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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.




Patent application: Fuel cell freeze protection device and system

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180219237 (applicant Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich.)

"A fuel cell system including a fuel cell stack, a coolant loop and a thermal battery. The coolant loop is configured to flow a coolant liquid therethrough. The thermal battery includes a phase change material configured to absorb heat generated by the fuel cell stack or coolant liquid and to latently store the heat during a first mode of operation the fuel cell system."


Vehicle occupant cooling system (applicant Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., Erlanger, Kentucky)

Patent application: Method and system for phase change material component cooling

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180216894 (applicant General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.)

"A transient cooling system includes a first phase change material (PCM) element and a second PCM element. The first PCM element includes a first PCM, a first surface, and a second surface, the first surface complementary to a surface to be cooled. The second PCM element includes a second PCM and a third surface in thermal contact with the second surface. The first PCM and the second PCM may have different thermal characteristics."

Patent application: Device for controlling temperature of low-temperature pump

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180216610 (applicant Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Daejeon, South Korea): 

"A cryopump comprising: a displacer configured to adjust an outside temperature by compressing or expanding a refrigerant included in the cryopump; a thermal conductor configured to transfer an external heat of the cryopump to the refrigerant; and a thermal conductive buffer configured to absorb the external heat transferred to the refrigerant and use the absorbed external heat as a phase change energy when the displacer is turned off."

Patent application: Insulated chamber with PCM and door with controllable transparency

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

Caron patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180216833 (applicant Caron Products and Services Inc., Marietta, Ga.):

"A hinged door for gaining access to a chamber interior region for receiving a storage item therein. The hinged door comprising a frame, a transparent material pane within the frame, a smart glass material disposed proximate the material pane and controllable between a transparent and opaque condition responsive to an electric current supplied to the smart glass material, a phase change material [72G] within the frame, and a temperature controlling device proximate the phase change material."

Patent application: Encapsulates for phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180215983 (applicant Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.):

"The invention discloses a microencapsulated phase change material having a specific Thermal Efficiency Index (TEI). The composition of the invention comprises particles of a microencapsulated phase change material, the particles comprising a core and a shell that encapsulates the core, the shell comprising a polyurea obtained by polymerizing an isocyanate and an amine, prepared by (i) providing a water phase with an emulsifier, (ii) providing an internal phase of a core material and a multifunctional isocyanate soluble or dispersible in the internal phase, (iii) adding the internal phase to the water phase under high speed agitation to form an emulsion comprising droplets of the internal phase dispersed in the water phase and forming a first shell at an interface of the internal phase droplets and water phase mixture, and (iv) adding a multifunctional amine monomer to the emulsion thereby forming additional polyurea shell over the first shell at an interface of the internal phase droplets and water phase mixture. The resulting particles have a Thermal Efficiency Index greater than 0. Microcapsules according to the invention are highly effective at delivering enhanced thermal performance as compared to conventional microcapsules."

Research roundup: Solar thermal modeling; finned multitube storage; solid-solid PCM: more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 01, 2018

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Modelling and experimental study of latent heat thermal energy storage with encapsulated PCMs for solar thermal applications

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Estimation of thermal performance and design optimization of finned multitube latent heat thermal energy storage

From Engineering Science and Technology:

Experimental study on heat transfer performance of neopentyl glycol/CuO composite solid-solid PCM in TES based heat sink

From Solar Energy:

Synthesis and characterization of stearic acid/silicon dioxide nanoencapsules for solar energy storage

Creators of PCM-equipped warming trivet abandon project

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The team behind TheM, a PCM-powered warming trivet touted on Indiegogo a few years back, has finally scrapped the idea.

The team fell far short of its goal of raising $30,000 on the crowdfunding in 2015. Technical challenges, combined with unspecified "medical problems," proved to be too much.

TheM warming trivetIn the team's first Indiegogo update since April 2016, team member Bobby Bedi recently wrote:  

"Have been trying to validate the Thermal Dining Place Mat using PCM as heat sponge. Application concept for the PCM (Phase Change Material)  was to initially store excess heat from the oven hot dish, and then to transfer heat when dish starts cooling to maintain food at a enjoyable temperature of 35 C for 30 minutes+.

"Unfortunately despite trying different Phase Change Materials the concept failed. Heat transfer from very hot dish to PCM was negative. The only other way was to add a heater which would have defeated the original concept. Project was also negatively funded and after investing another $10K from my end need to close this and find another solution to this want of keeping food hot without external heating wires."

Bedi said he would try to issue refunds to any of the project's 48 backers who would like their money back.

C-Therm offers free webinar on characterizing PCMs for TES and thermal management of batteries

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 31, 2018

C-Therm Technologies is hosting a free webinar this week on recent research on composite phase change materials for thermal energy storage and battery thermal management. C-Therm’s MTPS method for thermal conductivity characterization of PCMs was used in the research. The webinar, "Characterizing Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage and Improved Battery Thermal Management," will be held at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 2.

Research roundup: Alum/expanded graphite composite; geopolymeric mortars; flexible PCMs; more

Ben Welter - Monday, July 30, 2018

From Energy:

Experimental investigations of Alum/expanded graphite composite phase change material for thermal energy storage and its compatibility with metals

From International Journal of Thermal Sciences:

Numerical study on the effect of phase change materials on heat transfer in asphalt concrete

From The Open Construction & Building Technology Journal:

Thermal Performance of Resource-Efficient Geopolymeric Mortars Containing Phase Change Materials

From Chemical Engineering Journal:

Flexible Phase Change Materials for Thermal Storage and Temperature Control

From Journal of Materials Chemistry A:

Nanoconfinement of phase change materials within carbon aerogels: phase transition behaviours and photo-to-thermal energy storage

From Materiales de Construcción:

Identification of best available thermal energy storage compounds for low-to-moderate temperature storage applications in buildings