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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: Acumen invests in Promethean Power Systems; Viking Cold wins Cleanie award

Ben Welter - Monday, October 14, 2019

• Social venture capital investor Acumen has invested an undisclosed amount in Promethean Power Systems Inc., which makes PCM-based refrigeration systems for cold-storage and milk chilling applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Jiten Ghelani, chief executive of Promethean, which is based in Boston, Mass., and Pune, India, said the investment would help the company accelerate the adoption of its products across India and other markets, and also expand its cooling-as-a-service offerings. 

Air New Zealand pillow• Two new consumer products featuring temperature-control fabrics from Outlast Technologies hit the market recently: A pillow designed to improve the quality of sleep for passengers on Air New Zealand's long-haul flights and a Calloway pullover designed to keep golfers cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, won a Platinum Cleanie Award last month for a PCM-based storage and demand management project in Massachusetts. The Cleanie Awards, presented at this year's North America Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, Utah, recognize companies and individuals shaping the clean-tech and renewable energy industries. The Viking Cold project involved the installation and commissioning of TES systems to store refrigeration energy and facilitate 1.3 MW of energy demand reduction across eight customer facilities, including the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Sonoco ThermoSafe of Arlington Heights, Ill., has introduced a new temperature-controlled box rental service. "The new Orion r product line is based on the existing ChillTech product," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of engineering and product management at Sonoco. "We’ve made changes to make the product more reusable (added EPP) and have increased the VIP insulation. The PCMs remain the same, using paraffin-based materials. ChillTech was developed by Laminar Medica in the UK prior to their acquisition and integration into the ThermoSafe business. Solutions will exist for 2-8, 15-25 and frozen temperatures."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has posted an opening for a Senior Account Manager Europe, to be based in Netherlands.

Microtek Laboratories Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, has introduced a new line of PCM-equipped pouches and panels for use in temperature-controlled shipping.

Patent application: Method and apparatus for transporting temperature sensitive products

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190285328 (applicant Illuminate Consulting LLC, Tampa, Florida):

"Embodiments of the subject invention relate to a method and apparatus for thermally protecting a product, such as when storing and/or shipping a product, so as to control the temperatures the products are exposed to. Embodiments can [increase] the amount of time the product and/or portions of the product experience a desired temperature range and/or reduce the amount of time the product and/or portions of the product experience temperatures outside of the desired temperature range and/or experience an undesirable temperature range. Embodiments can incorporate thermally conductive materials, such as aluminum sheets, positioned around and/or near the product positioned inside a packaging container, such that the conductive materials conduct heat from one or more locations in the interior of the package to one or more other locations in the interior of the package."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190285328.pdf

PCM briefing: ThermoSafe introduces new passive shipper; PCM-cooled rail containers hit market in China

Ben Welter - Saturday, August 24, 2019

ThermoSafe Pegasus ULD shipper• Sonoco ThermoSafe has announced the creation of a passive, temperature-controlled container that will be manufactured by AEROTUF of Charleston, S.C. The Pegasus ULD container will use AEROTUF’s patented AeroTHERM composite material technology, along with a gelled phase change material. "The Pegasus ULD will ultimately provide 2-8, CRT, and frozen temperature ranges depending on the PCM used for durations up to and exceeding five days," said Ben VanderPlas, manager of Engineering and Product Management at ThermoSafe, which is based in Arlington Heights, Ill. A launch date for the product has not been announced.

• The Chinese rail company that worked with the UK's University of Birmingham last year to develop a prototype of PCM-based freight container is bringing the concept to market. Hebei-based transport business CRRC Shijiazhuang sold 49 of the containers to a manufacturer in China this month. The low-emissions freight containers keep payloads cold without the need for fuel-generated refrigeration. "We are delighted to see our cold storage technologies start to make the commercial market," said Yulong Ding, director of the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage. "We are working with our partners to extend the cold storage technologies to more applications."

Lagunitas Phase Change ale• Here's a co-branding opportunity for a PCM manufacturer with a taste for hops: Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, Calif., has introduced Phase Change, "an unfiltered, wet-hop ale packed full of lupulin-drenched Simcoe, Citra & Mosaic hops." The brewer describes the beer as "somewhere between a solid and a liquid... a Phase Change of sorts."  

• More than 170 speakers are lined up 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 deliver the keynote address. Thomas Friedrich of Innogration GmbH, Germany, will discuss "collection of thermal energy from the façade" and "decentralized PCM storage elements for saving thermal energy." Damien Mathis of Ai Environnement, Paris, will give a presentation on the "thermal performance of engineered wood flooring impregnated with phase-change materials." The registration fee is 680 euros and includes the conference documentation as well as meals during both days. Participants who register by Aug. 30 will receive a 10 percent discount.

Patent application: A passive temperature control system for transport and storage containers

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 18, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190219320 (applicant Softbox Systems Ltd., Long Crendon, Great Britain):

"The present invention relates to the field of the transportation and storage of goods and to a passive temperature control system for such a transport and storage containers. The present invention seeks to provide a system that can enable goods to be securely and reliably transported and stored for limited periods within specified temperature ranges. Pharmaceuticals, proteins, biological samples and other temperature sensitive products, including food items, are regularly shipped in containers year round and are subjected to a wide range of temperatures. Though they are shipped in insulated containers and/or climate controlled environments, the temperature stability of the shipping containers can be significantly improved by utilising suitable phase change materials in an ordered fashion. The present invention provides a simple solution to the maintenance of temperature profiles for the transport and storage of temperature sensitive products."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190219320.pdf

PCM briefing: Lineup set for TES forum in Duesseldorf; CIC Energigune joins European research network

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

Christoph Rathgeber of ZAE Bayern and Michael Andretzky of the University of Duisburg-Essen are among the speakers at next week's Thermal Energy Storage Forum in Dusseldorf, Germany. The forum will focus on the use of thermal storage in industrial processes. Rathgeber's topic is "Economy of thermal energy storage." Andretzky's topic: "PCM in buffer tank for CHPs."

Crystallize bubble• Another frosty gem from Physics Today: "Bubbles freeze in a swirl of ice crystals"

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has launched an electric thermal energy storage system designed to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively. The pilot plant in Hamburg can store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. It uses a steam turbine to convert stored energy into electricity. 

CIC Energigune, a thermal energy storage research center in Spain's Basque Country, has joined the ALISTORE-ERI network. The European network brings together 20 research centers and 12 companies engaged in advanced energy storage research.

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston has made Food Logistics' list of Top Green Providers 2019. Viking was honored in two categories, refrigeration and alternative fuels &  energy. The company says its PCM-based thermal storage system, designed for use in cold storage facilities, can reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent.

Cryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, says it is taking steps toward reducing its carbon footprint with the launch of a new line of shipping solutions. The company, based in Edison, N.J. says its R3 Service Program "minimizes the need for insulation materials, phase change solutions, bottles and their necessary disposal by handling the coordination of container delivery, reverse logistics and required refurbishment."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for a sales manager with "experience in strategic selling across Europe."

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.”