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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.




Patent application: Modular cuboidal passive temperature controlled shipping container

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 17, 2016

Peli patent drawingU.S. patent application 20160075498 (Pelican BioThermal LLC, Plymouth, Minn.):

"A kit comprising a plurality of separate and distinct identically sized phase change material-containing panels shaped as a frustum of a right pyramid, a method of assembling a thermal insulating enclosure from such panels and the resultant assembled thermal insulting enclosure. ... Further insulation may be provided by inserting thermal insulated panels 30 between the outer shell and the outer surface of the PCM panel."

Patent application: Latent heat thermal energy storage system (LHTES) bubbling tank system

Ben Welter - Friday, March 04, 2016

LHTES patent application drawing

U.S. patent application 20160061534 (inventor Peter B. Choi, St. Davids, Pa.):

"For a latent thermal energy storage (LTES) system comprising phase change material (PCM) slurry, it is problematic to recover thermal energy by crystallizing out solid components from slurry mixtures. It is because the solidifying components form a solid layer of low thermal conductivity on the heat transfer surfaces making heat transfer inefficient. This invention allows an effective thermal energy recovery readily achievable by using gaseous or liquid bubbles of immiscible heat transfer fluid (HTF) in close contact with the phase change material (PCM) slurry mixtures [102]. The circulating immiscible HTF, free of solidifying components, is used for releasing thermal energy through cold heat transfer surfaces to the heat users. A process comprising a multi-chamber LTES system has been devised for applications in the concentrated solar power (CSP) plants using a PCM binary slurry of Li2CO3 and Na2CO3 as a heat storage medium and CO2 gas as an immiscible HTF."

PCM briefing: More details on the Ice Bear 20; new research on the microencapsulation market

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

• In an interview with CleanTechnica, Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shares new details on the Ice Bear 20, a thermal energy storage system aimed at the residential market. The unit is designed to cool homes up to 3,500 square feet, "is as easy to install as the compressor unit of a traditional air conditioner" and will cost the same as a conventional air conditioning system.

• New from Zion Research: “Microencapsulation Market for Pharmaceuticals, Household Products, Agrochemicals, Food Additives and Other Applications: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast, 2014 – 2020.” The report projects global demand for microencapsulation will reach $9.25 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent.

• New from Future Market Insights: "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025"

The Welsh government has award Dulas $80,000 to support development of the company's solar direct-drive vaccine refrigerators. Phase change material that freezes and thaws at 5º C helps keep vaccines at the proper temperature without power from the grid. 

Compression shirts and briefs infused with Outlast phase change technology helped reduce chafing and rashes in tests conducted with law enforcement professionals. The apparel, made by 91 Degrees F, displayed "superior sweat management, reduced chafing, and a uniform shirt that maintained its crisp appearance throughout the test."

PCM briefing: 12 principles for green energy storage; 24x7 operation for EnergyNest pilot project

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

University of Michigan researchers have developed a set of 12 principles for green energy storage. No. 10: "Substitute non-toxic and non-hazardous materials."

EnergyNest AS has agreed to hire additional staff to provide around-the-clock operation of its thermal energy storage pilot facility at the Masdar Institute's beam-down solar power plant in Abu Dhabi. The increased staffing – seven engineers and technicians – is necessary for EnergyNest to demonstrate system performance over many charge/discharge cycles.

CALMAC founder Calvin D. MacCracken has been posthumously inducted into the ASHRAE Hall of Fame. CALMAC's IceBank energy storage technology, which shifts cooling production to off-peak hours, is among MacCracken's 80 patents.

Monodraught says it's getting positive feedback on the low-energy cooling and ventilation strategy the company developed for Cambridge University's Greenwich House. Monodraught installed its Cool-Phase systems and Windcatcher X-Air in a number of open plan office areas, several meeting rooms and a café area. The system combines a thermal energy store containing phase change material with an intelligently controlled air-handling unit.

• Mattress ticking producer Fine Cotton Factory has doubled its production space in Toronto to 80,000 square feet. The company is planning to introduce several products this year, including copper-infused fabrics and phase change yarns.

In a piece on, four industry experts offer a new way to measure the performance of passive cold-chain shipping containers. They say a "performance curve" chart could simplify the design process. [pdf]

PCM briefing: Qatar University working on polyolefin-based PCM; Pelican BioThermal introduces Credo Cargo

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Qatar University Centre for Advanced Materials is developing polyolefin-based phase change material to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and plastic waste. The research team is developing special PCM foams and compact composite sheets based on polyethylene, paraffin wax and graphite. 

Swiss away jersey by PumaPelican BioThermal has launched a new pallet shipper system, CrÄ“do Cargo. The reusable bulk shipper uses phase change material cooling panels to maintain temperature ranges +2C to +8C and +15C to +25C. 

The Swiss national soccer team will wear PCM-infused away uniforms at the European Championships 2016 in France. The jersey features Puma's ACTV Thermo-R technology. Strategically placed tape infused with microencapsulated phase change material absorbs excess heat and releases it back to the body when needed. The uniforms will be worn for the first time in an international friendly against the Republic of Ireland on March 25. Other national teams sporting the new kits are Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy.

President Obama is vowing to push ahead with efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions after the U.S. Supreme Court put his Clean Power Plan on hold until legal challenges are resolved.

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.

At Cardinal Health, standardized cold chain practices help reduce spoilage, cut packaging waste

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Chris Anderson, Cardinal HealthAs Cardinal Health's quality systems director, Chris Anderson understands the complexities of shipping temperature-sensitive medical products around the world. Since 2007, he has been instrumental in developing standardized cold chain practices to reduce spoilage and cut packaging waste.

Pharmaceutical Commerce magazine takes a close look at the evolving relationship between Cardinal Health and Sonoco ThermoSafe, which uses PureTemp phase change panels to provide temperature-specific cooling in totes shipped to local pharmacies:

"Data Anderson collects shows that the PureTemp panels would be cost-effective if they could be reused at least eight times. As of 2015, the PureTemp panels are actually being reused as many as 87 times—a 10X rate above break-even. Spoiled product returns have been cut by 85%—and this is over a period where the volume of cold chain product grew by 50%, now approaching $21 billion per year."

PCM briefing: A bioplastics breakthrough from DuPont/ADM; a revamped bedding line from Tempur-Pedic

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CleanTechnica takes a look at the DuPont-ADM "breakthrough" process for producing a high-performance, 100 percent biodegradable bioplastic. The companies' first project will use furan dicarboxylic methyl ester to produce polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate, which ADM says outperforms petroleum-based polymers in extending beverage shelf life.

•  Tempur-Pedic has revamped its Breeze line of cooler-sleep beds, fusing phase change material in the top Tempur foam layer to deliver “a significantly improved cooling effect,” the company said.

Composite sandwich panels containing phase change material are among 20 smart materials and structures identified by a European Union study with possible applications in the shipbuilding industry. The panels would minimize heat transfer and lower cooling costs on refrigerated cargo ships.  

• Sonoco ThermoSafe, Pluss Advanced Technologies, va-Q-tec AG, Peli BioThermal, Cryopak, AAR Cold Chain Solutions and Croda are among the companies exhibiting PCM-related products at the 15th annual Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe conference in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. 

PCM briefing: New pallet shipper from Sonoco ThermoSafe; new bedding line from Serta

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sonoco ThermoSafe has introduced the new Quarter PMC pallet shipper, designed to optimize bulk air shipments of temperature-sensitive biologics and pharmaceutical products for durations exceeding five days. The shipper is offered in 2-8° C, 15-25° C and frozen temperature ranges.

Serta has launched a revamped iComfort bedding line that features the company's new Ever Feel Triple Effects Gel Memory Foam, with phase change material incorporated in the gel. 

Giovanni Damato has joined EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, as technical leader for energy storage, distributed generation and microgrids.

U.S. chemical industry officials praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership at a hearing last week in Washington. Greg Skelton of the American Chemistry Council noted that it could bring a $1.2 billion increase in U.S. chemical exports, Bloomberg BNA reported [subscription required].

PCM briefing: PCM-equipped heat pump is up for Dutch award; Axiom Exergy is looking for a product engineer

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Coolmark's TripleAqua heat pump, which uses phase change material to store hot and cold energy, is one of three finalists in the energy savings category of the 2016 VSK Awards. The awards honor Dutch innovation and initiative in engineering. Winners will be announced Feb. 3 at the VSK trade show in Utrecht.

California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of a "Refrigeration Battery" designed to reduce supermarket energy costs, has posted an opening for a product engineer. Candidates are invited to answer this question: "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?" 

Abu Dhabi International Airport's new district cooling plant, completed this week, has 18 chillers, two thermal energy storage tanks and a total capacity of 55,000 metric tons of refrigerant.

Restonic is infusing phase change material into the surface of the TempaGel memory foam used in the mattress maker's new ComfortCare Hybrid Signature line.

The $20 million Jemalong Solar Thermal Station, which uses molten salt as a thermal storage medium, has entered the commissioning phase, developer Vast Solar says. The grid-connected pilot plant in New South Wales, Australia, is expected to reach full operation as early as May. 

BoTemp, a Dutch company that produces cold storage systems for the transport and container industry, has added two eutectic systems to its product line: The on-board Cold Battery uses chilled air forced into the cargo area to give a wide controllable temperature range from -18º C to 4º C. The stationary Cold Charger can quickly charge multiple vehicles or containers at the same time.

Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, is on's list of 10 start-ups to watch in 2016.