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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.




Patent application: On-demand beverage cooler with PCM

Ben Welter - Wednesday, November 02, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160313047 (inventors Avner Sodot and Shaul Hanuna, Israel):

Beverage cooler patent drawing"A beverage cooler includes a heat pump having a cooling element thermally coupled to a negative-heat-energy accumulator. The accumulator (14) includes a heat-energy dispersion arrangement formed from thermally conductive material which is in thermal contact with a quantity of phase-change material having a phase-change temperature above zero Celsius. A conduit for the beverage defines a circuitous path thermally coupled to accumulator. The heat pump draws heat energy predominantly from the phase-change material so as to ensure that a temperature of the phase-change material is reduced by at least as much as the temperature of the beverage within conduit, even under zero-flow conditions. This ensures that the accumulator can he fully charged during periods of low beverage dispensing demand without risk of freezing the beverage within conduit."

Patent application: Container having a mixture of PCM and graphite powder

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 27, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160309932 (applicant Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research):

Fraunhofer patent drawing"A container may be provided, in particular a beverage container, comprising an inner container wall and an outer container wall, an intermediate space lying between the container walls, wherein the intermediate space is filled with a mixture that contains phase-change material and graphite powder, wherein the graphite powder is introduced into the phase-change material in such a way that the mixture has a pulpy consistency at a temperature at which the phase-change material is liquid. A method may be provided for producing a container that includes the following steps: A) providing an inner container wall and an outer container wall; B) applying a mixture of graphite powder and phase-change material to the inside of the outer container wall and/or the outside of the inner container wall; C) joining the outer container wall and the inner container wall."

PCM briefing: Ember sets ship date for $149 mug; va-q-tec plans IPO on Frankfurt exchange

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 08, 2016

Ember Technologies, which raised more than $350,000 on IndieGoGo last fall to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, sent backers a long-awaited update this week: "We are excited to inform you that we plan to start shipping Ember mugs in the second half of October." Delivery was initially set for April 2016. The $149 mug uses phase change material and a microprocessor-controlled heating system to maintain hot beverages at temperatures set by the user.

Va-q-tec AG is preparing for an initial public offering on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The company, based in Würzburg, Germany, hopes to raise 45 million euros ($50.6 million USD) to expand its "serviced rental" business and production capacity. Va-q-tec develops, manufactures and sells vacuum insulation panels and phase change materials.

Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins and CALMAC's director of energy services, Evan Berger, will be among the speakers at the Energy Storage North America conference in San Diego, Calif., Oct. 4-6.

Patent application: Heated or cooled portable drinkware

Ben Welter - Friday, August 26, 2016

Ember Technologies patent drawingU.S. patent application 20160242598 (applicant Ember Technologies Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.):

"An actively heated or cooled portable container is provided. The container has a portable body with a receiving portion defined by an inner wall that receives a liquid. A heating and cooling system housed in the portable body has a cooling element in thermal communication with at least a portion of the inner wall to remove heat from the liquid. The heating and cooling system also has a heating element in thermal communication with at least a portion of the inner wall, control circuitry to control the operation of the heating element and one or more power storage elements to provide electrical energy to the heating element and/or control circuitry. ... 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."

Patent application: Food/beverage container with thermal control

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 28, 2016

Patent drawing of beverage container with thermal controlU.S. patent application 20160215194 (applicant Trent University, Canada):

"A container for a food and/or beverages is provided. The container is designed such that it may have the capability of absorbing excess thermal energy from the food or beverage, thereby cooling the consumable material to a desired temperature and maintaining the material at the desired temperature for a considerable period of time. The container typically includes an outer insulating shell; an inner heat conducting liner and a phase change material (PCM). To facilitate heat transfer to and from a food or beverage stored in the container, the PCM is commonly disposed between the outer insulating shell and the inner heat conducting liner and positioned in thermal contact with the inner heat conducting liner. The PCM may include a diol diester having a melting point of about 30 to 90° C."

PCM coaster is designed to keep canned beer cold

Ben Welter - Monday, July 25, 2016

Two Hungarians are working to raise $25,000 on Indiegogo to fund development of BoozePad, an aluminum-and-plastic coaster designed to keep canned beer and other beverages cold. Inside is a phase change material of their own creation, a salt-and-water paste with a freeze point of minus 14 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Boozepad photoIn an email interview, Viktor Kurucz and Zsombor Kaló said similar products on the market only slow warming: "BoozePad is the only device [we've tested] that effectively cools the beer and keeps the preferred low temperature." 

They added: "BoozePad is absolutely local: idea, testings, design and development to the prototype has all been happened within the boundaries of Budapest. Mass production will take place also locally. It is important for us to supervise the production personally, and diminish the biological footprint."

A single BoozePad costs $10, with delivery promised in October. With a month to go, the Indiegogo campaign has raised a little over $2,000, well short of the team's $25,000 goal.

PCM briefing: Ember mug not quite there yet; Encapsys launches redesigned website

Ben Welter - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ember Technologies, maker of the Ember temperature-controlled coffee mug, reports that it has been working "around the clock" to improve the mug's firmware, mobile app and a few key hardware components. In an e-mail to backers, the Westlake Village, Calif., company says the next production run is scheduled for July. No word on when initial orders will be shipped. Deliveries were originally promised to IndieGoGo backers by April 2016.  

Encapsys LLC of Appleton, Wis., has launched a redesign of its website, The new design features fresh photography, a video gallery, improved navigation and responsive design to ensure optimal display on desktops and mobile devices.

• Chemical companies can save 6 percent to 10 percent annually on raw materials with improved purchasing processes, according a McKinsey & Co. analysis.

• A petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in connection with diagnostics research has a prompted fresh discussion of a familiar question: Do patents promote or hinder innovation?

• Whatever the outcome of free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States, the European Commission has promised that REACH, the EU's chemicals regulatory framework, will remain unchanged.

Patent application: Bottle-cooling display stand with PCMs

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160109176 (inventor Cigdem Harms, Las Vegas, Nev.):

Bottle-cooling display stand"The present disclosure relates to a device for holding a bottle, in particular the bottle holder includes a stand, the stand including a base portion, an angled stand portion, and an annular holding portion. The base portion is configured to rest against a supportive surface, and the angled stand portion extends upward away from the base portion. The angled stand portion can include first and second prongs forming a primary void in a front planar face therebetween. An annular holding portion extends rearwardly from the front planar face between the first and second prongs. A cooling insert can be provided which is configured to rest in the annular holding portion and provide cooling to a bottle contained therein. ... The cooling insert can be filled with a freezable gel or other phase change material and placed into the bottle holder assembly so as to provide a cooling effect to a bottle held by the bottle holder assembly and thereby maintain the liquid contained therein at a desired drinking temperature."

Ember temperature-control mug completes pilot manufacturing run

Ben Welter - Friday, March 18, 2016

Ember Technologies, which raised $362,243 on IndieGoGo last fall to develop a temperature-adjustable mug, has completed its first pilot factory run of the product and is now working on reliability testing. In an update to IndieGoGo backers this week, the company announced several improvements to the mug, which uses phase change material to help manage beverage temperature:

• More robust design
• Reduced weight
• Liquid level sensing
• Redesigned charger coaster
• Improved mobile app

Delivery of the first mugs to nearly 2,000 backers, initially scheduled for April, is now set for July, after FCC, UL and RF testing is completed.

Patent application: Container with thermal regulating insert with PCM

Ben Welter - Friday, February 19, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160045047 (applicant Healy International LLC, Lynnwood, Wash.):

Beverage insert patent drawing"A container with an insert for rapidly lowering the temperature of a heated liquid to an ideal range suitable for human contact and maintaining the liquid in the ideal range for an extended period of time includes an insulated container for holding heated liquid, a thermal regulating insert and means for attaching or stabilizing the insert to the container. The thermal regulating insert has an outer wall made of thermally conductive material and sufficient surface area to promote heat transfer that creates an enclosed chamber. The chamber [22] contains a phase change material for absorbing heat from the heated liquid when the liquid's temperature is higher than the phase change materials melting point. The insert is removably retained in the fluid-reservoir in the container such that the insert is wholly or substantially spaced apart from the walls of the container and stabilized relative to the container."