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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: Thermally conducting capsules comprising a phase change material

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 23, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160177156 (applicant French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission):

"The invention relates to a thermally conducting capsule which has a core-shell structure and in which the core, which is surrounded by a tight single-layer or multilayer shell, is loaded with at least one phase change material (PCM). The invention is characterized in that the capsule also contains particles made of an additional conducting material at least in the shell, said particles made of the additional conducting material having a thermal conductivity greater than 100 W/m/K. The invention further relates to the use of said capsule in a heat-conducting material, in particular a thermal fluid, in order to modulate the heat capacity thereof."

Patent application: Data center cooling system with PCM

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 16, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160174418 (applicant International Business Machines Corp., Armonk, N.Y.):

"Temperature and threshold parameters relating to the cooling system are received. A control condition suitable for the cooling system is determined. If the ambient temperature is lower than the first temperature threshold, the working fluid passage between the free cooling device and the system to be cooled and the working fluid passage between the free cooling device and the PCM cooling device are turned on, in addition to the PCM cooling device is set into the first working mode. If the ambient temperature, AT, is higher than the second temperature threshold and the temperature of the PCM material is lower than the melted state temperature threshold, the working fluid passage between the PCM cooling device and the system to be cooled is turned on, the working fluid passages relating to the free cooling device is turned off, and the PCM cooling device is set into the second working mode."

Patent application: PCMs from wax-based colloidal dispersions

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 16, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160168439 (applicant Henry Company LLC, El Segundo, Calif.):

Henry Co. patent application drawing"This invention generally relates to phase-change materials (PCM) comprising colloidally-protected wax-based microstructures and optionally, an absorbent material such as activated carbon. This invention also relates to such PCMs configured in various physical forms. This invention further relates to a process of configuring such PCMs for a variety of end-use applications in which dampening of temperature fluctuations by absorption and desorption of heat is desired. This invention also relates to PCM with reduced leaking of paraffin from the CPWB microstructures. This invention further relates to preparing colloidally-protected wax-based microstructures in particulate form that function as PCMs."

Patent application: Support cushion for providing cooling

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 16, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160166074 (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management LLC, Lexington, Ky.):

Tempur-Pedic cushion patent drawing"A support cushion for is provided that includes a core comprised of a first flexible foam and a sleeve comprised of a second flexible foam. The sleeve has a first side and a second side opposite the first side that together encapsulate the core. The support cushion further includes an amount of phase change material that is incorporated into at least one of the first side or the second side of the sleeve."

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: Clothes treating apparatus with a heat pump cycle

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160160419 (applicant LG Electronics Inc., Seoul, South Korea):

"A clothes treating apparatus having a heat pump cycle for performing a washing cycle and a drying cycle is provided. The clothes treating apparatus may include a drum configured to accommodate a item to be treated; a heat pump cycle having a first evaporator, a compressor, a condenser, and an expansion valve to heat air introduced into the drum; a circulation duct configured to form a circulation passage of air that has passed through the drum; a circulation fan configured to circulate the air; and a controller configured to drive the heat pump cycle and the circulation fan during the washing cycle to preheat at least one of the drum or the circulation duct. ...

"The first evaporator includes: a plurality of ice storage blocks configured to store an ice storage material therein, and provided to be separated from each other to allow air to pass therethrough; and a plurality of heat exchange pipes configured to receive a working fluid to flow therethrough, and coupled with the plurality of ice storage blocks to allow the working fluid to exchange heat with the ice storage material, wherein the ice storage material is a phase change material, which is frozen by exchanging heat with the working fluid or thawed by exchanging heat with air coming out of the drum."

Patent application: Hybrid heat transfer system

Ben Welter - Monday, June 13, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160161155 (applicant Phononic Devices Inc., Durham, N.C.):

"According to one aspect, a hybrid heat transfer system includes a first thermally conductive path configured to passively transfer heat between a load having a load temperature and an ambient environment having an ambient temperature, and a second thermally conductive path configured to actively transfer heat between the load and the ambient environment, the second path comprising a heat pump. ...

"According to one aspect, the second thermally conductive path includes a thermal capacitor in series between the load and the ambient environment. ... According to one aspect, the thermal capacitor comprises a phase change material and/or a thermal mass."

Patent application: Temperature controlled product shipper

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 09, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160161171 (applicant Packaging Technology Group Inc., Fall River, Mass):

Shipper with PCM bladder patent drawing"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."

Patent application: Plate for serving hot meals

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160150896 (Probalco BVBA, Belgium):

"The present invention concerns a plate (1) suited for directly dressing and serving meals directly thereon, which plate comprises a heat storing material (14) allowing keeping the meal dressed thereon warm for an extended period of time in view of regular plates without heat storing material. ...

"The heat storing material preferably is a phase change material (PCM) chosen from the group comprising: hydrated salts, organic compounds, solid to solid PCMs, eutectic solutions and/or admixtures thereof."

Patent application: Process for preparing PCM microcapsule having thermally conductive shell

Ben Welter - Thursday, June 02, 2016

U.S. patent application 20160151757 (National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, Taiwan):

PCM microcapsule patent drawing"A process for preparing a phase change microcapsule having a thermally conductive shell is introduced. The thermal conductivity of the encapsulation materials for the phase change microcapsules is increased by adding thermally conductive nano-materials. The vinylsilane compound is polymerized with the acrylic monomer to form the copolymer first, and then the thermally conductive inorganic material is added. Thereafter, the phase change microcapsule having the phase change material as the core and the thermally conductive material-containing copolymer as the shell is prepared. The polar functional groups on the surface of the thermally conductive inorganic material condense with the vinylsilane compound to form chemical bonding, thereby substantially increasing the compatibility between the thermally conductive inorganic material and the copolymer. Therefore, the thermally conductive material can be dispersed stably during the encapsulation of the microcapsules, and the phase change microcapsule having the thermally conductive shell can be obtained successfully. ...

"The phase change material as described in the present invention is the organic phase change material; the organic phase change material is mainly selected from the group consisting of higher aliphatic hydrocarbons, higher fatty acids, higher fatty acid esters, salts of higher fatty acids, higher aliphatic alcohols, aromatic hydrocarbons, aromatic ketones, aromatic amides, and combinations thereof, but is not limited to the organic phase change materials described above."