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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.

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Patent application: Transport container

Ben Welter - Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190178534 (inventor Nico Ros, Riehen, Switzerland):

"In a transport container for transporting temperature-sensitive transport goods comprising a chamber for receiving the transport goods, a casing enclosing the chamber and at least one cooling element for temperature control of the chamber, the cooling element comprises an evaporation element with a cooling surface and a desiccant for receiving coolant evaporated in the evaporation element. The transport container further comprises a latent heat accumulator that communicates with the chamber for heat exchange. ... In a preferred embodiment, in which the transport goods are to be kept in the chamber at a temperature range of 2-8° C., the latent heat accumulator has a phase transition temperature of approx. 4-6° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190178534.pdf

Patent application: Composite construction panels and applications thereof

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190161967 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions, Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, composite construction materials are described herein. In some embodiments, a composite construction panel comprises a substrate layer, a cover layer separated from the substrate layer by one or more spacers, and at least one mat disposed between the substrate layer and the cover layer, wherein the mat comprises at least one phase change material disposed in at least one phase change region."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190161967.pdf

Patent application: Method and device for heating a mold

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190168432 (assignee Roctool, Le Bourget-du-Lac, France):

"A mold, particularly for injection molding, includes a shell defining a cavity delimiting a molding surface, a heat accumulator and inductor heater, configured to heat the heat accumulator. A receiving surface, which is a part of a surface of the shell other than the molding surface, is either exposed to or shielded from the heat of heat accumulator, to bring the entire molding surface to a predetermined temperature to inject the material into the cavity. ... [The] heat accumulator comprises a phase change material. This embodiment makes it possible to store thermal energy in the latent phase change heat of said material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190168432.pdf

Patent application: Heating a sports device

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

Drawing of lacrosse stick with PCM

U.S. patent application 20190168091 (applicant Robert Marc Goldberg, Fayetteville, N.Y.):

"A sports device configured to generate thermal energy to warm surfaces. In one implementation, the sports device embodies a lacrosse stick with a shaft and head. The shaft includes a thermal core with a phase change material that can retain and dissipate heat over an extended period of time. ... Suitable materials may maximize energy storage per unit volume/mass so as to add little weight to the lacrosse stick but still maintain surfaces at temperatures for extended periods. This feature can make the lacrosse stick comfortable for the player to grasp and to handle during game play and practice."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190168091.pdf

Patent application: Polyurethane gel particles, methods and use in flexible foams

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190169390 (applicant Peterson Chemical Technology LLC, Austin, Texas):

"Combinations of open cell flexible foams with polyurethane gel particles, and methods of making the combinations are described using a variety of procedures. The open cell flexible foam may partially or wholly comprise polyurethane foam and latex foam. ... The composition of claim 1 where the polyurethane gel particles contain at least one phase change material with a solid/liquid phase transition temperature range of from about −10° F. to about 220° F. (about −23° C. to about 104° C.)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190169390.pdf

PCM in stadium seating: For fans on the hot seat, it's a pretty cool idea

Ben Welter - Saturday, May 25, 2019

Dustin Schafer of Henderson EngineersDustin Schafer, senior vice president and director of engineering at Henderson Engineers of Lenexa, Kansas, first became familiar with phase change material when he read an ASHRAE article about conference room air conditioning.

The method struck him as a small-scale version of a stadium or arena. "From there," he says, "I began I began devising a plan for us to implement this into our large-scale venues we design." 

Schafer developed the idea of using PCM inside the hollow portions of seats and seating structures to keep open-air stadiums cooler on hot days. The concept underwent testing at Kansas State University and was awarded a U.S. patent, "Stadium Ambient Temperature Control System," in 2017. He is giving a presentation on the concept June 12 at an event sponsored by AIA Kansas City at the Center for Architecture & Design in Kansas City, Mo. In an email interview, he discussed the development process. 

Q: How long have you worked at your company?

A: "I joined Henderson in 2008 and have nearly 20 years of industry experience."

Q: Can you briefly describe the process of testing the concept?

A: "In looking to develop an innovative, cost effective, and energy efficient option, we began conducting research on the potential implementation of PCM on venue seats to increase the thermal mass in the space and extend the length of time occupants are comfortable. Essentially, the material could be frozen (the material we used has a freezing point of 70° F) prior to the event, then as the PCM reaches its melting point, it would absorb some of the heat brought on by the human and/or solar load, prolonging the time the space is comfortable for attendees.

Henderson patent application drawing"I led a team in conducting a variety of tests to determine the efficacy of this idea. We worked with Kansas State University and utilized their Institute for Environmental Research to complete our testing. We set up a lab that included actual stadium seats arranged in a layout consistent with typical venues. Each seat in the testing area had 10 pounds of PCM attached to the back and a dummy in the seat equipped with electric resistance heaters that produced an amount of heat equivalent to that of a human being. The layout also included suspended wires with thermocouples to create the temperature sensor array around the dummy occupant.

"We conducted two tests to evaluate the impact this technology could have, each with two test value temperatures, 90° F and 100° F. In both tests we took measurements in an environmental chamber that simulated different ambient conditions during an event and compared both a control chamber and a chamber with PCM attached to the chairs. The tests ran until the effect of PCM was no longer noticeable."

Q: Can you provide a summary of the test results?

A: "In our research, we determined that PCM could be an impactful option for open stadiums situated in mild climates where the night temperatures drop low enough to freeze the material. To have an even greater impact, application of PCM should be seriously considered in enclosed arenas. Because the HVAC system could be used to pre-charge the bowl and freeze the material, this application could be even more significant. Additionally, the cooling result could materially affect the peak load needs for the HVAC systems in these spaces, saving the owner on energy costs.

"We also identified areas where PCM would not make sense a part of the temperature control solution, such as in climates with high winds that would simply blow away the cooled air, areas where the temperature does not drop below 70° F and thus doesn’t allow the PCM to freeze, or areas where the temperature rises too far above the melting point prior to the event meaning the cooling effect is lost before it is needed. Finally, we’ve found it necessary to note that this process only impacts spaces that need to be cooled – it cannot be used in heating conditions.

"We determined that phase change material does have a significant and sustained impact on occupant comfort. While it is not the whole solution, it can be a meaningful portion of the overall answer."

Q: Can you provide information on the PCM used in testing?

A: "We used InsolCorp’s Infinite-R phase change material." 

Q: Is Henderson now working on any projects that include the use of PCMs in this manner?

A: "We are not working on any projects that include the use of PCM."

Q: What interests you most about the use of PCM in building and construction?

A: "It’s a sustainable solution that is relatively low cost. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s a small step that can have a nice impact. Professional sports teams focus heavily on the fan experience and this is a difference maker when it comes to their in-venue comfort."

Patent application: Method and system for thermal cooling of an enclosure

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190154282 (applicant International Business Machines Corp., Armonk, N.Y.):

"A computer-implemented mitigation and warning method, system, and computer program product including detecting an enclosure temperature via an enclosure temperature probe and activating, via a controller, a thermoelectric device when the enclosure temperature exceeds a predetermined threshold temperature to transfer heat between an enclosure and a phase change material (PCM) to cause the PCM to change phase and cool the enclosure."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190154282.pdf

Patent application: Motor vehicle fuel pump cover

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

BMW patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190153984 (applicant Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Munich, Germany):

"A motor vehicle fuel pump cover is provided for covering a fuel guide region of a motor vehicle fuel pump by way of a cover housing. A phase change core is received in the cover housing. The phase change core is designed to change the phase state thereof while receiving thermal energy from the fuel guide region. The phase change core is designed for phase change at a temperature of more than 60° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190153984.pdf

Patent application: Devices and methods for thawing biological material

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190152676 (applicant Celularity Inc., Warren, N.J.):

"Provided herein are improved devices for thawing frozen biological material (e.g., cells). The devices described herein are designed to ensure that the container (e.g., tube or vial) which holds the frozen biological material to be thawed is consistently and thoroughly in contact with the source of heat and thus promotes rapid thawing of the biological material. ... [The apparatus comprises] (i) a sealed first compartment comprising material that undergoes a phase change when heated to a certain temperature, (ii) a plurality of compartments comprising a source of heat, and (iii) an additional plurality of compartments into which a plurality of containers containing frozen biological material can be placed, and (iii) a temperature controller that allows setting said certain temperature to 37° C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190152676.pdf

Patent application: Insulation material arrangement

Ben Welter - Friday, May 24, 2019

Wall insulation material patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20190153722 (applicant Schmetzer Industries Holdings Pty Ltd, Hornsby, Australia):

"An insulating material arrangement (10) is disclosed for insulating a building structure such as a wall. The material arrangement includes a planar backing layer (12), a planar adhesive layer (14) co-planar with the backing layer and a planar phase change material (“PCM”) layer (16) which is arranged between the backing layer and the adhesive layer, and is also co-planar therewith. The adhesive layer is adapted to secure the material arrangement to the structure in a fitted condition in which the adhesive layer is contacted with the building structure. The PCM layer is formed of a silicone foam polymer that is impregnated in some embodiments with micro-encapsulated phase change material in the form of beads, shells or granules, and in another arrangement, the PCM layer can also comprise a silicone foam polymer that is impregnated with a phase change material which is absorbed into an amount of porous, inorganic, finely-sized particulate solids (a so-called “bound PCM”)."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190153722.pdf