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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: PureTemp joins RSPO; Reda's new PCM fabric on display in Milan

Ben Welter - Monday, February 18, 2019

PureTemp LLC has joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil as an associate member. The nonprofit organization, which has more than 4,000 members worldwide, promotes the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products. In November, RSPO adopted stricter standards for certified sustainable palm oil, including a total ban on deforestation by its members.

Reda Group's new Active Phase temperature-control fabric was on display at the Milan fabric trade show earlier this month. The material uses phase change material to keep body temperature constant when ambient temperature fluctuates. Reda says the material features enhanced breathability and softness and is "easy to clean, even in water."

University of Maryland fabric•  University of Maryland researchers have created a temperature-control fabric that does not rely on phase change material. The fabric changes its insulating properties in response to the environment. In warm and humid conditions, the fabric allows radiant heat to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. Two types of synthetic materials in the fabric — one that absorbs water and another other that repels it — are coated with carbon nanotubes. The fibers warp and relax in response to changing humidity, opening and closing pores in the fabric. 

• In interviews with Advanced Textiles Source, four entrepreneurs were asked: What do you wish you had known early on when you were first dealing with intellectual property law and patent issues? “Get feedback on why you need a patent,” said Jeremy Wall, founder and CEO of smart-clothing startup Lumenus. “Where else could you spend $20,000?” Said Matt Kolmes, CEO of VOLT Smart Yarns: “Even if you are on a tight budget, file that Provisional application immediately before you show your idea to anyone, or talk about it with anyone."

• The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action program is seeking applicants for a one- to two-year research fellowship at the Oslo Metropolitan University. The European Union-funded fellowship will focus on the energy-performance aspects of phase change material in buildings. "In this collaboration," OsloMet says, "we intend to gain our understanding and explore about the micro-structural aspect to relate the macro-scale behavior at continuum level." The application deadline is March 7.

PureTemp introduces temperature-control fabric coating

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PureTemp LLC has developed a fabric coating engineered to provide an effective buffer against ambient temperature swings in consumer products such as apparel, footwear, bedding, safety, medical, workwear and industrial applications.

Scanning electron microscope image of PureTemp fabric coating Through a proprietary process, PureTemp's biobased phase change material is enclosed in spherical microcapsules and bound to the surface of the fabric. PCMs absorb, store and release thermal energy as they cycle between solid and liquid states. The PCM coating interacts continuously with the unique microclimate of the human body, storing and releasing energy to balance body temperature and increase comfort.

PureTemp honeycomb pattern coatings are available for knit, woven, interlock, circular knits, nonwoven, cotton, polyester and other blends. The photo above shows what PureTemp coated fabric looks like under a scanning electron microscope.

The Minnesota company began producing the world’s first 100 percent biobased PCMs in 2007. PureTemp PCMs, developed in three years of research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are used in a wide variety of temperature-control applications, from cooling vests and warming blankets to shipping containers and coffee mugs.

PureTemp's Dan Keller is directing the business initiative. For more information on PureTemp coated fabrics, contact him via inquiries@puretemp.com or visit https://www.puretemp.com/fabrics.

PCM briefing: New Outlast materials on display at Heimtextil; agenda set for Jan. 24 workshop at Nottingham

Ben Welter - Saturday, January 12, 2019

Outlast recycled polysterNew Outlast products based on recycled materials were on display at the Heimtextil show in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. "In the new Outlast products," the company said, "temperature-regulating technology is applied to base material (knitted fabric or nonwoven) which is produced from 100% recycled polyester textiles or PET bottles and therefore meets the Global Recycle Standard (GRS). Further products that use renewable materials for other components of the technology are planned to expand the portfolio in the near future."

Tempur-Pedic says the latest version of its Breeze mattress line features a new "PureCool+ breathable phase change technology [that] absorbs excess heat and recharges faster to help the sleeper feel cooler when falling asleep."

Eindhoven University of Technology is seeking candidates for a Ph.D. position in nanoporous materials for thermal energy storage

Chemical & Engineering News is seeking candidates for a six-month science-writing editorial fellowship for 2019.

• A proposal to use microencapsulated phase change material to help motor vehicles run smoothly in extreme cold has been honored by Azerbaijan's Ministry of Economy as the best youth startup project of the year. A team of chemical engineering students from Baku Higher Oil School developed the concept.

The agenda has been posted for the Workshop on Energy Efficient Buildings & Thermal Energy Storage Systems to be held Jan. 24 at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Topics include "Enhanced geothermal borehole heat exchangers with PCMs," "Innovative composite smart materials for heating, cooling and humidity control in buildings" and "Demonstration of the TESSe2b system in three demo sites." The free, all-day workshop is part of the European Union-supported project TESSe2b.

•  From LinkedIn: "Pluss Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is expanding its vendor development team for its PCM and polymers business. Candidates with prior experience in purchase or vendor management will be preferred, others will be considered too. Want to understand more about the opportunity? Please write to Ruchika Garg at jobs@pluss.co.in."  

• The world's first grid-scale pumped heat energy storage is now in operation at Newcastle University. "The system consists of two containers – a cold store and a hot store – filled with gravel and an inert gas," Utility Week reports. "They are connected via a reversible heat pump/engine. When surplus energy needs to be stored, gas is withdrawn from the cold store and compressed using an electrically-powered pump, thereby raising its temperature. The gas is injected into the hot store where the heat is transferred to the gravel. It is then withdrawn from the hot store, expanded to further lower its temperature and returned to the cold store. To recover the stored energy, the process is reversed."

Dominic Hyde, vice president of Credo on Demand at Pelican BioThermal, said the rental program increased its temperature-controlled container fleet size by 90 and increased revenue by 90 percent in 2018.

Research roundup: Thermally modulated fiber sorbents; metamaterial-based radiative cooling; stearic–capric acid/porous nanoceramics; more

Ben Welter - Friday, January 04, 2019

From Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research:

Development of Phase-Change-Based Thermally Modulated Fiber Sorbents

From ChemistrySelect:

Preparation and Thermal Properties of 1‐Hexadecanol‐Palmitic Acid Eutectic Mixture/Activated Carbon Composite Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage

From Energies:

Thermal Conductivity Enhancement of Phase Change Materials for Low-Temperature Thermal Energy Storage Applications [pdf]
Metamaterial-Based Radiative Cooling: Towards Energy-Free All-Day Cooling [pdf]

From Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:

A review and evaluation of thermal insulation materials and methods for thermal energy storage systems

From Materials Letters:

Stearic–capric acid/porous nanoceramics as a novel form-stable composite phase change material (FSPCM) for thermal energy storage

From International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference:

Analysis of TES with PCM (Solid/Liquid) Integrated in a Residential System
Experimental Study on Portable Air-Conditioning System with Enhanced PCM Condenser

Research roundup: Thermo-regulating bamboo fabric; PCM emulsions; nanoparticle-enhanced composite; more

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Autonomous greenhouse microclimate through hydroponic design and refurbished thermal energy by phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Development of heat accumulation unit based on heterogeneous structure of MF/PCM for cogeneration units

From Textile Research Journal:

Preparation and evaluation of thermo-regulating bamboo fabric treated by microencapsulated phase change materials

From International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology:

Development of thermo-regulating fabrics using PCM microcapsules with poly(methyl methacrylate-co-2-hydroxy ethyl methacrylate) shell and n-alkane core

From Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress:

Preparation and Properties of Nanoparticle-enhanced Composite Phase Change Material with Ceramic Porous Media

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A comprehensive review on phase change material emulsions: Fabrication, characteristics, and heat transfer performance

From 59th Conference on Simulation and Modelling:

Convective Melting Modeling Approach for Phase Change Materials with Variable Boundary Heating

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Simultaneous energy storage and recovery in the triplex-tube heat exchanger with PCM, copper fins and Al2O3 nanoparticles

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Operation strategies guideline for packed bed thermal energy storage systems [pdf]

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Solidification process of hybrid nano-enhanced phase change material in a LHTESS with tree-like branching fin in the presence of thermal radiation

From Energy:

Experiment study on thermal performance of building integrated with double layers shape-stabilized phase change material wallboard

Patent application: Cables made of phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180334775 (applicant E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"A phase change material (PCM) is useful for thermal management in various applications such as automotive, building, packaging, garments, and footwear, and in devices such as wires and cables. The cable described herein comprises a core and a PCM layer surrounding the core. The PCM layer comprises a PCM composition, which in turn comprises a 1,3-propanediol fatty acid ester. The core consists of a yarn, strand or wire made of a natural or synthetic polymeric material or a metal."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180334775.pdf

Design student's innovative wheelchair concept wins competition in U.K.

Ben Welter - Friday, September 28, 2018

A student’s creative take on wheelchair design has won a national competition in the United Kingdom.

Kristen Tapping, a product design student at London South Bank University, won the inaugural "Getting Back on Track" design competition held by the law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp. The contest challenged UK-based university students to design a product aimed at improving the lives of people with a spinal cord injury. The law firm awarded Tapping £3000; the university awarded an additional £2,000 (a total of about $6,500).

Tapping's lightweight wheelchair features a seating material enhanced with phase change material to ensure thermal comfort and a split wheel-to-rail system that eases movement through gear reduction and wider pushing surfaces. Tapping provided details on the concept in an email interview.

Q: How did you become interested in product design?

A: "I had worked a wide array of jobs from bartender to personal trainer to TV salesperson and decided a decade after getting my first degree to get into design, something I had always been interested in but wasn't sure I would be good at. I studied a year of interior design but stopped as I felt it was too limited for what I wanted. When I came across industrial/product design, the combination of conceptual design with hands on prototyping was a perfect fit and I dived right in. I am currently on placement in Spain designing automotive interiors for Grupo Antolin."

Q: Moveo's most ingenious feature appears be the propulsion system. Reverse propulsion is used in at least one wheelchair on the market (https://www.rowheels.com/product), but your concept separates the hand wheel from the ground wheel, using a spur gear to maximize force. What inspired you to pursue this approach? Is this configuration unique, as far as wheelchairs?

Kristen TappingA: "This design challenge was specialized for people with spinal cord injuries which are quite different from others - on top of not being able to walk, many cases affect the upper body nerves leading to the inability to have dexterity and strength in the hands. With this in mind, it is exponentially harder for them to push a wheelchair rail as they cannot grab it. The other issue I noticed with all wheelchairs (that I have seen so far at least) is that the user touches the wheel when pushing the rail - I tested this myself by sitting in one and I could not push forward without coming into contact with the wheel. This is obviously not very pleasant or sanitary - would be the equivalent of a non-wheelchair user touching their hand to the base of their shoe after each step.

"The design started with the necessity for the wheel to be separate from the rail to avoid touching the wheel and give users a wider pushing surface in a material that has more inherent grip than metal (here I proposed Infinergy, a BASF/Adidas material that is made from recycled Adidas shoes). After consulting with some engineers, I made this happen through a simple spur gear mechanism where pushing the rail backwards would push the spur gear which would in turn propel the wheel forward. The pushing backwards to move forward simply came about from this spur gear mechanism, however it could be switched back to pushing forward to move forward by simply adding an additional gear. Ideally, the user would be able to manually switch back and forth between pushing forward and backwards to prevent muscle fatigue.

"As far as I know my configuration is unique in wheelchairs - I have only seen the rail being at the side of the wheel as in the standard design. As far as other products go, it follows a bicycle's basic spur gear mechanism."

Q: How did you become familiar with phase change material? Have you used it in other projects?

A: "I came across PCMs while interning at a materials firm and became really fascinated with the process they continually undergo. The reason I used them in this concept is because a less known side-effect of spinal cord injuries is the inability to self-control body temperature - the user's body may be extremely hot when it is cold out, and visa versa. I felt that using a PCM fabric on the seat would help bring down the overall body temperature to a more stable point. I have not used PCMs prior to this project however I am using it in a current concept regarding heat recovery. I am really interested to see where the technology will go - for example the recent university study that managed to activate PCM heat release with a light trigger."

Q: Can you provide details on the PCM fabric used in your design (salt hydrate/biobased/paraffin; peak melt point; energy storage capacity in joules per gram; manufacturer, etc.)?

A: "The fabric I proposed was Schoeller PCM 30092, which has a thermal storage capacity of 35,000 joules per square meter. Schoeller provides a variety of thicknesses which affect the energy storage capacity and padding/comfort level. While specifying a certain fabric would require prototyping and testing, I would suggest one with a composition of 37% polyurethane, 36% polyester and 27% paraffin."

Q: The energy storage capacity of PCM-coated fabric is much less than PCM encapsulated in flexible film. Did you consider using PCM cooling packs instead of PCM fabric?

A: "This option could be explored to see which would work best in this product. One benefit of the PCM-coated fabric is the ability to place it in the washer, something I had in mind for Moveo."

Q: What's next for the Moveo: patent application, prototypes, commercial development, etc.? Have any manufacturers expressed a commercial interest?

A: "While I doubt a patent application would be valid since this was a student competition and the details have already been made public through various publications, I would rather the concept be an inspiration to other wheelchair designers to address the wheel/rail issues stated above. Entering this competition, I wanted to design anything else than a wheelchair, but after being frustrated seeing horrible designs and how they affect the users' daily lives, I decided to give it a go. I did see an interesting student competition entry that uses handles and gears to move forward, but otherwise am disappointed with the lack of innovation from established manufacturers to solve the issue of users having to touch the wheel every time they push.

"I am currently on placement so sadly have no time at the moment to prototype it, however I may make it my final year project once back at LSBU. It would be great to partner with Cerebra to possibly make Moveo a real product, however a wheelchair needs lots of engineering and testing so partnering with an experienced manufacturer as well would make a great team."

Q: The prize includes £3,000 and the chance to undertake a week’s internship at the Cerebra research center. What do you plan to do with the cash award?

A: "London is quite an expensive city, especially on a full-time student budget, so the £3,000 will help me focus on school during my final year at LSBU.  I may also go into prototyping for my final year project.

"I definitely plan on accepting the internship with Cerebra and have talks of squeezing it between the end of my current placement and before school starts. With Cerebra's assistance, I am looking forward to being able to develop other concepts that help people with disabilities and make them come to life using their workshop."

Q: Any idea what you'd like to focus on after graduation?

A: "Really not sure. I am as excited designing a futuristic car interior than I am an ergonomic toilet brush - I just really love design. One thing I do know is I want to design useful products that have a positive impact on people's everyday lives and do not degrade the environment during usage and at end of product life. With this project and having just won the Heatrae Sadia competition (hot water cylinders), I find myself being more and more interested in smart insulation and thermal storage solutions that work sustainably with zero or little energy. With our planet's diminishing resources and increasing temperature, solutions in this field will definitely be a necessity."

Research roundup: Heat capacities of potential organic PCMs; asphalt binders; novel smart textile; modeling hysteresis; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

From Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics:

Heat capacities of potential organic phase change materials

From Renewable Energy:

Effects of microencapsulated phase change materials on the performance of asphalt binders
An improved, generalized effective thermal conductivity method for rapid design of high temperature shell-and-tube latent heat thermal energy storage systems
Multi-objective optimisation of thermal energy storage using phase change materials for solar air systems

From Energy:

A comprehensive study of properties of paraffin phase change materials for solar thermal energy storage and thermal management applications
Evaluation of a novel solar driven sorption cooling/heating system integrated with PCM storage compartment

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Shape-stabilized phase change materials based on porous supports for thermal energy storage applications
Novel smart textile with phase change materials encapsulated core-sheath structure fabricated by coaxial electrospinning

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental research on the effective heating strategies for a phase change material based power battery module
Modeling hysteresis in the phase transition of industrial-grade solid/liquid PCM for thermal energy storages

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Determination of heat transfer coefficients in direct contact latent heat storage systems

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.

PCM briefing: Students raise money to send Arktek containers to Zimbabwe; nominations open for Young Scientist Research Award

Ben Welter - Monday, August 20, 2018

• Four middle school students in Beijing have raised enough money to send three Arktek vaccine containers to Zimbabwe. The PCM-equipped containers, which cost about $5,800 each, keep diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and other vaccines at a safe temperature for weeks without refrigeration. The girls presented the fundraiser as an entry in the Public Benefit International Challenge for Youth 2018. They also visited the factories in Shandong province to see how the containers are manufactured. Although they didn't win the competition, the girls continue to raise money to send more Arktek containers to African nations. 

• New from Transparency Market Research: "Cooling Fabrics Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017 - 2025"

India and Indonesia have signed a memo of understanding that recognizes, for the first time, the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil and the Indian Palm Oil Sustainability frameworks as legitimate sustainability efforts. The Solvent Extractors Association of India, the Indonesian Palm Oil Board and supply chain development organization Solidaridad signed the agreement July 16.

• Nominations are being accepted for the Young Scientist Research Award, which recognizes substantial research contributions in one of the areas represented by a division of the American Oil Chemists' Society. The award, sponsored by the International Food Science Centre A/S, recognizes young researchers whose work "has significantly effected an advance within their discipline, or holds substantial promise for such an effect in the near future." Nominations are due by Oct. 1.