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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: Beverage container with self-regulating thermal control member

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170325607 (applicant Pacific Market International LLC, Seattle, Wash.):

Beverage patent application drawing"A beverage container provided with a thermal regulation member having a sidewall extending through a beverage cavity of a container main body. The thermal regulation member contains an energy storage material that receives, stores, and transmits heat energy to and from a beverage in the beverage cavity to regulate its temperature. The energy storage material may initially absorb energy from a heated beverage having a temperature too hot for drinking, then transfers heat energy back into the beverage as it cools, keeping it within a comfortable temperature range for an extended period of time. The thermal regulation member may be selectively attachable to a stopper assembly that seals an upper opening of the beverage cavity. Alternatively, laterally extending attachment members may attach the thermal regulation member directly to a wall of the beverage cavity. ... The energy storage material [37] may be a phase change material that undergoes phase changes within and around temperature ranges that are comfortable for human consumption of beverages."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170325607.pdf

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

Patent application: Dishwasher drying system with thermal storage heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170319045 (applicant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Suwon-si, Republic of Korea):

"A dishwasher drying system includes an air inlet configured to receive hot, humid air from a tub of a dishwasher. The dishwasher drying system also includes an air outlet configured to discharge the air to an ambient environment outside the dishwasher. The dishwasher drying system further includes an air moving device configured to cause the air to move from the air inlet to the air outlet. In addition, the dishwasher drying system includes a thermal storage heat exchanger positioned within an airflow path of the moving air, the thermal storage heat exchanger configured to absorb heat and condense moisture from the moving air as the moving air contacts the thermal storage heat exchanger during a dishwasher drying cycle. ... The thermal storage heat exchanger can include a phase change material (PCM), a non-PCM, or both."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170319045.pdf

Patent application: Forced air thermal energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170321912 (applicant Viking Cold Solutions Inc., Houston, Texas):

Viking Cold Solutions patent drawing"A system including a chilled air generation system, a forced air convection system, one or more phase change material (PCM) modules, and a controller. The controller is configured to regulate the temperature of a facility by selectively utilizing the chilled air generation system and the forced air convection system based on multiple factors, which may include energy source type(s), relative costs of the energy from the source(s), availability of energy from the source(s), facility temperature, PCM module temperature, and/or temperature of goods stored within the facility, among other considerations. The controller may thus advantageously and cost-effectively control the periods of time during which the chilled air generation system is used and those during which the thermal energy stored in the PCM modules is used."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170321912.pdf

Patent application: Athletic activity monitoring device

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170324018 (applicant Nike Inc., Beaverton, Ore.):

Nike patent drawing"Aspects relate to an energy harvesting device adapted for use by an athlete while exercising. The device may utilize a mass of phase-change material to store heat energy, the stored heat energy subsequently converted into electrical energy by one or more thermoelectric generator modules. The energy harvesting device may be integrated into an item of clothing, and such that the mass of phase change material may store heat energy as the item of clothing is laundered."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170324018.pdf

Patent application: Hyperthermia therapy mask

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170312122 (applicant First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, China):

Patent drawing of hyperthermia mask"The present invention relates to a hyperthermia mask used in the field of medical appliances. The hyperthermia mask of the present invention comprises a mask surface body and a tensioning belt, the mask surface body is made of phase change fibers or the mask surface body is filled with the phase change fibers; the phase change fibers are composed of hollow fibers and phase change materials filled into the hollow fibers; and the phase change materials have a phase change temperature of 40° C. to 55° C. The hyperthermia mask of the present invention is prepared based on phase change heat storage, is convenient to use and has a good hyperthermia effect."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170312122.pdf

Patent application: Refrigerator with a phase change material as a thermal store

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170314839 (applicant Enviro-Cool Commercial Ltd., Tonbridge, Great Britain):

"A refrigerator having a thermal store comprising a phase change material is disclosed. The refrigerator has a cooling chamber for containing an object to be cooled, and a vapor compression refrigeration system including a first evaporator for cooling the cooling chamber and a second evaporator for cooling the phase change material. A valve is provided to control the flow of refrigerant to the first and second evaporators depending on the cooling load on the refrigerator. When the refrigerator is subject to a relatively low cooling load, refrigerant flows to the second evaporator to cool the phase change material and, when the refrigerator is subject to a relatively high cooling load, refrigerant flows to the first evaporator such that increased cooling is provided to the cooling chamber by the first evaporator and the phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170314839.pdf

PCM briefing: Survey finds chemists think field is short on innovation; Lufthansa Cargo partners with va-Q-tec

Ben Welter - Monday, October 30, 2017

• A recent survey by Reaxys found that many chemists don’t think the field is innovative enough. Eighty percent said there is too much emphasis on research with industrial applications, which is stifling innovation. Reaxys is a chemistry research tool developed by Elsevier

Min Zhu, assistant professor of textile development and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will speak about the future of phase change materials at a textiles conference in New York City Nov. 8. 

Lufthansa Cargo has partnered with va-Q-tec AG to offer the temperature-controlled specialist's va-Q-tainer thermal containers across the German carrier’s global network.

• Scientists investigating how scavenging animals are adapting to the monoculture palm oil plantations in Borneo were surprised by what turned up in their traps. "In the jungles and border regions, the team found animals such as civets, otters, mongooses and pigs," Oils & Fats International magazine reports. "But the closer they got to the plantations where the land had been disturbed and human activity was frequent, the fewer species they found until only one stood out – the Southeast Asian water monitor." The big lizards are thriving, thanks to a plentiful supply of food and less competition from mammalian scavengers and predators. 

• Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a thermally conductive and strong textile from fibers of aligned boron nitride nanosheets embedded in a polymer matrix that can cool a person down by up to 2° C.  

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."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170268829.pdf

Patent application: Economized cycle with thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170307266 (applicant Carrier Corp., Farmington, Conn.):

"In one aspect, an air conditioning system is provided. The air conditioning system includes a refrigeration circuit having a refrigerant and an economizer circuit, and a subcooling circuit thermally coupled to the refrigeration circuit, the subcooling circuit including a thermal energy storage (TES) unit and a phase change material (PCM) for thermal exchange with the refrigerant."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170307266.pdf