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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 monthly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.




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."

Patent application: Apparatus for preparing hot beverages with auto-power-down mechanism

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Philips beverage apparatus patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20160029835 (applicant Koninklijke Philips NV, Netherlands):

"An apparatus (1) for preparing hot beverages, comprising: —an electric heater (16); —a latent heat storage provision (30) that is in thermal contact with the heater (16), and that contains, or is configured to contain, a phase-change material (38); and —an electric circuit (40) for powering the electric heater (16), comprising a switch assembly (44) that is configured cut power to the heater (16) when a temperature of the latent heat storage provision (30) fulfills a predetermined auto-power-down condition."

PCM briefing: The latest innovations in heat exchanger technology; the latest praise for Ember 'smart' mug

Ben Welter - Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Expanded metal baffle / EMbaffle B.V.

Beyond shell and tube: POWER magazine's Aaron Larson takes a look at the latest innovations in heat exchanger technology. Expanded metal baffle designs, such as the one shown above from EMbaffle B.V., promise better heat transfer and eliminate flow-induced vibration.

Esquire magazine selected the Ember temperature-adjustable mug, powered in part by phase change material, as one of the top five gadgets among the thousands displayed at last month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

German researchers are developing a PCM-based thermal energy storage using salt hydrates and hybrid double-shell concrete tanks. The goal is to convert excess electricity from renewable sources and store it as heat for use in a single building or shared in a smart grid of neighborhood buildings.

PCM briefing: A bioplastics breakthrough from DuPont/ADM; a revamped bedding line from Tempur-Pedic

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CleanTechnica takes a look at the DuPont-ADM "breakthrough" process for producing a high-performance, 100 percent biodegradable bioplastic. The companies' first project will use furan dicarboxylic methyl ester to produce polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate, which ADM says outperforms petroleum-based polymers in extending beverage shelf life.

•  Tempur-Pedic has revamped its Breeze line of cooler-sleep beds, fusing phase change material in the top Tempur foam layer to deliver “a significantly improved cooling effect,” the company said.

Composite sandwich panels containing phase change material are among 20 smart materials and structures identified by a European Union study with possible applications in the shipbuilding industry. The panels would minimize heat transfer and lower cooling costs on refrigerated cargo ships.  

• Sonoco ThermoSafe, Pluss Advanced Technologies, va-Q-tec AG, Peli BioThermal, Cryopak, AAR Cold Chain Solutions and Croda are among the companies exhibiting PCM-related products at the 15th annual Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe conference in Frankfurt, Germany, this week. 

PCM briefing: Ice Energy hires CFO; Ember temperature-adjustable mug among gadgets at Consumer Electronics Show

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 07, 2016

Ice Energy, maker of the Ice Bear thermal energy storage system, has hired Charles Costenbader as its new chief financial officer. Costenbader most recently served as chief operating officer of Synthesis Energy Systems, Shanghai, China.

Ember Technologies' temperature-adjustable mug, powered by phase change material, is among the gadgets on display at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Appliance maker Glen Dimplex is about to begin recruiting 1,250 households in Germany, Latvia and Ireland to test its Quantum electric thermal storage system later this year.

The UK Green Building Council has launched a program to ensure that commercial buildings across the country meet the performance standards promised by developers.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is accepting applications for a year-round student internship to help foster clean energy development on tribal lands. 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy is seeking technology-to-market experts to guide ARPA-E awardees in the development and execution of technology commercialization strategies. 

ARPA-E has posted the agenda for the Energy Innovation Summit, Feb. 29-March 2 in suburban Washington, D.C. Advanced Cooling Technologies and the Electric Power Research Institute, which are developing PCM-based dry-cooling technologies for thermoelectric power plants, are listed among the 267 showcase participants. 

Patent application: Device and method for heating a fermentable starting product to produce a beverage

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 31, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150376557 (inventor Albert Welledits, Vienna, Austria):

"A device and a method for heating a fermentable starting product in order to produce a beverage, comprises a line which is arranged inside a combustion chamber and via which a part of a heat outputted from a heat source in the combustion chamber by a first heat transporting medium can be transferred to the fermentable starting product flowing in the line. A heat storage device arranged downstream of the combustion chamber is used for storing a part of the residual heat transported by means of the first heat transporting medium. The line is arranged such that the fermentable starting product flowing in the line is pre-heated upstream of the combustion chamber in a pre-heating chamber by the heat stored in the heat storage device. ... [T]he heat storage device is formed as at least one latent heat storage device, in which a transfer of heat takes place from the heat transporting medium to a phase change material in the latent heat storage device, or vice versa."