Phase Change Matters RSS

 

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.

RECENT POSTS

TAGS

ARCHIVE

Patent application: Microencapsulation process

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170165627 (assignee Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.):

"A microencapsulation process in which wall forming materials in a dispersed phase are polymerized to form a seed microcapsule after which an initiator or catalyst in the continuous phase is initiated or activated to effect, in whole or in part, full polymerization of the wall forming material of the dispersed phase. ... Most especially the microcapsule according to the present teachings have a phase change material as the core material. Suitable phase change materials are typically known hydrocarbons that melt at a temperature of between -30° C. and 150° C."

http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html ...

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."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2017/0169948.html

Effort to commercialize EpiPen container hits unexpected roadblock

Ben Welter - Monday, June 19, 2017

Commercializing an invention can be a herculean task. There are technical hurdles. Funding hurdles. Patent hurdles. Manufacturing hurdles. Regulatory hurdles. Eric and Sandy Wengreen, co-founders of a company working to commercialize a small container that uses phase change material to keep EpiPens close to room temperature, are familiar with all of it.

Sandy and Eric WengreenFirst, the invention:

After their son nearly died of a severe allergic reaction to macadamia nuts a few years ago, the Seattle couple realized the importance of having an EpiPen auto-injector handy at all times. Sandy invented the container, now known as MedShell, to ensure that people can take their EpiPen wherever they go, even if it’s hot or cold outside. It’s not just about being prepared for an unexpected allergic reaction. EpiPens are expensive. Leave one in a hot car or gym bag for a few hours and you’re out $300.

The Wengreens began developing their device, originally called EpiShell, a few years ago. They filed for patents and successfully tested prototypes.

Biobased phase change material is a key component of the MedShell, which is designed to keep EpiPens between 15º and 30º Celsius (59º and 86º Fahrenheit).

“I learned about PCM while I was researching how to change the melting temperatures of liquids,” says Eric, who has a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University. “I was very happy to discover that Entropy Solutions had already engineered highly reliable PCM. At that point, I realized that I didn't need to re-invent the wheel. Instead, I simply ordered PureTemp samples for prototyping and testing. I also received samples from other PCM manufacturers, but I quickly found out that PureTemp PCM was superior.”

Last fall, after receiving written assurance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the container would not be considered a medical device subject to FDA regulatory requirement, the Wengreens launched an Indiegogo campaign. The fundraising target: A modest $35,000.

Medshell temperature-control container for medicines“My goal was to raise awareness (rather than just raise money),” Eric says. “Most people don't know many medicines have strict storage-temperature requirements. I also wanted to test the market to see if other people cared about protecting their medicines from temperatures that are hotter and colder than the FDA-approved temperature limits.”

The response was strong. Within a few months, the campaign drew hundreds of backers and raised nearly $30,000. Two product videos were watched more than 15,000 times on YouTube. The Wengreens continued to refine the design of the vacuum flask and thermal management system. They began evaluating manufacturing options.

In November, they decided to change the name of the product to MedShell.

“Many people have talked with us about applications beyond epinephrine, the active ingredient in EpiPens,” Eric says. “As a result, we wanted the name to reflect our broader mission to protect many medicines from hot and cold temperatures. … Essentially, the storage-temperature requirements vary depending on the medicine, but the fundamental technology is the same, so MedShell can be adapted to just about any medicine.”

On Dec. 7, Eric alerted Indiegogo backers to an unexpected development:

“Recently, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily asked the FDA to conduct a second review of our product.  This time, we had detailed product information that was not available during the first review (because we had not finished the design details at the time of the first review). During this second review, the FDA decided that MedShell is a medical device subject to FDA regulatory requirements.”

The FDA’s decision, Eric told backers, “will dramatically delay our launch and increase our expenses.” The Wengreens suspended the Indiegogo campaign and offered refunds to all backers.

The Wengreens announced a new strategy in a January post on Indiegogo: “We now need to find a larger company that has the FDA expertise and resources to bring MedShell to market.” They continue to fund development with money earned from previous inventions.

The regulatory hurdle looms large, but the Wengreens remain committed to commercializing the product.

“Whether MedShell is a medical device is debatable,” Eric says. “Honestly, I don't know exactly what would be required to either convince the FDA that MedShell is not a medical device or meet the FDA's medical-device requirements. I reached out to the FDA for guidance, but I have not gotten specific answers regarding next steps.”

Although they have no plans to reopen the Indiegogo campaign, the Wengreens say they want to make sure supporters have the first opportunity to get the device when it launches. Consumer interest remains strong; MedShell's YouTube videos have now been viewed more than 76,000 times. 

“My goal is to transfer my patents and designs to a company with the resources to remove the FDA uncertainty and bring the product to market,” Eric says. “A larger company is better suited to making the invention widely available.”

Patent application: Returnable cold chain packaging composite

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 15, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170158411 (applicant Proprietect LP, Toronto, Canada):

"Provided is a reusable composite container comprising a thermally insulating inner container fitted within a durable outer container. The outer container can also be thermally insulating. In preferred embodiments, the inner container comprises expanded polystyrene and the outer container comprises one or more of expanded polypropylene (EPP), EPS (Polystyrene), EPE (Polyethylene), PEPP (porous EPP) and PS/PE (Polystyrene/Polyethylene). The composite container can be used to ship temperature-sensitive payloads such as perishable goods. To ship a payload (e.g., perishable goods) using a composite container 10 with a separable inner container 30 and outer container 20, the payload is first placed inside of the inner container 30 along with cooling means (e.g., ice pack, crushed ice, dry ice, PCM (phase change material), etc.)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170158411.pdf

Patent application: Compressed gas energy storage and harvesting system

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170160019 (applicant IFP Energies Nouvelles, France ):

"The present invention relates to an AACAES system and method in which balls make it possible to store heat. The heat exchanges are produced by means of at least one radial heat exchanger, in which the balls and a first fluid circulate, the first fluid passing radially through means for circulating the balls. ... [Said] heat storage balls are produced in alumina, in metal or by micro or nano capsules of phase change material, such as paraffins, metals or salts. "

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170160019.pdf

Patent application: Heat storage device with PCM

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170160020 (applicant Linde AG, Munich, Germany):

"A heat storage device for transferring heat indirectly between a fluid and a heat storing medium, and for storing transferred heat, includes a container that surrounds an interior of the container, the heat storing medium being located in this interior. A plurality of vertical tubes are arranged in the interior of the container, each of these tubes being fluidically connected to a vertical header tube by means of a lower end section. Each of the tubes has a plurality of heat transfer fins that contact the heat storing medium. ... The heat storage medium can be, in particular, a phase change material (PCM), using which the heat of a fluid, which can be any desired process medium or a process stream, can be stored or liberated at a virtually constant temperature using the latent heat (e.g. in the liquid-solid phase transition)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170160020.pdf

Patent application: Temperature maintenance and regulation of vehicle exhaust catalyst systems

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ford patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170157559 (applicant Ford Global Technologies LLC, Dearborn, Mich.):

"A vehicle exhaust system is provided and comprises a catalyst positioned in an exhaust passage of a vehicle. The catalyst is in the form of a washcoat supported on a substrate. The system includes a phase change material [52] located adjacent to the catalyst to maintain the temperature of the catalyst between engine shut-down and subsequent start-up as well as to regulate the temperature during engine operation. In some embodiments, the phase change material comprises particles of a metal or metal alloy encapsulated in a ceramic material. The metal or metal alloy is adapted to have a phase change that occurs within a temperature range wherein the catalyst is active."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170157559.pdf

Patent application: Person support system with cooling features

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

U.S. patent 20170135884 (applicant Hill-Rom Services Inc., Batesville, Ind.):

Hill-Rom patient support system patent drawing"Embodiments provide a person support system including support pads having cooling features. According to one embodiment, a person support system may include a longitudinal frame comprising at least one side rail. A support pad may be positioned on the longitudinal frame. The support pad may comprise a thermally conductive core portion comprising a support matrix and at least one thermally conductive element. ... The thermally conductive core portion may be constructed from different phase change materials (or even different combinations of phase change materials) to achieve different degrees of cooling."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170135884.pdf

PCM briefing: Tessol featured in Forbes India; Terrafore Technologies selected for Argonne program

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

Thermal Energy Service Solutions, maker of a PCM-based "plug-and-chill" refrigeration system for delivery trucks, is profiled in this month's issue of Forbes India. The system's heat exchanger is designed to keep the refrigerator on the truck within the optimal temperature range for a full day’s operation without drawing power from the engine. The heat exchanger can be fully charged in about six hours at any power outlet.

C-Therm Technologies will be among the exhibitors the Techtextil North America trade show in Chicago June 20-22. The company will demonstrate its non-destructive TCi Property Analyzer, which is designed to characterize the thermal performance (the “warm feel” or “cool touch”) of textiles, fabrics and apparels.

Terrafore Technologies of Minneapolis is one of seven small businesses recently selected to collaborate with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory as part of the Department of Energy's Small Business Vouchers program. Terrafore and Argonne will test the reliability of phase change salt capsules for a compact high-temperature thermal energy storage system for concentrated solar power.

SpecialChem is offering an online course titled "How to Search & Map U.S. Patents for Patentability." The 90-minute course, scheduled for June 28, is designed to for R&D people "looking to avoid patent infringement by enhancing their patent searching and mapping skills." The cost for three attendees on one connection is 300 euros.

Patent application: Support cushion cover assemblies for removing heat, humidity

Ben Welter - Monday, June 05, 2017

U.S. patent 20170150822 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

Tempur-Pedic patent drawing"A support cushion cover assembly for removing humidity and heat from a contact surface of a support cushion is provided. The support cushion cover assembly comprises a support cushion cover that includes an upper panel having a top surface, a bottom surface, and a middle spacer layer positioned between the top surface and the bottom surface. The support cushion cover further includes an amount of hygroscopic material and at least one flexible tube that defines a plurality of fenestrations. Each fenestration is in fluid communication with the middle spacer layer of the upper panel. An air pump is further included in the cover assembly and is operably connected to the flexible tube, such that an amount of air is delivered into the flexible tube and the middle spacer layer of the cover. Methods for removing humidity from a contact surface of a support cushion are also provided."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170150822.pdf