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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.




PCM briefing: va-Q-tec raises stake in polymer nanofoam company; Axiom installs system in Walmart store

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

• PCM maker va-Q-tec AG is increasing its equity stake in SUMTEQ GmbH, a technology company that develops lightweight, durable polymer nanofoams for use as insulating material. 

• In tests conducted by San Diego Gas and Electric and ASWB Engineering, Viking Cold Solutions' PCM-based thermal energy storage system showed reductions in electricity consumption of 30 percent and 39 percent in two cold storage facilities in the San Diego area. Based on the results, SDG&E and ASWB recommended that California utilities include the technology in their Energy Efficiency and Demand Response incentive programs.

• The International Fabrics Association International has issued a call for presenters for its next trade show and expo. Possible topics include flame retardancy, moisture management, polymer innovations and thermal control. Submissions are due Feb. 9. The expo will be held Sept. 26-29, 2017, in New Orleans.

Greentech Media's Jason Deign takes a look at what energy insiders around the world are making of Donald Trump's victory.

Axiom Exergy is installing its "Refrigeration Battery" energy storage system at a San Diego Walmart store. Two of California's largest utilities are funding the demonstration project. The system stores water chilled at night, when electricity is cheapest, to take the load off condensers and compressors during the day.

• New from QYResearch: "Global Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2016."

SpecialChem is offering a 90-minute webinar on the impact of a new U.S. law on intellectual property. "U.S. Trade Secrets and How they are Protected: Easy to Understand Guide" will be held at 10 a.m. EST on Dec. 14. The cost is $268 for three participants on a single connection.

PCM briefing: SpecialChem offers online course on patent infringement; EnergyNest turns to crowdfunding

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 12, 2016

• A SpecialChem online course, "U.S. Patents: How to Avoid Infringement Issues," is set for 10 a.m. EDT Tuesday. The 90-minute course is designed for "R&D people who need to become familiar with patent searching and mapping." The cost for up to three participants on one connection is 290 euros. 

• New market research from Technavio: "Global Baby Warming Devices Market 2016-2020." Embrace, a nonprofit company that introduced a PCM-based warmer in India in 2011, is among the vendors listed in the report, which projects a compound annual growth rate of 8.74 percent for the sector. 

EnergyNest of Norway is turning to crowdfunding to finance development of its concrete-based thermal energy storage system.

• A University of British Columbia study shows that snow cleared from winter roads can help reduce summer air-conditioning costs.

Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., has been granted a U.S. patent for its PCM-based "direct expansion" thermal energy storage system designed for supermarket refrigeration and commercial HVAC markets.

• The venture fund Breakout Labs has invested an undisclosed amount of money in Seatrec of Pasadena, Calif. Seatrec makes a battery designed to power underwater research vessels. The battery is packed with phase change materials that expand and contract as ocean temperatures fluctuate. The volume change generates high pressure that is stored and subsequently used to drive a small electric generator.

PCM briefing: RAL meeting in Dusseldorf; temperature-assurance packaging class in Boston

Ben Welter - Friday, September 23, 2016

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM, a European-based organization established in 2004 to develop standards for the phase change material industry, will meet in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Tuesday. The agenda includes an update on the upcoming revision of the European Union's energy performance of buildings directive and discussion of a proposal to include PCM in the Building Efficiency Standards section of California's Code of Regulations. Two companies interested in joining RAL, Sunamp Ltd. and Renewable Energy Group Inc., will attend the meeting as guests.

Ontario has pumped $5.8 million (Canadian) into the University of Guelph's new thermal energy cooling system. The $15 million system, completed last year, features a tank that holds 22 million liters of water. In warmer months, the water is chilled at night, when energy costs are lower. The chilled tank water is then circulated through the university's existing cooling system during the day. Officials say the system has already saved the university $2.5 million in energy costs.

• Bio-based materials and chemicals offer a clear value proposition when compared with their petroleum-based counterparts, but smart business execution is critical to eventual success, Lux Research concludes in a new report, “Hunting for Value and Performance in the Bio-based Materials and Chemicals Space."

Phase Change Material Products Ltd. of the United Kingdom will be among the hundreds of exhibitors at the Chillventa trade show in Nuremberg, Germany, Oct. 11-13.  

A cold chain packaging class developed by Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Labs will make its debut Monday at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in Boston. The all-day session will cover the design, development and qualification of temperature-controlled packaging.

Cold Chain IQ, an online resource for temperature-controlled logistics professionals, is now Pharma Logistics IQ. The new site,, includes content on pharma logistics, including clinical supply, supply chain security, regulations and more.

Sonoco ThermoSafe launches certification program for cold chain packaging pros

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 04, 2016

Sonoco ThermoSafe has launched the industry’s first academic offering to train and certify cold chain packaging professionals. The certification program was developed by Sonoco ThermoSafe’s ISC Labs in partnership with the Packaging School; Dr. R. Andrew Hurley, assistant professor of packaging science at Clemson University; and an advisory panel of industry experts.

Cold Chain training illustrationTwo levels of certification courses are available:

• The Fundamentals Course ($295), accessible now, is a self-paced online course that takes a systematic approach to developing a basic understanding of temperature-assurance packaging. 

• The Professional Course ($999; bio-pharma manufacturers get a $100 discount) is a one-day session conducted by university professors, lab engineers and industry experts. The live course provides hands-on instruction and interactive activities. It will make its debut Sept. 26 at the Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in Boston.

“The TAP program shares decades worth of ISCLabs’ collective knowledge and expertise in design, development and qualification of temperature controlled packaging,” said Vishal Khushalani, director of global marketing and business development at Sonoco ThermoSafe. “The course goes further to cover topics including temperature monitoring, global regulations and distribution considerations of temperature sensitive products."

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: Chalmers hosting workshop on building applications; Climator using ViscoTec pump to fill tubular bags

Ben Welter - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ViscoTec pump cutaway

• Swedish PCM maker Climator is using ViscoTec's 2RD40 Pharma filling pump (cutaway illustration above) to package its salt-based phase change material in tubular bags. ViscoTec, a German company that specializes in packaging equipment for high-viscosity material, says the pump is based on the progressive cavity pump principle and is designed to ensure even distribution of fillers in abrasive fluids. 

• The Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, is hosting a May 17 workshop on phase change materials for building applications.  The all-day event, which includes a university lab tour, is aimed at energy consultants and materials producers. Confirmed participants include representatives of Chalmers, Climator, ZAE Bayern and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology

• Alaska's Ketchikan International Airport is switching its heat source to a high-efficiency wood-pellet boiler system with a 1,200-gallon thermal storage tank.

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."

Free online primer on thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 09, 2015

"Thermal Energy Storage: A Vital Ingredient to a Low Carbon Future" is a free online course offered by GreenCE.

Sponsored by CALMAC, the course covers thermal energy storage types, LEED certification and potential tax deductions. AIA members and LEED professionals can earn one continuing education credit by completing the hourlong course and passing a quiz.

Phase Change Matters briefing: Almac/QuickSTAT partnership; online LEED course; Tesla's net-zero Gigafactory

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

• Pharma giant Almac is partnering with QuickSTAT on a program to improve turnaround times of phase change shippers and other vacuum insulated packaging systems. The program will be based at QuickSTAT's temperature-controlled facility near Belfast International Airport and 30 minutes from Almac headquarters in Craigavon, U.K.

T. Stern Sustainability of Seattle is offering an online course titled "LEED Economics: Costs, Benefits & Performance" through GreenCE. Topics include LEED rebates and low-cost LEED strategies. Cost: $19.

• More positive press for the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, a piece on "Solar powered air conditioning is the new hot thing."  

Tesla's chief technical officer, J.B. Straubel, says the company's planned Gigafactory in Nevada will produce as much renewable energy as it uses.

3 webinars worth a look: Vetting building materials, understanding DSC and measuring thermal conductivity

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Three on-demand webinars might be of interest to Phase Change Matters readers:

"Deep Material Vetting," offered through the U.S. Green Building Council, is aimed at designers struggling to find detailed toxicity data on building components. Instructors Chris Lee and Scott Kelly of Re:Vision Architecture share their "no-more-tears research strategies and time-saving workflows." Continuing education units are available: 1 GBCI CE hour, 1 AIA LU/HSW, 1 LFA hour. $45.

"Differential scanning calorimetry," offered by Mettler-Toledo International, explains the basic principles of DSC. For visual learners, it's a good companion to "Understanding the differential scanning calorimetry of PCMs." Free, but registration is required. 

"Enhancing Phase Change Materials," sponsored by C-Therm Technologies, takes a look thermal characterization tools. The presentation focuses on a South Korean study which found that adding exfoliated graphene nanoplatelets to phase change material can increase a PCM's thermal conductivity. Free, but registration is required.