the REACH 2018 registration deadline.

AkzoNobel, Advanced Biochemical Co. and Ernst & Young are developing a new online tool to track the use of bio-based raw materials in products. The project partners say it will be the first tool to use e-certification to track bio-based content along the value chain. Initially the tool is focused on epoxy-derived products and coatings. AkzoNobel says more products and companies will be added later this year.

PCM briefing: BASF expands R&D presence in South Asia; Viessmann, Aldi Nord team up on ice-based TES system

Ben Welter - Friday, March 10, 2017

BASF Group opened its Innovation Campus Asia Pacific in Mumbai this week, dramatically expanding its research and development presence in India. BASF expects to invest 50 million euros in the campus, making it the company's largest R&D investment in South Asia. BASF Venture Capital, meanwhile, is investing in the U.S. renewable chemistry firm P2 Science

• The heating and cooling technology company Viessmann and the food retailer Aldi Nord have developed a new cooling and heating system that employs propane heat pumps, photovoltaics and ice storage. The ESyCool system, designed to reduce energy costs by 15 percent and reduce life-cycle costs, will be installed in 10 Aldi Nord stores in Germany. 

• Registration is open for the 2017 New Product Development and Innovation in the Chemical Industry summit, to be held April 26-27 in Berlin. Speakers include Stephan Altmann, head of innovation excellence at BASF, and Olivier Magnin, technology director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at DuPont Performance Materials.

Thanks to PCM insert, luxury chocolates melt in your mouth, not in the box

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

In hot climates, chocolates bought at retail shops can end up melting on the way home. Pluss Advanced Technologies of India has introduced a packaging insert to keep the sweets in solid form during transit.

Pluss PCM insertDeveloped for ITC’s Fabelle line of premium chocolates, the insert features inorganic phase change material contained in a non-woven film. Vishnu Sasidharan, vice president of new product initiatives at Pluss, says the PCM was customized to keep the chocolate between 3º and 9º Celsius. The insert, designed for one-time use, measures about 170mm x 70mm. The goal is to maintain product quality and texture for one to two hours.

“The product was launched about five months back,” Sasidharan says. “It was available only in one hotel chain within ITC group of hotels. The boutique has gained much traction only in the last few months with ITC expanding it to not only within their group but in all the 5 star/7 star hotels across India.”

Pluss is working with other chocolate/confectionary companies to offer similar solutions for premium temperature-sensitive products.

Technically speaking, PCM-infused lingerie line radiates an air of mystery

Ben Welter - Monday, February 13, 2017

Giapenta's beautiful new line of PCM-infused lingerie features soft, breathable mesh, delicate appliques and natural, moisture-wicking fabrics. As far as technical details, though, the brand’s founder is leaving much to the imagination.

Giapenta modelThe Florida startup, which launched a Kickstarter campaign last month to cover costs of its first production run, says the TempPro fabric used in the lingerie “proactively” pulls heat away to cool the body. Giapenta’s message to consumers:

“Just as you start to get warm, the phase changing materials in the fabric actively pull heat away from your body. Overheating and sweating are reduced. If you do start to get cold, stored heat is released back to you, when you need it the most.”

The company was founded by Kris Strouthopoulos, who managed Sleep Number mattress and bedding stores for 10 years. That’s where she became familiar with temperature-regulating fabrics and materials.

“Women especially would always come up to me to tell me how amazing and life changing the fabric was for them,” she said. “I always thought that if they were getting such an amazing benefit from this technology all night long, why not get the same effects during the day from their undergarments? So that is how we initially got into the lingerie industry and built a team dedicated to infusing technology and smart design solutions into garments to help improve the lives of others.”

TempPro fabric illustrationShe and her sister, Marketing VP Elena Strouthopoulos, have been working on the brand for two years. The Kickstarter campaign met its modest target of raising $25,000 in just one day, putting the company on a path to complete the production run in Canada by April and ship the first orders in May.

I contacted Kris Strouthopoulos to learn more about the TempPro fabric, which the company says is used throughout the line. What type of phase change material is used? What is its melt point? How is it encapsulated? She politely declined to answer any questions of a technical nature, saying such information is proprietary. Fair enough. We'll leave that to your imagination.

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.

PCM briefing: New denim features phase change material; Sasol 'back on the expansion trail'

Ben Welter - Monday, February 06, 2017

• Thinking about attending BiobasedWorld 2017 in Cologne, Germany, this month? Sorry, the trade show was canceled a few months ago due to the industry's "challenging economic environment." A related show is on the horizon: Bio-Based Live Europe in Amsterdam, May 31-June 1. The focus will be on "Process Innovation and Technology" and "Sustainable Products." Speakers include Freek Snieders, managing director, Croda International; and Jean Luc Dubois, scientific director, Arkema.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory takes a look at how University of Michigan researchers used a Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer to study melting in two-dimensional systems. Deeper understanding of the process, Oak Ridge says, "could yield insights into surface interactions in materials important to technologies like solar panels, as well as into the mechanism behind three-dimensional melting." 

• The cold chain packaging class developed by Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Labs will be offered at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in San Diego in May. The all-day session on May 25 will cover the design, development and qualification of temperature-controlled packaging. The conference agenda is available for download.

Biznews.com reports that chemicals giant Sasol is "back on the expansion trail, seeking out suitable acquisitions."

• Among the new fabrics on display at the Munich Fabric Start trade show this week: Cordura denim combined with Schoeller phase change material. 

• The University of the West of England has installed two Monodraught Cool-Phase hybrid units in the university's Estates Management Office in Bristol. Monodraught says its PCM-equipped systems have been shown to "use up to 90% less energy than traditional a/c systems."  

• The 12th Conference on Advanced Building Skins, scheduled for Oct. 2-3 in Bern, Switzerland, has issued a call for papers. Possible topics include financial models, new products, advanced design and building performance. The deadline is Feb. 10. 

Pelican BioThermal has announced that its new passive pallet shipper system, CrÄ“do Cargo, is now available to rent or buy. The reusable bulk shipper uses phase change material cooling panels to maintain temperature ranges +2C to +8C and +15C to +25C.