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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: Load-bearing structure

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170197752 (applicant Airdex Corp., Henderson, Nev.):

"The present invention provides a movable load bearing structure with a surface that includes antimicrobial agents capable of eliminating, preventing, retarding or minimizing the growth of microbes and also minimizing cross-contamination when the load bearing structure is being reused for cargos that differ from a previously transported cargo, for example, different food types, such as poultry, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruit. The load bearing structure may be a dunnage platform or a container for storing and/or shipping cargo. ... In an embodiment of the invention, the pockets may be used to locate phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170197752.pdf

Patent application: Air conditioner units having dehumidification features

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170191721 (applicant General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

"Air conditioner units are provided. An air conditioner unit includes an outdoor heat exchanger, the outdoor heat exchanger including a coil assembly through which refrigerant is flowable, and an indoor heat exchanger, the indoor heat exchanger comprising a coil assembly through which refrigerant is flowable. The air conditioner unit further includes an auxiliary heat exchanger [110, above] disposed between the outdoor heat exchanger and the indoor heat exchanger along a refrigerant flow path, the auxiliary heat exchanger including a coil assembly [112] through which refrigerant is flowable and further including a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170191721.pdf

Patent application: Technologies for releasing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170188754 (inventor Melissa Zimberg, Maplewood, N.J.):

"A heat unit containing a phase change material consisting of polyethylene glycol and a fatty acid combination of stearic and palmitic acids is disclosed. When heated in a microwave for about four (4) minutes the heat unit reaches a temperature of about 70° C. (158° F.). When placed in an insulated container, the heat unit will, after six (6) hours, have a temperature of about 40° C.-55° C. (104° F.-131° F.). The heat unit is advantageous for maintaining food hot during transport as well as other uses where long term heat emission is needed."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170188754.pdf

Patent application: Energy cell for converting heat into other forms of energy

Ben Welter - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170191469 (applicant Atlas Copco Airpower NV, Wilrijk, Belgium):

"An energy cell that is provided with a pressure vessel with two chambers separated by a membrane, respectively a first chamber filled with a phase-change material [23, at right] and a second chamber filled with hydraulic fluid, whereby this energy cell is provided with means to be able to heat and cool the phase-change material alternately, coupled with a volume change, whereby the second chamber is provided with a passage that acts as an input and/or output for the hydraulic fluid, whereby the membrane is stretched elastically upon a phase change whereby the volume in the first chamber increases."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170191469.pdf

Patent application: Facial massaging mask with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 29, 2017

Massaging mask patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170181924 (applicant HCT Group Holdings Ltd., China):

"A facial massage device configured to be positioned on a human face may include a plurality of layers. An intermediate portion may be disposed between an outer cover and an inner liner. The intermediate portion may include a plurality of individually actuatable massage elements. In some cases, the individually actuatable massage elements may be pneumatically actuated. In other cases, the individually actuatable massage elements may be mechanically actuated. ... [T]he inner liner may be formed of a foam or gel material ... [that] may include phase change materials which are useful in conveying the cooling sensation, since phase change materials, by definition absorb heat energy when changing phases."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170181924.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: Refrigerator and control method thereof

Ben Welter - Monday, June 26, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170176083 (applicant LG Electronics, Seoul, South Korea):

"A refrigerator comprising: a main body having a storage chamber; a compressor configured to compress a refrigerant; a condenser configured to condense the refrigerant compressed by the compressor; an evaporation expander configured to depressurize the refrigerant condensed by the condenser; a first evaporator configured to evaporate the refrigerant depressurized by the evaporation expander and thus to cool the storage chamber; a condensing expander installed between the condenser and the evaporation expander and configured to depressurize the refrigerant condensed by the condenser; and a subsidiary condenser installed between the condensing expander and the evaporation expander and configured to condense the refrigerant depressurized by the condensing expander. ... The refrigerator according to claim 3, further comprising a cold storage part having a phase change material (PCM) therein and in which the subsidiary condenser and the cold storage evaporator are installed, wherein the cold storage part exchanges heat with each of the subsidiary condenser and the cold storage evaporator."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170176083.pdf

Patent application: Temperature-staged TES enabling low thermal exergy loss

Ben Welter - Monday, June 26, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170179879 (applicant California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.):

"A structure comprising: a photovoltaic module; a reflux boiling chamber configured to store thermal energy, the reflux boiling chamber comprising a plurality of temperature staged thermal energy storage materials, each temperature staged thermal energy storage material comprising a porous phase change material and configured to operate at a different temperature range than other temperature staged thermal energy storage materials, the reflux boiling chamber further configured to contain a working fluid; a thermodynamic heat engine; and a solar concentrator configured to concentrate sunlight towards the photovoltaic module and the reflux boiling chamber, wherein the reflux boiling chamber is further configured to transfer the thermal energy to the thermodynamic heat engine through the working fluid."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170179879.pdf

Patent application: Docking station for an ultrasound probe

Ben Welter - Monday, June 26, 2017

GE ultrasound probe patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170172542 (applicant General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

"A docking station for electrically charging and managing a thermal condition of an ultrasound probe [302] is presented. The docking station includes a first charging unit magnetically coupled to an induction unit of the ultrasound probe and configured to charge at least one battery in the ultrasound probe. Further, the docking station includes a first cooling unit thermally coupled to a thermal unit of the ultrasound probe and configured to dissipate heat from the ultrasound probe. ... In one example, one of the ports that facilitate the replacement of the thermal units may be positioned at the bottom surface [310] of the probe [302]. As the new thermal unit [308] is used to replace the thermal unit [306], the new thermal unit may also be referred to as a replaceable thermal unit."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170172542.pdf