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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.

Two Entropy advisors, Dr. Mohammed Farid and Lucas B. Hyman, are pleased to take your questions about PCMs and thermal energy storage. Send your questions to bwelter@puretemp.com. We'll select the best and post the answers here each week.

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Patent application: Condenser cylinder adapted for use in an A/C cylinder

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170198952 (applicant Valeo Systemes Thermiques, Le Mesnil St. Denis, France):

Valeo cylinder patent drawing''The invention relates to a condenser receiver adapted to receive and house a fluid used in a cold loop of an air-conditioning system, said condenser receiver comprising an outer wall and an inner wall. The inner wall defines an inner space for housing a fluid, while the outer wall is provided on its outer surface with a plurality of ribs that increase the heat exchange between the fluid contained in the inner space and the ambient air outside the condenser receiver. ... According to a preferred mode of embodiment of the present invention, the component adapted to store and release a set amount of heat comprises a phase change material [14]."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170198952.pdf

Patent application: Automobile interior temperature stabilizer

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 29, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170184348 (inventor Roger Li-chung Wu, West Covina, Calif.):

"An automobile interior temperature stabilizer includes a holder adapted for placing within a vehicle cabin and a temperature stabilizing member which is made of latent heat material that absorbs and releases heat without rising in its temperature and is disposed in the holder, wherein the temperature stabilizing member has a threshold temperature range that the temperature stabilizing member is arranged for absorbing cabin heat within the vehicle cabin to cool down the vehicle cabin when an interior temperature of the vehicle is higher than the threshold temperature range, and the temperature stabilizing member is arranged for releasing stored heat to the vehicle cabin to warm the vehicle cabin when an interior temperature of the vehicle is lower than the threshold temperature range. ... The temperature stabilizing member, which is made of phase change material (PCM), will collect heat during the day (high temperature), and will release heat at night (low temperature) to provide an optimal cabin temperature, resulting in energy efficiency and cost saving."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170184348.pdf

Patent application: Temperature maintenance and regulation of vehicle exhaust catalyst systems

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ford patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170157559 (applicant Ford Global Technologies LLC, Dearborn, Mich.):

"A vehicle exhaust system is provided and comprises a catalyst positioned in an exhaust passage of a vehicle. The catalyst is in the form of a washcoat supported on a substrate. The system includes a phase change material [52] located adjacent to the catalyst to maintain the temperature of the catalyst between engine shut-down and subsequent start-up as well as to regulate the temperature during engine operation. In some embodiments, the phase change material comprises particles of a metal or metal alloy encapsulated in a ceramic material. The metal or metal alloy is adapted to have a phase change that occurs within a temperature range wherein the catalyst is active."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170157559.pdf

Patent application: Tank for coolant liquid of a heat engine

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170145897 (applicant Hutchinson, Paris, France)

"A tank stores a coolant liquid and an engine and/or transmission lubricant for a motor vehicle heat engine, as well as a circuit for the cooling and heat regulation of that engine. The tank has a thermally insulating outer wall including an inlet and an outlet for this liquid, and inside the wall, it comprises heating means that are able to preheat this liquid for the cold engine start of the vehicle. ... According to one particularly advantageous embodiment of the invention, the tank comprises two other said compartments that are respectively made up of a first other compartment suitable for storing said engine lubricant and second other compartment suitable for storing said transmission lubricant, which each contain said at least one phase change material and which are separated from one another by another tight partition."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170145897.pdf

Related: Exhaust heat regenerator for vehicle (Hanon Systems, South Korea)

Patent application: Energy collection system applicable to combustion engines

Ben Welter - Friday, May 19, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170138302 (applicant Innovation Management and Sustainable Technologies SA, Monterrey, Mexico):

"Disclosed is an energy collector system applicable to internal combustion engines. It may include: a) a collector of thermal energy from the exhaust gases; b) a thermal tank covered by helical tubes to gain heat by the exhaust gases; c) a heat exchanger; and d) an outer element capable of converting thermal energy into mechanical energy, such as a closed Brayton cycle turbine, a Stirling engine, a Rankine turbine or an open loop air motor for converting mechanical energy (coupling the difference in rpm) into electrical energy with an electrical generator. ... Thermal energy from the exhaust gases of combustion engines is collected in a thermal tank with phase change material to minimize the required volume and whose insulation minimizes energy losses."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170138302.pdf

Patent application: Cables made of phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170045301 (applicant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"Disclosed is a cable comprising a core and a PCM layer surrounding the core wherein the PCM layer consists of a PCM composition wherein the PCM composition comprises a PCM and an ethylene copolymer; and the core consists of a yarn, strand, or wire each made of a natural or synthetic polymeric material or a metal. The invention is useful for thermal management in a variety of applications in such as, for example, automotive, building, packaging, garments, and footwear."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170045301.pdf

Research roundup: New way to measure specific heat capacity; PCM underfloor heating; metal foams; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New proposed methodology for specific heat capacity determination of materials for thermal energy storage (TES) by DSC [Journal of Energy Storage]

Thermal diffusivity measurement of erythritol and numerical analysis of heat storage performance on a fin-type heat exchanger [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Benefits of PCM underfloor heating with PCM wallboards for space heating in winter [Applied Energy]

Non-steady experimental investigation on an integrated thermal management system for power battery with phase change materials [Energy Conversion and Management]

Experimental investigation on heat transfer characteristics during melting of a phase change material with dispersed TiO2 nanoparticles in a rectangular enclosure [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Numerical method and model for calculating thermal storage time for an annular tube with phase change material [Journal of Central South Florida]

Stratified Laboratory Thermal Energy Storage (LabTES) Tank Experiments: Sensible Only and Sensible Augmented with PCM-Filled Tubes [University of Cincinnati master's thesis]

Development and optimization of PCM-based technology for cooling applications for improvement of fuel efficiency in commercial vehicle [SAE World Congress Experience]

Establishment and experimental verification of TRNSYS model for PCM floor coupled with solar water heating system [Energy and Buildings]

Thermal Performance Enhancement of Phase Change Materials (PCMs) by Using Metal Foams [Al-Nahrain Journal for Engineering Sciences]

Budding engineers ride their PCM idea to state tournament

Ben Welter - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Even with windows open, dogs left in hot cars are in danger of overheating. Ten schoolchildren from Fox Valley Christian Academy in Neenah, Wis., have developed a winning solution: a rubber-and-foam mat filled with biobased phase change material.

The team is one of thousands participating in FIRST LEGO League, an international competition designed to get elementary and middle school students interested in science and technology. This year’s theme, “Animal Allies,” challenged students to bridge the gap between humans and animals through scientific research and robotics design.

The Fox Valley students, ages 8 to 13, began their work in September and decided to find a way to keep dogs cool in hot cars. Their research led them to a variety of PCM options. Because the application involves pets, the students chose to focus on nontoxic material for use in their “LayCool” device.

The final design stacks PCMs with three different transition temperatures atop the rubber mat: Ice in plastic blocks at the base, then two Entropy Solutions formulations – PureTemp 18 and PureTemp 23 – contained in film pouches. The PCM core is surrounded by foam and a fabric cover. The “LayCool” concept includes a temperature-sensing collar that sends a text message to the dog’s owner when heat approaches dangerous levels.

“The team really liked that the PCMs were nontoxic, safe, biodegradable,” said adviser Scott Wenzel, a parent of two team members. “You never know when your dog will try to eat the LayCool. We also loved the fact that the PCMs were encased in a mat, which we were able to cut to size and place in the LayCool.”

Wenzel, a technical leader in formulation science at Kimberly-Clark, described the prototyping process as collaborative: “Ideas were gathered on the best way to layer PCMs to keep cool the longest and try to keep dog comfortable.”

The collaborative effort is paying off. The team won first place in the research category in two competitions, including last month’s sectional tournament, where Fox Valley beat 47 other teams. They earned a trip to the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 26 in Janesville, Wis.

Patent application: HVAC systems for electrically powered vehicles

Ben Welter - Monday, December 12, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160355068 (applicant BorgWarner Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.):

"A heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system for an electrically-powered vehicle (EV) having an electric motor powered by at least one battery, comprising: a blower; a conduit configured to carry air from the blower to vents leading to a passenger cabin of the EV; an electric heater positioned in the conduit and configured to heat the air; and a thermal reservoir heater positioned in the conduit and including a second electric heater powered by the battery and a phase change material (PCM) in heat exchange relation to the second electric heater and the air, the PCM surrounding the second electric heater and being configured to absorb and store heat from the second electric heater, the PCM being further configured to release heat into the air without using power from the battery."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160355068.pdf

Patent application: Storage evaporator having PCM for use in vehicle A/C system

Ben Welter - Wednesday, December 07, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160347146 (inventors Lim Wijaya and Nickolaos Economou, Auburn Hills, Mich.):

Vehicle evaporation system patent drawing"A storage evaporator for an air conditioning system in a vehicle is provided that includes phase change material-containing tubes arranged side-by-side in contact with refrigerant-containing tubes. The storage evaporator includes an upper coolant tank, a lower coolant tank, refrigerant-containing tubes fluidly connecting said tanks; and phase change material-containing tubes provided in contact with said refrigerant tubes. The refrigerant tubes have flat sides and the phase change material-containing tubes have flat sides. The flat sides of the refrigerant tubes are attached to the flat sides of said phase change material-containing tubes. The phase change material may be any of several materials and may [be a] eutectic, a salt hydrate, and an organic material. In operation, cold energy is stored in the phase change material when the air conditioning compressor is in its “On” position. This cold energy is released from the phase change material when the compressor is in its “Off” position."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20160347146.pdf