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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: Phase change material for storing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190177224 (applicant Université de Cergy-Pontoise, Cergy, France):

"A method for manufacturing a solid-solid organic phase-change material made of polyurethane, said method comprising: a single step (i) of synthesis by mixing and reacting a liquid polyethylene glycol, a crosslinking agent, and a liquid polyisocyanate, combined by mechanical agitation at a first controlled temperature, in an enclosure in order to obtain the liquid polyurethane, a step (ii) of curing the liquid polyurethane at a second controlled temperature in order to solidify the polyurethane, the synthesis step (i) being carried out in the absence of a solvent."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190177224.pdf

Patent application: Device and method for cooling living tissue

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190175395 (applicant RecensMedical Inc., Ulsan, South Korea):

Tissue cooling device patent drawing"The present disclosure provides a device and a method for cooling living tissues for a medical purpose and other purposes. The cooling device comprises: a container configured to accommodate a cooling medium and thermally coupled with the cooling medium by directly contacting the cooling medium; a cooling generator configured to be thermally coupled with the container by a direct contact and thereby to provide cooling energy to the cooling medium; and a heat sink dissipating heat from the cooling generator. ... [The] heat transfer medium [116] may comprise a heat pipe or a vapor chamber and may include a pipe body and phase change material (PCM) provided inside the pipe body. The pipe body may be made of material having the high thermal conductivity so as to effectively transfer the heat from the cooling generating unit that is in contact with the heat transferring medium to the PCM therein."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190175395.pdf

Patent application: Transport container

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190178534 (inventor Nico Ros, Riehen, Switzerland):

"In a transport container for transporting temperature-sensitive transport goods comprising a chamber for receiving the transport goods, a casing enclosing the chamber and at least one cooling element for temperature control of the chamber, the cooling element comprises an evaporation element with a cooling surface and a desiccant for receiving coolant evaporated in the evaporation element. The transport container further comprises a latent heat accumulator that communicates with the chamber for heat exchange. ... In a preferred embodiment, in which the transport goods are to be kept in the chamber at a temperature range of 2-8° C., the latent heat accumulator has a phase transition temperature of approx. 4-6° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190178534.pdf

Patent application: Composite construction panels and applications thereof

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190161967 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, composite construction materials are described herein. In some embodiments, a composite construction panel comprises a substrate layer, a cover layer separated from the substrate layer by one or more spacers, and at least one mat disposed between the substrate layer and the cover layer, wherein the mat comprises at least one phase change material disposed in at least one phase change region."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190161967.pdf

Patent application: Method and device for heating a mold

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190168432 (assignee Roctool, Le Bourget-du-Lac, France):

"A mold, particularly for injection molding, includes a shell defining a cavity delimiting a molding surface, a heat accumulator and inductor heater, configured to heat the heat accumulator. A receiving surface, which is a part of a surface of the shell other than the molding surface, is either exposed to or shielded from the heat of heat accumulator, to bring the entire molding surface to a predetermined temperature to inject the material into the cavity. ... [The] heat accumulator comprises a phase change material. This embodiment makes it possible to store thermal energy in the latent phase change heat of said material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190168432.pdf

Patent application: Heating a sports device

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

Drawing of lacrosse stick with PCM

U.S. patent application 20190168091 (applicant Robert Marc Goldberg, Fayetteville, N.Y.):

"A sports device configured to generate thermal energy to warm surfaces. In one implementation, the sports device embodies a lacrosse stick with a shaft and head. The shaft includes a thermal core with a phase change material that can retain and dissipate heat over an extended period of time. ... Suitable materials may maximize energy storage per unit volume/mass so as to add little weight to the lacrosse stick but still maintain surfaces at temperatures for extended periods. This feature can make the lacrosse stick comfortable for the player to grasp and to handle during game play and practice."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190168091.pdf

Patent application: Polyurethane gel particles, methods and use in flexible foams

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190169390 (applicant Peterson Chemical Technology LLC, Austin, Texas):

"Combinations of open cell flexible foams with polyurethane gel particles, and methods of making the combinations are described using a variety of procedures. The open cell flexible foam may partially or wholly comprise polyurethane foam and latex foam. ... The composition of claim 1 where the polyurethane gel particles contain at least one phase change material with a solid/liquid phase transition temperature range of from about −10° F. to about 220° F. (about −23° C. to about 104° C.)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190169390.pdf

PCM in stadium seating: For fans on the hot seat, it's a pretty cool idea

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

Dustin Schafer of Henderson EngineersDustin Schafer, senior vice president and director of engineering at Henderson Engineers of Lenexa, Kansas, first became familiar with phase change material when he read an ASHRAE article about conference room air conditioning.

The method struck him as a small-scale version of a stadium or arena. "From there," he says, "I began I began devising a plan for us to implement this into our large-scale venues we design." 

Schafer developed the idea of using PCM inside the hollow portions of seats and seating structures to keep open-air stadiums cooler on hot days. The concept underwent testing at Kansas State University and was awarded a U.S. patent, "Stadium Ambient Temperature Control System," in 2017. He is giving a presentation on the concept June 12 at an event sponsored by AIA Kansas City at the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City, Mo. In an email interview, he discussed the development process. 

Q: How long have you worked at your company?

A: "I joined Henderson in 2008 and have nearly 20 years of industry experience."

Q: Can you briefly describe the process of testing the concept?

A: "In looking to develop an innovative, cost effective, and energy efficient option, we began conducting research on the potential implementation of PCM on venue seats to increase the thermal mass in the space and extend the length of time occupants are comfortable. Essentially, the material could be frozen (the material we used has a freezing point of 70° F) prior to the event, then as the PCM reaches its melting point, it would absorb some of the heat brought on by the human and/or solar load, prolonging the time the space is comfortable for attendees.

Henderson patent application drawing"I led a team in conducting a variety of tests to determine the efficacy of this idea. We worked with Kansas State University and utilized their Institute for Environmental Research to complete our testing. We set up a lab that included actual stadium seats arranged in a layout consistent with typical venues. Each seat in the testing area had 10 pounds of PCM attached to the back and a dummy in the seat equipped with electric resistance heaters that produced an amount of heat equivalent to that of a human being. The layout also included suspended wires with thermocouples to create the temperature sensor array around the dummy occupant.

"We conducted two tests to evaluate the impact this technology could have, each with two test value temperatures, 90° F and 100° F. In both tests we took measurements in an environmental chamber that simulated different ambient conditions during an event and compared both a control chamber and a chamber with PCM attached to the chairs. The tests ran until the effect of PCM was no longer noticeable."

Q: Can you provide a summary of the test results?

A: "In our research, we determined that PCM could be an impactful option for open stadiums situated in mild climates where the night temperatures drop low enough to freeze the material. To have an even greater impact, application of PCM should be seriously considered in enclosed arenas. Because the HVAC system could be used to pre-charge the bowl and freeze the material, this application could be even more significant. Additionally, the cooling result could materially affect the peak load needs for the HVAC systems in these spaces, saving the owner on energy costs.

"We also identified areas where PCM would not make sense a part of the temperature control solution, such as in climates with high winds that would simply blow away the cooled air, areas where the temperature does not drop below 70° F and thus doesn’t allow the PCM to freeze, or areas where the temperature rises too far above the melting point prior to the event meaning the cooling effect is lost before it is needed. Finally, we’ve found it necessary to note that this process only impacts spaces that need to be cooled – it cannot be used in heating conditions.

"We determined that phase change material does have a significant and sustained impact on occupant comfort. While it is not the whole solution, it can be a meaningful portion of the overall answer."

Q: Can you provide information on the PCM used in testing?

A: "We used InsolCorp’s Infinite-R phase change material." 

Q: Is Henderson now working on any projects that include the use of PCMs in this manner?

A: "We are not working on any projects that include the use of PCM."

Q: What interests you most about the use of PCM in building and construction?

A: "It’s a sustainable solution that is relatively low cost. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s a small step that can have a nice impact. Professional sports teams focus heavily on the fan experience and this is a difference maker when it comes to their in-venue comfort."

Patent application: Method and system for thermal cooling of an enclosure

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190154282 (applicant International Business Machines Corp., Armonk, N.Y.):

"A computer-implemented mitigation and warning method, system, and computer program product including detecting an enclosure temperature via an enclosure temperature probe and activating, via a controller, a thermoelectric device when the enclosure temperature exceeds a predetermined threshold temperature to transfer heat between an enclosure and a phase change material (PCM) to cause the PCM to change phase and cool the enclosure."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190154282.pdf

Patent application: Motor vehicle fuel pump cover

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

BMW patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190153984 (applicant Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Munich, Germany):

"A motor vehicle fuel pump cover is provided for covering a fuel guide region of a motor vehicle fuel pump by way of a cover housing. A phase change core is received in the cover housing. The phase change core is designed to change the phase state thereof while receiving thermal energy from the fuel guide region. The phase change core is designed for phase change at a temperature of more than 60° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190153984.pdf