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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: Sunamp, University of Glasgow partner on Chinese power plant project; Reaxys PhD Prize entries due March 13

Ben Welter - Monday, March 06, 2017

Sunamp Ltd. is teaming up with Glasgow University and partners in China to boost the performance of Organic Rankine Cycle power plants that use renewable heat sources for distributed heat and power supply in China. The joint project has been awarded 2 million pounds in funding from the China-UK Research and Innovation Bridges program. Sunamp's PCM heat batteries will be integrated with ORC plants to store heat energy for power generation when the sun doesn’t shine. 

• Submissions for the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize close on March 13. The international competition is open to Ph.D. students or recent graduates conducting innovative research in synthetic chemistry. Forty-five finalists will present their research at the Reaxys Prize Symposium in Shanghai in October. Three winners will be selected, with each earning a $2,000 award.

• In an interview with Energy Storage Report, Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins says his company is looking to tie up partnerships with solar installers in regions where net metering is being phased out.

• Global chemicals production started the first quarter on a strong note, according to the American Chemistry Council. The council’s Global Chemical Production Regional Index showed that that headline global production rose 0.6 percent in January after a similar gain in December.

• Packaging giant Sonoco has again made Fortune magazine's list of most-admired companies, ranking second in the packaging/containers category. 

Alexium International has appointed Dirk Van Hyning as CEO, effective June 30. He will replace Nicholas Clark, who remains on the board and assumes a new role as executive director strategy. Former U.S. congresswoman Karen Thurman has joined Alexium's board as a non-executive director.  

Carnegie Mellon researchers have developed a thermally conductive rubber material that they’ve nicknamed “thubber.” The new material, which can stretch more than six times its initial length, is an electrically insulating composite. Potential applications include soft robotics and athletic wear.

• New from Wise Guy Reports: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market Research Report 2017"

Patent application: Cables made of phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170045301 (applicant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"Disclosed is a cable comprising a core and a PCM layer surrounding the core wherein the PCM layer consists of a PCM composition wherein the PCM composition comprises a PCM and an ethylene copolymer; and the core consists of a yarn, strand, or wire each made of a natural or synthetic polymeric material or a metal. The invention is useful for thermal management in a variety of applications in such as, for example, automotive, building, packaging, garments, and footwear."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170045301.pdf

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.

PCM briefing: TES symposium in Lucerne; nanoscale heat transfer conference in Texas

Ben Welter - Friday, November 11, 2016

• The 4th Swiss Symposium Thermal Energy Storage will be held at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts on Jan. 20, 2017. The symposium, aimed at researchers and representatives from the industrial, energy and building technology sectors, will focus on "the potential and advancements of thermal energy storage in Switzerland and Europe." Contact Franziska Rosenberg, franziska.rosenberg@hslu.ch, for details.

• Researchers at New Mexico State University and the Florida Institute of Technology have developed a novel technology that improves heat transfer in thermal energy storage systems without compromising heat storage capacity. Dr. Sarada Kuravi, who is working to secure patent approval and licensees, talked about the technology in a recent video podcast.

• The "Micro and Nanoscale Phase Change Heat Transfer" research conference will be held in Galveston, Texas, Jan. 8-13. The conference will focus on understanding the fundamental mechanisms for heat transfer enhancement during phase change processes. Potential applications include electronics cooling, water desalination, energy harvesting/conversion and anti-icing processes. The application deadline is Dec. 11.

• The specialty logistics company World Courier has introduced a new passive pallet shipper designed to reduce transportation costs and maintain temperature up to 40 percent longer than comparable products. The Cocoon shipper is the first packaging innovation developed by Climate Optimisation Research & Engineering Labs, launched in 2015 to help pharma clients evaluate, validate and select the right climate-controlled packaging solutions for their needs.

PCM briefing: Papers sought for 4 cold chain conferences; Momentive introduces hybrid polymer modifiers

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Pharma Logistics IQ is inviting temperature controlled logistics experts to submit papers four upcoming conferences: Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe, Cold Chain-GDP & Temperature Management Latin America, Cold Chain Canada and Pharma Cold Chain and Temperature Management Summit China. Contact Pharma IQ editor Chanice Henry at chanice.henry@iqpc.co.uk.

• The CEGA congress for technical building equipment experts, hosted by Recknagel and VDI, will be held Nov. 29-30 in Baden-Baden, Germany. Dr. Bernd Boiting of the University of Münster will give a lecture about thermal energy storage using phase change material. More than 50 lectures on topics such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and building automation will be presented at the conference, which will be conducted in German.

Momentive Performance Materials has introduced ceramic powders designed to improve the thermal conductivity of plastics. The company, based in Waterford, N.Y., says its CoolFX hybrid polymer modifiers can be more cost-effective than traditional boron nitride fillers.

• In a piece in Apparel magazine, Alexium International CEO Nicholas Clark weighs in on "What Flame Retardant Apparel Manufacturers Need to Know About the Lautenberg Act."

• The European Commission has launched a major review of REACH, the European Union’s main chemical safety law, publishing a 43-page questionnaire and asking for public feedback on its strengths and weaknesses.

• In an interview in Minnesota Business, Pelican BioThermal's Adam Tetz talks about the expansion of the company's manufacturing capacity in Plymouth. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Paraffin Compounds Sales Market Report 2016"

A CALMAC thermal energy storage system is being installed at Pueblo's historic county courthouse in Colorado. The system creates and stores ice at night and then uses it to cool buildings during the day.

ETH Zurich is looking for a licensing or collaboration partner to work on a high-temperature thermal energy storage system that provides active control of the heat-transfer fluid outflow temperature. Possible applications include concentrated solar power plants and advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage.

• Imagine this: Your technology on display at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit early next year. The Technology Showcase is an opportunity to get your innovative energy technology in front of investors and researchers ready to collaborate. There is no fee to apply; the application deadline is Dec. 16.

ARPA-E will hold a workshop on “Lower Grade Waste Heat Recovery” Dec. 13-14 in the San Francisco area. The workshop will convene experts in waste heat recovery, materials development and novel solid-state materials to identify innovative research paths for the development of lower grade (below 400° C) waste heat recovery systems.

ARPA-E will hold a workshop on “Fuel Cell and Heat Engine Hybrid CHP Systems” on Jan. 26-27, 2017, in the Washington, D.C. area. The workshop will convene experts in fuel cells, heat engines, materials and advanced manufacturing technologies to identify related technological solutions that would help to enable the introduction of highly efficient yet cost-effective commercial-scale combined heat and power systems.

Patent application: Thermostatic materials, methods of making, and uses thereof

Ben Welter - Monday, October 24, 2016

Empire Technology Development LLC patent application drawingU.S. patent application 20160304761 (applicant Empire Technology Development LLC, Wilmington, Del.):

"Thermostatic materials and methods for making and using the materials are disclosed. The thermostatic materials have phase change materials (PCMs) incorporated into a composite with thermoreversible gels (TRGs) that undergo gelation prior to the melt temperature of the PCMs so that at temperatures at which the PCMs become liquid, the liquid PCM is retained by the gel, and at temperatures at which the gel becomes liquid, the liquid form of the gel is retained by a solid form of the PCM."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160304761.pdf

Patent application: Food additive, food packaging additives and uses thereof

Ben Welter - Monday, September 12, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160255872 (applicant Empire Technology Development LLC, Wilmington, Del.)

"A food item comprising a food additive, wherein the food additive comprises two or more phase change materials selected from a gallic acid ester, a tannic acid ester, a fulvic acid ester, a hemicellulose derived ester, or any combination thereof, wherein at least one hydroxyl group and at least one carboxyl group of a gallic acid, tannic acid, fulvic acid, hemicellulose, or any combination thereof, is esterified."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160255872.pdf

Sonoco ThermoSafe launches certification program for cold chain packaging pros

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 04, 2016

Sonoco ThermoSafe has launched the industry’s first academic offering to train and certify cold chain packaging professionals. The certification program was developed by Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Labs in partnership with the Packaging School; Dr. R. Andrew Hurley, assistant professor of packaging science at Clemson University; and an advisory panel of industry experts.

Cold Chain training illustrationTwo levels of certification courses are available:

• The Fundamentals Course ($295), accessible now, is a self-paced online course that takes a systematic approach to developing a basic understanding of temperature-assurance packaging. 

• The Professional Course ($999; bio-pharma manufacturers get a $100 discount) is a one-day session conducted by university professors, lab engineers and industry experts. The live course provides hands-on instruction and interactive activities. It will make its debut Sept. 26 at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in Boston.

“The TAP program shares decades worth of ISCLabs’ collective knowledge and expertise in design, development and qualification of temperature controlled packaging,” said Vishal Khushalani, director of global marketing and business development at Sonoco ThermoSafe. “The course goes further to cover topics including temperature monitoring, global regulations and distribution considerations of temperature sensitive products."

http://www.thermosafe.com/TAPCertification

Patent application: Temperature controlled product shipper

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 09, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160161171 (applicant Packaging Technology Group Inc., Fall River, Mass):

Shipper with PCM bladder patent drawing"A temperature controlled product shipper includes a phase change material bladder which can be filled at the point of packaging. The shipper includes an internal product box and an outer box where the product box is received within the outer box. The phase change material bladder is received within a cavity defined between the outer surface of the product box and the inner surface of the outer box. The shipper may also include an insulated liner which is received between the product box and the bladder."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160161171.pdf

RGEES launches Akuratemp specimen transporter in four temperature ranges

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

RGEES Akuratemp PCM packsRGEES introduced a new line of temperature-controlled specimen transporters this week at CleanMed 2016 in Dallas.

The Akuratemp line is available in frozen (below -20° C), chilled (2-8° C), room temperature (15°C to 25°C) and incubating (37° C) temperature ranges. The ranges cover applications in clinical trials, diagnostic specimens, direct-to-patient and direct-to-lab deliveries. The transporter consists of an insulated carton, two color-coded packs containing phase change material, shown here, an optional real-time data logger and an outer sleeve.

The company, based in Arden, N.C., says the "environmentally friendly" shippers will maintain temperatures for up to 72 hours, use non-petroleum phase-change technology and have reuseable components.

http://rgees.com/products_specimen-transporter.php