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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 monthly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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PCM battery shows promise in home heating system

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A home heating system equipped with a PCM battery put up encouraging numbers in a small trial in northern Italy earlier this year. The monthlong test “shows that is possible [for such a system] to supply the whole heating demand of a house reducing close to zero the costs,” says Domenico Feo, who developed the system. The full report, prepared by ThermaLink, a trademark of Sunservice Srl of Treviso, Italy, is available here.

ThermaCubeThe system is composed of a 6 kW solar array, an air/water heat pump and a thermal battery filled with BioPCM Q42, a biobased phase change material supplied by Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C. A control unit, PCDCube, monitors temperatures and manages energy flow to optimize system performance. In an interview with Phase Change Matters, Feo answered questions about the heat battery, recently rebranded as ThermaCube.

Q: Thermal conductivity has proven to be a challenge in thermal energy storage across most types of PCM. Was conductivity an issue with the required charge/discharge cycles?

A: "As already known, the thermal conductivity of the PCM, especially of the organic one that we use, is low. This is, at the same time, a disadvantage and an advantage. The disadvantage has been minimized in using a heat exchanger made with a flat aluminum panel with the various layers just over 1 inch of distance; in this way we are able to make the entire volume of material work in a very efficient way. Vice versa this is an advantage for the very low heat losses during the non-work phases; in conditions of installations inside the buildings, the temperatures can be maintained for several days."

Q: If faster heat transfer is required, do you envision a redesign of the heat exchanger or a modification of the PCM to meet the demand of the energy transfer?

A: "As manufacturer, we can customize the heat exchanger dimensions and shape in order to achieve our goals, but as always in the industrial scalability, the quantities are mandatory for a good price. We designed a single heat exchanger dimension and multiply it in order to be able to produce the different storage capacities and realize a complete modular range. The transfer of energy can be however accelerated by increasing the flow rate of the fluid and the delta T between the fluid and the melting point, of course there is always a limit to this possibility. There are still studies around this point that need to be better understood."

Q: Would implementing several PCMs of different melting temperatures aid in the overall performance of the TES?

A: "Let's say that we expect a slight drop in performance at lower temperatures, but we don't have many other tests to give you a more general opinion."

Q: How is the PCM temperature measured throughout the entire storage to provide input to the PCDCube? Since the melting/solidification of PCM is not a homogenous process, are multiple measurements necessary to get a realistic status of the PCM?

A: "In the documents that we have published, we do not specify that we have installed two temperature probes, one in the center and another one near the walls and it is evident that, when the final phase of the  discharge of the PCM approaches, the perimeter probe shows a decrease of more sudden temperature than the central one. We, however, assume that the fact of having installed our thermal battery outside the building in a very cold climate, has exaggerated the heat loss despite the low heat transmission."

Q: Have you considered other PCM suppliers/products, since many are located in Europe and the RAL quality organization is based there?

A: "This is a possibility, at least for the distribution of our products in Europe and Asia. Currently we try to separate the supply of the case with exchangers (that we manufacture) from the PCM with direct purchase of the client from the supplier, especially in the larger units."

Q: What is the customer value proposition for this product? What is the expected return on investment/payback period?

A: "This is a $1 million question; the proposal is certainly into the growing wave of the storage market, even the electrical ones for PV systems. (A Tesla Powerwall is cool but not economically advantageous if you don’t pay attention at the payback that is higher than the life of the battery). The best value proposition is to separate production from the consumption of the energy and take advantage of renewable energies which, unfortunately, are linked to the day / night cycle and the outdoor temperature conditions. We see perfect the combination HP + Thermal Battery because we can concentrate the HP working hours during the best outdoor conditions that, for many reasons, are affecting and reducing the performances.  Furthermore, we also see a large market in the use of these thermal batteries in all these existing systems which are undersized or which, due to specific situations of changing use of the building, are no longer able to provide the necessary heating or cooling to the whole plant. About the ROI, this really varies a lot country by country because the cost of the electricity has different rates and peak hours schedules. The industrial needs are sometimes much more interesting and attractive than the residential ones."

Q: What are your plans for a commercial rollout?

A: "We are completing the Italian sales force and are looking for international distributors. Our goal is to propose the range of products at an international level with distribution agreements for the case only with exchangers; it will obviously be our responsibility to direct the partner to some reliable and high-quality PCM manufacturers. Obviously, those who will quickly give us the opportunity to build pilot plants, demonstrating the technology, will have an advantage in introducing them into the market and in the exclusivity of the contractual relationship."

Phase Energy announces a new shape-stable PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 11, 2020

Phase Energy Ltd. has announced the development of shape-stable technology for organic wax-based PCMs.

The company, based in Hull, United Kingdom, said a tetradecane-based shape-stable material would typically contain more than 90% PCM; the new technology has achieved levels of up to 96%. "Initial tests indicate that little, if any, enthalpy is lost, possibly due to the very low level of additives required," the company said.

The technology was jointly developed with Rainer Busch of IBC Europe, Germany.

"So far, the technology has been used for paraffins, esters etc. and on a range of PCMs with [melt points] of up to 53 degrees Centigrade," Phase Energy said in a LinkedIn post. "The technology permits the production of leak-resistant packs/pouches using very simple process technology." 

"We’re currently working with some companies in the cold chain area; looking at cold packs/pouches, pallet covers etc.," Ian Biggin, director at Phase Energy, said in an e-mail. "As the technology can be adapted to higher temperature PCMs we are also interested in those areas as well but we decided that cold chain was the obvious place to start."

The photo below illustrates the material's flexibility. According to the company, it "shows a shape stable sample, 100 x 30 x 12mm, containing 92% tetradecane and 8% additives, being stretched to >700mm. When released the sample returned to its original size."

http://phase-energy.com/new-shape-stable-pcm-development/

PCM briefing: Ice Energy files for bankruptcy; Viking Cold has opening for thermal engineer

Ben Welter - Monday, February 10, 2020

Ice Energy, the Santa Barbara, Calif., company that made and distributed ice-based thermal energy storage systems, has filed for bankruptcy. The company's Ice Bear system makes ice at night when demand for electricity is low and capacity is abundant. During the day, the stored ice is used to provide cooling. Details of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in December, are sparse. The company's website is no longer active. Over the years, Ice Energy had won several major energy storage and distribution contracts with utilities, and had begun marketing a smaller version of the Ice Bear system aimed at retail customers. 

Viking Cold Solutions has an opening for a chemical/thermal engineer in Houston. The engineer will "conduct research in Thermal Science, Storage/Heat Transfer and Phase Change Materials (PCM) for low temperature applications (<10⁰C)."

Axiom Exergy has secured more than $1 million in orders for the Axiom Cloud, a software platform that helps manage energy consumption in supermarkets and cold storage facilities that use the company's PCM-powered thermal storage systems.

• The 2020 Advancements in Thermal Management conference, to be held Aug. 6-7 in Denver, has issued a call for presentations. Topics include thermal materials, thermal modeling and characterization and measurement of thermal materials. Abstracts are due Feb. 12.

EnergyNest will install a large thermal energy storage battery at a Senftenbacher brick factory in Austria. The system will temporarily store excess energy in the form of hot air from a tunnel furnace. The stored heat be converted to steam and later reused in production.

Devan Chemicals, the Belgium-based developer of finishing technologies for textiles, introduced its Tones of Cool Bio technology at the Heimtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, last month. The technology "stimulates the textile to dissipate redundant heat from the body and to instantly reduce the body temperature," the company says. The phase change materials "are derived from sustainable, natural sources.

Registration is open for the 23rd Microencapsulation Industrial Convention to be held June 8-11 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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.

Croda began work on new microencapsulated PCM four years ago

Ben Welter - Friday, July 26, 2019

UK-based Croda International recently announced the launch of a microencapsulated form of biobased phase change material developed at the company's PCM technical center in Netherlands. The new material is designed to be used to control temperatures in bedding, mattresses, automotive interiors, clothing and other applications.

Jerome Gonthier and Martin ButtersThe development was led by Marco Auerbach and Jerome Gonthier, working with colleagues who have expertise in microencapsulation and acrylic polymer. Martin Butters, a specialist in PCM applications and business development, also supported the project.

Gonthier and Butters provided details on the new material in an email interview.

Q: What prompted the decision to develop this technology?

A: "Having established a range of high-quality bio-based PCMs, market demand led us to explore the microencapsulation of these PCMs. Microencapsulation converts the PCM into particles that are offered to the market in two forms, powder and water-based dispersion. Microencapsulated PCMs are often advantageous for use in composite materials such as coatings, fibers and other matrices where PCM leakage needs to be avoided."

Q: How long did it take to complete the project?

A: "Overall the project ran for about four years leading to the launch of the first products in 2018."

Q: Did the team surmount any unexpected challenges, technical or otherwise?

A: "The challenges were mainly those we expected – achieving microcapsules with good durability, very low levels of free wax and overcoming sub-cooling (reduction in crystallisation temperature due to microencapsulation)."

Q: When did Croda officially launch the technology commercially?

SEM photo of CrodaTherm ME29P (powder grade) A: "The first products, CrodaTherm ME 29D (50% dispersion) and CrodaTherm ME 29P (powder), which are 29º C melting point products, were launched in Q4 2018. 32º C versions will be added to the range shortly and we expect the range to be further extended with other operating temperatures in due course."

Q: Does Croda manufacture fibers and textiles with the microencapsulated PCM? Or does it manufacture the MPCM and sell it to fiber and textile manufacturers?

A: "Croda does not produce fibers or textiles, instead we specialize in offering PCMs that are developed and manufactured in-house, for use in such applications (and many more)."

Q: What specs can you share on the MPCM, such as composition, peak melt point and latent heat storage capacity?

A: "We microencapsulate CrodaTherm bio-based PCMs with an acrylic-type shell. For CrodaTherm ME 29D and ME 29P, peak melting temperature is 29ºC and latent heat is typically about 180 J/g."

Q: Does the MPCM have any properties, such as latent heat storage capacity or ease of manufacture, that sets it apart from competing products?

A: "We use internally produced bio-based PCM, rather than paraffin waxes sourced externally from the market, meaning we have full control over quality and the products have high bio-based content and excellent thermal properties."

Q: Have textiles embedded with this MPCM undergone thermal effusivity testing or other tests that would confirm their effectiveness in managing temperatures in consumer products?

A: "Several tests have been carried out to confirm the performance of materials embedded with mPCM and further work will be carried out, including thermal effusivity."

Q: Will the technology be used in any products scheduled for release this year or next?

A: "A number of projects are underway for different applications, so we’ll have to wait and see!"

Glacier Tek adds flexible PCM microspheres to new line of cooling packs

Ben Welter - Monday, July 15, 2019

Glacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis has incorporated flexible PCM microspheres in the cooling packs used in its Flex Vest line of cooling vests. 

Glacier Tek's new cooling packsThe cooling packs, redesigned for improved comfort and performance, feature a soft, durable nylon shell. They reach a flexible state more quickly and feel colder than the previous packs. 

The Flex Vest is designed to maintain a comfortable microclimate of 18 degrees C for up to 2.5 hours. The new packs can be recharged in about 30 minutes in ice water or two hours in a refrigerator. But they are most effective when fully solidified in a freezer, which takes about an hour. The cooling packs weigh about 164 grams each and fit into 12 pockets inside the vest.

The novel cooling material, developed by PureTemp LLC of Minneapolis, is composed of a biobased phased change material. It is similar to the material used in the Glacier Tek therapy cooling packs introduced at the American College of Sports Medicine trade show in Orlando in May.

"PureTemp is excited to bring this shape-stabilized PCM format to the market," said Chris Servais, vice president of operations at PureTemp. "Glacier Tek has capitalized on its unique and improved characteristics.”

https://glaciertek.com/spare-flex-vest-cooling-pack-set/

Novel PCM microspheres keep new therapy pack flexible when frozen

Ben Welter - Saturday, June 15, 2019

A novel phase change material developed by PureTemp LLC of Minneapolis is the key component of a new flexible therapy pack introduced at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Orlando, Fla., last month.

Glacier Tek therapy packThe flexible PCM microspheres have a melt point of 18 degrees C and remain pliable when frozen. The flexible GlacierPacks, developed by Glacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis, are designed to provide targeted cooling relief for bruises, muscle strains, headaches and more. The patent-pending packs can be recharged in ice water in about an hour, hold their target temperature of 18 C for more than two hours and can be reused indefinitely.

The packs can be applied directly to skin without damaging tissue or causing discomfort. They can be used safely and effectively for longer periods than traditional ice packs or cold water immersion (CWI) treatments.

In research led by Dr. Malachy P. McHugh and Susan Y. Kwiecien of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York, packs filled with PureTemp's biobased phase change material have been shown to provide a practical way to deliver prolonged post-exercise cooling and thereby accelerate muscle recovery.

A 2019 study, "Accelerated Recovery of Muscle Function in Baseball Pitchers Using Post-Game Phase Change Material Cooling," set out to examine the effectiveness of post-game PCM cooling on strength recovery in pitchers. Based on prior research (Kwiecien et al 2018 and Clifford et al 2018), it was hypothesized that PCM cooling would accelerate recovery. The flexible cooling packs were applied to the elbows and forearms of college pitchers after each had thrown 45 pitches. Pitchers in a control group received no PCM cooling treatment. The strength, soreness and creatine kinase levels of the athletes were then measured to gauge the effectiveness of the PCM cooling. CK is an enzyme released into the blood at elevated levels when there is muscle damage.

The researchers concluded that prolonged PCM cooling accelerated recovery of strength but did not affect soreness or CK levels. "The effect of PCM cooling of the medial elbow and forearm on grip strength recovery is very encouraging considering the role the wrist flexors play in dynamic stability of the elbow," the researchers wrote. 

"Can you believe it? A PCM that remains flexible when fully charged!" said RoxAnne Best, president of PureTemp and Glacier Tek. "I am really proud of our team for their commitment to bringing this technology to market. The consumer application possibilities are endless."

The therapy packs are available on Amazon and on the Glacier Tek website. A set of six packs retails for $229. Contact Glacier Tek to inquire about samples, volume discounts and custom configurations.

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. 

Croda adds 2 biobased phase change materials to its lineup

Ben Welter - Friday, May 17, 2019

Marco AuerbachCroda International Plc introduced two new biobased phase change materials, CrodaTherm 32 and CrodaTherm 37, in March. The British specialty chemicals maker developed the products at its PCM lab in Gouda, Netherlands. Marco Auerbach, technology development manager, said development work began about three years ago. He discussed the project in an email interview.

Q: What prompted Croda to create these PCMs -- customer requests, anticipated demand based on market analysis or a combination of factors?

A: "A combination of factors. Market demand was picked up by various means and also verified by customers, which prompted us at one point to start the development."

Q: What was your role in development of these PCMs?

A: "I am leading the technical development of PCMs within Croda. Therefore my task was to put a team together to find the right chemistry for the best possible technical product properties. Mainly meaning high latent heat, narrow melting and crystallization points and high cycle stability."

Q: Did the team surmount any unexpected challenges, technical or otherwise? 

A: "As with most developments, our project team also encountered challenges and set-backs. We had a few options to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. One challenge that is and will be taking more effort and time in future are chemicals registrations in various countries, but also raw material availability and pricing can have an impact."

Q: What specs can you share on each of the products, such as composition, peak melt point and latent heat storage capacity?

A: "For each launched PCM we have Product Data Sheets (PDS) available, so we also issued these for CrodaTherm 32 and CrodaTherm 37. They can be found on our website,  www.crodatherm.com. CrodaTherm 32 has a melting temperature of 32°C and crystallizes at 29.5°C. Latent heat is 190 kJ/kg. For CrodaTherm 37 melting takes place at 36.8°C, crystallization at 35°C and latent heat is 203 kJ/kg, measured by DSC."

Q: Do the new products have any properties, such as latent heat storage capacity or material compatibility, that set them apart from competing products?

A: "It is important to define which competing products or technologies one compares our products with, but in general our PCMs are produced from renewable resources and are also biodegradable. They are non-corrosive to metals and have long-term stability. Another big advantage is the very much lower evaporation and higher flash points compared to the current paraffin industry standards."

Q: What applications are suited to each of the two PCMs?

A: "We do not define the applications our products can be used for, but we have seen most interest in personal cooling and heating applications, as well as temperature-controlled shipments. We are still regularly surprised where and how customers sometimes want to use our CrodaTherm PCMs."

Q: In what formats are the two PCMs available -- bulk, macroencapsulated, microencapsulated?

A: "Both CrodaTherms are available in IBCs and drums. We go down in size to about 16 kg pails as the lowest pack size, but on request other options are possible. Croda does not offer macro encapsulation as we see ourselves as PCM suppliers, not wanting to compete with our customers at the user level. We feel that our customers and partners are better equipped to do this from a technical and customer support point of view. Croda does give advice on materials compatibility and connect our customers with our partners for macro encapsulation though. We do offer micro encapsulated CrodaTherm and also plan to offer CrodaTherm 32 in micro encapsulated form. If there is interest, we will also consider to micro encapsulate CrodaTherm 37."

Q: In a LinkedIn post this month, Croda announced: "All our CrodaTherm materials are USDA certified bio based products." Croda lists 14 CrodaTherm materials on its site; I see only 13 CrodaTherm products listed on biopreferred.gov. Missing from the USDA list is CrodaTherm 9.5. Has that product been certified yet?

A: "CrodaTherm 9.5 is also a product that only has been launched quite recently. We target to have all our products on the USDA bio-preferred list and I am confident CrodaTherm 9.5 will be added to it as well, but all things take time. We expect this registration can be added to the list shortly."

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: "The development of new products and the joy when customers actually like the product and are buying it. At that point all the puzzle pieces come together and you know that the hard work is paying off. I am particularly pleased with our CrodaTherm PCMs because they do not only help to improve/protect the environment while in use (especially for building cooling/heating applications), but they are also made from renewable raw materials and are bio-degradable. The environment is important to me and as a developer I am really happy I can have a contribution in a sustainable future."

PCM briefing: Cold chain veteran joins Phase Change Energy Solutions; Outlast showcases new nylon filament yarn

Ben Welter - Friday, May 10, 2019

Bruce TruesdaleBruce Truesdale has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., as director of business development - cold chain. He was formerly senior supply chain consultant at Verta Life Sciences and director of health care at Protek Pharma Worldwide. He declined an interview request, but his new job title suggests that PCES, whose product line now focuses on HVAC, building and thermal energy storage, has an interest in the temperature-controlled packaging market. Earlier this year, PCES announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. The company said it would use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally.

Chalmers University of Technology of Sweden has an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in thermal energy storage for building applications. The research group Building Physics is working "to find out how novel TES with phase change materials (PCM) could complement the existing district heating and cooling networks and co-operate with other peak shaving techniques (water accumulator tanks, ground heat storage pumps, etc.) through smart thermal grids." The application deadline is June 9.

Outlast will showcase its new nylon filament yarn at the Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, next week. "The PCMs optimized for this specific application," Outlast says, "are included directly inside the polyamide fibers." Potential applications include next-to-skin products such as undergarments, shapewear, sportswear and hosiery. The company says it now sources the majority of PCMs used in its products from renewable instead of synthetic raw materials.

PCM coolerA PCM coating designed to absorb heat from rockets is among the dozens of NASA spinoffs listed in the latest issue of Spinoff, an annual publication that has been documenting space agency spinoffs since 1976. In the early 2000s, Raj Kaul, a materials scientist at Marshall Space Flight Center, began researching a way to use PCM to keep the outside of spacecraft at a safe temperature. An entrepreneur eventually snapped up the patent for the coating Kaul developed and is working on a number of products based on the technology, including aircraft paint, pipe heat traps and an iceless cooler, shown at right. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced $89 million in funding for "innovative, advanced manufacturing research and development projects." "Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials," one of three areas to receive funding, includes phase change storage materials for heating and cooling applications. The department anticipates making up to 55 awards for up to three years. Concept papers are due on June 20.