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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: Building integrated PV roofing assemblies with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 17, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170237387 (SolarCity Corp., San Mateo, Calif):

"A solar roof assembly, comprising: a support material covering a portion of a roof surface; a plurality of standing seam metal roof pans arranged in columns on the roof deck over the support material at a first height above the roof surface; a plurality of support pans arranged in columns on the roof surface adjacent to at least one column of standing seam metal roof pan, each support pan comprising a pair of standing seams running a length of each side edge thereof and having a plurality of ridges and valleys and between each side edge; a plurality of photovoltaic modules arranged end to end in columns over the plurality of support pans on the plurality of ridges. ... The solar roof assembly [may include] a heat storage material positioned between at least one pairing of the photovoltaic modules and support pans, wherein the heat storage material comprises at least one compartment having a phase change material can transition from a first phase to a second phase at a transition temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170237387.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

Patent application: Meat tenderizing using substrate with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170215439 (applicant Empire Technology Development, Wilmington, Del.):

"A meat tenderizing device is provided for meat tenderizing. The device can include a substrate having at least one structural reinforcing member. The substrate may be elastomeric, and may have a body of a material that is non-conductive. The structural reinforcing member can be longitudinally aligned to inhibit longitudinal shortening or longitudinal contraction of the device. The device can provide radial or lateral compression to maintain a longitudinal length or longitudinal stretching of meat contained therein. The substrate can include a conductive material distributed therein that is thermally or electrically conductive. The structural reinforcing member can be positioned so as to control stretching of the substrate. The device can also include a phase change member on a surface of at least a portion of the substrate. The phase change member can include a phase change hydrogel that is liquid at lower temperatures and a gel at higher temperatures."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170215439.pdf

Patent application: High strength microcapsules

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170216161 (applicant Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, Ohio):

"According to the present disclosure, high strength microcapsules suitable for the encapsulation of hydrophobic core materials, especially phase change materials, are formed through an oil-in-water microencapsulation process in which the hydrophobic material is encapsulated in a polymer shell comprising the reaction product of one or more ethylenically unsaturated monomers which is wholly or partially soluble in the core material (the “core monomers”)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170216161.pdf

Patent application: Device and method for storing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

Muller & Cie thermal energy storage patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170219294 (applicant Muller & Cie, Paris, France):

"A device to store energy includes a phase change material (PCM), with a phase change temperature Tc, contained in a sealed container and constituting a storage core. A source to exchange heat with the PCM, at a temperature TA, to cause a phase change of the PCM. A recuperator to exchange heat with the PCM, at a temperature TB, to cause a phase change of the PCM in the opposite direction to the phase change produced by the source. A controller to control the heat flows between the PCM, the source and the recuperator. An apertured support in contact with the PCM in the sealed container and in thermal contact with the source and the recuperator."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170219294.pdf

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

Patent application: Self-managed portable hypothermia system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 03, 2017

Portable hypothermia system drawingU.S. patent application 20170209304 (inventors Michael and Laura Zumbrunnen, Rochester, Minn.):

"A non-user assisted, portable, entirely self-managed capable hypothermia device to eliminate hair loss caused by the side effects of certain chemotherapy treatments or to reduce the metabolic rate of ischemic tissue along with the severity of swelling is disclosed. The device consists of a conformal cap system, a thermally conductive liquid located between the body part to be cooled and the cap system, thermal transfer fluids, phase change materials, thermally insulated cooler, physical measuring devices, mechanical and electrical components, a ‘smart’ user interface device, a battery, and an uninterruptible power controller."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170209304.pdf

Patent application: Thermal energy battery with enhanced heat exchange capability

Ben Welter - Friday, July 28, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170205152 (applicant Promethean Power Systems Inc., Somerville, Mass.):

Thermal storage battery patent drawing"This invention provides a thermal energy battery having an insulated tank contains a multitude of densely packed plastic tubes filled with a phase-change material (PCM, such as ice) that changes from solid to liquid and vice-versa. Energy is stored when the PCM transitions from liquid to solid form, and released when the PCM transitions back from solid to liquid form. The tubes are arranged vertically, span the height of a well-insulated tank, and are immersed in heat transfer fluid (HTF) contained within the tank. The HTF is an aqueous solution with a freezing point temperature below the freezing point temperature of the chosen PCM. The HTF remains in liquid form at all times during the operation of the battery. Diffusers located allow the HTF to be extracted uniformly from the tank, pumped and cooled by a liquid chiller situated outside the tank and then and inserted back into the tank."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170205152.pdf

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