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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: Survey finds chemists think field is short on innovation; Lufthansa Cargo partners with va-Q-tec

Ben Welter - Monday, October 30, 2017

• A recent survey by Reaxys found that many chemists don’t think the field is innovative enough. Eighty percent said there is too much emphasis on research with industrial applications, which is stifling innovation. Reaxys is a chemistry research tool developed by Elsevier

Min Zhu, assistant professor of textile development and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will speak about the future of phase change materials at a textiles conference in New York City Nov. 8. 

Lufthansa Cargo has partnered with va-Q-tec AG to offer the temperature-controlled specialist's va-Q-tainer thermal containers across the German carrier’s global network.

• Scientists investigating how scavenging animals are adapting to the monoculture palm oil plantations in Borneo were surprised by what turned up in their traps. "In the jungles and border regions, the team found animals such as civets, otters, mongooses and pigs," Oils & Fats International magazine reports. "But the closer they got to the plantations where the land had been disturbed and human activity was frequent, the fewer species they found until only one stood out – the Southeast Asian water monitor." The big lizards are thriving, thanks to a plentiful supply of food and less competition from mammalian scavengers and predators. 

• Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a thermally conductive and strong textile from fibers of aligned boron nitride nanosheets embedded in a polymer matrix that can cool a person down by up to 2° C.  

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.”

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

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.

PCM briefing: MiraCradle wins commercialization award; ThermoSafe introduces Certis 2-Day Platform

Ben Welter - Friday, May 12, 2017

Pluss Advanced Technologies of India has won a Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises award for successful commercialization of the MiraCradle, a low-cost passive cooling device for treating newborns suffering from birth asphyxia. India's president, Pranab Mukherjee, presented the award Thursday at a National Technology Day event in New Delhi. The device uses form-stable inorganic phase change materials.

Energy Storage North America is seeking nominations for its 2017 Innovation Awards. Thermal storage projects are eligible. Winners will be honored at ESNA's annual conference and expo, Aug. 8-10 in San Diego, Calif. The deadline for entering is June 2.

Sonoco ThermoSafe has expanded the Certis brand of one-way shipping solutions to include a two-day platform for the distribution of pharmaceutical and biological products. Like its three- and five-day predecessors, the Certis 2-Day Platform employs the same pack-out for 2-8° C, 15-25° C and frozen shipments. It uses just four shippers and three types of phase change material to create 12 shipping solutions.

Entropy Solutions, maker of PureTemp phase change materials, will be among the companies honored with a Eureka! Innovation Award at a reception in June. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal awards program, now in its fourth year, recognizes "game-changing" Minnesota businesses in energy, manufacturing, media, health care, product design, engineering, architecture and other categories.

SupplyChainBrain recently spoke with supply chain executives about about the tools, talents and techniques needed to create accurate and responsive demand forecasts. Jane Kaiser, director of North American supply chain planning for Monsanto, cites collaborative forecasting as one way suppliers and customers can succeed. "It’s a question of [better] data mining, being truthful with each other, talking to one another," said Kaiser.

• As air freight rates remain high and capacity tightens, more temperature-sensitive medicines are moving by ocean freight, writes Cathy Robertson of Logistics Trends & Insights.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Phase Change Materials Market Forecast 2017-2022 Industry DuPont, BASF SE, Royal Dutch Shell, Climator Sweden."

• A seminar titled "PCM and Thermal Energy Storage: Characterization of TES Materials by Thermal Analysis, Calorimetry and Thermal Conductivity" will be held in Milan and Naples next week. The free seminar, presented by Automation Ltd. in collaboration with Milan Polytechnic and others, will focus on how the thermal analysis, calorimetric and thermal conductivity methods can be used to investigate the different TES techniques and to characterize the transitions or reactions of typically used materials (fatty acids, paraffins, organic substances, inorganic salts, adsorbents, clathrates).

• In a piece written for North American Clean Energy, Axiom Exergy's Ryan Anderson outlines the benefits of thermal energy storage systems. Saltwater-based systems, he writes, avoid "many of the often hidden, balance of systems costs that electrochemical or flow batteries must account for, such as power converters, fire suppression, and interconnection charges/regulatory time."

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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.