Happy new year!

I am pleased to share the news that the Phase Change Matters newsletter, launched by PureTemp LLC six years ago, is now sponsored by the RAL Quality Association PCM. Member companies have committed to funding the monthly newsletter through June 2021. Their goal is to continue raising awareness of PCM technology and to generate visits to member websites. Member companies are listed at the bottom of this newsletter. If you find this newsletter useful, please let them know. Look for the next issue at the end of February.

Ben Welter, newsletter editor


PCM makers answer the call for vaccine shipping solutions

As pharmaceutical companies raced to develop effective COVID-19 vaccines last year, Sunamp Ltd. CEO Andrew Bissell met with Colin Pulham of the University of Edinburgh to discuss what they could do to help. All COVID-19 vaccines require temperature-controlled storage and shipping, but the Pfizer-BioNTech version presented a special challenge: It must be kept at -70 Celsius until it reaches the point of use.

Sunamp VacSafe shipperWorking with the University of Edinburgh, a frequent collaborator, Sunamp adapted an existing shipping box to maintain the ultra-cold temperatures required by the Pfizer vaccine. Sunamp says the new shipper, Permafrost VacSafe, can maintain a temperature of -70C for 24 days without a direct power supply. The compact, reusable shipper is designed to use one-tenth the amount of dry ice required by others on the market. Sunamp, which launched the new shipper in December, says it is in talks with buyers from 10 countries. A PCM-enabled shipper is in the works as an alternative to dry ice.

Other PCM makers have been developing technologies to assist in vaccine distribution.

Axiotherm GmbH of Eisenberg, Germany, has developed pre-qualified solutions for three temperature ranges:

  • 2-8°C, suitable for the AstraZeneca vaccine or for general last-mile use. Special cold packs integrate two PCMs, 3°C and 7°C.
  • < -20°C, suitable for the Moderna vaccine. The new ATS -24 was specially developed for this purpose in order to guarantee the temperature even with simpler insulation, in contrast to the solutions used today with a standard melting point of -21°C, for which a vacuum insulation panels are required.
  • < -60°C, Biontech/Pfizer: Axiotherm has just completed the development of the ATS -63 and has begun sampling its partners for ISTA qualification.

Pelican BioThermal of Plymouth, Minnesota, has added temperature ranges of -80°C to -20°C its existing Credo, CoolGuard and Sherpa shipping systems. The systems use phase change material and dry ice to provide frozen payload protection with durations from 72 hours to 144+ hours. Payload capacities range from 1 to 96 liters for parcel shippers and 371 to 1,686 liters for pallet shippers. The company did not respond to a request for details on the PCM being used.

Shippers developed by va-Q-tec GmbH of Würzburg, Germany, are designed to maintain constant temperatures from -80°C to 25°C for several days without external energy supply. “The va-Q-tainers keep temperatures down to -60 °C dry ice-free with their high-performance PCM accus,” the company said in a recent LinkedIn post. “For temperatures below -60 °C, far less dry ice is required than in conventional solutions.” The company declined to offer details on the PCM components in time for this month’s newsletter.

In November, Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., announced a new line of PCM-enabled shippers designed to maintain temperatures as low as -75°C. The Apollo system “uses smart nesting of BioPCM solutions in combination with other components, such as insulated shippers, to enable modular and robust solutions.” In a press release, Dr. Reyad Sawafta, the company’s chief science officer, said the company has engineered “a novel class of BioPCM materials” to maintain the ultracold temperatures required. The company did not respond to a request for more information on the Apollo system.

PLUSS Advanced Technologies of Gurgaon, India, reports that it has been granted a patent by European Patent Office for its Celsure box, which uses proprietary phase change material to transport vaccines and perishable commodities at a specific temperature range.

“These boxes will play a vital role in maintaining precise temperature during transport of various Covid-19 vaccines being tested in India and abroad,” said Samit Jain, managing director at PLUSS. “The technology is already commercialized and is used by various multinational pharmaceutical and logistics companies in India. We are in conversations with Covid-19 vaccine distribution stakeholders to make our products available across the country.”

Jain said PLUSS is working on a -70C phase change material that will work in place of dry ice for the Pfizer vaccine. That material is now undergoing trials.

“In India, we may not see the Pfizer vaccine immediately, but in the UK, the US and Europe, we are already in talks with prospective companies which can use our solutions for -70°C,” Jain said in an interview with Times of India.


Ember coolerPortable cooler with phase change material

U.S. patent application 20210025634 (applicant Ember Technologies Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.):

“A portable cooler container is provided. The temperature control system cools a chamber of the container to transport temperature sensitive contents via the container. An electronic display screen on one of the lid and the container body selectively displays an electronic shipping label for the portable cooler container. … [Optionally, the] chamber can hold perishable contents (e.g., medicine, food, other perishables, etc.) therein and a phase change material (e.g., one or more ice packs, a phase change material sleeve) in thermal communication (e.g., thermal contact) with the perishable contents).”

Layer-by-layer phase change composite with improved cooling performance

U.S. patent application 20210018275 (applicant Industry-University Cooperation Foundation, Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea):

“The present disclosure relates to a phase change composite and a heat spreader including the same, and more particularly, to a phase change composite having improved cooling performance by being formed in a layer-by-layer structure composed of a material having high thermal conductivity and a phase change material. According to the present disclosure, by repeatedly laminating thermal conductive layers and phase change material unit layers, thermal conductivity in the horizontal direction may be dramatically improved. In addition, due to a high volume percentage of a phase change material, a heat spreader with a large heat capacity may be provided.”

System for energy consumption reduction and cost savings in a building

U.S. patent application 20210010696 (applicant Stasis Energy Group, Pomona, Calif.):

“A system for obtaining energy consumptions, savings and cost reduction in structures adapted for human habitation which includes the utilization of a plurality of mats including phase change material encapsulated within first and second layers of plastic material having heat transfer capability disposed within the plenum area above a ceiling of a room within a building with the amount of phase change material contained within each mat being between 0.5 lbs. and 0.67 lbs. per square foot.”

More U.S. patent applications:

Detachable adhesive composition systems (Ron Nagar) | Mattress assembly (Dreamwell Ltd.) | Self-managed portable hypothermia system (L.M. and M.L. Zumbrunnen) | Battery pack containing phase change material (University of Sherbrooke) | System and method for active cooling of a substance (Frosty Cold LLC) | Method and system for maintaining temperature-sensitive materials (Cold Chain Technologies) | Method of producing series of phase-change wax products (Inner Mongolia Yitai Coal-based New Materials Research Institute) | Vehicle temperature control system with PCM heat pipe (Hyundai Motor Co.)


Sunamp UniQ 12Sunamp Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland, has completed the first installation of its UniQ 12 heat pump, right, in South Korea. The system provides heating and cooling in a prefabricated structure used by construction crews working on a new apartment complex in Gunsan. “Modular temporary office space is potentially a huge opportunity,” a Sunamp representative said, “and we can provide a big difference to the occupants in terms of comfort and amount of hot water that we can deliver in a small occupied space. We will do more all around the world.”

• Remember Axiom Exergy, a California startup that raised more than $12 million to equip supermarkets with its thermal batteries and power management system? It went out of business last summer after struggling with scalability challenges on the hardware side. Now reborn as software-centric
Axiom Cloud, the company offers subscription-based applications that extract data from a customer’s existing refrigeration equipment and then use cloud computing and artificial intelligence to monitor performance and lower energy costs.

Thermal Materials Summit 2021 will be held as a virtual conference on Feb. 11. Among the presentations: “Thermal Conductivity of Phase Change Materials used in Batteries Thermal Management” by Dr. Sofia Mylona of Thermtest Instruments and “New Textile-Based Hybrid Photovoltaic / Thermal System” by Dr. Barbara Pause of Textile Testing & Innovation LLC.

Richard Bonner, vice president for research and development at Advanced Cooling Technologies of Lancaster, Pa., reports that colleagues Ellie Seber and Josh Charles and collaborators Janice Kelsey (Solar CITIES) and Dr. T.H. Culhane (University of South Florida) have been awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for their proposal, “Thermal Regulation with Salt Hydrates for Biodigester Isothermality.”

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston, Texas, is installing its thermal energy storage system in a 147,000-square-foot food warehouse in Cidra, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Harald Mehling, a consultant with the RAL Quality Association PCM, reports that his research paper titled “Potential new reference materials for caloric measurements on PCM” has been accepted for publication by SN Applied Sciences.

• Sunamp and Heriot Watt University are teaming up on a feasibility study to demonstrate how PCM thermal storage can help U.K. distilleries shrink their carbon footprints. “Using energy and process modeling from Heriot Watt with data from their on-campus distillery as well as industry input,” Sunamp says, “we will show how a large-scale (to 100 MWh) PCM thermal store can be used to convert, capture and store renewable energy generation to be used at the point of demand, in effect decoupling generation from demand.” Sunamp is looking for a distillery partner for the project’s next phase, a field trial.

• Registration is open for 13th International Institute of Refrigeration PCM Conference, to be held Sept. 1-3, 2021, in Vicenza, Italy. Possible topics include “Renewable heating and cooling by using PCMs and Slurries” and “Thermal energy storage and energy savings via PCMs and Slurries.” Organizers are hoping for an on-site conference, but will convert to a streaming format if conditions demand.

• The public power utility serving Lincoln, Nebraska, has set up a microgrid with up to 29 MW of load to serve critical facilities. Lincoln Electric System‘s microgrid includes a 500-kW thermal energy storage system that can run for six hours before needing to be recharged.


From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Novel rotary regenerative heat exchanger using cascaded phase change material capsules
Thermal characteristics of a long-term heat storage unit with sodium acetate trihydrate

From Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing:

Flexible MXene-coated melamine foam based phase change material composites for integrated solar-thermal energy conversion/storage, shape memory and thermal therapy functions
PEG-filled kapok fiber/sodium alginate aerogel loaded phase change composite material with high thermal conductivity and excellent shape stability

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Cellulose-based phase change fibres for thermal energy storage and management applications
Super-elastic smart phase change material (SPCM) for thermal energy storage

From Energy and Buildings:

Phase change cooling in data centers: A review
Research on Falling Film Dehumidification Performance of Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials Slurry

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Review of PCM types and suggestions for an applicable cascaded PCM for passive PV module cooling under tropical climate conditions

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Simulations of melting performance enhancement for a PCM embedded in metal periodic structures

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Flame retardant and leaking preventable phase change materials for thermal energy storage and thermal regulation
Walnut shell derived bio-carbon/methyl palmitate as novel composite phase change material with enhanced thermal energy storage properties

From Renewable Energy:

Phase change material-sand mixtures for distributed latent heat thermal energy storage: Interaction and performance analysis
Energy Cost and Efficiency Analysis of Greenhouse Heating System Enhancement Using Phase Change Material: An Experimental Study

From Construction and Building Materials:

Effect of expanded graphite/polyethylene glycol composite phase change material (EP-CPCM) on thermal and pavement performance of asphalt mixture

From International Conference on Electronics, Control, Optimization and Computer Science:

Thermal Energy Storage By Phase Change Materials Suitable For Solar Water Heaters: An Updated Review

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Microcapsules composed of stearic acid core and polyethylene glycol‐based shell as a microcapsule phase change material

From Energy Storage Science and Technology:

T-history method and its application in the determination of thermophysical properties of phase change materials

From Recent Advances in Chemical Engineering:

Experimental Investigations of Beeswax Based Composite Phase Change Material

From International Journal of Ambient Energy:

A comparative study of spherical and cylindrical shells thermal energy storage systems using paraffin wax-palmitic acid and their eutectic mixture

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Effect of variation in thickness of phase change material on temperature across the composite building wall

From Pigment & Resin Technology:

Thermally regulated cotton fabric coated with expanded graphite stabilized paraffin mixture as composite phase change material


Connect with PCM experts and industry leaders on LinkedIn

More than 1,500 people have joined a LinkedIn group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage. You are invited to join the Phase Change Matters group and connect with PCM and TES experts from around the world.

This month we welcome Marcia Dyer, national account manager at American Thermal Instruments, Dayton, Ohio; Sven Mumme, technology manager, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.; Rajesh Mammen, national manager at Eren Cryogel, Mumbai, India; David Verez, Ph.D. student, energy storage systems, University of Lleida, Spain; Hugh Slater, CEO at EGC Enterprises, Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Sikandar Ali Channa, thermal engineer at Altran, Meudon, France; Alexandra Müller, lab engineer at va-Q-tec; Würzburg, Germany; André Rosehr, R&D team leader at Sasol, Hamburg, Germany; and Brian Chapman, materials chemist at Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.

Member Håkon Selvnes, Ph.D. student at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, writes:

“For anyone interested in cold thermal energy storage and refrigeration technology, I am pleased to share our recently published review paper with the title ‘Review on cold thermal energy storage applied to refrigeration systems using phase change materials.’ The paper is published with open access for everyone to read and discover the benefits of thermal energy storage when used in combination of various refrigeration systems.”


Does your company, agency or university have a job opening, new research, new product or other news you’d like to share? I would love to hear from you. Please contact newsletter editor Ben Welter at benedict.welter@gmail.com.


This newsletter is made possible through the generous support of the RAL Quality Association PCM and the members listed below. To learn more about the association, including membership benefits, please contact Stefan Thomann, executive director, at info@pcm-ral.de.

Axiotherm GmbH | Croda Europe Ltd. | Global Energy Systems Europe | RuhrTech | Microtek Laboratories | PCM Technology | PLUSS Advanced Technologies | PureTemp LLC | Rubitherm Technologies GmbH | Sasol Germany GmbH | Sunamp Ltd | va-Q-tec AG