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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.

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Patent application: Device and method for drug delivery

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200038600 (applicant Insuline Medical Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel):

Insuline patent drawing"A drug delivery control apparatus (e.g. a treatment apparatus) may be configured to control an amount of drug contained in a drug depot delivered or otherwise perfused or diffused into the circulatory system of a patient comprising a cooling element configured for cooling a treatment area by removing heat from the treatment area. The cooling element may be arranged above or near the treatment area. A heat disposal assembly is in thermal communication with the cooling element and configured for directing the removed heat to a heat zone away from the treatment area. A power source, a controller and a housing may be configured to at least partially house at least the cooling element and the heat disposal assembly. ... the heat disposal assembly comprises a phase change material configured to absorb at least some heat from the treatment area."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200038600.pdf

Patent application: Temperature controlled product shipper

Ben Welter - Friday, February 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200033045 (applicant Packaging Technology Group Inc., Fall River, Mass.):

"A temperature-controlled product shipper includes a phase change material bladder which can be filled at the point of packaging. The shipper includes an internal product box and an outer box where the product box is received within the outer box. The phase change material bladder is received within a cavity defined between the outer surface of the product box and the inner surface of the outer box. The shipper may also include an insulated liner which is received between the product box and the bladder."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200033045.pdf

Patent application: Refrigerator with phase change material

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200011583 (applicant LG Electronics Inc., Seoul, South Korea):

Patent drawing of LG refrigerator"A refrigerator includes a cabinet, a first inner case that defines a freezing compartment, a second inner case that defines a refrigerating compartment, a thermal siphon unit that is configured to carry a working fluid for heat transfer and that has a closed loop shape that includes a first part arranged at an outer side of the first inner case and a second part arranged at an outer side of the second inner case, and a cool air storage unit arranged in a space partitioned in the first inner case. The cool air storage unit is configured to accommodate cool air of the freezing compartment and transfer the cool air to the first part of the thermal siphon unit arranged outside of the first inner case. ... [The] cool air storage unit [shown above] includes a housing that defines an external appearance of the cool air storage unit and that is configured to store a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200011583.pdf

Patent application: Preparation vessel with a cooling device

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200009520 (applicant Vorwerk & Co. Interholding GmbH, Wuppertal, Germany):

"A preparation vessel, in particular for a food processor, has a vessel wall and a preparation area surrounded by the vessel wall. The vessel wall has a cooling device that contacts the vessel wall in a heat-conducting manner for cooling a preparation item present in the preparation area. The vessel wall in at least a partial area has a double-walled design, with an inner wall bordering the preparation area and an outer wall that is formed separately from the inner wall and spaced apart from the inner wall by a gap, wherein the gap has the cooling device and a phase change material located between the cooling device and the outer wall as viewed in a direction from the preparation area to the outer wall."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200009520.pdf

Patent application: Drinking container with different temperature zones

Ben Welter - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

U.S. patent application 20200008623 (applicant Curators of the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.):

Patent drawing of PCM mug"A drinking container system with multiple temperature zones, wherein the container system includes a main body having a sidewall and a bottom that define a phase change material (PCM) module receptacle, and a phase change material (PCM) module having a sidewall that defines a beverage chamber. The PCM module is disposable within the PCM module receptacle such that a beverage egress flow path is defined between the main body sidewall and the PCM module sidewall. The flow path formed in the container can make the beverage achieve the desired drinking temperature. The PCM module sidewall is at least partially filled with a phase change material and is structured and operable to provide a plurality temperature zones within the beverage chamber. Each temperature zone is operable to maintain a temperature of a respective portion of a liquid disposed within the beverage chamber within a respective temperature range."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20200008623.pdf

ACT is awarded a U.S. patent for PCM with tunable melt point

Ben Welter - Friday, January 10, 2020

Advanced Cooling Technologies of Lancaster, Pa., has been awarded a U.S. patent for a phase change material with a tunable melting point.

The hydration level of the PCM, a salt hydrate consisting primarily of salt and water, is altered to change the melting point to a desired set point using changes in humidity of the system.

“In an ARPA-E ARID funded program, we showed that you could change the melting point of salt hydrate phase change materials by changing the hydration levels of the salt hydrate in-situ,” Richard Bonner, ACT’s vice president for R&D, wrote in a LinkedIn post. “We also applied this technology to power plant cooling, where the seasonal variations in ambient temperature necessitate different melting points. Congratulations to the inventors: Dr. Ying Zheng, Dr. Chien-hua Chen, Dr. Howard Pearlman, and Dr. Fangyu Cao."

ACT worked with Lehigh University and the University of Missouri to develop the PCM. The idea was prompted by ACT’s interest in utilizing seasonal shifts in weather for the company’s day/night thermal storage application. A tunable melt point allows the PCM to be more easily solidified in cold and hot seasons.

The targeted melt temperatures in the project were from 25° C to 45° C for low-grade thermal energy storage, but could be extended to higher temperatures with other salt hydrates, the company said.

The project was funded, in part, with a $3.2 million ARPA-E ARID grant, awarded in 2015. ARID stands for "Advanced Research in dry Cooling." The project teams were challenged to "develop innovative, high-performance air-cooled heat exchangers and supplemental cooling systems and/or cool-storage systems" for use in thermoelectric power plants, to replace existing technologies that use a substantial amount of water to cool plant condensers.

The ARID project was completed in 2018. ACT's invention is now at the lab-scale testing phase. The most difficult hurdle, the company said, will be to scale up to commercialization level.  “From a manufacturing standpoint, shifting of the hydration level would require a large infrastructure for altering the humidity,” the company said.

“The concept could also be applied to the HVAC industry (building comfort) to provide day/night load shifting,” the company said, “as well as PCM synthesis and preparation for a consistent product. “
 

Patent application: Controlled release dual-walled microcapsules

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190282989 (applicant Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.):

"A method of forming dual melamine/acrylic walled microcapsules having improved physical properties and release control as well as the microcapsules formed by the process wherein the capsule wall is formed by the use of select (meth)acrylate monomers and/or oligomers and/or select self-condensing melamine resins."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190282989.pdf

Patent application: Noninvasive thermal stimuli for treatment of migraine

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

Migraine treatment patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190275287 (applicant University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Penn.):

"Methods, systems and devices for treating headaches, including migraines. In some variations these methods may include enhancing sleep, including enhancing the quality of sleep, reducing sleep onset time, increasing total sleep time, treating insomnia, and/or treating other neurological disorders by non-invasive temperature regulation of the frontal cortex prior to and/or during sleep. ... Treatment may be accomplished by sustained thermal regulation (warming or cooling) in an appropriate therapeutic range and time using one or more phase change materials."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190275287.pdf

Patent application: Method and apparatus for transporting temperature sensitive products

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190285328 (applicant Illuminate Consulting LLC, Tampa, Florida):

"Embodiments of the subject invention relate to a method and apparatus for thermally protecting a product, such as when storing and/or shipping a product, so as to control the temperatures the products are exposed to. Embodiments can [increase] the amount of time the product and/or portions of the product experience a desired temperature range and/or reduce the amount of time the product and/or portions of the product experience temperatures outside of the desired temperature range and/or experience an undesirable temperature range. Embodiments can incorporate thermally conductive materials, such as aluminum sheets, positioned around and/or near the product positioned inside a packaging container, such that the conductive materials conduct heat from one or more locations in the interior of the package to one or more other locations in the interior of the package."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190285328.pdf

Patent application: Battery-cooling heat sink provided with PCM capsule

Ben Welter - Friday, September 20, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190288351 (applicant LG Chem Ltd., Seoul, South Korea):

"A battery module including a battery-cooling heat sink having a PCM capsule. The battery-cooling heat sink provides a uniform temperature of a cooling fluid flowing through the battery module using a PCM capsule, minimizes a temperature variation of the cooling fluid over the entire area of the heat sink formed in the battery module, and prevents the temperature at a cooling fluid outlet of the heat sink from being higher than that of a cooling fluid inlet."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190288351.pdf