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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.

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PCM briefing: AI tool could transform chemistry; Peli BioThermal opens Tokyo service center

Ben Welter - Monday, April 09, 2018

An artificial-intelligence tool that has digested nearly every chemical reaction ever performed could transform the chemistry world, reports Nature. The tool, developed at the University of Münster in Germany, uses "deep-learning neural networks to imbibe essentially all known single-step organic-chemistry reactions — about 12.4 million of them. This enables it to predict the chemical reactions that can be used in any single step."

Pelican BioThermal plans to open a service center in Tokyo next month to service its reusable Credo Cube temperature-control shippers, including refurbishment and repair. The center will also serve as a network station for the company’s Credo on Demand rental program.

• Pelican BioThermal as an opening for "Business Development Manager UK or Netherlands EMEA."  

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the company's first Leading Minds Seminar, to be held June 6-7 in Blue Bell, Pa. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

Va-Q-tec AG of Germany reports that it has received a European patent for passive pallet-size containers with vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. The European Patent 2876389 B1, which covers the company's va-Q-tainer product series, is valid in Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. "Imitators and competitors will now have to survive without some important thermal and mechanical functions," said Dr. Joachim Kuhn, the company's CEO. “The competition seems to be interested in the now legally protected technology and the highly energy efficient containers which are produced from it. We detected that competitors are offering patent infringing products. Obviously, we will take further steps to defend our technology."

• China's list of more than 100 U.S. products under threat of tariffs targets the U.S. chemicals and plastics sectors at a time when parts of the industry are investing heavily in new production, CNBC reports. Plastics, petrochemicals, petroleum products and specialty chemicals comprise about 40 percent of the targeted goods.

• New from 360 Market Updates: "Asia Pacific Advanced Phase Change Material Market Analysis 2012-2017 and Forecast 2018-2023"

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has been named a Top 10 Energy Storage System Provider by Energy CIO Insights. Viking's PCM-based system is designed to reduce energy consumption in cold storage facilities by 20 to 35 percent.  

Amrit Robbins, CEO and founder of Axiom Exergy, will take part in a panel discussion, "Hot, Cold, and Shocking: What Leading Storage Options Can And Cannot Do," at the 37th Peak Load Management Alliance Conference in Coronado, Calif., April 16-18. 

So, which PCM product idea was phony?

Ben Welter - Monday, January 08, 2018

In 2017's final issue of Phase Change Matters, we challenged readers to identify which of these PCM product ideas was phony: an edible additive for chocolate, a feminine pad with cooling properties, a cooling pad for chickens, a thermally responsive bra and a temperature-controlled shipping container for mosquito eggs. 

It was a trick question: All five product ideas were serious inquiries submitted to Entropy Solutions in the past year. Thanks to Holger Böhme, Shaun Mann and Kosheela Poo Palam for submitting answers - and for subscribing to our newsletter. Each will receive a PureTemp temperature-control coffee tumbler.

Which PCM product idea is phony? Answer correctly for a chance to win a PureTemp mug

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 02, 2018

PureTemp tumbler Entropy Solutions receives a dozen or so inquiries each week, most of them serious questions about PCM products, pricing and suitability for various applications. But some inquiries stretch the bounds of believability. Can you identify which of the product ideas below is fake? 

Send your answer to bwelter@puretemp.com. Five winners will be randomly selected from correct entries received by Jan. 4. The prize: a prototype coffee tumbler developed by Entropy Solutions several years ago, a product idea that was totally legit.

NOTE: You must be a Phase Change Matters subscriber to submit an entry. Representatives of organizations attending the first meeting of the PCM Industry Association of North America in October know the answer and are not eligible for this contest. Good luck to all the contestants!

Chocolate1. Mmm chocolate

We are exploring new ingredient technologies to produce a chocolate product that will release heat when it is consumed. Standard chocolate produces a minor cooling effect when it's melting in the mouth – the main fat is cocoa butter. The idea is to develop a new filling fat/oil that will release heat when consumed.

2. Premium padsWonder Woman

I represent a consumer goods company that is seeking materials that could help the feminine pad feel ‘cool’ in order to increase the comfort of use, especially when female is engaging in activities such as boxing, distance running and other extreme athletic challenges.

Chickens3. Chicken helper

I am hoping phase change materials could help solve a problem I have. First, I am completely serious. Second, here is the problem: I live in Texas and have 10 back yard laying hens. It is hot. Chickens start to go into heat stress at 85 degrees. Is it possible to enclose PCMs into a sort of pad for my chickens to rest near during the day?

Golden Girls4. Hot flashes

I am interested in using your product for a product I am developing for my design thesis. I am trying to make a responsive bra that senses a hot flash, and responds by turning on peltiers and "conducting" the cold through some sort of gel medium to the skin. Are any of your products the right thing for this?

Mosquito eggs5. Mosquito eggs

I'm wanting to ship mosquito eggs and need the parcel to stay dry, and within a prescribed temperature range of 10-35 degrees for up to three days. Would you be able to recommend a particular product of yours which could meet these requirements?

Research roundup: Cold chain insulated container; convective heat transfer; new form-stable composite; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Improving Performance of Cold-Chain Insulated Container with Phase Change Material: An Experimental Investigation [Applied Sciences]

Energy Storage in a Complex Heat Storage Unit Using Commercial Grade Phase Change Materials: Effect of Convective Heat Transfer Boundary Conditions [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Porosity and density measurements of sodium acetate trihydrate for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Melting and solidification behaviour of phase change materials with cyclic heating and cooling [Journal of Energy Storage]

Thermal performance enhancement of composite phase change materials (PCM) using graphene and carbon nanotubes as additives for the potential application in lithium-ion power battery [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

A novel form-stable phase change composite with excellent thermal and electrical conductivities [Chemical Engineering Journal]

Influence of PCM design parameters on thermal and optical performance of multi-layer glazed roof [Applied Energy]

A Novel Phase Change Based Cooling System for Prismatic Lithium Ion Batteries [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Facile method of fabricating microencapsulated phase change materials with compact bonding polymer–silica hybrid shell using TEOS/MPS [Thermochimica Acta]

Patent application: Thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 9828165 (applicant Sonoco Development Inc., Hartsville, S.C.):

"A thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper for a temperature sensitive payload is provided. The shipper comprises an outer shell, an inner shell and vacuum insulated panels sandwiched therebetween. The outer shell and the inner shell may be unitary rigid structures made of an expanded foam material and comprising a bottom having a perimeter and sides extending from the bottom perimeter and terminating in a rim. The inner shell rim may be spaced from the outer shell rim to define a gap, the gap being sealed to create an enclosed space within which the vacuum insulated panels are located. Each vacuum insulated panel may be oriented substantially orthogonally to at least one adjacent vacuum insulated panel and have an edge that abuts the adjacent vacuum insulated panels."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/9828165.pdf

PCM briefing: Active vs. passive shipping solutions; registration open for Energy Innovation Summit

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

• Registration is open for "Active vs. Passive Solutions: Which one is for me?" the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Ben Vanderplas, global product manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and David Bang, CEO of DHL LifeConEx, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Dec. 12.

Brooklyn Bedding's new Aurora mattress collection features TitanCool technology, "a phase change surface infusion" with "high conductivity properties."

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Thermal Management Technologies Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2027"

The UV-activated thermal energy storage material shows the rapid crystallization and heat discharge upon visible light (blue LED) illumination. (Grossman Group at MIT)MIT researchers have combined conventional phase change material with an organic compound that responds to a pulse of light. "The new system," MIT News reports, "uses molecular switches that change shape in response to light; when integrated into the PCM, the phase-change temperature of the hybrid material can be adjusted with light, allowing the thermal energy of the phase change to be maintained even well below the melting point of the original material." The system could be used in a thermal battery to store heat from the sun or any other source and release the heat when needed.

• Registration for the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is open. The event, to be held March 13-15 at the Gaylord Convention Center, outside Washington, D.C., showcases emerging energy technologies. No agenda yet.

• Researchers at the University of Maryland College Park have developed a method of fabricating fibers with boron nitride and polyvinyl alcohol using 3D print technologies which allows heat to be transferred away from the body.  Clothes made with the nanocomposite thread could help keep wearers cool in hot conditions.

Stanford University researchers have developed a reversible fabric that keeps skin a comfortable temperature whatever the weather. "On one side," Stanford News reports, "a copper coating traps heat between a polyethylene layer and the skin; on the other, a carbon coating releases heat under another layer of polyethylene." The fabric can either warm or cool the wearer, depending which side faces out.

PCM briefing: Registration open for PCM 2018 in Quebec; MIT finds new way to mix oil, water

Ben Welter - Friday, November 10, 2017

• Registration is open for PCM 2018, the 12th IIR Conference on Phase Change Materials and Slurries for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. The conference will be held May 21-23, 2018, in Orford, Québec. Topics will include thermal energy storage; thermophysical and rheological properties of PCMs and slurries; and transport phenomena and time-dependent behavior of PCMs and slurries.

MIT researchers have developed a new way to mix oil and water and create an emulsion that remains stable for long periods — no shaking required.

• Registration is open for "Towards a Sustainable Solution to Melt Snow and Ice on Concrete Pavement: Use of Phase Change Materials, a presentation by Dr. Yaghoob Farnam, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. Farnam will discuss his research on the use of PCM-enhanced concrete to inhibit the buildup of snow and ice on pavement. The program will be held Nov. 30 in King of Prussia, Penn.

• "Innovative Thoughts" blogger Harvey Wade visited the 3M Customer Innovation Centre in Bracknell, U.K., last month to find out how the big company sustains its innovative edge. Lesson No. 1: 3M listens to its customers. "They don’t guess what the customer needs," Wade writes, "they invest their time to know their needs, discovering the big problems that they can try to solve." 

BMW PCM Ride jacketBMW's 2018 Motorrad collection includes the latest version of the PCM Ride jacket, featuring microencapsulated phase change material that "adapts permanently and smartly to the current temperature."

Peli BioThermal has opened a service center in Brussels, Belgium, to handle its Credo line of reusable temperature-controlled packaging. 

Ember Technologies' newest temperature-control product, a $79 ceramic mug with an active heating system, contains no phase change material. The company's first product, a PCM-lined travel tumbler, sells for $150.

Grace Hsia, founder and CEO of Warmilu, a Michigan startup that makes an infant warming blanket, talks about the stresses and rewards of building a company from scratch. "I find my body will sometimes crash," Hsia told Crain's Detroit Business, explaining how 90-hour workweeks have led to bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis. "I've been trying to get more sleep, which is tough."

The preliminary program has been released for the fifth Building Enclosure Science & Technology conference, known as BEST5. It will take place April 15-18 in Philadelphia. 

• The American Chemical Society has won its lawsuit against Sci-Hub, a widely used pirate site for scientific papers that was established in 2011 by former neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan.

• New from Intellectual Research Partners: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems Market By Technology (Molten salt, Phase change materials, Water based, Electric thermal and Solar) End User Application (Air Conditioning, Cold Storage, Power Storage, Process Cooling) Region (North America, Europe, APAC) Forecast To 2023"

Research roundup: Silk hydrogel as packaging material; interfacial polymerization; ecodesign of cladding system with PCM; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Silk hydrogel illustration

Temperature buffering capacity of silk hydrogel: A useful packaging material [Materials Letters]

Preparation and Characterization of Cross-linked Polyurethane Shell Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials by Interfacial Polymerization [Materials Letters]

Environmental and spatial assessment for the ecodesign of a cladding system with embedded Phase Change Materials [Energy and Buildings]

Novel shapeable phase change material (PCM) composites for thermal energy storage (TES) applications [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Novel approaches and recent developments on potential applications of phase change materials in solar energy [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Study of thermal conductive enhancement mechanism and selection criteria of carbon-additive for composite phase change materials [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Natural aging of shape stabilized phase change materials based on paraffin wax [Polymer Testing]

Multiphase transport phenomena in composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage [13th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics]

Numerical investigation of cylindrical and spherical encapsulated thermal energy storage system with phase change materials [Transylvania Review]

Temperature Dependence of the Enthalpy of Alkanes and Related Phase Change Materials [Enthalpy and Internal Energy: Liquids, Solutions and Vapours]

Heat transfer enhancement of phase change materials by fins under simultaneous charging and discharging [Energy Conversion and Management]

Free webinars on PCMs and temperature-assured packaging

Ben Welter - Monday, August 21, 2017

More than 200 people have registered for a series of Sonoco ThermoSafe webinars aimed at customers in the temperature-assurance packaging sector. The first, "Phase Change Materials: What are they, and how can they change your business?" will be held Tuesday, Aug. 22. Registration is also open for "Insulation Materials," "Ambient Temperature Profiles," "2-8° C Solutions," "Active vs. Passive Solutions" and "Single-Use vs. Reusable Packaging." 

http://www.thermosafe.com/tapwebinars

PCM briefing: A baby manikin that sweats; a salt and antifreeze TES system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

Alphabet Inc.'s secretive development lab is developing a system for storing renewable energy in tanks filled with salt and antifreeze. "The system takes in energy in the form of electricity and turns it into separate streams of hot and cold air," Bloomberg reports. "The hot air heats up the salt, while the cold air cools the antifreeze, a bit like a refrigerator. ... Flip a switch and the process reverses. Hot and cold air rush toward each other, creating powerful gusts that spin a turbine and spit out electricity when the grid needs it. Salt maintains its temperature well, so the system can store energy for many hours, and even days, depending on how much you insulate the tanks."

Thermetrics baby manikinThermetrics LLC has introduced an 11-zone thermal baby manikin that features a thermally conductive carbon-epoxy shell, a “sweating skin system” and internal heater elements and temperature sensors. Nicknamed “Ruth,” the manikin can be used to evaluate the thermal properties of clothing, diapers, bedding, car seats and strollers.

Axiom Exergy and Ice Energy are on a list of 25 companies notable for developing innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption in commercial and industrial buildings.  

Croda International has announced the acquisition of Enza Biotech AB, a research enterprise established as a spin-out company from Lund University in Sweden.

AkzoNobel has announced the winners of its 2017 Imagine Chemistry initiative, recognizing and supporting efforts to help solve real-life chemistry-related challenges and to uncover sustainable opportunities for the company’s specialty chemicals business. Among the winners is Industrial Microbes of Emeryville, Calif., for its work on the biocatalysis of ethylene to ethylene oxide.

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins and Magnum CAES CEO Richard Walje will be among the speakers at the Energy Storage North America conference in San Diego next week. 

ONE Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., has selected Acme Aerospace to provide lithium ion battery systems to be used in ONE’s “Project Canada” aircraft. The Acme system features a proprietary phase change material to improve battery performance.

Reuters reports that Dow Chemical and DuPont are seeing increased benefits in developing sustainable "green" products, as the chemical giants seek new areas of growth and build a stronger connection with millennials.

TemperPack, a Virginia-based manufacturer of sustainable packaging for perishable goods, has raised $10 million in an investment round that will help it further expand operations and add jobs.

Digital strategies “will have a significant impact on many areas of the chemical industry, with the potential to change value chains, lead to higher productivity and more innovation, and create new channels to market,” according to a McKinsey & Co. analysis.

• The Bioencapsulation Research Group has posted the program for the 3rd Latin-America Symposium on Microencapsulation, to be held in Chile Nov. 27-29.

1414 Degrees, the Australian startup that has developed a way to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, has posted openings for a chief financial officer and an energy storage and power network system analyst.

• New from QY Research: "Global Inorganic Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market Research Report 2017"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Energy Harvesting Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2014 - 2020" and "Chilled Water Storage System Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 – 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017 – 2027"

ThermoSafe ChillTechSonoco ThermoSafe has launched a new range of reusable, universal solutions for the pharmaceutical and biologics markets. ChillTech is a pre-qualified range of 2°C to 8°C PCM systems providing temperature control from two days up to six days for payloads from 4L to 40L. The range uses Laminar Medica’s ChillPhase paraffin phase change material.

• A new reference manual for the oleochemical industry is now available. "Fatty Acids: Chemistry, Synthesis, and Applications" presents new information on industrially important fatty acids including detailed descriptions of fatty acid crystallization, enzymatic synthesis and microbial production.

Pluss Advanced Technologies has received a 50 lakh grant (about $78,000 USD) under India’s Millennium Alliance Program to promote the use of the company’s MiraCradle cooling device in hospitals and neonatal care units across India. The device uses phase change material to treat birth asphyxia in newborns. 

• Why haven't phase change materials taken off in the UK construction industry? Ian Biggin of Phase Energy Ltd., which is developing novel shape-stabilized technologies, says the industry needs to address what he calls the "4Ps": price, performance, proof and promotion.