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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: Croda merger talks reported; RAL PCM members to meet March 1

Ben Welter - Monday, February 12, 2018

• British specialty chemicals maker Croda International Plc has held unsuccessful talks with Ashland Global Holdings Inc. about a possible merger, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

Croda recently redesigned the CrodaTherm website, www.crodatherm.com. The new site offers improved navigation and searchability, a wider range of potential PCM applications and profiles of the CrodaTherm technical team. Visitors can register to log in and download datasheets and order samples. "We are excited to launch this new website, making it even easier for our customers to find us and the products they need," said Graeme Tweddle, global managing director for energy technologies at Croda.

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the phase change material industry, will meet in Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 1. On the agenda: Quality and testing specifications; improvements to the association's website; member content on the BUILD UP Web portal; promotion of PCMs in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States; and registration of RAL quality marks.   

Sonoco ThermoSafe is accepting registrations for the company's first Leading Minds Seminar, to be held June 6-7 in Philadelphia. 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. Day two includes a visit to ThermoSafe's design and testing lab in Montgomeryville, Penn.

Sonoco is No. 90 on Barron's inaugural list of "The 100 Most Sustainable Companies." 

• A "measurement and verification study" of a Viking Cold Solutions TES system installed in a 320-square-foot walk-in freezer at a supermarket in Fremont, Calif., showed an 18 percent net reduction in energy consumption.   

• The deadline is Monday, Feb. 12, to submit a concept paper for ARPA-E's OPEN 2018 competition. Up to $100 million is available for new projects that "transform the way we generate, store and use energy."

DLR Group, which part of a public-private collaboration working to develop PCM-based cooling and heating methods for Agua Fria Canyon View High School, has been named one of Arizona's "40 Companies to Watch" in 2018 by AZRE magazine. 

• Entries are being accepted for Bio-Based World News' 2018 Innovation Awards. The four categories are product of the year, chemical innovation of the year, best use of alternative feedstocks and industry story of the year. The entry deadline is Feb. 23. Winners will be honored March 20 at the World Bio Markets conference in Amsterdam. 

• Nantucket, Mass., has approved the installation of an Ice Bear thermal storage and air-conditioning unit in a building owned by the town. Last summer, Genbright won a $1.5 million grant from the state to install the units in more than 200 Nantucket homes, with the goal of reducing peak energy demand and staving off the need for a third undersea power cable for the island. But some residents voiced skepticism about the technology, prompting the town board to approve the test installation.

• Shippers have found that cocoa butter can be hard to contain on long ocean voyages. There have been reports of the material leaking out of containers as it changes phase, clogging bilges and generally making a mess. The Cargo Incident Notification System, established in 2011 to share information on all cargo-related incidents, has issued guidelines that recommend the material be shipped in refrigerated containers, particularly when passing through hot climate zones. 

New map shows notable PCM building projects around the world

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Phase change materials have been improving energy efficiency in homes, schools, office buildings and cold-storage warehouses for more than a decade. Now, for the first time, makers of PCM products and systems can submit their signature projects for inclusion in a Google-based map. 

RAL PCM mapThe new map is maintained by the RAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the PCM industry. Sunamp Ltd., Pluss Advanced Technologies, PCM Technology and other association members are among the early contributors to the map. PCM makers around the world are invited to submit their projects.

Stefan Thomann, the association’s managing director, explained the map's purpose.

"PCM products and systems can be used to efficiently regulate temperature and store energy in buildings," he said. "But the players who are active in this area frequently encounter the prejudice that it is a new technology that is still in its infancy. Well, it isn't. It is mature and fully developed and has proven its effectiveness numerous times.

"The map shows successful PCM installations around the world to make that point. It is only a start at this point in time, showing only a fraction of the installations, but it will be updated and extended continuously."

The map now lists information on more than 60 PCM installations. Some of the project descriptions are terse; others offer quite a bit of detail. The most useful listings include the building name, building type, project description, location, PCM application type, manufacturer name, product name, year of installation and a website where more information can be found. 

Listings should be sent to s.thomann@pcm-ral.de.

http://www.pcm-ral.org/pcm/pcm/

RAL Quality Association PCM approves updated quality and testing specifications

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM have unanimously approved revised versions of two documents governing the association’s quality testing program.

The association, formed in 2004, promotes the use of high-quality phase change material and oversees independent testing of PCMs. Members include Croda, va-Q-tec, Pluss Advanced Technologies and Entropy Solutions. Members and non-members alike can submit their products to the association for independent testing and earn the RAL Quality Mark.

RAL PCM quality markThe first document, “Quality and Testing Specifications for Phase Change Materials,” also known as RAL-GZ 896, sets out the general principles for PCM. The document defines PCM, PCM composites, PCM objects and PCM systems; establishes performance requirements; and outlines the nature and scope of monitoring measures.

Improvements to RAL-GZ 896 include:

Clearer structure and wording, less text. The prior edition was judged to be strongly fragmented, hard to read and too long. At the same time some definitions, especially those in the glossary, required clarification.

Heat flow meter measurements are now permissible. This will make measuring larger PCM products much easier.

Reduced testing frequency during cycling. The prior edition required testing the quality criteria at fixed intervals during cycling. The new edition recommends testing at intervals during cycling (to reduce the risk that cycling is continued until the end despite the sample has already failed) and the intervals are wider. These changes are designed to reduce the cost of testing.

Including segregation. Segregation is an important criterion for salt hydrates especially and was included as additional quality requirement.

Better explanation of monitoring.

The second document provides detailed provisions and references to the certification of PCM, PCM composites, PCM objects and PCM systems. Improvements to this document include more detailed descriptions of measuring methods and guidance on which methods are appropriate for different types of PCM.

The revised documents will be submitted to the German RAL Institute for Quality Assurance and Certification, the PCM association’s governing body, for final review and approval. The revised documents are expected to take effect in early spring.

RAL Quality Association PCM welcomes Microtek, bids farewell to BASF

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 26, 2017

The RAL Quality Association PCM, meeting in Germany last week, welcomed its newest member, Microtek Labs, and said goodbye to one of its founding members, BASF. 

Microtek CEO Tim Riazzi introduced his company with a brief overview of its history, research efforts and products. He said Microtek may seek RAL certification for its phase change materials, including the new Nextek line of microencapsulated PCMs. Microtek, which purchased BASF's Micronal line of microencapsulated phase change material earlier this year, will officially assume BASF's RAL membership on Jan. 1, 2018.

Samit Jain, managing director of Pluss Advanced Technologies, was also attending his first RAL meeting. Jain, right, presented an overview of Pluss R&D efforts and its PCM product line, which is focused on addressing four challenges: vaccine waste, food spoilage, neonatal deaths and energy inefficiency in buildings. 

Other member organizations attending the meeting in Dusseldorf were Croda, va-Q-tec AG, Rubitherm, ZAE Bayern, Fraunhofer ISE, Sasol Germany GmbH, Sunamp Ltd., EMCO, PCM Technology and Entropy Solutions. Discussion topics included RAL-GZ 896 quality and testing specifications; registration of the new RAL quality mark; efforts to integrate PCM in the German Energy Saving Ordinance; ISSO publication 111 PCM in Netherlands; and the new Phase Change Materials Industry Association of North America.

As the meeting drew to a close, Prof. Bernd Boiting, chairman of the quality association, thanked BASF's Marco Schmidt for his contributions. As Micronal's head of business management at BASF, Schmidt played a key role in many RAL initiatives, including the development of a Google map that will showcase PCM building projects around the world.

RAL's next meeting is scheduled for March 1, 2018, in Dusseldorf. 

PCM briefing: Managing heat in low-orbit satellites; Expert Forum on VDI 2164 canceled

Ben Welter - Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Roccor LLC of Longmont, Colo., is using phase change material in a device designed to manage internal heat in low-orbit satellites. “We have one product with paraffin wax inside a flat structure. When the spacecraft is hot, it dumps heat into that paraffin wax and turns that into a liquid — basically a store of energy,” Chris Pearson, Roccor’s vice president of space programs, said in an interview with Via Satellite. The heat is later released into the satellite to keep temperatures stable.

• A new research portal for energy-optimized construction summarizes some of the funding measures of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under one umbrella. The German-language site, www.projektinfos.energiewendebauen.de, also has research on thermal energy storage and provides examples of projects and activities that apply PCM to optimize the energy needs of buildings.

Lloyds reports that Maersk Line is planning to make advanced monitoring data on premium perishables and pharma products available to its shipping customers later this year. 

• New from Research and Markets: "Global District Cooling Market By Type and Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2012-2026"

• New from HJResearch: "Global Bio-Based Phase Change Materials Industry Market Research 2017"

Pluss Advanced Technologies of Gurgaon, India, is seeking candidates for the position of research associate to design and perform experiments for the development of inorganic and organic phase change materials.

• The Swedish environmental group ChemSec has launched a free website linking companies selling alternatives to hazardous chemicals with those seeking to buy them. The first product request posted on The Marketplace: Clothing retailer H&M is looking for alternatives to the bisphenol A used in thermal paper for cash register and credit card receipts.

Celsia Inc.'s redesigned website, celsiainc.com, features a heat pipe performance calculator, a spreading delta-T calculator and a heat sink size calculator.

Glacier Tek, maker of cooling vests powered by PureTemp phase change material, has launched a redesigned website at www.glaciertek.com. The new site features improved navigation, fresh photography and a new tagline: "Prepare to be Cool."

• The City Council of Goderich, Ontario, has approved a proposal by NRStor to build a 1.75-megawatt compressed air energy storage plant in an unused salt cavern. The electricity created will feed into Ontario's energy grid.

• The Expert Forum on VDI Guideline 2164, scheduled for June 20 in Düsseldorf, Germany, has been canceled. The forum, organized by the Association of German Engineers' building and building technology group in cooperation with the RAL Quality Association PCM, may be held at a later date.

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."

• xxxxxx

Agenda set for expert forum on Germany's VDI Guideline 2164

Ben Welter - Friday, May 12, 2017

The agenda for the Expert Forum for VDI Guideline 2164, set for June 20 in Düsseldorf, is now available. Several members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will present lectures. 

Dr. Bernd Boiting, chairman of the VDI 2164 committee, will present a brief overview of the guidelines. Other speakers include Esther Kieseritzky of Rubitherm; Marco Schmidt of BASF and Stefan Thomann, managing director of the quality association. 

The Association of German Engineers' building and building technology group (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, or VDI) will host the meeting. VDI Guideline 2164 defines the fundamentals for latent-heat storage systems in buildings. To register for the forum, visit:

https://www.vdi.de/technik/fachthemen/bauen-und-gebaeudetechnik/artikel/berechenbarer-einsatz-von-phasenwech-selmaterialen.

PCM briefing: New RAL quality mark approved; Alexium working on undergarment for auto racing

Ben Welter - Monday, April 17, 2017

RAL Quality Mark• The RAL Quality Association PCM, established in 2004 to develop standards for the phase change materials industry, has received RAL approval to use a English-language version of its quality mark. The mark signifies that a PCM has met the association's quality and testing specifications (RAL-GZ 896) for PCM and PCM composites, objects and systems. 

Alexium International has announced plans to work with Benwel Inc. to introduce a fire-retardant undergarment for the auto racing industry. The undergarment will be treated with Alexiflam and Alexicool, Alexium's PCM-based cooling technology. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe is expanding its line of temperature-controlled pallet solutions with the launch of the LD7 Half PAG pallet shipper. The Half PAG is available for 2-8° C or 15-25° C temperature ranges with durations in excess of five days.

• The inaugural Chemical Watch Expo, REACH into the Future, will be held in Berlin April 25-26. The expo offers workshops on preparation for the REACH 2018 registration deadline.

AkzoNobel, Advanced Biochemical Co. and Ernst & Young are developing a new online tool to track the use of bio-based raw materials in products. The project partners say it will be the first tool to use e-certification to track bio-based content along the value chain. Initially the tool is focused on epoxy-derived products and coatings. AkzoNobel says more products and companies will be added later this year.

New presentation on PCM calorimetry compares RAL, IEA standards

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dr. Harald Mehling, an expert in thermal energy storage and a RAL Quality Association PCM consultant, has prepared a 37-minute presentation on phase change material calorimetry. It is intended for people starting to work in the field as well as for people who already have experience.

Dr. Harald MehlingThe presentation consists of three parts:

1. Introduction. Historic background and a general introduction to standards.

2. The RAL industry standard. Required data, resolution and accuracy; a survey of common measurement techniques; and results of an internal comparison test.

3. The International Energy Agency standard for research and development using differential scanning calorimetry, which is based on the RAL standard, including its background, the standard and achieved improvements.

The video is available for download at www.pcm-ral.org/pcm/en/quality-association-pcm/consultants/harald-mehling/ and can be viewed on Vimeo as well.