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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: Composite foam and methods of preparation and use

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170072604 (applicant Empire Technology Development LLC, Wilmington, Del.):

"Composite foams having cells containing shape-stabilized phase change material (ss-PCM) particles are described. Composite foams may be made by contacting a plurality of ss-PCM particles and one or more pre-polymer reactants, wherein each ss-PCM particle can form a nucleation site for foam cell generation. The composite foams may be used in regulating the temperature of an article wherein the foam undergoes a phase transition as the surrounding temperature of the article approaches the foam's phase transition temperature. The thermostatic material may exchange heat with the article during the phase transition, resulting in regulation of the temperature of the article. The composite foams may be used as a thermostatic packaging material having a cavity for storing goods."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170072604.pdf

Patent application: Methods for making low remnant free formaldehyde microcapsules

Ben Welter - Friday, March 10, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170065956 (applicant Microtek Laboratories Inc., Dayton, Ohio):

"Methods for producing microcapsules begin by preparing an emulsion of a surfactant, core material, and water, followed by the addition of a crosslinking agent and a melamine formaldehyde prepolymer, which is subsequently polymerized. The crosslinking agent is added before the melamine formaldehyde prepolymer, with a first addition or a second addition of a melamine formaldehyde prepolymer, or is divided for addition with both a first addition and a second addition of melamine formaldehyde prepolymer."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170065956.pdf

Patent application: Thermal management system with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 09, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170067693 (General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):

GE patent drawing"A thermal management system including a first vapor housing configured to receive a fluid that absorbs thermal energy from a first heat source, and a phase change material (PCM) housing thermally coupled to the first vapor housing, wherein the PCM housing is configured to receive a PCM that absorbs thermal energy from the first vapor housing, wherein the first vapor housing and the PCM housing are one-piece. ... As illustrated, the vascular network includes a plurality of conduits or passageways [52] that may vary in size, length, orientation, etc. throughout the PCM housing [30]. "

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170067693.pdf

Patent application: Cushion with phase change material containers

Ben Welter - Thursday, March 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170055719 (applicant Bob Jacquart, Ironwood, Mich.):

Jacquart patent application drawing"A cushion comprising a body of cushioning material having a first surface and a second surface opposing the first surface. The first surface has a plurality of upwardly extending fingers and a plurality of spaced apart pockets defined between the fingers. The cushion has a plurality of phase change material (PCM) containers each containing a phase change material, each of the phase change material (PCM) containers being disposed in one of the pockets in the body of cushioning material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170055719.pdf

Patent application: Refrigeration system with PCM heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Friday, February 24, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170051954 (applicant Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, Georgia):

Coca-Cola patent drawing"The present application provides a refrigeration system. The refrigeration system may include a compressor and a condenser downstream of the compressor. The condenser may include a refrigerant tube (550), an outer jacket (510) surrounding the refrigerant tube, and a phase change material positioned between the refrigerant tube and the outer jacket and in contact with the refrigerant tube. ... The phase change material heat exchanger (500) may include a heat source, a phase change material surrounding the heat source in whole or in part, and an outer jacket surrounding the phase change material. The phase change material removes heat when the heat source is on by melting and releases heat to the ambient when the heat source is off by solidifying." 

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170051954.pdf

Patent application: PCMs comprising alkanolamides and diesters and methods of making and using them

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170044414 (applicant Entropy Solutions LLC, Plymouth, Minn.):

"This invention generally relates to thermoregulation and temperature stabilization, thermal protection and insulation, and nucleating agents. In particular, in alternative embodiments, provided are organic phase change materials comprising diesters and alkanolamides. In alternative embodiments, provided are Phase Change Material (PCMs) compositions comprising diesters and alkanolamides, and methods for making and using them. In alternative embodiments, the Phase Change Material (PCMs) compositions are used for thermal energy management, including energy storage and/or temperature stabilization, in various applications such as building, automotive, packaging, garment and footwear, textiles, fabrics, synthetic fibers, foods, microcapsules and other energy storage systems."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170044414.pdf

Patent application: Heated or cooled dishware and drinkware and food containers

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

Ember patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170042373 (applicant Ember Technologies Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.):

"An actively heated or cooled food container can have a lid movable between an open and a closed position and an insulated body to which the lid can be attached. The insulated body can have a sidewall that defines a perimeter of the container body and a base, the sidewall and base defining one or more chambers that can be sealed by the lid. ... The heating and cooling system comprises a cooling element comprising a phase change material disposed in a chamber that surrounds at least a portion of the inner sidewall so that the phase change material is in thermal communication with at least a portion of the inner sidewall of the portable body, the phase change material configured to transition from one phase to a second phase at a predetermined temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170042373.pdf

Patent application: Cables made of phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170045301 (applicant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del.):

"Disclosed is a cable comprising a core and a PCM layer surrounding the core wherein the PCM layer consists of a PCM composition wherein the PCM composition comprises a PCM and an ethylene copolymer; and the core consists of a yarn, strand, or wire each made of a natural or synthetic polymeric material or a metal. The invention is useful for thermal management in a variety of applications in such as, for example, automotive, building, packaging, garments, and footwear."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170045301.pdf

Research roundup: Heat transfer enhancement; gypsum incorporated with diatomite/paraffin composite; more

Ben Welter - Friday, February 17, 2017

Heat transfer enhancement of phase change materials for thermal energy storage applications: A critical review [Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews]

Melting enhancement in triplex-tube latent thermal energy storage system using nanoparticles-fins combination [International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer]

Mixed mill-heating fabrication and thermal energy storage of diatomite/paraffin phase change composite incorporated gypsum-based materials [Applied Thermal Engineering]

Definition of a new set of parameters for the dynamic thermal characterization of PCM layers in the presence of one or more liquid-solid interfaces [Energy and Buildings]

Patent application: Microencapsulation of material using cenospheres

Ben Welter - Thursday, February 02, 2017

Cenosphere patent drawingU.S. patent application 20170030077 (applicant Board of Trustees, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.):

"Disclosed are methods for incorporating core materials such as phase change materials or admixtures into building materials like concrete. The methods use cenospheres, which are then etched and loaded with the core material. The composition can also be coated with a thin film. Compositions containing cenospheres loaded with the various core materials are disclosed, as are building materials containing such compositions."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170030077.pdf