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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: 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: Papers sought for thermal management conference; Ice Energy has eyes on Australia

Ben Welter - Friday, December 09, 2016

• Registration is open for the Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held in Denver Aug. 9-10, 2017. Organizers have issued a call for papers; the deadline for submitting an abstract is Feb. 17. Companies attending past conferences include Croda, Outlast Technologies, Phase Change Materials Ltd., Microtek LaboratoriesC-Therm Technologies and Entropy Solutions.

Ice Energy of Glendale, Calif., is looking for distributors in Australia to extend the reach of the company's ice-based energy storage systems. The Ice Bear and smaller Ice Cub store cooling energy by freezing water in an insulated tank. During peak hours, the company says, the stored ice delivers up to four hours of cooling, reducing the typical peak load by 95 percent. 

• The use of phase change material in infant warmers (Little Lotus) and temperature-control fabrics (Outlast Technologies) is featured in NASA's Spinoff 2017. The annual report highlights technologies developed for the space program.

Tata Steel is integrating Energy Nest's thermal energy storage system into one of the steelmaker's plants in the Netherlands. The system captures waste heat in a special concrete and stores it for later use. 

A new technical report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examines the possibility of replacing fossil-fuel combustion in industry with small nuclear reactors, solar thermal and geothermal energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Phase change materials that exploit the relatively high energy involved in melting or freezing a material" are identified as among the thermal energy storage options critical to such a strategy.  

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: 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.

PCM makers to discuss forming North American manufacturers association

Ben Welter - Friday, October 28, 2016

Makers of phase change materials will gather in Florida Dec. 4 to discuss the possibility of forming a North American PCM manufacturers association.

The discussion, led by Dr. Jan Kosny of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, will take place at the end of an all-day workshop on thermal mass. The workshop is part of the Buildings XIII Conference at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

PCMs have been a focus of the workshop since it was first held in 2001. 

"Most of U.S. PCM manufacturers and companies producing PCM products for buildings participated in this workshop at least once," said Kosny, who leads building enclosure research at Fraunhofer CSE. "At some point we had a discussion about a creation of the PCM manufacturers’ association. Since this topic has been hanging in the air for at least a decade, this year I decided that it will be good to learn how much support there will be for this idea and who will be supporting this initiative. As usual, I am sending invitations to all major PCM companies in the U.S. and major U.S. building material manufacturers."

What are the greatest challenges facing North America’s PCM industry?

"The answer is application specific," Kosny explained. "PCM products are used by many different industries. However, the major problems which I would identify are: (i) high cost); (ii) flammability; (iii) long-term performance; (iv) durable packaging; (v) lack of material standards; (vi) lack of uniform performance criteria for PCM products used by specific industries, etc."

Entropy Solutions, Phase Change Energy Solutions, Applied Innovation Group and Cool Composites are among the companies planning to attend the workshop. Representatives of the U.S. General Services Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Lodz University of Technology, Colorado School of Mines, Microtek Laboratories, Fraunhofer CSE and the Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office will give presentations on microencapsulation, macroencapsulation, performance modeling, testing methods, durability issues and more.   

"The attendees of this conference include the 'PCM who’s who' in academics, government and industry," said Dr. William R. Sutterlin, Entropy Solutions' chief science officer. "It will help shape the future of PCMs in buildings, modeling of PCM behavior, new developments and PCM testing methods."

The registration fee for the full conference, Dec. 4-8, is $695. One-day attendance is $295 and the cost for the workshop is $100. Registration deadline is Nov. 23.

http://www.cleantechnotes.org/2016/10/19/registration-open-for-thermal-mass-workshop-v-clearwater-beach-fl/ 

PCM briefing: RAL meeting in Dusseldorf; temperature-assurance packaging class in Boston

Ben Welter - Friday, September 23, 2016

• 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 Dusseldorf, Germany, on Tuesday. The agenda includes an update on the upcoming revision of the European Union's energy performance of buildings directive and discussion of a proposal to include PCM in the Building Efficiency Standards section of California's Code of Regulations. Two companies interested in joining RAL, Sunamp Ltd. and Renewable Energy Group Inc., will attend the meeting as guests.

Ontario has pumped $5.8 million (Canadian) into the University of Guelph's new thermal energy cooling system. The $15 million system, completed last year, features a tank that holds 22 million liters of water. In warmer months, the water is chilled at night, when energy costs are lower. The chilled tank water is then circulated through the university's existing cooling system during the day. Officials say the system has already saved the university $2.5 million in energy costs.

• Bio-based materials and chemicals offer a clear value proposition when compared with their petroleum-based counterparts, but smart business execution is critical to eventual success, Lux Research concludes in a new report, “Hunting for Value and Performance in the Bio-based Materials and Chemicals Space."

Phase Change Material Products Ltd. of the United Kingdom will be among the hundreds of exhibitors at the Chillventa trade show in Nuremberg, Germany, Oct. 11-13.  

A cold chain packaging class developed by Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Labs will make its debut Monday at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in Boston. The all-day session will cover the design, development and qualification of temperature-controlled packaging.

Cold Chain IQ, an online resource for temperature-controlled logistics professionals, is now Pharma Logistics IQ. The new site, www.pharmalogisticsiq.com, includes content on pharma logistics, including clinical supply, supply chain security, regulations and more.

PCM briefing: Viking touts hybrid cooling system in Australia; thermodynamic law takes a hit in Japan

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 01, 2016

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston introduced its hybrid cooling system at an industry conference in Australia this week. The system, which combines rooftop photovoltaic panels and PCM-based thermal energy storage, is designed to reduce energy costs at supermarkets and cold storage facilities. 

Phase Change Energy Solutions, BASF Education Lab and CALMAC are among the exhibitors scheduled to attend the Greenbuild conference and expo Oct. 5-7 in Los Angeles.

Chart showing 4 phases of substance coexisting at thermal equilibrium• In research that appears to conflict with thermodynamic law, scientists at the University of Tokyo have run simulations showing that four phases of a substance can coexist at thermal equilibrium, where all parts are at the same temperature and pressure. The research "may prove useful in the development of functional phase change materials," according to a university news release, "as it demonstrates that multiple phase transformation can be induced through weak disturbance (perturbation) near the quadruple point."

Emerson is expanding its cold chain presence with the acquisition of two temperature-monitoring companies: Locus Traxx of Jupiter, Fla., and PakSense of Boise, Idaho. Terms were not disclosed.

Ravi Teja, an R&D associate specializing in phase change materials at Pluss Advanced Technologies in India, is a finalist for the Energy Institute's Young Energy Professional of the Year award.

PCM briefing: CrodaTherm line qualifies for biobased product label; registration open for thermal energy conference in U.K.

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

USDA Biobased Product labelCroda has earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Certified Biobased Product label for all six of its CrodaTherm phase change materials. Third-party verification administered through the USDA's Biopreferred Program is required to confirm a product's biobased content. Croda and Entropy Solutions are the only PCM makers to qualify for the label.  

• Refrigeration battery maker Axiom Exergy has posted openings for an electromechanical technician, a product engineer and a project manager at its facility in Richmond, Calif.

• Registration is open for the U.K.-focused Future Thermal Energy Conference at the University of Warwick, Coventry, England, Oct. 10-11. Topics include district heating networks, heat pumps, CHP, biomass and above- and below-ground thermal storage.

PCM briefing: Pelican BioThermal is looking for VP for new products; Ice Energy completes project at North Hollywood movie theater

Ben Welter - Friday, August 05, 2016

Pelican BioThermal has posted an opening for a vice president of engineering and new product development. The VP will "lead a team of highly-driven and innovative engineers to design and develop the next generation of best-in-class temperature controlled packaging solutions for the life sciences industry." 

Appearing at this week's Advances in Thermal Management 2016 conference in Denver, Colo.: Mark Hartmann, chief technology officer at Outlast Technologies, discussed the use of thermal materials to manage the heat generated by lithium-ion batteries. Croda International's CrodaTherm biobased phase change materials were on display at booth 35. Outlast materials scientist Joe Kelly spoke at the companion conference, Battery Power 2016

• The U.S. Department of Energy has introduced two new tools designed to help cities nationwide make more strategic energy decisions based on actual and estimated data and analysis. The City Energy Profile tool uses robust data science methodologies to derive data on energy use and costs for 23,400 cities. The Local Energy Toolbox allows cities to build a customizable list of actions to help make strategic energy decisions.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has begun verification testing of a solar thermal power system at the company's new facility in Yokohama, Japan. The hybrid system combines a low-temperature Fresnel evaporator, a high-temperature thermal storage system and a tower-type superheater that collects sunlight by heliostats.

• Safety expert John D. Modine is the new chief executive at the American Chemistry Council's Chemtrec division.

Ice Energy has installed four Ice Bear 30 thermal storage units at a Cinemark movie theater in North Hollywood, Calif. Ice Energy says the project qualifies for energy efficiency rebates from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

PCM briefing: Sustainable manufacturing good for bottom line; Ice Bear among technologies highlighted at White House

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adopting sustainable manufacturing processes can help companies boost their bottom line, improve their reputation and become more competitive, writes Doug Kramer, president and CEO of spray foam product maker Lapolla Industries

• The Global Cold Chain Forum is accepting nominations for the 2016 Cold Chain Excellence Awards. The four categories are Best Temperature Controlled Logistics Project; Most Innovative New Cold Chain Technology of the Year; Most Sustainable Temperature-Controlled Project; and Most Effective Risk Assessment, Evaluation & Mitigation for Transportation. Nominations are due by July 29, 2016.

Nike is teaming up with MIT's Climate CoLab to speed the development of innovative materials and shrink the company's supply-chain footprint.

Ice Energy's new Ice Bear residential cooling system was among the technologies highlighted at a White House summit on renewable energy and storage last week. 

• Puma's new PCM-infused jerseys made the wrong kind of impression at the European Championships this week. Four jerseys worn by Swiss players in a match against France tore apart when tugged on by opponents. Puma later apologized, blaming the problem on a bad batch of material damaged during production. It does not appear that the problem involved the phase change material used in strategically placed tape inside the jersey.

Pluss Advanced Technologies' Celsure cold chain shipper won the innovation of the year award at the Cold Chain Strategy Summit in Mumbai last week.