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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: Enhanced metal-metal-matrix composite weapon barrels

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170261280 (applicant Sapphire Defense Group LLC, Easley, S.C.):

"Weapon barrels are disclosed which offer improved thermal performance and rigidity with no, minimal or negative weight increase. In general the barrel comprises a barrel core surrounded by a lightweight, thermally conductive sleeve made from metal-matrix composite (MMC) materials, also referred to as metal-matrix material. The increased diameter of the sleeve improves the barrel's stiffness and the sleeve's thermal conductivity and distributes the heat more evenly along the barrel. ... Hot spots may be reduced and more surface area can contribute to heat dissipation. The increased diameter also allows integration of phase changing and/or vibration dampening materials, which further enhance performance."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170261280.pdf

Patent application: Temperature-stabilized culture incubator

Ben Welter - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170260492 (applicant Tokitae LLC, Bellevue, Wash.):

"Described embodiments include a culture incubator, method, and sensor circuit. A culture incubator includes an accessible incubation compartment configured to contain a culture item at a specified incubation temperature; a phase change material having a phase transition temperature over the specified incubation temperature; and a heat transfer element in thermal communication with the phase change material and configured to transfer heat to the phase change material. A sensor circuit is configured to acquire data indicative of a phase composition state of the phase change material. A manager circuit is configured to determine a difference between the phase composition state and a target phase composition state for the phase change material. A controller circuit is configured to transfer heat to the phase change material in an amount estimated to change the phase composition state of the phase change material to the target phase composition state."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170260492.pdf

Patent application: Product transport container

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170253409 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc., Asheboro, N.C.):

PCES patent drawing"Product transport containers are disclosed. Such containers can provide one or more advantages compared to existing containers. For example, product transport containers described herein can maintain a product at a desired temperature for an extended period of time, including without the use of an active heating or cooling component. Such product transport containers described herein may also provide improved breathability, thermal insulation, and/or mechanical strength or dimensional stability. Such containers can include a plurality of walls defining an interior volume and a selectively openable side permitting movement of the product into and out of the interior volume of the container. The walls can be formed from a thermoformed non-woven fabric."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170253409.pdf

Patent application: TES systems comprising encapsulated PCMs and a neutralizing agent

Ben Welter - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170254601 (applicant Entropy Solutions LLC, Plymouth, Minn.):

"Provided are Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems comprising Phase Change Material (PCMs) compositions for thermal management in different applications such as building, automotive, and industrial applications. Provided are TES systems comprising encapsulated PCMs and a heat transfer medium comprising a neutralizing agent and/or an ion exchange resin capable of neutralizing the acidic or basic PCM contained in the capsules, should the PCM permeate the walls of the capsules or otherwise be released into the surrounding heat transfer medium."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170254601.pdf

Patent application: Enclosure with a condensation-resistant interior surface

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 07, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170254503 (applicant Sabic Global Technologies BV, Netherlands):

Sabic headlamp patent application drawing"In an embodiment, an enclosure comprises walls forming the enclosure, wherein the enclosure comprises an internal space; an inhibiting element disposed in at least one wall, the inhibiting element having an internal inhibiting surface exposed to the internal space, wherein the inhibiting element has a transparency of greater than or equal to 20%; and a condensing element disposed in at least one other wall, the condensing element having an internal condensing surface exposed to the internal space; wherein at least one of the inhibiting element and the condensing element comprise a phase change material [84] configured to form a temperature differential between an internal inhibiting surface temperature and an internal condensing surface temperature over a temperature range."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170254503.pdf

Patent application: Enhanced dry-cooling system for increasing power plant efficiency

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170248035 (applicant University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio):

"The presently disclosed subject matter relates to enhanced dry-cooling systems and methods. More specifically, the presently disclosed subject matter relates to enhanced dry-cooling systems for increasing power plant efficiency and output. One embodiment of the present disclosure is directed to dry-cooling system for increasing power plant efficiency and output. The dry-cooling system comprises an air-cooled condenser and an air cooling system in fluid communication with the air-cooled condenser. ... In certain embodiments, the thermal energy storage material 28 is a liquid to solid phase change thermal storage material"

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248035.pdf

Patent application: Heat exchanger and storage device

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170248375 (assignee BorgWarner Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.):

"A product with a heat generating system, the product having a heat storage medium constructed and arranged to receive and store heat from the heat generating system wherein the product is constructed and arranged to trigger, extract, and use the stored heat, the heat storage medium receiving heat from the heat generating system during which heat storage in the heat storage medium increases at a first rate to a point where a phase change of the heat storage medium occurs and increases at a second rate during the phase change of the energy storage medium at a phase change temperature, the second rate being substantially higher than the first rate and wherein the extraction and use of heat by the product is triggered by a generator at a temperature that is lower than the phase change temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248375.pdf

Patent application: Refrigeration, or thermal, energy storage system

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

Refrigeration TES system patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20170248377 (applicants Upgrading Services SPA and Labor SRL, Italy):

"A refrigeration, or thermal, energy storage system for storing refrigeration, or thermal, energy, comprising a body, closed and insulated, the body being configured to contain two fluids, respectively a Phase Change Material (PCM) type fluid and a secondary fluid, the two fluids being immiscible with each other and having different densities, so as to be stratified within the volume of the body; withdrawal means configured to draw the secondary fluid from the body, and to convey the same inside a heat exchanger configured to exchange frigories, or calories, with the secondary fluid; and distribution means configured to draw the secondary fluid from the heat exchanger, and distribute the secondary fluid into the PCM type fluid, so that the secondary fluid exchanges with the PCM type fluid frigories, or calories, absorbed in the heat exchanger, the secondary fluid having a solidification temperature substantially lower than that of the PCM type fluid."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170248377.pdf

Research roundup: Flexible PCMs with high thermal conductivity; treatment for exercise-induced muscle damage; more

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thermal sensitive flexible phase change materials with high thermal conductivity for thermal energy storage [Energy Conversion and Management]

The efficacy of cooling with phase change material for the treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage: pilot study [Journal of Sports Sciences]

Form-stable phase change material based on Na2CO3·10H2O-Na2HPO4·12H2O eutectic hydrated salt/expanded graphite oxide composite: The influence of chemical structures of expanded graphite oxide [Renewable Energy]

Structure and Thermal Performances of Paraffin/Diatomite Form-stable Phase Change Materials [Chinese Journal of Materials Research]

Patent application: Gel comprising PCM and gelling agent

Ben Welter - Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170247593 (Cold Chain Technologies Inc., Franklin, Mass.):

CCT patent application photo"Gel including a phase-change material and a gelling agent. In one embodiment, the phase-change material may be n-tetradecane, n-hexadecane or mixtures thereof. The gelling agent may be a high molecular weight styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene (SEBS) triblock copolymer with a styrene:rubber ratio of about 30:70 to 33:67% by weight. To form the gel, the phase-change material and the gelling agent may be mixed at an elevated temperature relative to room temperature to partially, but not completely, dissolve the gelling agent. The mixture may then be cooled to room temperature. Alternatively, the phase-change material and the gelling agent may be mixed at room temperature, and the mixture may then be heated to form a viscoelastic liquid, which is then cooled to room temperature. The invention is also directed at a method of preparing the gel, a thermal exchange implement including the gel, and a method of preparing the thermal exchange implement."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170247593.pdf