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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: Passively temperature controlled storage container for an automobile

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170328623 (inventor David Legare, Ava, N.Y.):

"Thermal protection for sensitive items stored for extended periods of time in a passenger vehicle is a requirement that has not been adequately addressed by the industry. A primary object of this invention therefore, will be to provide a convenient and versatile means for forming and integrating a storage container employing appropriate phase change materials to create a controlled temperature environment for heat-sensitive articles inside an automobile, truck, or other enclosed road vehicle. As such, the invention will afford protection where summer temperatures build up to levels inside the stationary vehicle which could exceed safe limits for heat sensitive items that might be stored in the vehicle for an extended period of time; ie an hour or more. An additional optional objective will be to further include a phase change material with a substantially lower melting point to protect sensitive items from freezing during the winter months."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170328623.pdf

Sunamp expands factory, warehouse space

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sunamp Ltd. is moving its phase change production unit into a 15,000-square-foot factory and warehouse space near the company's headquarters in East Lothian, Scotland. The new space is three times the size of Sunamp's current production space and will allow the company to bring in test rigs and a vehicle lift to meet the needs of its automotive division. Sunamp says the move will free up "much needed lab space at headquarters to expand our current chemical material and HVAC product R&D operations."

Other recent developments at Sunamp:

Sunamp EV• The company showcased its cooling system for refrigerated vans at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle event in Millbank, England, last month. The system, developed with bodybuilder Paneltex, route optimization software maker Route Monkey and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, integrates low-temperature PCMs in electric delivery vans for supermarket deliveries. It was among the winners in a proof of concept competition sponsored by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK.

• Along with other companies involved in the Smart Islands Energy Systems (SMILE) initiative, Sunamp is gearing up for the implementation phase of the Orkney pilot project, starting in November. Sunamp's heat batteries are among nine smart-grid technologies to be demonstrated in the four-year SMILE project, launched in May 2017 and funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

• Sunamp's PCM heat batteries were featured this week on the UK television show "Grand Designs."

http://mailchi.mp/sunamp/sunamp-news-update?e=53caf0f79a

Patent application: Air-conditioning system for a machine

Ben Welter - Monday, September 25, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170267066 (applicant Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.):

"An air-conditioning system including a primary circuit and a secondary circuit is provided. The primary circuit includes a flow of refrigerant, an evaporator and a chiller configured to exchange heat between a coolant and the refrigerant. The secondary circuit includes a heat exchanger in fluid communication with the chiller to receive the coolant. The heat exchanger includes a phase change material in heat exchange relationship with the coolant, such that the coolant exchanges heat with the phase change material to store thermal energy in the phase change material. The air-conditioning system is implemented in a machine in which during an idle-off state, the stored energy in the heat exchanger is discharged to provide an air-conditioning effect."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170267066.pdf

Patent application: Enclosure with a condensation-resistant interior surface

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 07, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170254503 (applicant Sabic Global Technologies BV, Netherlands):

Sabic headlamp patent application drawing"In an embodiment, an enclosure comprises walls forming the enclosure, wherein the enclosure comprises an internal space; an inhibiting element disposed in at least one wall, the inhibiting element having an internal inhibiting surface exposed to the internal space, wherein the inhibiting element has a transparency of greater than or equal to 20%; and a condensing element disposed in at least one other wall, the condensing element having an internal condensing surface exposed to the internal space; wherein at least one of the inhibiting element and the condensing element comprise a phase change material [84] configured to form a temperature differential between an internal inhibiting surface temperature and an internal condensing surface temperature over a temperature range."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170254503.pdf

PCM briefing: Dethleffs unveils solar-powered camper; ScienceDirect launches 'personalized recommendations'

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 05, 2017

ScienceDirect, the full-text research database from Elsevier, now offers a "personalized recommendations" feature. Registered users of the site are automatically enrolled in the service, which uses an adaptive algorithm to analyze a user's searches and then sends a list of three to five recommended articles to the user by e-mail each week. 

Ember Technologies' temperature-control coffee mug won a Silver IDEA Award in the kitchen and accessories category at the 2017 International Design Excellence Awards in August. 

Dethleffs e-home motorhome• German camper manufacturer Dethleffs has unveiled a concept vehicle that runs on a 107-horsepower electric motor. The "e.home" features 334 square feet of thin solar panels and a heating system that uses phase change materials to absorb heat when the outside temperature rises above 79° F. Fully equipped, its driving range on a full charge is just over 100 miles. But of course its batteries recharge when the sun shines.

Gary Owens has been named president and chief executive officer at Mesa Laboratories Inc., succeeding John Sullivan, who has held the positions since 2009. 

Dulas Ltd., maker of solar-powered vaccine refrigerators, has completed a supply and training program in Myanmar under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Dulas delivered refrigeration units that feature phase change material, a 400W photovoltaic array and 132-liter vaccine storage capacity.

Pluss Advanced Technologies' MiraCradle infant cooling device, which uses phase change material to treat birth asphyxia, is featured in an article in The Guardian this week. The device was launched commercially in 2014 and is now being used in more than 125 hospitals across India and three in South Africa. 

Dow Chemical and DuPont have completed their planned $130 billion merger to form DowDuPont. Shares of the merged company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "DWDP." 

Patent application: Heat exchanger and storage device

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170248375 (assignee BorgWarner Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.):

"A product with a heat generating system, the product having a heat storage medium constructed and arranged to receive and store heat from the heat generating system wherein the product is constructed and arranged to trigger, extract, and use the stored heat, the heat storage medium receiving heat from the heat generating system during which heat storage in the heat storage medium increases at a first rate to a point where a phase change of the heat storage medium occurs and increases at a second rate during the phase change of the energy storage medium at a phase change temperature, the second rate being substantially higher than the first rate and wherein the extraction and use of heat by the product is triggered by a generator at a temperature that is lower than the phase change temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248375.pdf

Patent application: Pressure plate with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 17, 2017

ABB patent application drawingU.S. patent application 20170234389 (Applicant ABB Technology Ltd., Zurich, Switzerland):

"A pressure plate for a friction coupling such as a clutch or brake system is disclosed in the present application. The pressure plate includes one or more pockets with a phase change material disposed therein [76]. The phase change material operates to absorb and release heat when the friction coupling cycles between activation and deactivation so as to minimize a maximum temperature of the pressure plate."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170234389.pdf

Research roundup: Stearyl alcohol/ HDPE /expanded graphite composite PCM; perlite-based PCM wallboard; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Improved thermal properties of stearyl alcohol/high density polyethylene/expanded graphite composite phase change materials for building thermal energy storage [Energy and Buildings]

Development and thermal performance of an expanded perlite-based phase change material wallboard for passive cooling in building [Energy and Buildings]

Numerical and experimental investigation of an insulation layer with phase change materials (PCMs) [Energy and Buildings]

Polyurethane foams with microencapsulated phase change material: Comparative analysis of thermal conductivity characterization approaches [Energy and Buildings]

Flammability assessment of Phase Change Material wall lining and insulation materials with different weight fractions [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal analysis of nanoparticle-enhanced phase change material solidification in a rectangular latent heat storage unit including natural convection [Energy and Buildings]

A portable solar-powered air-cooling system based on phase-change materials for a vehicle cabin [Energy Conversion and Management]

Thermal performance and economic evaluation of a newly developed phase change material for effective building encapsulation [Energy Conversion and Management]

Fabrication of three-dimensional metal-graphene network phase change composite for high thermal conductivity and suppressed subcooling phenomena [Energy Conversion and Management]

Researches of composite phase change material cooling/resistance wire preheating coupling system of a designed 18650-type battery module [Applied Thermal Engineering]

The impact of the heating/cooling rate on the thermoregulating properties of textile materials modified with PCM microcapsules [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Fatty acids/1-dodecanol binary eutectic phase change materials for low temperature solar thermal applications: Design, development and thermal analysis [Solar Energy]

An Experimental Evaluation of Direct Flow Evacuated Tube Solar Collector Integrated with Phase Change Material [Energy]

Heat capacities of some sugar alcohols as phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications [Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics]

Patent application: Temperature regulating polyurethane gels

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170210961 (applicant Technogel Italia, Vicenza, Italy): 

"A method for the production of a temperature regulating polyurethane gel composition and corresponding articles includes fatty acid esters as a phase change material (PCM) directly incorporated in the fluid phase of a polyurethane gel without encapsulation. The liquid or melted PCM is solved in the polyol component of the gel and is able to crystallize and melt within the gel structure reversibly. The polyurethane gels are under-crosslinked and include at least nominal three functional ethylene oxide-comprising alkylene oxide polyether polyol with 0 to 40% EO and an isocyanate with an effective functionality of from 1.5 to 3.5. The gels are useful in articles where the gel can be positioned close to the human body for temperature regulating purposes, and especially to improve the sleeping comfort of a resting person."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170210961.pdf

Patent application: Systems and methods for thermal battery control

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170210196 (applicant Ford Global Technologies, Dearborn, Mich.):

"Methods and system for operating a thermal storage device of a vehicle system are provided. In one example, a method comprises estimating a temperature of a thermal battery after the battery and coolant included therein have reached thermal equilibrium, and determining a state of charge of the battery based on the estimated temperature and one or more chemical properties of two phase change materials included within the battery. Specifically, the thermal battery may include two phase change materials with different melting points for providing thermal energy to warm coolant in a vehicle coolant system."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170210196.pdf