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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: Free webinar on thermal conductivity; $8.5 million in funding for Ember Technologies

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thermal Analysis Labs is offering a free webinar on characterizing the thermal conductivity of phase change materials and heat transfer fluids. The webinar will be held at 1 p.m. EST Dec. 20.

Ember Technologies, maker of the Ember temperature-adjustable mug on sale at Starbucks and online, says it has secured $8.5 million in investor funding to date. The Ember mug uses phase change material and a microprocessor-controlled heating system to maintain hot beverages at temperatures set by the user. Celebrity investors include singer-songwriter Demi Lovato, NFL star Ndamukong Suh and retired MLB pitcher Ted Lilly. The mug landed a spot on Popular Science magazine's list of the year's 100 greatest new innovations in science and technology.

Va-Q-tec AG has signed a deal to supply Swiss Post with a fleet of temperature-controlled shippers. The shippers will be used for distribution of pharmaceutical products in the 15º C to 25º C range. 

• A U.S. science and technology think tank urges the Department of Energy to focus on "advanced cooling and thermal energy storage" and other renewable technologies to help the United States retake the lead in the global clean-energy technology market. In a new report, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says U.S. federal funding for energy research and development lags behind 11 other countries as a percentage of gross domestic product.

SunAmp Ltd.'s heat storage battery is among the energy-efficient technologies used in what are being marketed as Scotland’s most eco-friendly homes. The four four-bedroom detached homes in Dalkeith feature rooftop solar panels, triple-glazed windows and 8.5 inches of insulation surrounding all sides, with 7 inches under the floor and 21 inches in the roof. Developers project energy bills of less than $40 a month.  

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: Dulas solar fridges headed to Yemen, Sierra Leone and Nigeria; NETenergy lands slot in startup accelerator

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Dulas Ltd. has won a contract to supply 345 VC200 refrigerators to agencies working in Yemen, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The solar-powered refrigerators are lined with paraffin phase change material to help keep vaccines at optimal temperature. The British company says the agreement marks a significant expansion of its partnerships with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria. Energy Storage Report's Jason Deign takes a look at the technology: "The thermal storage medium can go through around 10,000 cycles with minimal degradation. This equates to a lifespan at least twice as long as that possible with batteries."

• Chicago startup NETenergy, maker of a thermal energy storage system that reduces peak consumption, is one of eight companies selected for CLT Joules' business catalyst program. Joules, a North Carolina business accelerator, advises high-potential energy startups and connects them with corporate partners. 

• Ohio-based CSafe Global is introducing the Kalibox passive pallet shipper to U.S. customers. CSafe acquired Kalibox, a French company that manufactures temperature-controlled shippers and refrigerants, earlier this year.

Gate Precast of Florida is producing 400,000 square feet of hollow-core planks to function as “smart” floors for five schools in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The concrete planks will act as thermal batteries, storing the thermal energy of heated or cooled air. Three of each plank's five cores will be used as HVAC ducting.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Molten Salt Solar Energy Thermal Storage and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Sales Market Report 2016."

PCM briefing: Dulas introduces 52.5-liter solar fridge; Argonne's Dileep Singh is named ASM International fellow

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dulas VC50SDD refrigeratorDulas Ltd. has added a 52.5-liter model to its line of solar-powered refrigerators. The VC50SDD is powered by the British company's Solar Direct Drive technology and uses paraffin-based phase change material to keep vaccines and other payloads at temperatures ranging from 5°C to 43°C. With an optional "integrated solar socket," the refrigerator can also be used to charge cellphones or temperature-monitoring equipment. The World Health Organization earlier this month approved the refrigerator for purchase by UNICEF and other U.N. agencies. 

Dr. Dileep Singh of Argonne National Laboratory has been named a fellow of ASM International for his work on concentrating solar power and other energy innovations. Singh and his team developed a latent heat-based thermal energy storage system that enhances the performance of phase change material using high-conductivity graphite foam.

• Two new reports from QYResearch: "Global Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Market Professional Survey Report 2016" and "Europe Advanced Phase Change Materials (PCM) Market Report 2016."

• A handful sessions scheduled for the 2017 Energy Storage World Forum and Residential Energy Storage Forum are related to thermal energy storage: "Niche Energy Storage Technologies," led by Pierre-Guy Therond, director of new technologies at EDF Energies Nouvelles of France; "Synergistic Combinations of Energy Storage Technologies," led by John Hatton, chief commercial officer at Alpheon Energy, United Kingdom; and "Integrating Storage to Improve Renewable Generation Capacity Factor," led by Martin Wilcox, senior consultant at Mott MacDonald, United Kingdom. The conferences will be held May 8-12 in Berlin.

MatériO has opened its new materials library in Shanghai, with more than 1,000 materials on display. MatériO, based in France, lists more than 7,400 "cutting edge" materials and technologies in its database, including Entropy Solutions' PureTemp phase change material.

• U.S. chemical production is thriving, according to a American Chemistry Council analyst, but several factors threaten long-term growth, including equipment shortages and a lack of skilled workers.

PCM briefing: Long-distance cyclists pack Credo ProMed; CSafe Global expands presence in Europe

Ben Welter - Friday, September 09, 2016

Chiara Ricciardi, Slovenia, June 2016• An Italian couple on a yearlong bicycle trek from Italy to Singapore are using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. Chiara Ricciardi and Riccardo Rocchi embarked on the 18,000-kilometer ride, dubbed "Piece of Cake," in June to raise awareness about diabetes. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and requires a daily dose of insulin. The pair have pedaled 4,400 kilometers so far, averaging 50 km per day. They arrived in Tabriz, Iran, this week.

• The Dutch PCM maker BoTemp BV has launched a redesign of its website, www.botemp.eu.

• Ohio-based CSafe Global is expanding its European presence with the acquisition of Kalibox, a French company that manufactures temperature-controlled shippers and refrigerants. The deal adds 5,000 square meters of manufacturing capacity, at two locations in France, to CSafe's 20,000 square meters of capacity at six locations in North America.

PCM briefing: Alexium adds clients in bedding industry; new research on temperature-controlled pharma packaging

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Alexium International has announced an agreement to sell its new flame-retardant phase change material to a U.S.-based textile finisher serving the bedding industry. Alexium, based in Perth, Australia, and Greer, S.C., announced in May that it had reached a PCM sales agreement with one of the world's largest producers of mattress ticking. "Alexium is now in production or full-scale trials with six global mattress fabric finishers," said CEO Nicholas Clark "and for the first time, a major manufacturer in apparel is evaluating our flame retardant phase change material technology." 

• New from Research and Markets: "Temperature Controlled Pharmaceutical Packaging Solutions (TCPPS) Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2016-2026."

TheM dining mat• Months after falling short of raising $30,000 on IndieGoGo, developers of a PCM-powered thermal dining placemat called TheM said in January that they hoped to develop a successful design by the end of February. The team is now apologizing again, telling backers: "The PCM material did not work as intended and [we are] trying to develop a solution that can still add value to the innovation. Please bear with us and within the next 60 days [we hope] to have a product with which [we] can reward your support and patience."

Ira Smith, director of strategic development for global transport and biologistics at Pelican BioThermal, is among the panelists at the FlyPharma conference in Brussels this week. The topic: The increasing appeal of inter-continental rail freight services and sea freight.

Glacier Tek cooling vests are profiled in the June issue of OR Today magazine. The vests, which use PureTemp bio-based phase change material to maintain thermal comfort, are being marketed as a way to address heat stress among surgeons and operating room staff, who endure "bright lights, sterile gowns, lead aprons, physical exertion and time stress."

GreenCE is offering a free hourlong webinar, "Reinventing Green Building: Focus on Carbon & Leverage Technology," at 1 p.m. June 14. Instructors will discuss the limitations of LEED certification in various U.S. market segments and identify alternatives to LEED certification. 

• The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has named Peter Green as the new deputy laboratory director for science and technology. Green is a professor of materials science and engineering, chemical engineering and applied physics at the University of Michigan.  

Monodraught's Cool-Phase cooling and ventilation system has been specified for Harrogate's new civic headquarters, now under construction in County Durham, England. The system combines a phase change material thermal energy store with an intelligently controlled air handling unit to actively ventilate and cool buildings without the use of refrigerants. The company says the system contributes credits toward BREEAM standards for lifecycle costs, indoor air quality and low- and zero-carbon technologies. 

PCM briefing: Graphite foams may be key to CSP thermal storage; PCMs improving packout efficiencies in cold chain

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 04, 2016

South African researchers say graphite foams may be the key to capturing and storing thermal energy from solar farms, Materials Today reports.

"New phase change material is improving packout efficiencies with higher latent heat," UPS cold chain strategist Susan Li says in an interview with Contract Pharma. "However, cost is still an issue to further advance the application of such technology."

NASA is testing microencapsulated phase change material as a coating to dissipate heat generated during supersonic flight. In a four-year study at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, the coating proved to be unaffected by ultraviolet rays and produced no residue or side effects.

Phase Change Matters briefing: Almac/QuickSTAT partnership; online LEED course; Tesla's net-zero Gigafactory

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

• Pharma giant Almac is partnering with QuickSTAT on a program to improve turnaround times of phase change shippers and other vacuum insulated packaging systems. The program will be based at QuickSTAT's temperature-controlled facility near Belfast International Airport and 30 minutes from Almac headquarters in Craigavon, U.K.

T. Stern Sustainability of Seattle is offering an online course titled "LEED Economics: Costs, Benefits & Performance" through GreenCE. Topics include LEED rebates and low-cost LEED strategies. Cost: $19.

• More positive press for the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, a piece on EcoFriend.org: "Solar powered air conditioning is the new hot thing."  

Tesla's chief technical officer, J.B. Straubel, says the company's planned Gigafactory in Nevada will produce as much renewable energy as it uses.

The case for a new cold chain performance standard

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Peli BioThermal design manager Richard Wood endorses the adoption of Kelvin hours (KH) as a new performance standard for the global temperature-controlled packaging industry:

Richard Wood, Peli BioThermal"The benefits of adopting KH as a standard performance measure is that it does not tie itself to a particular ambient test profile. Rather, it is centred on what the specific selected shipping system is capable of doing; therefore, you can say that a particular shipping system will perform against ambient profile X, Y or Z for a specific number of hours for those different demands. It makes for a less subjective and more measured approach. KH could be collated via a simple equation: average thermal stress (K) x control duration (hrs) = Khrs. Adopting this calculated stress testing, using vendor qualification data, would enable simple, fit for purpose evaluations. 

"KH could easily be adopted as a tool to select the most appropriate level of performance of packaging. This could be used across the board, with a broad range of performance points for the newer-style phase change material (PCM) systems, which is where the KH measure works particularly well." 

http://www.samedanltd.com/magazine/15/issue/242/article/4204

Cryopak opens manufacturing plant in California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cryo-Gel packsCryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, has opened a new manufacturing facility in Poway, Calif. The company, a subsidiary of TCP Reliable, is based in Edison, N.J.

“The addition of local manufacturing will allow us to provide better support to our customers on the West Coast and the important Southern California market," said Maurice Barakat, TCP's president and CEO.

http://www.cryopak.com/en/resources/cryopak-news/2015/07/cryopak-expands-operations-to-west-coast/