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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.




PCM briefing: Lime emerges as thermal storage medium; district energy shines at climate conference; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 08, 2015

• German researchers are working on a thermal storage system that uses lime as the storage medium. 

• Representatives of three district energy champion cities – St. Paul, Minn., and two Swedish cities, Malmö and Gothenburg – shared their success stories at the climate conference in Paris.

• A new report from Technavio, "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems 2016-2020," projects that market will see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 14 percent over the next five years.

• New research by Future Market Insights, "Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025," will be published in January.

• A look inside Qatar Cool's new District Cooling Plant 3, which will feature a thermal energy storage tank with a 5,000-ton cooling capacity. 

• TechNiche Europe has introduced a washable version of its HyperKewl cooling fabric.

Patent application: Drying substrate using phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 03, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150345861 (applicant Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.):

"Drying a planar substrate such as paper sheet goods for packing materials includes layering a phase change material (PCM) on a substrate, in which the substrate has a moisture content and adapted for moisture removal to form a planar medium. A drying process disposes the substrate adjacent to a plurality of rollers and heat the layered substrate to a predetermined temperature based on a specific heat of the PCM. The rollers advance the layered substrate in series through pocket ventilation regions between the heat transfer elements, such that the pocket ventilation regions permit drying of the substrate enhanced by the specific heat of the temperature sensitive material. Upon drying, the layered substrate forms the planar medium suitable for use as a packing medium or other suitable application."

New market research on phase change materials and temperature-controlled packaging

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Global Phase Change Materials Industry 2015 Market Research Report [QYResearch]

Phase Change Materials Market By Type, By Application (Building & Construction, Energy Storage, HVAC, Shipping & Transportation, Commercial Refrigeration and Others) and By Geography - Forecast (2015-2020) [Research and Markets]

Temperature Controlled Packaging Solutions Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2015-2025 [Future Market Insights]

Patent application: Method for preconditioning latent heat storage elements

Ben Welter - Sunday, October 18, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150292787 (applicant va-Q-tec AG, Wurzburg, Germany):

"A method is for preconditioning at least one latent heat storage element, which is arranged in a thermally insulated, closed container having a space for accommodating goods to be transported. The latent heat storage element has a target temperature preferably slightly in excess of 0 DEG C. In such an arrangement, it is particularly practical for the accommodation space in the container to be filled with a certain amount of a coolant, particularly ice, and for the container to be closed, and therefore the latent heat storage element located in the container is cooled to the target temperature."

RGEES blood-specimen shipper wins cost-efficiency award

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

RGEES Standard 71 shipperRGEES won an Excellence Award for Best Cost Efficiency Project at last week's Cold Chain Global Forum in Boston.  

The North Carolina-based company, manufacturer of savENRG PCM products, was honored for its new ambient shipper, Standard 71. Developed jointly by RGEES and Paradigm Design Solutions Inc., the reusable "small-box" shipper uses salt-hydrate phase change material to keep blood specimens between 15° C to 25° C for 48 hours.

The case for a new cold chain performance standard

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Peli BioThermal design manager Richard Wood endorses the adoption of Kelvin hours (KH) as a new performance standard for the global temperature-controlled packaging industry:

Richard Wood, Peli BioThermal"The benefits of adopting KH as a standard performance measure is that it does not tie itself to a particular ambient test profile. Rather, it is centred on what the specific selected shipping system is capable of doing; therefore, you can say that a particular shipping system will perform against ambient profile X, Y or Z for a specific number of hours for those different demands. It makes for a less subjective and more measured approach. KH could be collated via a simple equation: average thermal stress (K) x control duration (hrs) = Khrs. Adopting this calculated stress testing, using vendor qualification data, would enable simple, fit for purpose evaluations. 

"KH could easily be adopted as a tool to select the most appropriate level of performance of packaging. This could be used across the board, with a broad range of performance points for the newer-style phase change material (PCM) systems, which is where the KH measure works particularly well."

Patent application: Temperature-controlled cargo containers

Ben Welter - Friday, October 02, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150274415 (applicant AAR Manufacturing Inc., Wood Dale, Ill.):

"Temperature controlled cargo containers may include thermal masses conditioned to temperatures above and/or below a target temperature. Example thermal masses may include plates including phase change materials, such as eutectic materials. One or more fans and flapper valves may be selectively operated to circulate air in the cargo container across one or more of the thermal masses to maintain the temperature within the cargo container within a prescribed temperature band. Some example temperature controlled cargo containers may include refrigeration units and/or heaters for regenerating the thermal masses when receiving power from an external power source and/or may include one or more rechargeable batteries for providing power during transport or storage independent of external power sources."

Pelican BioThermal offers 12-day Credo Xtreme shipper rental

Ben Welter - Friday, October 02, 2015

Pelican BioThermal is offering a new pallet shipper rental service, with options such as preconditioning and drop-off at consolidation centers worldwide. The company says the service, Credo on Demand, provides a less costly and more manageable alternative to active shipper systems.

"Up to this point, the reusable bulk temperature-controlled market has been dominated by costly active containers, which require advanced notice to book and take up more cargo space on aircraft," said Ira Smith, the company's director of strategic development global transport and logistics. “In addition to a more competitive price point, and a generous rental period, Pelican BioThermal passive containers are more readily available and simple to condition. The Credo Xtreme pallet shipper requires fewer standard operating procedures, and therefore, offers fewer worries.”

The service offers 12-day standard rentals, including qualification reports and a clean, refurbished Credo Xtreme, the company’s flagship pallet shipper. Customers can pick up and drop off a shipper at a Pelican BioThermal service center or return it to a regional consolidation center for an additional fee.

Hungry mealworms could keep EPS out of landfills and put it to use in gardens

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 01, 2015

Mealworms digesting EPS (Credit: Yu Yang, Stanford University)In collaboration with researchers in China, a Stanford University team has found that tiny mealworms can live on a diet of expanded polystyrene, converting it into carbon dioxide and waste pellets that appear to be safe to use as soil for crops.

EPS is made from polystyrene, one of the most widely used plastics in the world. EPS foam has relatively good insulation properties and is widely used in coffee cups, coolers and temperature-sensitive packaging. But it has long been considered to be difficult to recycle. On July 1, New York City outlawed the sale, possession and distribution of single-use polystyrene foam.

ThermoSafe PCM experts to lead cold chain forum workshop

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Two PCM experts from Sonoco ThermoSafe – Ken Maltas, director of engineering, and Iftekhar Ahmed, senior design engineer – are among the workshop leaders at next week's Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in Boston.

Maltas and Ahmed will lead a Tuesday morning session, "Creating a Risk Model for the Development of Passive Shipping Systems: Linking Control and Risk to Total Cost." On Wednesday morning, Sonoco's Ben VanderPlas and Cardinal Health's Chris Anderson will present "Blue is the New Green," a case study on the development of sustainable, affordable and operationally efficient packaging solutions.

Other workshop, training and presentation topics include temperature-controlled clinical trial materials, regulatory guidance, risk-reduction strategies, common shipping problems, data integrity, minimizing the impact of harsh winters and the freezing and preparation of phase change materials.   

Forum sponsors and exhibitors include AAR Cold Chain Solutions, Cold Chain Technologies, Cryopak, EFP Corp., Packaging Technology Group, Pelican BioThermal, Pluss Advanced Technologies and va-Q-tec AG.