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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: Real-time adaptable body support system

Ben Welter - Monday, September 12, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160255966 (applicant Sealy Technology LLC, Trinity, N.C.):

"A system for adjusting a body support during use includes a body support having an adjustable layer and a plurality of sensors, and a processing system in communication with the plurality of sensors and the adjustable layer. The processing system receives information from the plurality of sensors and then transmits instructions to the adjustable layer to adjust the layer. One or more cameras can also be used to gather data for receipt by the processing system in order to determine whether and how to adjust the layer. ... Also, phase change material may be injected, embedded, infused, or otherwise included with the one or more types of foam. The phase change material may be encapsulated phase change material or unencapsulated phase change material. Phase change material generally provides latent heat storage through a change in phase of the material (such as a solid-liquid phase change material)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160255966.pdf

PCM briefing: EU research focuses on energy retrofits; Axiom Exergy raises $2.5 million

Ben Welter - Tuesday, August 02, 2016

• A European Union research project focused on retrofitting old buildings to meet EU efficiency standards is taking a close look at PCMs built into walls. “By using a phase change material which freezes at 18°C and melts at 25°C,” says Dr. Jürgen Frick, project coordinator, “we can regulate the temperature fluctuations of a room. If the temperature falls to 18°C, the PCM freezes and heats the room. When it rises to 25°, the PCM melts, energy is absorbed, and the room is cooled.”

Rally by Diamond Mattress• The latest entry in the bed-in-a-box mattress competition features open-cell foam infused with copper gel and phase change material to regulate temperature. Diamond Mattress of Rancho Dominguez, Calif., says the company's new Rally line will be sold online and in retail stores.

Eric Buchanan of the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minn., has posted an update on his net-zero dairy project. The system's key components so far include solar thermal panels, a heat pump, three heat exchangers and a 2,000-gallon water tank. Fifty-four kilowatts of solar PV and two 10-kW wind turbines are now being added to the system.

Axiom Exergy has raised $2.5 million from investors to help bring its refrigeration battery to supermarkets and cold storage facilities across the United States. The system uses a salt-based phase change material to reduce peak power usage by up to 40 percent and provide backup cooling during power outages.

• The University of Birmingham's Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage is setting up a joint lab on energy storage research with Global Energy Interconnection Research Institute Europe, an organization founded by China's state-run utility. The lab will focus on thermal and cryogenic energy storage systems and their application in energy networks.

• New from Accuray Research: "Global Advanced Phase Change Material (PCM) Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025"

• A research team at Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia, has selected PureTemp phase change material for use in a study of greenhouse thermal storage systems. "One of the engineering students is focusing on designing racks for the PCM bottles that will be specifically engineered to slow release and speed recharge of the bottles," writes Becky Mason, an instructor at Camosun who helped organize the research project. "This is intended to optimize use of PCM in off-grid greenhouses where electric fans are not used to circulate air around the PCM."

Patent application: Support cushion for providing cooling

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 16, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160166074 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

Tempur-Pedic cushion patent drawing"A support cushion for is provided that includes a core comprised of a first flexible foam and a sleeve comprised of a second flexible foam. The sleeve has a first side and a second side opposite the first side that together encapsulate the core. The support cushion further includes an amount of phase change material that is incorporated into at least one of the first side or the second side of the sleeve."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160166074.pdf

PCM briefing: Alexium adds clients in bedding industry; new research on temperature-controlled pharma packaging

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Alexium International has announced an agreement to sell its new flame-retardant phase change material to a U.S.-based textile finisher serving the bedding industry. Alexium, based in Perth, Australia, and Greer, S.C., announced in May that it had reached a PCM sales agreement with one of the world's largest producers of mattress ticking. "Alexium is now in production or full-scale trials with six global mattress fabric finishers," said CEO Nicholas Clark "and for the first time, a major manufacturer in apparel is evaluating our flame retardant phase change material technology." 

• New from Research and Markets: "Temperature Controlled Pharmaceutical Packaging Solutions (TCPPS) Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2016-2026."

TheM dining mat• Months after falling short of raising $30,000 on IndieGoGo, developers of a PCM-powered thermal dining placemat called TheM said in January that they hoped to develop a successful design by the end of February. The team is now apologizing again, telling backers: "The PCM material did not work as intended and [we are] trying to develop a solution that can still add value to the innovation. Please bear with us and within the next 60 days [we hope] to have a product with which [we] can reward your support and patience."

Ira Smith, director of strategic development for global transport and biologistics at Pelican BioThermal, is among the panelists at the FlyPharma conference in Brussels this week. The topic: The increasing appeal of inter-continental rail freight services and sea freight.

Glacier Tek cooling vests are profiled in the June issue of OR Today magazine. The vests, which use PureTemp bio-based phase change material to maintain thermal comfort, are being marketed as a way to address heat stress among surgeons and operating room staff, who endure "bright lights, sterile gowns, lead aprons, physical exertion and time stress."

GreenCE is offering a free hourlong webinar, "Reinventing Green Building: Focus on Carbon & Leverage Technology," at 1 p.m. June 14. Instructors will discuss the limitations of LEED certification in various U.S. market segments and identify alternatives to LEED certification. 

• The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has named Peter Green as the new deputy laboratory director for science and technology. Green is a professor of materials science and engineering, chemical engineering and applied physics at the University of Michigan.  

Monodraught's Cool-Phase cooling and ventilation system has been specified for Harrogate's new civic headquarters, now under construction in County Durham, England. The system combines a phase change material thermal energy store with an intelligently controlled air handling unit to actively ventilate and cool buildings without the use of refrigerants. The company says the system contributes credits toward BREEAM standards for lifecycle costs, indoor air quality and low- and zero-carbon technologies. 

PCM briefing: South Africa fires up solar plant with TES; Toto offers free course on product disclosure, design

Ben Welter - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

South Africa and ACWA Power launched a $328 million solar power plant in the Northern Cape province this week. The Bokpoort plant is designed to power more than 200,000 homes. Two thermal energy storage tanks hold molten salt capable of providing 9.3 hours of operation.

• Plumbing fixture manufacturer Toto Ltd. is offering a free online course, "Product Disclosure and the Future of Design," through GreenCE. The one-hour course covers product design, life cycle assessments, environmental product declarations and transparency reports. AIA and LEED credits are available.

Ian Tainsley, chief technical officer at Sure Chill, has won the Institute of Refrigeration's J&E Hall Gold Medal. The U.K. company's water-based cooling technology is used in a refrigerator that keeps vaccines within a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for a grid-based electricity.

• Fiber and polymer manufacturer Invista introduced a new heat-dispersing fiberfill bedding material at New York Home Fashions Market Week on Monday. Dacron Memorelle CoolFX fiberfill includes a cover infused with phase change material to provide an "initial cooling sensation ... and lasting heat management by diffusing moisture to keep sleepers cool and dry."

PCM briefing: Jute-insulated packaging company is up for social impact award; premium mattress with PCM costs less than $1,000

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 10, 2016

TemperPack, maker of jute-insulated packaging for perishable foods, is one of nine finalists for CommonBond's annual Social Impact Award, competing for a chance to win $10,000. TemperPack's plastic-film cooling packs contain a solution of 95 percent water and 5 percent polyglycol.

• Online mattress startup Zen Bedding is offering its first product: a sub-$1,000 "premium" foam mattress that combines the thermo-regulation of phase change material with a cool gel memory foam.

• The Regulatory Assistance Project has taken a fresh look at how to close the projected gap between the total load a utility serves and what that load looks like after a significant amount of wind and solar energy is added to the system. Greentech Media notes that RAP gives one element — water — far more emphasis: "For the first time, managing water and wastewater pumping loads has been added as a strategy. Water heating and ice energy also have more prominent roles."

• Reporting on ARPA-E's annual innovation summit, Utility Dive says "it appears the stage is set for clean energy technology to benefit from a new wave of investment in the United States as investors take advantage of increased market certainty and public policy supportive of low-carbon energy solutions."

• Researchers at RWTH Aachen University are simulating the complex behavior of paraffin-water slurries in hydraulic networks. Possible uses include underfloor heating, cooling ceiling panels and district heating networks.

PCM briefing: A bioplastics breakthrough from DuPont/ADM; a revamped bedding line from Tempur-Pedic

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CleanTechnica takes a look at the DuPont-ADM "breakthrough" process for producing a high-performance, 100 percent biodegradable bioplastic. The companies' first project will use furan dicarboxylic methyl ester to produce polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate, which ADM says outperforms petroleum-based polymers in extending beverage shelf life.

•  Tempur-Pedic has revamped its Breeze line of cooler-sleep beds, fusing phase change material in the top Tempur foam layer to deliver “a significantly improved cooling effect,” the company said.

Composite sandwich panels containing phase change material are among 20 smart materials and structures identified by a European Union study with possible applications in the shipbuilding industry. The panels would minimize heat transfer and lower cooling costs on refrigerated cargo ships.  

• Sonoco ThermoSafe, Pluss Advanced Technologies, va-Q-tec AG, Peli BioThermal, Cryopak, AAR Cold Chain Solutions and Croda are among the companies exhibiting PCM-related products at the 15th annual Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe conference in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. 

PCM briefing: New pallet shipper from Sonoco ThermoSafe; new bedding line from Serta

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sonoco ThermoSafe has introduced the new Quarter PMC pallet shipper, designed to optimize bulk air shipments of temperature-sensitive biologics and pharmaceutical products for durations exceeding five days. The shipper is offered in 2-8° C, 15-25° C and frozen temperature ranges.

Serta has launched a revamped iComfort bedding line that features the company's new Ever Feel Triple Effects Gel Memory Foam, with phase change material incorporated in the gel. 

Giovanni Damato has joined EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, as technical leader for energy storage, distributed generation and microgrids.

U.S. chemical industry officials praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership at a hearing last week in Washington. Greg Skelton of the American Chemistry Council noted that it could bring a $1.2 billion increase in U.S. chemical exports, Bloomberg BNA reported [subscription required].

PCM briefing: PCM-equipped heat pump is up for Dutch award; Axiom Exergy is looking for a product engineer

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Coolmark's TripleAqua heat pump, which uses phase change material to store hot and cold energy, is one of three finalists in the energy savings category of the 2016 VSK Awards. The awards honor Dutch innovation and initiative in engineering. Winners will be announced Feb. 3 at the VSK trade show in Utrecht.

California startup Axiom Exergy, maker of a "Refrigeration Battery" designed to reduce supermarket energy costs, has posted an opening for a product engineer. Candidates are invited to answer this question: "Given the choice between pure water and a NaCl-water solution as the thermal energy storage medium in medium temperature (40°F, 4.4°C) refrigeration applications, what are the pros and cons of each material?" 

Abu Dhabi International Airport's new district cooling plant, completed this week, has 18 chillers, two thermal energy storage tanks and a total capacity of 55,000 metric tons of refrigerant.

Restonic is infusing phase change material into the surface of the TempaGel memory foam used in the mattress maker's new ComfortCare Hybrid Signature line.

The $20 million Jemalong Solar Thermal Station, which uses molten salt as a thermal storage medium, has entered the commissioning phase, developer Vast Solar says. The grid-connected pilot plant in New South Wales, Australia, is expected to reach full operation as early as May. 

BoTemp, a Dutch company that produces cold storage systems for the transport and container industry, has added two eutectic systems to its product line: The on-board Cold Battery uses chilled air forced into the cargo area to give a wide controllable temperature range from -18º C to 4º C. The stationary Cold Charger can quickly charge multiple vehicles or containers at the same time.

Ice Energy, which makes the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, is on Business.com's list of 10 start-ups to watch in 2016.

Patent application: Mattress assembly with air bladders and PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 17, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150359351 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

"A mattress assembly is provided that includes a body supporting portion, one or more air bladders positioned beneath the body supporting portion, and a frame portion. The frame portion includes a bottom surface and a sidewall that collectively define a well for receiving the one or more air bladders. ... As an even further refinement to the mattress assemblies of the present invention, in some embodiments, the aforementioned outer fabric covers, the comfort layers, the body supporting portions, or combinations thereof can further be coated or impregnated with a phase change material. 

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150359351.pdf