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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: Thermal energy storage pallet

Ben Welter - Monday, April 16, 2018

Viking Cold Solutions patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20180099778 (applicant Viking Cold Solutions Inc., Houston, Texas):

"A pallet for shipping goods, the pallet having a rigid member, a phase change material, and a temperature indicate. The rigid member includes a phase change material compartment. A phase change material is disposed in the phase change material compartment. The temperature indicator indicates a thermal state of the pallet."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180099778.pdf

PCM briefing: Epsom salts for seasonal heat storage; Formato joins Microtek Labs

Ben Welter - Monday, April 16, 2018

Chris Sansom, an associate professor in concentrating solar power at England's Cranfield University, says that magnesium sulphate heptahydrate, or Epsom salts, could be a viable material for seasonal heat storage. Adding water to the salts causes a reaction that creates heat at around 80 degrees C, a good match for space heating and hot water. Sansom is developing a heat storage system for the university’s growing campus. Because the school's CHP system requires a temperature of 90 degrees C, a slightly different form of salt, magnesium nitrate hexahydrate, will be used.

Richard M. FormatoRichard M. Formato, right, formerly R&D manager and principal technologist at Cold Chain Technologies, has joined Microtek Laboratories Inc., Dayton, Ohio, as director of new technology.

Sonoco ThermoSafe and Cathay Pacific Cargo announced a global partnership agreement for the leasing of the PharmaPort 360 temperature-controlled bulk shipping container. The agreement enables pharmaceutical shippers to lease the containers directly from Cathay Pacific Cargo.

Peli BioThermal is adding 13 drop points in Europe for its reusable temperature-controlled shippers. The drop points, located within Rhenus Logistics global network, are at airports in Prague, Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dublin, Milan, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Basel and Barcelona. 

Alexium International Group Ltd. has announced that Susan Thomas has been appointed as Alexium's new chair, replacing Gavin Rezos, who announced in November that he would step down this year. Thomas, a technology entrepreneur with a background in law and corporate finance, will assume the role at a board meeting May 8.

• In a CHEManager article provocatively titled "Hard Times for Bio-based Products," the Frankfurt-based Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA) asks: What is the most promising bio-based chemical? Four chemicals are given a close look: succinic acid, glycerol, para-xylene and 1,2-propanediol. And the winner is ...

PCM briefing: AI tool could transform chemistry; Peli BioThermal opens Tokyo service center

Ben Welter - Monday, April 09, 2018

An artificial-intelligence tool that has digested nearly every chemical reaction ever performed could transform the chemistry world, reports Nature. The tool, developed at the University of Münster in Germany, uses "deep-learning neural networks to imbibe essentially all known single-step organic-chemistry reactions — about 12.4 million of them. This enables it to predict the chemical reactions that can be used in any single step."

Pelican BioThermal plans to open a service center in Tokyo next month to service its reusable Credo Cube temperature-control shippers, including refurbishment and repair. The center will also serve as a network station for the company’s Credo on Demand rental program.

• Pelican BioThermal as an opening for "Business Development Manager UK or Netherlands EMEA."  

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted the agenda for the company's first Leading Minds Seminar, to be held June 6-7 in Blue Bell, Pa. 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.

Va-Q-tec AG of Germany reports that it has received a European patent for passive pallet-size containers with vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials. The European Patent 2876389 B1, which covers the company's va-Q-tainer product series, is valid in Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. "Imitators and competitors will now have to survive without some important thermal and mechanical functions," said Dr. Joachim Kuhn, the company's CEO. “The competition seems to be interested in the now legally protected technology and the highly energy efficient containers which are produced from it. We detected that competitors are offering patent infringing products. Obviously, we will take further steps to defend our technology."

• China's list of more than 100 U.S. products under threat of tariffs targets the U.S. chemicals and plastics sectors at a time when parts of the industry are investing heavily in new production, CNBC reports. Plastics, petrochemicals, petroleum products and specialty chemicals comprise about 40 percent of the targeted goods.

• New from 360 Market Updates: "Asia Pacific Advanced Phase Change Material Market Analysis 2012-2017 and Forecast 2018-2023"

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, has been named a Top 10 Energy Storage System Provider by Energy CIO Insights. Viking's PCM-based system is designed to reduce energy consumption in cold storage facilities by 20 to 35 percent.  

Amrit Robbins, CEO and founder of Axiom Exergy, will take part in a panel discussion, "Hot, Cold, and Shocking: What Leading Storage Options Can And Cannot Do," at the 37th Peak Load Management Alliance Conference in Coronado, Calif., April 16-18. 

Patent application: Vessel assemblies for temperature control

Ben Welter - Monday, April 02, 2018

American Aerogel patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180086534 (applicant American Aerogel Corp., Rochester, N.Y.):

"This present disclosure provides a vessel assembly for use in temperature sensitive shipping that can maintain a payload temperature across a range of temperatures. Importantly, the vessel assembly of the present disclosure reduces the overall packaging materials used in a shipper box and prevents the 'wrong' mixture of PCM-containing vessels from being used. ... [The vessel assembly comprises] a vessel [21] having a first filling port [11]; and a bladder [20] optionally having a second filling port [10]; wherein the chamber of the vessel comprises a first phase change material; and the bladder comprises a second phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180086534.pdf

PCM briefing: Thermal storage in focus at Energy Storage Europe; SaltX, Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop insulation paper

Ben Welter - Monday, March 12, 2018

• "Life Cycle Assessment of Thermal Energy Storage Materials, Components and System Concepts" (Björn Nienborg, Fraunhofer ISE) and "Development of PCM Based on the Prediction of Phase Diagrams of Salt Hydrate Mixtures" (Christoph Rathgeber, ZAE Bayern) are among more than a dozen presentations on thermal storage at this week's Energy Storage Europe expo and conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

• The energy storage company SaltX Technology will collaborate with specialty paper producer Ahlstrom-Munksjö to develop a large-scale manufacturing method for graphene-coated insulation paper. The paper will carry SaltX's patented nano coated salt, increasing the heat conductivity of the SaltX material by up to five times. 

• The March 2018 issue of the CIBSE Journal features a continuing professional development module sponsored by Monodraught: "Operating and enhancing PCM-cooled ventilation systems in office applications.

• New from Persistence Market Research: "Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020" and "Global Insulated Shipping Containers Market Research Report 2018"

• New from QYResearch: "Global Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Industry 2018 Market Research Report"

• Registration is open for an Industrial Fabrics Association International webinar on recent smart fabric applications used in a number of government, commercial, medical and consumer market segments. The cost for the March 15 webinar, initially presented in January, is $29 for association members, $79 for non-members. 

Arizona State University researchers have shed new light on the anomalous properties of water, using specially treated water mixed with another chemical. "As they changed the temperature at high pressures," Gizmodo reports, "they noticed a sharp change in the water's molecular behaviour as it seemed to change phases - from a liquid to a liquid."  

• The first Lego blocks made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane will go on sale later this year. Lego’s current blocks are made from oil-based plastics.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking bids to replace a chiller at the department's Washington, D.C., headquarters. The chiller was originally installed in 1995 to make ice at night for a thermal energy storage system.

Sunamp Ltd. is among 35 finalists preparing to pitch to investors at Cleantech Innovate in London on March 20.

GTI, a not-for-profit research organization based in Illinois, has been invited to present its hybrid solar energy system project at ARPA-E's Congressional Showcase March 12. The system stores thermal energy in inert particles for on-demand use.

PCM heat-recycling system keeps tugboats ready for action

Ben Welter - Friday, January 19, 2018

ZP Bison

Tugboats are the tireless workhorses of the world’s rivers and harbors. These powerful watercraft must remain on standby for long periods, ready to assist other vessels at a moment’s notice. The energy required to keep the engines warm and the cabin comfortable in cold climates is usually derived from electrical shore power. That’s expensive and inefficient.

Kotug International BV has developed an on-board system that captures heat produced by the engines and stores it in a tank that contains phase change material. The Dutch company installed the heat recycling system on one of its tugboats, the ZP Bison, in 2016. The result: Shore power consumption has been cut in half on the Hamburg-based tugboat.

Koos Smoor, manager for fleet performance and innovation at Kotug, oversaw development of the system, which won the Maritime Innovation Award 2017 in November.

“The use of PCM technology is new in the maritime industry and has great potential not only for tugboats, but for every type of vessel, as it can be tailored to different spaces and user profiles,” Smoor said. “Kotug is looking into more applications for temperature control purposes.”

Smoor answered a few PCM-related questions by e-mail:

Q: When did Kotug begin developing the heat recycling system?

A: “Two years ago we tested heat storage on our hybrid tugs to reduce the ‘hotel load’ during standby. The hotel load is the generator load in kilowatts when the tug is not working. It is mainly heating or cooling and pre-heating of the main engines.”

Q: What type of PCM is used in the system (salt hydrate, paraffin, biobased)?

A: “We are still testing multiple PCM materials.”

Q: What is the PCM's peak melting point?

A: “85 degrees is the 'coolwater' temperature of the engines. The coolwater of the main propulsion engines is used to heat up the PCM buffer. We also did test to use heat from the exhaust gasses to heat up the PCM buffer. However that is more complicated, and we stopped with that.”

Q: What is the PCM's heat capacity?

A: “The heat capacity is 73 Kwhr/m3.”

PCM tank in ZP Bison engine roomQ: How is the PCM tank configured, what are its dimensions, how much PCM is used? 

A: “The PCM tank [shown at right] is approximately 2 cubic meters. The PCM is warmed up by the coolwater of the engines. We like to keep the heat exchanger in the buffer for ourselves as we are working on a patent.”

Q: Who is the PCM manufacturer?

A: “The PCM material is manufactured in China.”

Q: How many tugboats are in Kotug's fleet?

A: “Worldwide Kotug and its joint ventures consist of approximately 120 tugboats.”

Q: Are there plans to install the heat recycling system in other Kotug vessels?

A: “Yes, we are looking into more installations on more tugboats. The installation can be done during the five-year maintenance period cycle of the tugboat. Note: Many tugs operate in the tropics where there is no need to preheat the engines. On these tugs there is no application for PCM materials.”

Q: Are there plans to license the technology for use by other towage operators?

A: “We are still looking into this.”

Research roundup: Cold chain insulated container; convective heat transfer; new form-stable composite; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Improving Performance of Cold-Chain Insulated Container with Phase Change Material: An Experimental Investigation [Applied Sciences]

Energy Storage in a Complex Heat Storage Unit Using Commercial Grade Phase Change Materials: Effect of Convective Heat Transfer Boundary Conditions [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Porosity and density measurements of sodium acetate trihydrate for thermal energy storage [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Melting and solidification behaviour of phase change materials with cyclic heating and cooling [Journal of Energy Storage]

Thermal performance enhancement of composite phase change materials (PCM) using graphene and carbon nanotubes as additives for the potential application in lithium-ion power battery [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

A novel form-stable phase change composite with excellent thermal and electrical conductivities [Chemical Engineering Journal]

Influence of PCM design parameters on thermal and optical performance of multi-layer glazed roof [Applied Energy]

A Novel Phase Change Based Cooling System for Prismatic Lithium Ion Batteries [International Journal of Refrigeration]

Facile method of fabricating microencapsulated phase change materials with compact bonding polymer–silica hybrid shell using TEOS/MPS [Thermochimica Acta]

PCM briefing: A call for papers on advanced building skins; a new factory for 1414 Degrees in Australia

Ben Welter - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

• A call for papers has been issued for the International Conference on Advanced Building Skins, to be held Oct. 1-2, 2018, in Bern, Switzerland. Among the topics: "Thermal performance of phase change materials for the building skin," "Models, tools and simulations for sustainable buildings" and "Cost engineering and life cycle cost analysis." The deadline for proposals is Feb. 15, 2018.  

1414 Degrees of Australia has moved into a 3,000-square-meter factory on the site of the former Mitsubishi engine plant near Adelaide, where it will build its first 10MWh TESS-IND system and the first 13.3MWh test cell for a 200MWh TESS-GRID system. The company also plans to build two grid-scale silicon-based thermal energy storage systems in South Australia. 

ZAE-Bayern among more than 80 exhibitors scheduled to attend the 2018 Energy Storage Europe in Dusseldorf, Germany, March 13-15. 

• New from QYResearch Group: "Global Smart Fabrics and Textiles Market Research Report 2017"

• The U.S. Department of Energy plans to request $99 million in fiscal year 2018 to support Energy Frontier Research Centers, which work to advance breakthroughs in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences and biosciences.

Glaciem Cooling Technologies of Australia won the "Applied Innovation" award at the inaugural Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards last month. Glaciem's ThermCOLD system uses a salt-based phase change material to store thermal energy, allowing refrigeration plants to run and store energy during off-peak periods, when electricity rates are lower, and then release energy during peak periods.   

Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders will retire in April, following a 30-year career with the packaging company. Chief Operating Officer Robert C. Tiede will replace Sanders as CEO.

• Singapore-based agribusiness giant Wilmar International has entered into an agreement to purchase Cargill's palm oil refinery and neighboring storage facility in Kuantan, Malaysia.

• The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is seeking to hire a research associate for a seasonal thermal energy storage project. Responsibilities will include numerical and experimental investigation of the storage system in combination with phase change materials.

Patent application: Thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 30, 2017

U.S. patent application 9828165 (applicant Sonoco Development Inc., Hartsville, S.C.):

"A thermally insulated VIP sandwich shipper for a temperature sensitive payload is provided. The shipper comprises an outer shell, an inner shell and vacuum insulated panels sandwiched therebetween. The outer shell and the inner shell may be unitary rigid structures made of an expanded foam material and comprising a bottom having a perimeter and sides extending from the bottom perimeter and terminating in a rim. The inner shell rim may be spaced from the outer shell rim to define a gap, the gap being sealed to create an enclosed space within which the vacuum insulated panels are located. Each vacuum insulated panel may be oriented substantially orthogonally to at least one adjacent vacuum insulated panel and have an edge that abuts the adjacent vacuum insulated panels."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/9828165.pdf

PCM briefing: Active vs. passive shipping solutions; registration open for Energy Innovation Summit

Ben Welter - Monday, November 20, 2017

• Registration is open for "Active vs. Passive Solutions: Which one is for me?" the next webinar in Sonoco ThermoSafe's temperature assurance packaging series. Ben Vanderplas, global product manager at Sonoco ThermoSafe, and David Bang, CEO of DHL LifeConEx, will lead the one-hour class, to be held Dec. 12.

Brooklyn Bedding's new Aurora mattress collection features TitanCool technology, "a phase change surface infusion" with "high conductivity properties."

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Thermal Management Technologies Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2027"

The UV-activated thermal energy storage material shows the rapid crystallization and heat discharge upon visible light (blue LED) illumination. (Grossman Group at MIT)MIT researchers have combined conventional phase change material with an organic compound that responds to a pulse of light. "The new system," MIT News reports, "uses molecular switches that change shape in response to light; when integrated into the PCM, the phase-change temperature of the hybrid material can be adjusted with light, allowing the thermal energy of the phase change to be maintained even well below the melting point of the original material." The system could be used in a thermal battery to store heat from the sun or any other source and release the heat when needed.

• Registration for the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is open. The event, to be held March 13-15 at the Gaylord Convention Center, outside Washington, D.C., showcases emerging energy technologies. No agenda yet.

• Researchers at the University of Maryland College Park have developed a method of fabricating fibers with boron nitride and polyvinyl alcohol using 3D print technologies which allows heat to be transferred away from the body.  Clothes made with the nanocomposite thread could help keep wearers cool in hot conditions.

Stanford University researchers have developed a reversible fabric that keeps skin a comfortable temperature whatever the weather. "On one side," Stanford News reports, "a copper coating traps heat between a polyethylene layer and the skin; on the other, a carbon coating releases heat under another layer of polyethylene." The fabric can either warm or cool the wearer, depending which side faces out.