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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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Research roundup: PCM-assisted night purge ventilation; dispersed metallic nanoparticles; crystallohydrates; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nanoencapsulated crystallohydrate mixtures for advanced thermal energy storage [Journal of Materials Chemistry A]

Hexadecane-in-water emulsions as thermal-energy storage and heat transfer fluids: Connections between phase-transition temperature and period of hexadecane droplets dispersed in hexadecane-in-water emulsions and characteristics of surfactants [Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects]

Evaluating the Performance of American Change Phase Paraffin Cooling Vest and Iranian Spadana Gel Ice Cooling Vest on the Perceptual and Physiological Strain Score Index in Hot and Humid Working Conditions of Assaluyeh in Iran [International Journal of Occupational Hygiene]

Development of thermal enhanced n-octadecane/porous nano carbon-based materials using 3-step filtered vacuum impregnation method [Thermochimica Acta]

The impact of phase change materials assisted night purge ventilation on the indoor thermal conditions of office buildings in hot-arid climates [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal energy harvest in the discharge of CO2 semi-clathrate hydrate in an emulated cold storage system [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Melting dynamics of a phase change material (PCM) with dispersed metallic nanoparticles using transport coefficients from empirical and mean field models [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Comparative assessment of thermal comfort with insulation and phase change materials utilizations in building roofs and walls [pdf] [Advanced Materials Proceedings]

Fabrication and properties of graphene oxide-grafted-poly(hexadecyl acrylate) as a solid-solid phase change material [Composites Science and Technology]

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.”

Patent application: Compressed gas energy storage and harvesting system

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170160019 (applicant IFP Energies Nouvelles, France ):

"The present invention relates to an AACAES system and method in which balls make it possible to store heat. The heat exchanges are produced by means of at least one radial heat exchanger, in which the balls and a first fluid circulate, the first fluid passing radially through means for circulating the balls. ... [Said] heat storage balls are produced in alumina, in metal or by micro or nano capsules of phase change material, such as paraffins, metals or salts. "

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170160019.pdf

PCM-enhanced table selected for French accelerator program

Ben Welter - Friday, June 09, 2017

Table ClimatiqueA table designed to reduce energy costs by absorbing heat when indoor temperatures rise above a comfortable level is among 25 innovations chosen for FAIRE Paris, an accelerator program supporting "innovative urban design and architecture projects" in France. 

"Table Climatique," designed by Jean-Sébastien Lagrange and Raphaël Ménard, contains microencapsulated Micronal phase change material within triangular folds of lightweight anodized aluminum. The PCM has a melting point of 22º Celsius. It releases heat when temperatures fall below a comfortable level.

"The waved geometry of the conductive aluminum fosters thermal exchanges between the room and the PCMs located inside the Climatic Table," according to the creators' website. "The folds of the light-weight sheet of aluminum give also an excellent structural rigidity and carrying strength. Thus, the plateau might have a very large span."

Ménard and Lagrange hope to develop a line of "zero energy furniture" products based on the table.  

http://www.faireparis.com/en/

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

Research roundup: Shape-stabilized PCM in epoxy matrix; myristyl alcohol/metal foam for solar thermal storage; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 01, 2017

Illustration of shape-stabilized PCM in epoxy matrix

Novel shape stabilized phase change material based on epoxy matrix with ultrahigh cycle life for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thermal and electrical performance of a PV module integrated with double layers of water-saturated MEPCM [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Investigation on thermal and mechanical characteristics of concrete mixed with shape stabilized phase change material for mix design [Construction and Building Materials]

Thermal properties and thermal conductivity enhancement of composite phase change materials using myristyl alcohol/metal foam for solar thermal storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Experimental and Numerical Study on Energy Performance of Buildings Integrated with Phase Change Materials [Energy Procedia]

Evaluation on Performance of a Phase Change Material Based Cold Storage House [Energy Procedia]

Using Phase Change Materials to Reduce Overheating Issues in UK Residential Buildings [Energy Procedia]

Effect of Supercooling on the Solidification Process of the Phase Change Material [Energy Procedia]

Experimental Investigation of a Spiral Tube Embedded Latent Thermal Energy Storage Tank Using Paraffin as PCM [Energy Procedia]

Investigation of specific heat and latent heat enhancement in hydrate salt based TiO2 nanofluid phase change material [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Modeling and investigation of high temperature phase change materials (PCM) in different storage tank configurations [Journal of Cleaner Production]

Lauric acid/modified sepiolite composite as a form-stable phase change material for thermal energy storage [Applied Clay Science]

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.

BASF sells Micronal PCM line to Microtek Labs

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Microtek Laboratories of Dayton, Ohio, today announced it has signed a contract to purchase BASF's Micronal line of microencapsulated phase change material. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Micronal logoThe Micronal line, introduced in 2004, includes six paraffin-based PCMs offered in liquid and powder form, with melt points ranging from 21° C to 26° C. Microencapsulated PCMs are used for thermal regulation in building and construction products, mattresses, textiles and packaging applications. Micronal is key component of building products such as Knauf wallboard and National Gypsum's ThermalCORE panels. 

Manufacturing of Micronal products will be transitioned to Microtek’s Dayton production facility by the end of the year. Microtek has taken ownership of all Micronal inventory and will begin working with Micronal customers on May 23.

“This is great addition to Microtek’s product line, creating a real advantage for customers who already have a defined manufacturing/coating process requiring a specific type of phase change product in their formulation,” said Randall Lane, Microtek’s chief strategy officer. “Microtek’s mission has always been to provide innovative solutions to enhance product performance for our customers. Adding Micronal to the product line allows Microtek to remain the world leader in microencapsulated PCM products.”

BASF, based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, said the sale will allow its dispersions and pigments division to focus on its core business, "dispersions and additives in the field of raw materials used in construction chemicals." BASF said the sale does not include Ludwigshafen production assets or employees.

Microtek, founded in 1985, is a privately held company focused on phase change material and microencapsulation services. It introduced its Nextek line of PCM capsules in 2016.

https://www.basf.com/en/company/news-and-media/news-releases/2017/05/p-17-225.html

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170517005136/en/Microtek-Laboratories-Announces-Acquisition-Micronal-Product-Line

Research roundup: Expanded graphite/adipic acid composite PCMs; nanomagnetite enhanced paraffin; more

Ben Welter - Friday, April 28, 2017

From Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry:

Preparation and thermal cycling of expanded graphite/adipic acid composite phase change materials

From RSC Advances:

Phase change materials of fatty amine-modified silicate clays of nano layered structures
Myristic acid-hybridized diatomite composite as a shape-stabilized phase change material for thermal energy storage

From 4th Sustainable Thermal Energy Management International Conference:

Domestic thermal storage requirements for heat demand flexibility

From Smart Materials and Nondestructive Evaluation for Energy Systems:

Novel dynamic thermal characterization of multifunctional concretes with microencapsulated phase change materials

From Digest Journal of Nanomaterials and Biostructures:

Nanomagnetite Enhanced Paraffin for Thermal Energy Storage Applications [pdf]

From Energy Procedia:

Solar Thermal Energy with Molten-salt Storage for Residential Heating Application

From Solar Energy:

Performance study and analysis of an inclined concentrated photovoltaic-phase change material system

From Energy:

Preparation, thermal properties and thermal reliability of a novel mid-temperature composite phase change material for energy conservation

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Investigation on the thermal performance of a high-temperature latent heat storage system

From Cement and Concrete Composites:

Numerical simulations to quantify the influence of Phase Change Materials (PCMs) on the early- and later-age thermal response of concrete pavements

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Performance study on air-cooled household refrigerator with cold storage phase change materials

From Energy and Buildings:

Novel thermosetting phase change materials with polycarbonatediol based curing agent as supporting skeleton for thermal energy storage 

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Improving thermal response of lightweight timber building envelopes during cooling season in three European locations 

Research roundup: Solar PCM storage wall system; novel caprylic acid/nonanoic acid mix; double glazing units; more

Ben Welter - Monday, April 17, 2017

Experimental study of a modified solar phase change material storage wall system [Energy]

A novel binary mixture of caprylic acid/nonanoic acid as latent heat storage for air conditioning and cooling [Energy and Buildings]

A General Method for Retrieving Thermal Deformation Properties of Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials or Other Particulate Inclusions in Cementitious Composites [Materials and Design]

Effect of PCM thickness and melting temperature on thermal performance of double glazing units [Journal of Building Engineering]