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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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PCM-based system cuts energy use by 27% in frozen-foods warehouse

Ben Welter - Monday, April 24, 2017

Viking Cold Solutions systemFrozen Gourmet Inc., a wholesale distributor of premium ice cream and other frozen foods, says a PCM-based thermal battery system has cut energy consumption by more than 27 percent in the company’s freezer warehouse in Redding, Calif.

The Viking Cold Solutions system, installed at the end of 2016, features hundreds of plastic bottles filled with a salt hydrate solution. The bottles are suspended from the ceiling of the 7,900-square-foot warehouse. The phase change material solidifies when the warehouse chillers are running. The PCM absorbs heat as it melts, allowing the chillers to run less frequently and still keep the warehouse within a few degrees of the target temperature, 14.8º Celsius. 

Shifting demand to off-peak hours can result in significant savings on electricity in California, where daytime demand charges are common. The Viking system also includes intelligent controls and sensors to optimize energy use and alert managers to temperature abnormalities, equipment failure and power outages.

"We searched for a year to find the right technology to reduce our energy costs and decided to purchase the Viking Cold TES system after seeing the capability and flexibility the system provides," said Bill Kohn, CEO of Frozen Gourmet. "The reduction in energy consumption has improved our bottom line and the real-time monitoring has been invaluable in helping us recognize and address equipment issues before expensive problems arise."

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/frozen-gourmet-installs-viking-cold-130000052.html

Patent application: Multizone recreational cooler with phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Viking Cold Solutions patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170108260 (applicant Viking Cold Solutions, Houston, Texas):

"A cooler includes a body. The cooler also includes a divider that divides an interior of the body into a first zone and a second zone. A first phase change material module is disposed in the first zone of the interior of the body and a second phase change material module is disposed in the second zone of the interior of the body."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170108260.pdf

Patent application: Heated or cooled dishware and drinkware and food containers

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

Ember patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170042373 (applicant Ember Technologies Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.):

"An actively heated or cooled food container can have a lid movable between an open and a closed position and an insulated body to which the lid can be attached. The insulated body can have a sidewall that defines a perimeter of the container body and a base, the sidewall and base defining one or more chambers that can be sealed by the lid. ... The heating and cooling system comprises a cooling element comprising a phase change material disposed in a chamber that surrounds at least a portion of the inner sidewall so that the phase change material is in thermal communication with at least a portion of the inner sidewall of the portable body, the phase change material configured to transition from one phase to a second phase at a predetermined temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170042373.pdf

Thanks to PCM insert, luxury chocolates melt in your mouth, not in the box

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

In hot climates, chocolates bought at retail shops can end up melting on the way home. Pluss Advanced Technologies of India has introduced a packaging insert to keep the sweets in solid form during transit.

Pluss PCM insertDeveloped for ITC’s Fabelle line of premium chocolates, the insert features inorganic phase change material contained in a non-woven film. Vishnu Sasidharan, vice president of new product initiatives at Pluss, says the PCM was customized to keep the chocolate between 3º and 9º Celsius. The insert, designed for one-time use, measures about 170mm x 70mm. The goal is to maintain product quality and texture for one to two hours.

“The product was launched about five months back,” Sasidharan says. “It was available only in one hotel chain within ITC group of hotels. The boutique has gained much traction only in the last few months with ITC expanding it to not only within their group but in all the 5 star/7 star hotels across India.”

Pluss is working with other chocolate/confectionary companies to offer similar solutions for premium temperature-sensitive products.

PCM briefing: Alexium adds clients in bedding industry; new research on temperature-controlled pharma packaging

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Alexium International has announced an agreement to sell its new flame-retardant phase change material to a U.S.-based textile finisher serving the bedding industry. Alexium, based in Perth, Australia, and Greer, S.C., announced in May that it had reached a PCM sales agreement with one of the world's largest producers of mattress ticking. "Alexium is now in production or full-scale trials with six global mattress fabric finishers," said CEO Nicholas Clark "and for the first time, a major manufacturer in apparel is evaluating our flame retardant phase change material technology." 

• New from Research and Markets: "Temperature Controlled Pharmaceutical Packaging Solutions (TCPPS) Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2016-2026."

TheM dining mat• Months after falling short of raising $30,000 on IndieGoGo, developers of a PCM-powered thermal dining placemat called TheM said in January that they hoped to develop a successful design by the end of February. The team is now apologizing again, telling backers: "The PCM material did not work as intended and [we are] trying to develop a solution that can still add value to the innovation. Please bear with us and within the next 60 days [we hope] to have a product with which [we] can reward your support and patience."

Ira Smith, director of strategic development for global transport and biologistics at Pelican BioThermal, is among the panelists at the FlyPharma conference in Brussels this week. The topic: The increasing appeal of inter-continental rail freight services and sea freight.

Glacier Tek cooling vests are profiled in the June issue of OR Today magazine. The vests, which use PureTemp bio-based phase change material to maintain thermal comfort, are being marketed as a way to address heat stress among surgeons and operating room staff, who endure "bright lights, sterile gowns, lead aprons, physical exertion and time stress."

GreenCE is offering a free hourlong webinar, "Reinventing Green Building: Focus on Carbon & Leverage Technology," at 1 p.m. June 14. Instructors will discuss the limitations of LEED certification in various U.S. market segments and identify alternatives to LEED certification. 

• The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has named Peter Green as the new deputy laboratory director for science and technology. Green is a professor of materials science and engineering, chemical engineering and applied physics at the University of Michigan.  

Monodraught's Cool-Phase cooling and ventilation system has been specified for Harrogate's new civic headquarters, now under construction in County Durham, England. The system combines a phase change material thermal energy store with an intelligently controlled air handling unit to actively ventilate and cool buildings without the use of refrigerants. The company says the system contributes credits toward BREEAM standards for lifecycle costs, indoor air quality and low- and zero-carbon technologies. 

PCM briefing: Cold Chain Global forum agenda is set; deal reached on overhaul of TSCA

Ben Welter - Friday, May 20, 2016

The full agenda has been released for the 14th Cold Chain Global Forum to be held Sept. 26-30 in Boston. Sponsors and exhibitors include Pelican BioThermal, va-Q-tec AG, Cold Chain Technologies, American Aerogel, RGEES and Sonoco ThermoSafeFrank Butch, director of engineering at ThermoSafe, will lead a master class on temperature assurance packaging certification. Conference registration is open, with early bird rates available through June 3. [pdf]

• U.S. House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a bill overhauling the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act. Under the compromise version, EPA regulations would pre-empt most new state regulations, although states could still enact measures such as monitoring and labeling of chemicals, the New York Times reports.

• In a piece on the importance of cocktail ice, Primer magazine offers a unique description of how water freezes and melts: "The two ideas that help us understand the changes in water jumping between a solid and liquid state are enthalpy and entropy. Which I like to oversimplify and think of as order and disorder, enthalpy being order and entropy being the little shit disturber that lets it all go to hell. Enthalpy wants to freeze your ice and entropy wants to melt it, neither one of them ever really completely win this battle but who reigns over the other at any given time is decided by temperature: If the temperature is at -5°C/23°F enthalpy has the upper hand, if it’s 20°C/60°F then it’s entropy’s ball game." 

Rentable produce boxes equipped with PCMs win $12,000 ag innovation prize

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Refrigerated produce trucks are common in developed countries. Not so in India, where about 40 percent of fresh fruit and vegetables spoils before reaching consumers. A team of MIT and Harvard University students is developing a system designed to reduce that waste and lower distribution costs. Their idea won the first MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize awarded last week in Cambridge, Mass.

At the heart of the system are rentable boxes packed with phase change material. The insulated, collapsible boxes will be sized to fit on traditional dry trucks, which are far cheaper to own or rent than refrigerated trucks. The boxes are kept cold in refrigerated warehouses until they are filled with produce. Each box is equipped with a device to track location, temperature, humidity and payment information in real time.

Naren Tallapragada“We’re thrilled that we won the inaugural MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize," said Naren Tallapragada, a member of the winning gomango team "It was an honor and a privilege to share the stage with other talented teams with a passion for food, agriculture and sustainability. We’d like to thank the contest team, judges, sponsors and mentors for all of their support — and, of course, for recognizing that phase change materials could help the developing world transport its perishable goods affordably.”

Tallapragada, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in systems biology at Harvard, said the team continues to refine its technology and strategy. Gomango plans to use the $12,000 award to develop commercial prototypes for a pilot project in India. 

A team of MIT students, Safi Organics, won the $8,000 second-place prize for its work on a low-cost organic fertilizer. A team of MIT and Harvard University students, Ricult, won a $5,000 third-place prize for a cellphone-based system that connects small farmers in developing countries to "buyers, farm input sellers, banks, logistics and critical farming information."

http://news.mit.edu/2016/india-supply-chain-food-agribusiness-innovation-prize-0429

Research roundup: Recycled high-density polyethylene; metal hydride hydrogen tank; lithium-ion batteries; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Thermal conductivity enhancement of recycled high density polyethylene as a storage media for latent heat thermal energy storage [Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells]

Integration of Thermal Energy Storage Unit in a Metal Hydride Hydrogen Storage Tank [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Thermal performance analysis of PCM in refrigerated container envelopes in the Italian context – Numerical modeling and validation [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Eutectic: Phase Change Material for Food Storage [pdf] [International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology]

Warming-Up Effects of Phase Change Materials on Lithium-Ion Batteries Operated at Low Temperatures [Energy Technology]

PronGO bag uses PCM-filled pouches to keep ice cream solid on hot days

Ben Welter - Friday, March 25, 2016

Afraid your ice cream will melt on the walk home from the supermarket or on the way to a summer picnic? Pluss Advanced Technologies of Gurgaon, India, has a solution: PronGO, an insulated bag designed to keep frozen food frozen for up to five hours in hot conditions.

Multilayered film pouches containing phase change material fit in pockets inside the 3-liter bag. The flat pouches are about 100mm by 150mm. The PCM temperature range is -10 to -18 degrees Celsius.

In an interview with Phase Change Matters, Vishnu Sasidharan, vice president of new product initiatives at Pluss, says the bag will be available on Amazon next month for about $39 USD. He says it’s the first product Pluss has designed for the retail market.

PronGO thermal bagPluss is planning to introduce versions designed for three other temperature ranges, using either salt hydrate or biobased PCMs, depending on temperature requirements:

• +2° to +8° C (dairy products, fruits and vegetables),
• -2° to -10° C (raw meat and sea food)
• +15° to +25° C (chocolates and confectionary)

A promotional video (above) advises users to chill the pouches a minimum of 36 hours in a freezer set to maximum cooling. Sasidharan says the PCM can solidify in as little as 12 hours in a household freezer compartment. The longer duration represents a “worst case scenario considering different models of refrigerator vary in performance.”

http://businesswireindia.com/news/news-details/pluss-launches-prongo-bags-enabling-frozen-products-go/47906

Ember temperature-control mug completes pilot manufacturing run

Ben Welter - Friday, March 18, 2016

Ember Technologies, which raised $362,243 on IndieGoGo last fall to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, has completed its first pilot factory run of the product and is now working on reliability testing. In an update to IndieGoGo backers this week, the company announced several improvements to the mug, which uses phase change material to help manage beverage temperature:

• More robust design
• Reduced weight
• Liquid level sensing
• Redesigned charger coaster
• Improved mobile app

Delivery of the first mugs to nearly 2,000 backers, initially scheduled for April, is now set for July, after FCC, UL and RF testing is completed.