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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: Long-haul cyclists reach Myanmar; papers sought for symposium on waste heat

Ben Welter - Friday, January 27, 2017

Riccardo Rocchi and Chiara RicciardiRiccardo Rocchi and Chiara Ricciardi,  the Italian couple who began an 18,000-kilometer bike ride in June to raise awareness about diabetes, have reached Myanmar. Ricciardi has type 1 diabetes and needs a daily dose of insulin. She is using Pelican BioThermal's Credo ProMed pack to keep insulin at the right temperature. The pair topped the 10,000-kilometer mark this week. They've pedaled across 16 countries, averaging 44 km per day. "We just realized that maybe we forgot to make a postcard from Nepal," the pair said in a Facebook post from Myanmar. "We might consider to cycle back to do it." Their final destination is Singapore.

• Organizers of a one-day symposium at Brunei University on the efficient use of waste heat have issued a call for abstracts. The symposium, "Heat Recovery and Efficient Conversion and Utilisation of Waste Heat," will be held April 20, 2017. Abstracts must be submitted by Jan. 31.

Pelican BioThermal has completed a $1.65 million expansion of the manufacturing facilities at its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minn. The company now has 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Minneapolis suburb, up from 54,000 square feet. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

Weise's Outlast Houston motorcycle jacket• New from Weise Motorcycle Clothing: The Outlast Houston, a fully armored waterproof jacket with a removable lining that features Outlast phase change material to regulate temperature. 

Serta is touting “breakthrough cooling technology” in the new version of its iComfort memory foam mattresses. Phase change material is embedded in the fabric and on the surface of the gel memory foam.

• The United Kingdom plans to spend £28 million ($35 million) on reducing the cost of energy storage, advancing demand side response technologies and improving energy efficiency measures for industry. Up to one-third of the money will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including thermal storage.

• The EU-funded Heat4Cool research project is developing a novel retrofit planning tool to help retrofit companies, architects, manufacturers, building administrators and residents weigh the potential benefits of three main technologies: gas and solar thermally driven adsorption heat pumps; PV-assisted DC-powered heat pumps connected to advanced modular PCM heat and cold storage systems; and energy recovery from sewage water with high performance heat exchangers. You are invited to help in this effort by completing a five-minute survey online.

• A Florida startup is calling its PCM-infused TempPro fabric “a gamechanger for luxury lingerie.” Giapenta, which launched a Kickstarter campaign this week, uses the temperature-regulating fabric in its line of bras, panties and sleep masks. The campaign has already met its modest target of raising $25,000. I've contacted the company and hope to have technical details on TempPro in time for next week's newsletter..

PCM briefing: Seasonal TES with concentrated sodium hydroxide; increased preference for biobased chemicals

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

• Swiss researchers say they have developed a system that can capture heat during summer and then later use it during winter. The system uses concentrated sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as the thermal storage medium and a collection of readily available components to capture, convert and release heat energy on demand. "The stored heat can also be transported elsewhere in the form of concentrated sodium hydroxide solution, which makes it flexible to use,” said Benjamin Fumey of the Empa research institute.

• The market research firm Technavio has identified the use of phase change material as a trend in the development of battery thermal management systems for electric vehicles.

Sure Chill's long-term passive cooling device, designed to maintain vaccines in a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for grid-based electricity, received high marks in a PATH field test in Senegal. 

• Submissions are now being accepted for the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize. The international competition is open to Ph.D. students or recent graduates conducting innovative research in synthetic chemistry. Forty-five finalists will be selected based on originality of research, rigor of methodology, quality of published work and supervisor's letter of recommendation. The finalists will present their research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium. Three winners will then be selected and receive $2,000. The application deadline is March 13. 

• Thanks to a slowdown in China and Japan, new investment in clean energy fell to $287.5 billion worldwide in 2016, down 18 percent from 2015's record high,  Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports.

An increased preference for biobased chemicals and other environmentally friendly alternatives will significantly affect the growth prospects of the global petrochemicals market in the next few years, Transparency Market Research reports.

• New from QYResearch: "China Inorganic Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2017"

• U.K.-based Dulas Ltd. is delivering more than 300 of its VC150SDD solar refrigerators to Nigeria. The refrigerators use a paraffin-based phase change material to keep vaccines in a safe temperature range..

Rehau Akademie is offering a free webinar (in German) on Building Information Modeling on Jan. 26.

• In an interview with Business Quarter, Sunamp founder Andrew Bissell talks about how partnering with the University of Edinburgh helped his company overcome challenges associated with phase change materials.

PCM briefing: Axiom Exergy's fast pitch; Peli BioThermal's new bulk freight shipper

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

• Six energy storage startups made speed pitches at last month's Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Greentech Media takes a look at three of the pitches, including one made by Axiom Exergy co-founder Amrit Robbins. Axiom's PCM-powered "refrigeration battery" is designed to cut energy costs at supermarkets. "They are scrambling to reduce costs by just a few basis points -- and energy is a huge opportunity," Robbins said. "Saving $30,000 on a utility bill is the same as selling an additional $1.5 million of groceries."   

Peli BioThermal has introduced its new CoolPall Vertos Advance, a single-use, passive bulk freight shipper that incorporates phase change materials and vacuum insulation panels. 

• Scientists in the United Kingdom are developing a way to turn pinene, a paper industry waste product, into plastic. "We're not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful," Helena Quilter, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bath's Center for Sustainable Chemical Technologies.

• Researchers at MIT have created three-dimensional samples of graphene that are up to 10 times stronger than steel, with just 5 percent of the density.

Sonoco ThermoSafe will offer its daylong master class on temperature assurance packaging on Feb. 2 at the Temperature Controlled Logistics conference in London. Sonoco, Peli BioThermal, CrodaTherm, Pluss Advanced Technologies, Ecocool and Cryopack will be among the exhibitors at the conference.

•  Symbol Mattress will launch its new climate-controlled SleepFresh line at the Las Vegas Market later this month. The mattresses use various combinations of gel foams, gel memory foams, phase-change gel latex and ventilated foams, along with the addition of graphite-infused foams. A climate control system in the foundation has the capacity to heat, ventilate and cool.

PCM briefing: Space station gets water-based heat exchanger; China gets molten salt solar power plant

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 28, 2016

• An experimental PCM heat exchanger has been installed aboard the International Space Station. The device is designed to help maintain safe temperatures for crew members and equipment. The device uses a water-based PCM to remove heat from areas that must be cooled and move it into areas that must be warmed.

China News Service reports that Asia's first molten salt solar power plant has been connected to the grid and will begin operations next week in northwestern China. The 10-megawatt plant, run by Beijing Shouhang Resources Saving Co., generates electricity from solar power 24 hours a day. It will provide electricity for 30,000 households during its initial phase.

• A cooling technology that can operate without a constant power supply will undergo pilot trials in Dubai. Sure Chill's water-based system is used in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for a grid-based electricity. The Welsh company signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-run Dubai Electricity and Water Authority after taking part in the 12-week Dubai Future Accelerators Program.

• In a decision involving a patent on phase change material, a U.S. appeals court has reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision to exclude certain e-mails used as evidence of an earlier conception date in REG Synthetic Fuels LLC v. Neste Oil OYJ. The court found that the board had improperly excluded the emails as hearsay.

• Noting recent acquisitions by FedEx and UPS, Pelican Biothermal VP Kevin Lawler lists consolidation among the key trends likely to shape the temperature-controlled logistics market in 2017.

Patent application: Passive temperature controlled container

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Inmark patent drawingU.S. patent application 20160362240 (applicant Inmark Global Holdings, Austell, Georgia):

"The disclosed technology includes a passive temperature controlled container for passively maintaining a specified temperature range in a storage chamber of the container for a predetermined amount of time. The passive temperature controlled container may be configured to have an inner PCM layer and an outer PCM layer, with an air chamber layer between the two PCM layers to allow for the free movement of air around all six sides of the container.

"According to some embodiments, an inner PCM layer may include an inner PCM material with a phasing temperature of 4° C. that can serve to maintain the temperature of the storage chamber at a desired temperature range of 2° C-8° C. In some embodiments, an inner PCM may have a phasing temperature of between 2° C-8° C. In some embodiments, an inner PCM may have a phasing temperature of between 15° C-25° C. It should be understood that a wide variety of different PCM materials having different phasing temperatures can be used in both the inner PCM layer and the outer PCM layer to achieve a variety of desired temperature ranges."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160362240.pdf

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.

Cold Chain Technologies faced many hurdles in development of gelled PCMs

Ben Welter - Friday, November 11, 2016

Jamie Chasteen, senior product manager at Cold Chain Technologies Inc., spoke with Cold Chain IQ recently about the challenges his company faced in developing gelled phase change material. CCT's Koolit Advanced PCM gel shared first place with Sonoco ThermoSafe's Certis shipper platform as the “Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year” at the 2016 Cold Chain Global Excellence Awards last month. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

Jamie Chasteen of Cold Chain Technologies"The engineering challenges of solidifying non-water organic based PCMs while maintaining the thermal characteristics required by our industry are vast. Many companies have attempted (and failed) to gel PCMs for use in the life science packaging market. Gelling agents are often accompanied by two undesirable effects: a dramatic lowering of the available latent heat and a freeze point depression of the phase change temperature. Both of these properties are crucial to thermal packaging design.

"Two other undesirable characteristics that often accompany the addition of gelling agents are hysteresis, or changing thermal characteristics with each freeze/thaw cycle, and syneresis, or the expulsion of liquid from the gel over time or after multiple freeze/thaw cycles. We are the first company to create a shape-stable PCM without mal-effect to the final product for use in thermal packaging for life science.

"Not to be overlooked is the process put in place to manufacture these material. Previous industry attempts to mass-commercialize shape stable PCMs have not been successful given the complexity, repeatability, quality and ultimately cost associated with processing. We have been able to create an efficient and robust manufacturing process that provides repeatability and high quality while keeping the costs in check. Both the creation of the patent pending Koolit Advanced PCM Gel material itself and the manufacturing process to commercialize it have been clear breakthroughs for our industry."

http://www.pharmalogisticsiq.com/logistics/articles/the-next-breakthrough-in-thermal-protection [registration required]

PCM briefing: Papers sought for 4 cold chain conferences; Momentive introduces hybrid polymer modifiers

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Pharma Logistics IQ is inviting temperature controlled logistics experts to submit papers four upcoming conferences: Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe, Cold Chain-GDP & Temperature Management Latin America, Cold Chain Canada and Pharma Cold Chain and Temperature Management Summit China. Contact Pharma IQ editor Chanice Henry at chanice.henry@iqpc.co.uk.

• The CEGA congress for technical building equipment experts, hosted by Recknagel and VDI, will be held Nov. 29-30 in Baden-Baden, Germany. Dr. Bernd Boiting of the University of Münster will give a lecture about thermal energy storage using phase change material. More than 50 lectures on topics such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and building automation will be presented at the conference, which will be conducted in German.

Momentive Performance Materials has introduced ceramic powders designed to improve the thermal conductivity of plastics. The company, based in Waterford, N.Y., says its CoolFX hybrid polymer modifiers can be more cost-effective than traditional boron nitride fillers.

• In a piece in Apparel magazine, Alexium International CEO Nicholas Clark weighs in on "What Flame Retardant Apparel Manufacturers Need to Know About the Lautenberg Act."

• The European Commission has launched a major review of REACH, the European Union’s main chemical safety law, publishing a 43-page questionnaire and asking for public feedback on its strengths and weaknesses.

• In an interview in Minnesota Business, Pelican BioThermal's Adam Tetz talks about the expansion of the company's manufacturing capacity in Plymouth. The expansion will support production of single-use temperature-controlled shippers in the United States.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Paraffin Compounds Sales Market Report 2016"

A CALMAC thermal energy storage system is being installed at Pueblo's historic county courthouse in Colorado. The system creates and stores ice at night and then uses it to cool buildings during the day.

ETH Zurich is looking for a licensing or collaboration partner to work on a high-temperature thermal energy storage system that provides active control of the heat-transfer fluid outflow temperature. Possible applications include concentrated solar power plants and advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage.

• Imagine this: Your technology on display at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit early next year. The Technology Showcase is an opportunity to get your innovative energy technology in front of investors and researchers ready to collaborate. There is no fee to apply; the application deadline is Dec. 16.

ARPA-E will hold a workshop on “Lower Grade Waste Heat Recovery” Dec. 13-14 in the San Francisco area. The workshop will convene experts in waste heat recovery, materials development and novel solid-state materials to identify innovative research paths for the development of lower grade (below 400° C) waste heat recovery systems.

ARPA-E will hold a workshop on “Fuel Cell and Heat Engine Hybrid CHP Systems” on Jan. 26-27, 2017, in the Washington, D.C. area. The workshop will convene experts in fuel cells, heat engines, materials and advanced manufacturing technologies to identify related technological solutions that would help to enable the introduction of highly efficient yet cost-effective commercial-scale combined heat and power systems.

Sonoco ThermoSafe, Cold Chain Technologies share first-place award for innovation

Ben Welter - Friday, October 07, 2016

Sonoco ThermoSafe's Certis platform of universal parcel shippers and a PCM gel refrigerant made by Cold Chain Technologies shared first place as the “Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year” at the 2016 Cold Chain Global Excellence Awards in Boston last week.

The Certis platform is designed to optimize warehouse space, reduce inventory costs, simplify training and increase productivity. Only three types of PureTemp phase change material and eight shippers are needed to create 24 shipping solutions across temperature ranges and duration. Another Sonoco product, the LD7 Quarter PMC pallet shipper, was runner-up in the same category.

CCT's Koolit Advanced PCM Gel is marketed as the first commercially available solid phase change material refrigerant engineered to maintain the efficacy of drugs and vaccines during transport.