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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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Patent application: Transport container

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190178534 (inventor Nico Ros, Riehen, Switzerland):

"In a transport container for transporting temperature-sensitive transport goods comprising a chamber for receiving the transport goods, a casing enclosing the chamber and at least one cooling element for temperature control of the chamber, the cooling element comprises an evaporation element with a cooling surface and a desiccant for receiving coolant evaporated in the evaporation element. The transport container further comprises a latent heat accumulator that communicates with the chamber for heat exchange. ... In a preferred embodiment, in which the transport goods are to be kept in the chamber at a temperature range of 2-8° C., the latent heat accumulator has a phase transition temperature of approx. 4-6° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190178534.pdf

PCM briefing: Building Skins conference agenda; tough words for CALMAC and Axiom Exergy

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

• The agenda is set for the 14th International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 28-29 in Bern, Switzerland. The Japanese architect and Pritzker laureate Shigeru Ban will be the keynote speaker. Among the more than 150 speakers is Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, who will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by May 31 will receive a 20 percent discount.

Mike HopkinsIn a LinkedIn post, former Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins shared his take on two of the California company's competitors in distributed thermal energy storage. "Look at @CALMAC, a Portfolio of Trane - been in our industry forever, good product, but haven't been able to secure utility deals because their large bespoke systems make it too risky to commit to MWs in a location on a schedule," wrote Hopkins, who is now CEO at Bakken Midstream. "Relative newcomer [Axiom Exergy] came to market with their #refrigeration #battery. Good concept but not plug and play. Not surprising, they seem to have recast themselves as a #cloud based power management company."

• Speaking of CALMAC: CEO Mark McCracken will speak on "some of the myths surrounding ice-based TES" at an ASHRAE technical seminar on thermal energy storage in building design in Hong Kong June 13. 

FedEx Express has launched a temperature-controlled shipping solution in Japan, Korea and Singapore. The company says its Medpak VIºC packaging, first introduced in Europe, provides 96-hour temperature stability. The reusable thermal packaging features vacuum insulated panels and phase change material validated to International Safe Transit Association 7D standards.

CIC energiGUNE, a research center in Spain's Basque Country, has an opening for a researcher in its thermal energy storage area. The research will focus on the storage of heat through reversible chemical reactions "in a range of temperature few explored so far (120 - 250 °C)." The application deadline is Sept. 11, 2019.   

Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation will be among the speakers at this year's Advances in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 7-8 in Denver, Colo. Her topic: "Measuring and Modeling the Thermal Performance of Products Equipped with Phase Change Materials." 

• Thermal energy storage startup NET Energy of Chicago is among 10 finalists for the University of Chicago’s 19th annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge. Winners will be announced next week, with the top companies sharing $250,000 in cash, along with $250,000 worth of office space and professional services from program sponsors. 

PCM briefing: Ice Energy signs distribution deal; Bloom joins Sunamp as board chairman

Ben Welter - Monday, April 22, 2019

Ice Energy of Santa Barbara, Calif., has reached distribution agreements with four California companies to sell, install and maintain its ice-based thermal storage system, the Ice Bear 20. The companies are Correy Baker Heating and Air of Murrieta; Emery Mechanical Engineering of San Diego; H3 of Santa Barbara; and SunRize Mechanical of Temecula. “This distribution network will enable us to further expand our footprint in the residential market in Southern California,” said Marcel Christians, co-COO of Ice Energy.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and AirBridgeCargo Airlines have announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled shipping container. The agreement will enable pharmaceutical shippers to lease PharmaPort 360 containers directly from AirBridgeCargo.

Martin Bloom• Thermal battery maker Sunamp Ltd. of Scotland has appointed Martin Bloom as chairman of the board. Bloom, right, has extensive experience in high-growth technology and renewable energy companies, including Chinese solar company Renesola and Loughborough-based fuel cell specialist Intelligent Energy. Bloom succeeds Sunamp’s founding chairman, Bob Pettigrew, who oversaw its early growth.

Nominations are being accepted for the 2019 Poncelet Prize for Innovation in Microencapsulation, co-sponsored by Procter & Gamble and the Bioencapsulation Research Group. The award recognizes innovation in process design and modernization; development of new core and shell materials; innovation in characterization methods; or innovation in emerging fields of applications. The deadline for submitting nominations is May 31, 2019.

Peli BioThermal is rebranding its Chronos temperature-controlled shippers. CoolGuard PCM will replace Chronos Express, and CoolGuard Advance will replace Chronos Advance. The CoolGuard shippers will offer configurations with fewer components and additional temperature set points, such as 16º C.

• Registration is open for "Phase Change Material & Passive Cooling in Large Venues," a lunch-hour presentation by Henderson Engineers. The free event, sponsored by AIA Kansas City, will be held June 12 at the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City, Mo.

Axiotherm GmbH's kraftBoxx thermal energy storage system is a finalist for a Smarter E Award in the renewable energy category. KraftBoxx is a joint development with Klara Energy and Tuxhorn within the scope of the PCM-based HeatSel product line marketed by Axiotherm. Winners will be announced May 15 in Munich.

• PCM expert Harald Mehling's new book is available on Amazon: "Understanding the Basics of Energy: An Introduction from Simple to Complex Situations."

Tempur-Pedic of Lexington, Ky., says its new TEMPUR-breeze mattress will help sleepers "stay up to 8 degrees F cooler through the night." According to Tempur-Pedic: "At about 80°F, the molecules within TEMPUR-breeze’s most efficient Phase Change Material (PCM) to-date, PURECOOL+, activate, shifting from a solid to a liquid to absorb massive amounts of heat. For the first time, Tempur-Pedic’s scientists successfully altered these proprietary molecules to deliver more phase change material, increasing its capacity to absorb heat by 2x compared to other PCM."

• Two new ASHRAE publications will be available in June: "Owner’s Guide for Buildings Served by District Cooling" and an updated edition of the "District Cooling Guide" for designers and building owners around the world.

• Researchers at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a polyethylene glycol-infused wood material that could be used to make windows that absorb heat during the day and release it into the home at night. The researchers are working to increase the heat storage capacity of the transparent wood, Smithsonian.com reports.

PCM with enhanced thermal properties developed for rail/truck container

Ben Welter - Saturday, January 12, 2019

Professor Yulong DingYulong Ding, the University of Birmingham professor who directed the development of a rail/truck shipping container designed to keep perishables cold without a power supply, says his team developed an organic phase change material with enhanced thermal properties for the project. The PCM is designed to keep the temperature inside the container between 5 and 12˚ C for up to 120 hours. Ding, director of the university's Center for Energy Storage, provided additional detail on the project in an interview this week.

Q: Describe your organization's role in the project.

A: It was funded by CRRC Shijiazhuang, a Chinese railway equipment manufacturer, and the project was collaborative. Our work at Birmingham included PCM materials development and fabrication, cold storage device design and testing, cold charging method and design. Work began in October 2017.

Q: What role did CRRC Shijiazhuang play?

A: CRRC was the project sponsor. Their work included manufacture and test of the device and cold charge device, installation of cold storage devices into large container, data-logging and IT, real application demonstration and testing (35,000 km combined road and railway testing across a wide climate zones).

Q: Can you briefly describe the testing methods and results?

A: I believe two standard containers were used, goods include all sorts of vegetables, flowers and fruits. Energy saving data have not been processed for the real tests but we do have testing data from labs, which is around 20 percent.

Q: Describe the PCM used in the application.

A: We used organic based PCM reformulated for enhanced thermal properties. Melting temperatures can be turned between -4 and 4 degree C, and the thermal storage capacity is >~200 kJ/kg.

Q: How big are the rail containers, typically, and how much PCM is used in each container?

A: We used the standard container for road transportation, which can be used for rail use. I prefer not to say the amount of PCM used, which may need approval from our sponsor.

Q: How is the PCM charged, and how long does it take to charge the PCM in a typical container?

A: We have a mobile charge device. The charging time is relatively short. The details will need our sponsor to approve before I can tell.

Q: In what material is the PCM contained (HDPE, film, metal)?

A: We used composite PCM contained in PCM storage device.

Q: How is the PCM deployed in the rail containers?

A: The PCM devices are installed inside the container.

Q: Does CRRC plan to manufacture the rail containers?

A: I doubt they would make the container.

https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2018/12/scientists-develop-world-first-cold-storage-roadrail-container.aspx

PCM briefing: Sunamp among 'Scottish tech companies to watch' in 2019; C-Therm webinar on new thermal conductivity instrument

Ben Welter - Monday, January 07, 2019

Rail shipping container with PCM

• The University of Birmingham's Center for Energy Storage has teamed up with a Chinese railway equipment manufacturer to develop a shipping container that uses phase change materials to maintain a low temperature over several days without a power supply. "Once ‘charged’, PCM inside the container - which can be transferred from train to truck and vice versa - can keep the inside temperature between 5-12 ˚C for up to 120 hours," the university reports.

CNET's Scott Stein takes a close look at PowerStation, "a battery of sorts that can keep a low-power sensor running off the temperature differences in everyday weather conditions." The device, made by Matrix Industries of Menlo Park, Calif., stores heat in a substance the company calls "Luna Phase Change Material" and later releases the heat in the form of electricity.

Scottish Business Insider has named Sunamp Ltd. one of five Scottish tech companies to watch in 2019. "The £2.2m raised in its latest fundraising sets the company up for a Series A round in 2019 as it looks to expand its international footprint and further scale its operations," Insider writes. "Sunamp heat batteries have so far been installed in over a thousand homes across the UK." 

C-Therm managing director Adam Harris is hosting a webinar this week to introduce the company's new thermal conductivity instrument, the C-Therm Trident. Advance registration is required for the webinar, which will be held at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 10.

• At a business summit in Wisconsin last month, Encapsys President Mary Goggans said the Appleton-based company offers internships to students at regional colleges, including the children of employees. “The interns see the jobs and technologies they are interested in right here in the area,” Goggans said. “They realize they don’t need to get a job outside of the region to have the career they are looking for.”

Patent application: Load bearing structure with PCM

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 02, 2019

U.S. patent application 20180370681 (applicant Airdex Corp., Newport Beach, Calif.):

"The present invention provides a movable load bearing structure having indentations, grooves, valleys, channels or other similar depressions on its underside. These depressions are mated with corresponding features for improved loading bearing capabilities. The load bearing structure may be a dunnage platform or a container for storing and/or shipping cargo. ... In an embodiment of the invention ... pockets may be used to locate phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180370681.pdf

Patent application: Thermo protection storage cell for cold transport box

Ben Welter - Monday, October 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180283761 (applicant Swissmedpack Technologien JP. Buettiker GmbH, Basel, Switzerland):

"A thermo-protection-storage-cell for the ensuring of a temperature range from a lower temperature exposure limit to an upper temperature exposure limit contains a thermo-cell body and at least one filling chamber which is arranged in the thermo-cell body. At least one filling chamber is filled with a first phase-change material which changes its phase at the point of the lower temperature exposure limit. The at least one filling chamber is filled with a second phase-change material which changes its phase at the point of the upper temperature exposure limit. The thermo-protection-storage-cell facilitates an efficient and safe ensuring of a temperature-sensitive good in a useful way, especially during its transport."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180283761.pdf

PCM briefing: Viking Cold Solutions to install system in Mexico; Pluss reaches distribution deal with Ferro-Plast of Italy

Ben Welter - Friday, October 12, 2018

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has reached a deal to install its PCM-based thermal energy storage system in one of Red de Frios' frozen food warehouses in Monterrey, Mexico. Viking systems are designed to reduce energy costs by shifting peak demand to nighttime hours.

• The German Aerospace Center, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Stuttgart have signed an agreement to build a research facility in Germany to develop an efficient, cost-effective and "virtually loss-less" heat-based electrical storage technology. At this week's signing ceremony in Stuttgart, Stanford University Professor Robert B. Laughlin, right, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics, explained why he thinks heat storage will play a key role in the energy landscape of the future.

• The Conductive Plastics conference in Vienna Nov. 6-7 will include sessions on "Challenging the boundaries in thermally conductive and electrically conductive polyamides," "Boron nitride filler materials for high-performance thermal management applications," "Mineral flame retardants and metal oxides as thermally conductive fillers," "Investigating the effect of material molecular orientation on thermal conductivity of polymeric products" and "Thermally conductive materials based on synthetic rubber."

• In a LinkedIn post, Pluss Advanced Technologies of India announced it has reached a deal with Ferro-Plast Srl of Italy to distribute Pluss products in Europe.

• New from MarketResearch.biz: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Trends, Applications, Analysis, Growth, And Forecast: 2018 To 2027"

• New from Invant Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Study 2015-2025"

• New from Future Market Insights: "Salt Hydrate Market: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment; 2017 - 2027"

• New from Polaris Market Research: "Fatty Acid Esters Market, [By Product Type (Glycerol Monostearate, Medium Chain Trigylcerides, Isopropyl Esters (Myrsitate & Palmitate) and Others); By Application (Lubricants, Pharmaceuticals, Personal care & Cosmetics, Surfactants and Others); By Regions]: Market size & Forecast, 2018 – 2026"

Peli BioThermal has opened service centers in Basel and Berlin to support the company's line of Credo reusable temperature-control shippers.

• Nominations are being accepted for Metrohm USA's Young Chemist Award 2019. Entrants submit an abstract of their research for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to PITTCON 2019. The contest is limited to undergrad, grad, post-grad and doctoral students in the United States and Canada. Entrants must demonstrate novel research or a novel methodology using titration, ion chromatography, electrochemistry and/or spectroscopy. Applications are due by Dec. 31, 2018.

Sonoco ThermoSafe, a global provider of temperature assurance packaging in the life sciences sector, has an opening for a sales director, responsible for sales growth in North America.

• Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the next Leading Minds Seminar, to be held Nov. 6-7 in London. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

ASHRAE Learning Institute will offer 20 courses during the 2019 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo. The conference will be held in Atlanta Jan. 12-16. Courses include "Advanced Designs for Net Zero Buildings," "Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning" and "Solar PV and Thermal System Analysis and Design."

PCM-equipped heat exchanger designed for use in reefer trucks, cold rooms

Ben Welter - Friday, September 14, 2018

A new PCM application turned up in my LinkedIn feed this week:

"Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. presents ThermoTab active plates used for both #coldstorages and #transportation applications at India Cold Chain Show 2018" ... "Enabling last mile connectivity with fuel free refrigeration."

Vishnu SasidharanThe post offered plenty of hashtags but not much information. I asked Vishnu Sasidharan, right, vice president for new product initiatives at Pluss, for details on the thermoTab Active heat exchanger.

Q: Who developed the thermoTab Active heat exchanger and when was it introduced commercially?

A: "The thermoTab Active heat exchangers are being sourced from FIC, Italy, a company which is has been manufacturing heat exchangers for thermal energy storage in refrigerated vehicles since 1951. Pluss has partnered with FIC to offer complete solution – PCM-filled heat exchangers exclusively in India – introduced commercially in India from September 2017. The partnership leverages FIC & Pluss strength in heat exchanger and material sciences respectively to offer solutions for storage, transportation and space cooling/heating."

Q: What types of PCM are used? (salt hydrate, thermal energy capacity, peak melt point ranges, etc.)

A: "The current standardized offerings are for two categories of temperature; +2 to +8 deg C and -15 to -25 deg C. The plates offered on the basis heat load capacities and the categories under which it falls. For instance, if a customer requires 20kw-Hr of thermal storage capacity for +2 to +8 deg C the number of plates, the customer could refer to the datasheet and choose the combination of thermoTab Active plates based on its capacity. Alternatively, the datasheet also provides with a quick selection of number of thermoTab Active plates based on the volume of the container, insulation thickness and the retention hours required." 

Q: Describe how the heat exchanger functions.

Pluss thermoTab Active plateA: "The heat exchanger plates have a refrigerant coil inside. The PCM filled inside the plate remains completely immersed in the PCM solution. During charging or freezing cycle begins when refrigerant is passed through the coil at a temperature lower than the phase change point of PCM. When the temperature in the room starts to rise above the phase change point of the PCM, the surface of the heat exchangers starts to release the energy at a constant temperature, thereby maintaining the temperature of the environment."

Q: How and when are the PCM panels charged in a refrigerator truck?

A: "The thermoTab Active plates are charged by means of an electric refrigeration system on board the truck. Prior to commencement of the delivery cycle, the truck’s refrigeration system is connected to a three-phase electric source for 8-10 hours. The cost of storing energy by electricity as against active cooling using diesel the savings are substantial. The payback for such system is less than six months."

Q: How and when are the PCM panels charged in a micro cold room?

A: "In a micro cold room as well the charging takes place similar to a refrigerator truck. However, the operating cost could be further reduced by running the refrigerator unit using solar instead of grid electricity. The thermoTab Active plates provides a unique value proposition for solar based micro cold room by enabling 24/7 uninterrupted cooling without the requirement of an electrochemical battery. Most micro cold rooms operate in areas which do not have access to electricity."

Q: How does thermoTab Active differ from passive PCM systems used in reefer trucks and cold rooms?

A: "Passive PCM systems depend on a centralized freezing unit. This makes the process cumbersome for the user as the PCM modules/cartridges need to be constantly removed from the container to a freezer unit and back. It also results in temperature losses due to exposure to ambient temperature during the loading and unloading of PCM modules."

Q: How many refrigerator trucks are using the system?

A: "In India over 250 refrigerator trucks are using this system."

Q: How many micro cold units are using the system?

A: "In India approximately 60 micro cold rooms are using this system. The demand is immense and we believe the application is now beginning to transition from early stage to maturity in terms of market reach."

Q: Is the product available outside India?

A: "It is also available in Africa and southeast Asia."

PCM briefing: Ice Energy seeks distributors in Australia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia; Thermetrics' new manikin can measure PCM effects

Ben Welter - Friday, August 31, 2018

• In an interview with Energy Storage Report, CEO Mike Hopkins discussed Ice Energy's plans to distribute its ice-based thermal energy storage technology in Australia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. In June, the California company announced a $40 million cash infusion from Argo Infrastructure Partners to finance the delivery of Ice Energy's residential and commercial thermal storage contracts.

Thermetrics manikin ANDIThermetrics says its new ANDI sweating thermal manikin has the "unrivaled ability" to measure both positive and negative heat flux and to respond to changing environmental conditions with "unprecedented" speed and accuracy. The new manikin was unveiled this week at the 12th International Meeting of Manikins and Modeling, hosted by the Swiss research institute Empa, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The manikin can be used to evaluate the thermal performance of apparel, blankets and seats, as well as quantify the cool-to-touch or warm-to-touch temperature-buffering effect in fabrics containing phase change materials. 

• New from LP Information: "2018-2023 Global Eutectic Phase Change Material Consumption Market Report"

• New from Research and Markets: "Phase Change Materials (PCMs) - A Global Market Overview"

• The journal Nature reports that India is cracking down on predatory journals, publications that "actively solicit manuscripts and charge authors hefty fees without providing the services they advertise, such as editing and peer review." 

• Life science laboratories are finding creative ways to reduce the amount of plastic they throw away, The Scientist reports. 

Sonoco ThermoSafe will hold its next Leading Minds Seminar Nov. 6-7 at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel Heathrow, London, England. Co-hosted by ELPRO, the seminar is a chance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, supply chain partners and government representatives to discuss temperature-assurance packaging and data monitoring in a collaborative environment.

Viking Cold Solutions says the thermal energy storage system the company installed at a 93,000-square-foot frozen food distribution center in Richmond, Calif., has reduced peak period energy consumption by up to 43 percent and reduced overall freezer energy consumption by 35 percent. Viking installed the system at the Dreisbach Enterprises warehouse earlier this year. Plastic panels filled with a proprietary salt hydrate are installed evenly throughout the warehouse atop the existing product racks. The PCM absorbs heat as it melts, allowing chillers to run less frequently and still keep the warehouse within a few degrees of the target temperature. The system also includes intelligent controls and sensors to optimize energy use and alert managers to temperature abnormalities, equipment failure and power outages.