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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: 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. 

PCM briefing: Long-haul cyclists reach Myanmar; papers sought for symposium on waste heat

Ben Welter - Friday, January 27, 2017

Riccardo Rocchi and Chiara RicciardiRiccardo Rocchi and Chiara Ricciardi,  the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes, have reached Myanmar. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and needs a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair topped the 10,000-kilometer mark this week. They've pedaled across 16 countries, averaging 44 km per day. "We just realized that maybe we forgot to make a postcard from Nepal," the pair said in a Facebook post from Myanmar. "We might consider to cycle back to do it." Their final destination is Singapore.

• Organizers of a one-day symposium at Brunei University on the efficient use of waste heat have issued a call for abstracts. The symposium, "Heat Recovery and Efficient Conversion and Utilisation of Waste Heat," will be held April 20, 2017. Abstracts must be submitted by Jan. 31.

Pelican BioThermal has completed a $1.65 million expansion of the manufacturing facilities at its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minn. The company now has 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Minneapolis suburb, up from 54,000 square feet. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

Weise's Outlast Houston motorcycle jacket• New from Weise Motorcycle Clothing: The Outlast Houston, a fully armored waterproof jacket with a removable lining that features Outlast phase change material to regulate temperature. 

Serta is touting “breakthrough cooling technology” in the new version of its iComfort memory foam mattresses. Phase change material is embedded in the fabric and on the surface of the gel memory foam.

• The United Kingdom plans to spend £28 million ($35 million) on reducing the cost of energy storage, advancing demand side response technologies and improving energy efficiency measures for industry. Up to one-third of the money will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including thermal storage.

• The EU-funded Heat4Cool research project is developing a novel retrofit planning tool to help retrofit companies, architects, manufacturers, building administrators and residents weigh the potential benefits of three main technologies: gas and solar thermally driven adsorption heat pumps; PV-assisted DC-powered heat pumps connected to advanced modular PCM heat and cold storage systems; and energy recovery from sewage water with high performance heat exchangers. You are invited to help in this effort by completing a five-minute survey online.

• A Florida startup is calling its PCM-infused TempPro fabric “a gamechanger for luxury lingerie.” Giapenta, which launched a Kickstarter campaign this week, uses the temperature-regulating fabric in its line of bras, panties and sleep masks. The campaign has already met its modest target of raising $25,000. I've contacted the company and hope to have technical details on TempPro in time for next week's newsletter..

PCM briefing: Axiom Exergy's fast pitch; Peli BioThermal's new bulk freight shipper

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

• Six energy storage startups made speed pitches at last month's Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Greentech Media takes a look at three of the pitches, including one made by Axiom Exergy co-founder Amrit Robbins. Axiom's PCM-powered "refrigeration battery" is designed to cut energy costs at supermarkets. "They are scrambling to reduce costs by just a few basis points -- and energy is a huge opportunity," Robbins said. "Saving $30,000 on a utility bill is the same as selling an additional $1.5 million of groceries."   

Peli BioThermal has introduced its new CoolPall Vertos Advance, a single-use, passive bulk freight shipper that incorporates phase change materials and vacuum insulation panels. 

• Scientists in the United Kingdom are developing a way to turn pinene, a paper industry waste product, into plastic. "We're not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful," Helena Quilter, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bath's Center for Sustainable Chemical Technologies.

• Researchers at MIT have created three-dimensional samples of graphene that are up to 10 times stronger than steel, with just 5 percent of the density.

Sonoco ThermoSafe will offer its daylong master class on temperature assurance packaging on Feb. 2 at the Temperature Controlled Logistics conference in London. Sonoco, Peli BioThermal, CrodaTherm, Pluss Advanced Technologies, Ecocool and Cryopack will be among the exhibitors at the conference.

•  Symbol Mattress will launch its new climate-controlled SleepFresh line at the Las Vegas Market later this month. The mattresses use various combinations of gel foams, gel memory foams, phase-change gel latex and ventilated foams, along with the addition of graphite-infused foams. A climate control system in the foundation has the capacity to heat, ventilate and cool.

Lexo tumbler uses material developed by University of Missouri professor

Ben Welter - Monday, January 09, 2017

Lexo PCM tumblerThe heat transfer experts at ThermAvant Technologies, founded in 2007 by two University of Missouri engineering professors, have developed a wide range of oscillating heat pipes, liquid cold plates and other thermal management solutions. Now the Columbia, Mo., company has introduced a stainless steel tumbler that uses biobased phase change material to keep hot beverages at the optimal temperature.

The Lexo tumbler features three layers of 18/8 stainless steel and a BPA-free plastic lid. The 10-ounce version is selling for $37.95; a 16-ounce version will sell for $39.95. By comparison, Joeveo's 16-ounce Temperfect mug, available for preorder on Indiegogo, sells for $40. Ember Technologies' new Wi-Fi enabled temperature-adjustable mug, which employs PCM and a battery-powered heating system, sells for $149.95. 

All three mugs use PCM to absorb the initial heat of coffee or tea and bring it to the optimal drinking temperature.

“Our mug takes about two minutes to cool to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the optimal drinking temperature, and it stays there for up to eight hours,” said Dr. Bill Ma, the C.W. LaPierre Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the University of Missouri's College of Engineering.

http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2017/0105-new-coffee-mug-holds-liquids-at-optimal-temps-for-8-hours-leads-to-patent-for-mu-engineer/

PCM briefing: First Ice Cub installed in California; hot asphalt demand response system wins UK award

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins reports that the first Ice Cub has been installed at a home in Santa Ynez, Calif. The unit makes ice during off-peak hours and stores it in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the stored ice delivers three to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. "This powerful system," writes Hopkins, "replaces the traditional outdoor AC condensing unit and the conventional gas/propane furnace, provides 14 kW of the lowest cost most reliable energy storage available for a home, and if you have solar PV, can make ice using 100% solar power."

Open Energi's effort to tap the "thermal inertia" of hot asphalt has been honored by the UK Association for Decentralised Energy. The London-based startup installed a demand response system at 70 Tarmac plants in the United Kingdom this year, using 200-some asphalt tanks as fast-acting batteries for the electric grid. The tanks stay close to the optimum 150° Celsius for long periods without electricity. 

• In an interview with EPMPelican BioThermal's Kevin Lawler talks about simplification, reusable packaging, tighter temperature restrictions and other trends in the temperature-controlled packaging industry.

BOCA International Ltd. has signed a project development agreement with Nano and Advanced Materials Institute Ltd. in Hong Kong. The parties plan to work together to develop a new microencapsulated phase change material for thermal energy storage in chiller plants.

Ember temperature-control mug finally hits the market

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ember Technologies, which raised more than $360,000 on IndieGoGo last year, has finally released its flagship product, the temperature-controlled Ember mug.

The $149 mug is being delivered to nearly 2,000 IndieGoGo backers and is available for purchase at dozens of Starbucks outlets in the United States. The mug quickly sold out at starbucks.com (it's back in stock today) and is on backorder on embertech.com, with delivery promised in January.

"The release of the Ember mug is seven years in the making. I started Ember to solve a simple yet universal challenge faced by coffee and tea drinkers everywhere — how can I keep my hot beverage at the ideal temperature for as long as I want," Ember Technologies founder and CEO Clay Alexander said in a news release.

Cutaway of Ember mugThe Ember mug uses phase change material and a microprocessor-controlled heating system to maintain hot beverages at temperatures set by the user.

Hot beverages are usually served around 160° Fahrenheit — far too hot to drink. Which means coffee drinkers must typically wait for their java to cool to drinkable temperature, commonly 135°. That's where Ember's phase change cooling technology makes a big difference. The PCM in Ember's lining absorbs the excess heat to rapidly cool the drink and then works in concert with a battery-powered heating element to keep the drink hot.

The Ember mug can maintain a temperature for about two hours on the go or indefinitely when on its slim charging coaster. A twist of the base adjusts the temperature. A mobile app allows users to set and select temperature profiles for coffee, tea or other beverages.

A few early reviews:

• "Beautiful packaging and works flawlessly. I also put in cold water and had it heat to 133. Very cool. Should have ordered an extra coaster." — Christopher Hall, IndieGoGo backer

• "Wish I had another charger and vehicle charger. Two hours is not very long, especially for a second cup of coffee once in town or for the drive back home after shopping day is done. Another wish is that the cup made notification sounds or at least flash 'ready,' Different colors in the display would be great too. Lovin' the temp stays hot!" — Heather Baker, IndieGoGo backer

• "Ember keeps my coffee and tea at the perfect temperature for hours on end. I don't scald my mouth anymore or have to put my drink in the microwave when it's too cold. It's perfect for traveling, everyday use, and going on cold walks when all you want is a warm drink. I highly recommend and a few of my friends already have one for the holidays." — Tayto, Los Angeles, Calif., on starbucks.com

• "Want it hotter or colder? Adjust the temp on the mug or in the app. Works amazing and holds temp for hours. Can't wait to see what else comes out of Ember!" — Eric, Carlsbad, Calif., on starbucks.com