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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: Temperature control device with PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, December 10, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180347869 (inventors Anthony Boule, Toulouse, France; Pierre Lapalus, Marseille, France):

"The invention relates to a portable device for regulating the temperature of an element, comprising: an engagement part adapted to be placed in contact with the element, a temperature regulation unit comprising a thermoelectric module having two sides (41, 42), a first side (41) of the thermoelectric module being thermally coupled with the engagement part (2). The device further comprises: a reception part (5) adapted to removably receive a phase change material (PCM) (6), a second side (42) of the thermoelectric module being thermally coupled with the reception part (5), such that a phase change material (PCM) (6) provided in the reception part will also be thermally coupled with the second side (42) of the thermoelectric module."

PCM briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Patent application: Cooling electronic devices in a data center

Ben Welter - Saturday, August 18, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180235108 (applicant Google LLC, Mountain View, Calif.):

"A data center cooling system includes a thermosiphon, an actuator coupled to the thermosiphon, and a controller. The thermosiphon includes an evaporator; a condenser; and at least one conduit coupled between the evaporator and the condenser to transport a working fluid between the evaporator and the condenser. The controller is coupled to the actuator and configured to operate the actuator to adjust a liquid level of the working fluid in the evaporator based, at least in part, on a parameter associated with a heat load of one or more data center heat generating computing devices."

Patent application: Use of a composite material for heat management

Ben Welter - Monday, July 09, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180187977 (applicant SGL Carbon SE, Wiesbaden, Germany):

"The use of a composite material for heat management in the electrical and/or electronic area, in particular in a car. A grid-like structure filled with a phase change material (PCM), and to a composite material that includes a grid-like structure filled with PCM. The filled grid-like structure being present on a cover layer or between two cover layers."

Patent application: Systems for thermal management

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 08, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180068924 (Henkel IP & Holding GmbH, Dusseldorf, Germany):

"A heat-dispersing article comprising: a first conductive/protective layer, one or more porous thermally conductive, low-profile structure(s), impregnated with a sufficient quantity of a formulated phase change material (PCM) so as to substantially cover the surface and voids of said porous thermally conductive, low-profile structure, wherein said formulated PCM comprises said PCM containing 5-20% by weight of a gelling agent mixed with said PCM, and a second conductive/protective layer, wherein said one or more porous thermally conductive, low-profile structure(s) are sandwiched between said first and second conductive/protective layers, and wherein said article has: a latency of at least 100 J/cc, and an effective thermal conductivity of at least 10 W/mK."

Patent application: Method and apparatus for absorbing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170268829 (applicant Rini Technologies Inc., Oviedo, Fla.):

"The subject invention pertains to a method and apparatus for storing thermal energy. The subject thermal energy storage apparatus can function as a heat absorber in a cooling system. A cooling system can incorporate a cooling cycle that utilizes thermal energy storage and has two coolant loops. The primary cooling loop acquires the waste heat from a heat source, such as an electronic device, by heat transfer to the primary coolant via, for example, a sensible heat process (where sensible heat is heat absorbed or transmitted by a substance during a change in temperature which is not accompanied by a change of state) or by evaporating the primary coolant through a latent heat phase change process. The waste heat absorbed by the primary coolant is transferred to the host material of the heat absorber. The subject invention uses a high thermal conductivity host material to house a lower thermal conductivity phase change material, in order to achieve a thermal energy absorber that has a high effective thermal conductivity."

Patent application: Capacitor assembly and related method of forming

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170169948 (assignee General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

"A capacitor assembly, comprising: a housing; a plurality of capacitors disposed within the housing; a thermally conductive article disposed about at least a portion of a capacitor body of the capacitors, and in thermal contact with the capacitor body; and a heat sink disposed within the housing and in thermal contact with at least a portion of the housing and the thermally conductive article such that the heat sink is configured to remove heat from the capacitor in a radial direction of the capacitor assembly. ... In some embodiments ... the heat sink may be formed of the phase change material or the heat sink may include the phase change material that is combined with one or more thermal conductive materials."

Patent application: PCM for cooling enclosed electronic components for solar energy collection

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170005615 (applicant GlassPoint Solar Inc., Fremont, Calif.):

"The present technology is directed generally to phase change materials for cooling enclosed electronic components, including for solar energy collection, and associated systems and methods. In particular embodiments, a system directs warm air through an airflow path in thermal communication with a phase change material to liquefy the phase change material and cool the air. The system also directs the cool air into thermal communication with electronic components to cool the electronic components via conduction and/or convection."

Patent application: Thermal management of electrochemical device

Ben Welter - Monday, August 08, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160226114 (applicant Outlast Technologies, Golden, Colo.):

"This disclosure provides casings and materials for the thermal management and protection of an electrochemical cell. The casing may also comprise a composite polymeric material for electrochemical cell thermal management, the composite polymeric material comprising a crosslinked polyether polyol phase change material configured to be in physical contact with at least a portion of an electrochemical cell."

Research roundup: Energy storage technology review; U-shaped thermosyphon; multi-walled carbon nanotubes; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Energy storage in the energy transition context: A technology review [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Analysis and design of a drain water heat recovery storage unit based on PCM plates [Applied Energy]

Numerical simulation of the heat transfer characteristics of a U-shaped thermosyphon containing a PCM suspension [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Solidification of a PCM with Nanoparticles in Triplex-Tube Thermal Energy Storage System [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Experimental and computational evaluation of phase change materials for handheld computing [IEEE Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems]

Experimental investigation of transient thermal response of phase change material embedded by graphene nanoparticles in energy storage module [IEEE Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems]

Numerical study on the melting thermal characteristics of a microencapsulated phase change plate [Numerical Heat Transfer, Part A: Applications: An International Journal of Computation and Methodology]

Thermal property investigation of multi walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) embedded Phase Change Materials (PCMs) [IEEE Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems]

Low-grade heat collection from a latent heat thermal energy storage unit [IEEE Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems]

Performance enhancement of fin attached ice-on-coil type thermal storage tank for different fin orientations using constrained and unconstrained simulations [Heat and Mass Transfer]