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Phase Change Matters Newsletter March 18 2016

The Phase Change Matters e-mail newsletter is a weekly summary of the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. To subscribe, visit For more frequent updates, follow @puretemp on Twitter or visit the Phase Change Matters blog,


Ember temperature-control mug completes pilot manufacturing run

Ember mugEmber Technologies, which raised $362,243 on IndieGoGo last fall to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, has completed its first pilot factory run of the product and is now working on reliability testing. In an e-mail update to IndieGoGo backers this week, the company announced several improvements to the mug, which uses phase change material to help manage beverage temperature:

• More robust design
• Reduced weight
• Liquid level sensing
• Redesigned charger coaster
• Improved mobile app

Delivery of the first mugs to nearly 2,000 backers, initially scheduled for April, is now set for July, after FCC, UL and RF testing is completed.


TES project underway on NIH campus in Maryland

The National Institutes of Health has begun construction of a thermal energy storage tank on its campus in Bethesda, Md. The tank will be 100 feet tall, 120 feet in diameter and hold 8 million gallons of chilled water. The tank is among upgrades designed to ensure uninterrupted cooling capability for a 240-bed hospital, three data centers and more than 12 million square feet of biomedical research facilities. The upgrades are scheduled to be completed by October 2017.


Modular cuboidal passive temperature controlled shipping container

Pelican BioThermal patent drawingU.S. patent application 20160075498 (Pelican BioThermal LLC, Plymouth, Minn.):

“A kit comprising a plurality of separate and distinct identically sized phase change material-containing panels shaped as a frustum of a right pyramid, a method of assembling a thermal insulating enclosure from such panels and the resultant assembled thermal insulting enclosure. … Further insulation may be provided by inserting thermal insulated panels 30 between the outer shell and the outer surface of the PCM panel.”

Foam composition containing encapsulated organic PCM

U.S. patent application 20160075929 (assignee BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany):

“A foam composition comprising a cellulose foam matrix and particles of encapsulated organic phase change material which are distributed within the cellulose foam matrix. The invention also relates to a method for making the foam composition and also theft use in thermal storage applications, such as air-conditioning units.”

Modular air conditioning system for vehicles

U.S. patent application 20160075208 (applicant Hanon Systems, Daejeon, South Korea):

“A thermal energy storage system of a vehicle is disclosed. The thermal energy storage system includes a refrigerant circuit conveying a refrigerant therethrough. The refrigerant circuit includes an evaporator receives a flow of the refrigerant and a flow of air. The thermal energy storage system also includes a coolant circuit conveying a coolant therethrough. The coolant circuit includes a coolant heat exchanger disposed downstream from the evaporator with respect to a direction of the flow of air through the evaporator and an auxiliary heat exchanger receiving a flow of the coolant. … The thermal storage systems may employ a phase change material (PCM) that absorbs heat when the fuel-powered engine is not operating. When the fuel-powered engine is operating, thermal energy is removed from the PCM and the phase change material is charged.”


• The Energy Information Administration reports that U.S. electricity sales fell by 1.1 percent in 2015, the fifth decline in the past eight years. The agency attributed the drop to a combination of factors, “including the market saturation and increasing efficiency of electricity-using equipment, a slowing rate of economic growth, and the changing composition of the economy, which has reduced the role of electricity-intensive manufacturing.” 

AllCell Technologies of Chicago reports growing demand for its battery-cooling technology. The company uses phase change composite material — a mix of wax and graphite — to manage heat and extend the life of lithium-ion batteries. In an interview with Medill Reports Chicago, sales director Scott Novack said AllCell revenue grew from $900,000 in 2012 to $4.7 million in 2014, with continued growth expected when the 2015 numbers are finalized. The company, founded in 2001, has 45 employees.

• In a guest piece in CleanTechnicaCALMAC CEO Mark MacCracken explains the critical role that thermal energy storage plays in designing a truly “zero energy” building. “In order to reach their full potential,” he writes, “renewable energy collection must be coupled with storage technology, either on the grid side or building side of the electric meter, so that it can be dispatched as required.”

• The agenda has been released for the 4th BioLogistics Summit to be held June 27-29 in San Francisco. Chris Anderson, quality systems director at Cardinal Health, will lead a roundtable discussion, “Overcoming Obstacles to Improve Cold Chain Management of Biologics.” A case study presentation will review the advantages and disadvantages of phase change material vs. single-use containers for transportation. 

• For the second straight year, the global economy has grown while energy-related CO2 emissions remained flat, thanks to energy efficiency and a surge in renewables, according to the International Energy Agency.

Minus7 Ltd., a British company that has developed a hybrid passive solar and thermal energy storage system aimed at the residential market, has acquired Engenius Ltd., a company with expertise in solar photovoltaic design, installation and maintenance.

South Africa and ACWA Power fired up 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.”

• Applications are invited from first-class graduates for a fully funded research studentship within the Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research at Newcastle University. The student will investigate the use of solar energy, phase change material and thermochemical sorption technology to reduce energy demands at the Nissan manufacturing site in Sunderland.


For our full list of recent academic research, see Here are highlights from the past week:

From Energy and Buildings:

PCM cooling ceilings in the Energy Efficiency Center − passive cooling potential of two different system designs
Thermal performance of a PCM-filled double glazing unit with different optical properties of phase change material

From Thermochimica Acta:

Phase transition of neopentyl glycol in nanopores for thermal energy storage

From Applied Energy:

Optimal design and application of a compound cold storage system combining seasonal ice storage and chilled water storage

From Renewable Energy:

Preparation of a stable nanocomposite phase change material (NCPCM) using sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) as the surfactant and evaluation of its stability using image analysis

From Innostorage:

Natural convection melting in a high temperature flat plate latent heat storage system: Parameter study of enclosure dimensions [pdf]

From Solar Energy:

Experimental and numerical investigation of potential filler materials for thermal oil thermocline storage

From Heat Transfer | Asian Research:

Impact of the Relationship between Phase Change Temperature and Boundary Temperature on the Thermal Performance of a PCM Wall and the Presentation of PCM Thermal Performance Indexes

From Energy Conversion and Management:

A review of performance enhancement of PCM based latent heat storage system within the context of materials, thermal stability and compatibility


Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

More than 650 of your peers have joined a LinkedIn group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage. The Phase Change Matters group is an interactive complement to the award-winning blog and newsletter of the same name.

You are invited to join the group and connect with PCM and TES experts from around the world. New members this week include Alastair Hunter, technology director at Minus7, East Cowes, U.K.; Romina Beltramini, product designer, Trieste, Italy; Loic Rolland, research fellow at DuPont, Geneva, Switzerland; and Mike Meyer, senior design engineer at Mezzo Technologies, Baton Rouge, La. Mike writes:

“We design and manufacture micro tube heat exchangers in all forms (radiators, condensers, oil coolers, etc). I’m currently looking for thermal energy storage applications that might benefit from our technology. We’ve made a few prototypes over the last year with promising results. I’d be very interested in talking to anyone who might have such an application.”


Wanted: News tips about PCMs and thermal energy storage

Does your company, agency or university have a job opening, new research, new product or other news you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you. Please contact Ben Welter of Entropy Solutions at