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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: 3-D electronic structure with integrated phase-change cooling

Ben Welter - Saturday, June 22, 2019

Google patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190191589 (applicant Google LLC, Mountain View, Calif.):

"This document describes techniques for implementing phase-change cooling in a three-dimensional structure. A three-dimensional structure having three-dimensional curvatures is fabricated to include a phase-change chamber with a fluid in a saturated thermodynamic state. As part of fabrication, specific mechanisms may be included that create a thermo-mechanical network that improves thermal performance of the phase-change chamber and also provides structural integrity to the three-dimensional structure. ... Structures housing heat-producing components, such as a virtual reality headset, a personal assistant/smart speaker, a smartphone, or gaming controller, are often shaped with complex, three-dimensional curvatures. As part of manufacturing such a structure and using specific techniques, phase-change mechanisms using a phase-change material (PCM) may be integrated as part of the structure, improving thermal control over the electronic system that might otherwise rely on convection or conduction based mechanisms."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190191589.pdf

Patent application: Latent heat storage device

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190186844 (applicant Tohoku University, Sendai-shi, Japan):

"A latent heat storage device includes: a heat transfer cylindrical body allowing a flow of a heat medium inside thereof and being rotatable about a longitudinal axis as a center of rotation; a fixed blade being adjacent to or in a slidable contact with an outer peripheral surface of the heat transfer cylindrical body; and a latent heat storage material disposed around the heat transfer cylindrical body, wherein by rotation of the heat transfer cylindrical body, the fixed blade scrapes a solidified body of the latent heat storage material adhering to the outer peripheral surface of the heat transfer cylindrical body off the outer peripheral surface of the heat transfer cylindrical body, and creates circulation of the latent heat storage material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190186844.pdf

Patent application: Thermal energy apparatus

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

Boeing patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190189882 (applicant Boeing Co., Chicago, Ill.):

"An energy harvesting apparatus may include a thermoelectric device, a heat exchanger coupled to the thermoelectric device, a thermal capacitor container, and a thermal capacitor generation device. The thermal capacitor generation device may be configured to generate a thermal capacitor fluid, to be contained in the thermal capacitor container. An electrical energy storage device may be electrically connected to the thermoelectric device, to store electricity generated by the thermoelectric device."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190189882.pdf

Patent application: Thermally conductive apparel

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190184673 (applicant VF Jeanswear LP, Greensboro, N.C.):

"Provided are garments that comprise thermally-conductive materials, the materials comprising a heat-collecting coating disposed on a fibrous base material having a thermally-conductive additive dispersed within. ... The disclosed garments can include a PCM disposed on and/or in a portion of the garment. Such a PCM can provide an improved moisture management or thermal management benefit to the overall garment."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190184673.pdf

PCM briefing: Lineup set for TES forum in Duesseldorf; CIC Energigune joins European research network

Ben Welter - Friday, June 21, 2019

Christoph Rathgeber of ZAE Bayern and Michael Andretzky of the University of Duisburg-Essen are among the speakers at next week's Thermal Energy Storage Forum in Dusseldorf, Germany. The forum will focus on the use of thermal storage in industrial processes. Rathgeber's topic is "Economy of thermal energy storage." Andretzky's topic: "PCM in buffer tank for CHPs."

Crystallize bubble• Another frosty gem from Physics Today: "Bubbles freeze in a swirl of ice crystals"

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has launched an electric thermal energy storage system designed to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively. The pilot plant in Hamburg can store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. It uses a steam turbine to convert stored energy into electricity. 

CIC Energigune, a thermal energy storage research center in Spain's Basque Country, has joined the ALISTORE-ERI network. The European network brings together 20 research centers and 12 companies engaged in advanced energy storage research.

Viking Cold Solutions of Houston has made Food Logistics' list of Top Green Providers 2019. Viking was honored in two categories, refrigeration and alternative fuels &  energy. The company says its PCM-based thermal storage system, designed for use in cold storage facilities, can reduce energy consumption by more than 25 percent.

Cryopak, a maker of insulated shipping containers, gel packs and phase change materials, says it is taking steps toward reducing its carbon footprint with the launch of a new line of shipping solutions. The company, based in Edison, N.J. says its R3 Service Program "minimizes the need for insulation materials, phase change solutions, bottles and their necessary disposal by handling the coordination of container delivery, reverse logistics and required refurbishment."

Sonoco ThermoSafe has an opening for a sales manager with "experience in strategic selling across Europe."

Research roundup: Form-stable PCM; polyethylene glycol/quartz composites; fuzzy clustering; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From Renewable Energy:

A N-octadecane/hierarchically Porous TiO2 Form-Stable PCM for Thermal Energy Storage

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Hybrid solar parabolic dish power plant and high‐temperature phase change material energy storage system

From Journal of Applied Polymer Science:

Thermal and dynamic mechanical properties of polyethylene glycol/quartz composites for phase change materials

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Using fuzzy clustering and weighted cumulative probability distribution techniques for optimal design of phase change material thermal energy storage

From Construction and Building Materials:

Thermoregulation effect analysis of microencapsulated phase change thermoregulation agent for asphalt pavement

From Applied Energy:

Residential cooling using separated and coupled precooling and thermal energy storage strategies

Novel PCM microspheres keep new therapy pack flexible when frozen

Ben Welter - Saturday, June 15, 2019

A novel phase change material developed by PureTemp LLC of Minneapolis is the key component of a new flexible therapy pack introduced at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Orlando, Fla., last month.

Glacier Tek therapy packThe flexible PCM microspheres have a melt point of 18 degrees C and remain pliable when frozen. The flexible GlacierPacks, developed by Glacier Tek LLC of Minneapolis, are designed to provide targeted cooling relief for bruises, muscle strains, headaches and more. The patent-pending packs can be recharged in ice water in about an hour, hold their target temperature of 18 C for more than two hours and can be reused indefinitely.

The packs can be applied directly to skin without damaging tissue or causing discomfort. They can be used safely and effectively for longer periods than traditional ice packs or cold water immersion (CWI) treatments.

In research led by Dr. Malachy P. McHugh and Susan Y. Kwiecien of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York, packs filled with PureTemp's biobased phase change material have been shown to provide a practical way to deliver prolonged post-exercise cooling and thereby accelerate muscle recovery.

A 2019 study, "Accelerated Recovery of Muscle Function in Baseball Pitchers Using Post-Game Phase Change Material Cooling," set out to examine the effectiveness of post-game PCM cooling on strength recovery in pitchers. Based on prior research (Kwiecien et al 2018 and Clifford et al 2018), it was hypothesized that PCM cooling would accelerate recovery. The flexible cooling packs were applied to the elbows and forearms of college pitchers after each had thrown 45 pitches. Pitchers in a control group received no PCM cooling treatment. The strength, soreness and creatine kinase levels of the athletes were then measured to gauge the effectiveness of the PCM cooling. CK is an enzyme released into the blood at elevated levels when there is muscle damage.

The researchers concluded that prolonged PCM cooling accelerated recovery of strength but did not affect soreness or CK levels. "The effect of PCM cooling of the medial elbow and forearm on grip strength recovery is very encouraging considering the role the wrist flexors play in dynamic stability of the elbow," the researchers wrote. 

"Can you believe it? A PCM that remains flexible when fully charged!" said RoxAnne Best, president of PureTemp and Glacier Tek. "I am really proud of our team for their commitment to bringing this technology to market. The consumer application possibilities are endless."

The therapy packs are available on Amazon and on the Glacier Tek website. A set of six packs retails for $229. Contact Glacier Tek to inquire about samples, volume discounts and custom configurations.

Patent application: Phase change material for storing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190177224 (applicant Université de Cergy-Pontoise, Cergy, France):

"A method for manufacturing a solid-solid organic phase-change material made of polyurethane, said method comprising: a single step (i) of synthesis by mixing and reacting a liquid polyethylene glycol, a crosslinking agent, and a liquid polyisocyanate, combined by mechanical agitation at a first controlled temperature, in an enclosure in order to obtain the liquid polyurethane, a step (ii) of curing the liquid polyurethane at a second controlled temperature in order to solidify the polyurethane, the synthesis step (i) being carried out in the absence of a solvent."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190177224.pdf

Patent application: Device and method for cooling living tissue

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190175395 (applicant RecensMedical Inc., Ulsan, South Korea):

Tissue cooling device patent drawing"The present disclosure provides a device and a method for cooling living tissues for a medical purpose and other purposes. The cooling device comprises: a container configured to accommodate a cooling medium and thermally coupled with the cooling medium by directly contacting the cooling medium; a cooling generator configured to be thermally coupled with the container by a direct contact and thereby to provide cooling energy to the cooling medium; and a heat sink dissipating heat from the cooling generator. ... [The] heat transfer medium [116] may comprise a heat pipe or a vapor chamber and may include a pipe body and phase change material (PCM) provided inside the pipe body. The pipe body may be made of material having the high thermal conductivity so as to effectively transfer the heat from the cooling generating unit that is in contact with the heat transferring medium to the PCM therein."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190175395.pdf

Patent application: Transport container

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190178534 (inventor Nico Ros, Riehen, Switzerland):

"In a transport container for transporting temperature-sensitive transport goods comprising a chamber for receiving the transport goods, a casing enclosing the chamber and at least one cooling element for temperature control of the chamber, the cooling element comprises an evaporation element with a cooling surface and a desiccant for receiving coolant evaporated in the evaporation element. The transport container further comprises a latent heat accumulator that communicates with the chamber for heat exchange. ... In a preferred embodiment, in which the transport goods are to be kept in the chamber at a temperature range of 2-8° C., the latent heat accumulator has a phase transition temperature of approx. 4-6° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190178534.pdf