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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: Body support cushion having multiple layers of phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, October 23, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150296994  (applicant Tempur-Pedic Management, Lexington, Ky.:

Tempur-Pedic body cushion patent drawing"A body support cushion, e.g., mattress, has multiple foam layers, including a viscoelastic foam layer and a reticulated beat properties that provide two intervals of dermal cooling. ... a layered arrangement of foam comprised of at least one layer of viscoelastic foam having a density of at least 20 kg/m3 and no more than 150 kg/m3; phase change material [54 in drawing at right] in the layer of viscoelastic foam."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150296994.pdf 

Patent application: Low-cost process for manufacture of form-stable PCM

Ben Welter - Friday, October 23, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150299416 (applicant REG Synthetic Fuels, Ames, Iowa):

"The present technology generally relates to phase change material (PCM) pellets consisting essentially of a mixture of paraffin, a polymer, and optionally a thermal conductivity improver, a nucleating agent, an anti-oxidant, or a combination of any two or more thereof; wherein the paraffin is at least about 60 wt % of the PCM pellet; and the polymer is uncrosslinked high density polyethylene (HDPE) that has a melt flow index between about 0.1 g/10 min and about 50 g/10 min."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150299416.pdf

Patent application: Refrigerated display case with temperature-controlled shelves and PCMs

Ben Welter - Friday, October 23, 2015

Refrigeration case patent drawingU.S. patent application 20150297000 (applicant Heatcraft Refrigeration Products, Richardson, Texas):

"The present application provides a refrigerated display case. The refrigerated display case may include a refrigeration component, an air plenum in communication with the refrigeration component, a shelf in communication with the air plenum, a phase change material tank positioned about the shelf, and a phase change material positioned within the phase change material tank such that a substantially uniform temperature is maintain across the shelf. ... 

"Suitable phase change materials may be provided by Entropy Solutions, Inc. of Plymouth, Minn. under the “PURE TEMP” mark, RG Energy Efficient Systems, LLC, of Ashville, N.C. under the “savEnrg” mark, Microtek Laboratories, Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, Rubitherm Technologies GmbH of Berlin, Germany, and other sources."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150297000.pdf

Patent application: Temperature maintenance and regulation of vehicle exhaust catalyst systems with PCMs

Ben Welter - Thursday, October 22, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150283504 (Ford Global Technologies, Dearborn, Mich.):

"A vehicle exhaust system is provided and comprises a catalyst positioned in an exhaust passage of a vehicle. The catalyst is in the form of a washcoat supported on a substrate. The system includes a phase change material (52 in drawing below) located adjacent to the catalyst to maintain the temperature of the catalyst between engine shut-down and subsequent start-up as well as to regulate the temperature during engine operation. In some embodiments, the phase change material comprises particles of a metal or metal alloy encapsulated in a ceramic material. The metal or metal alloy is adapted to have a phase change that occurs within a temperature range wherein the catalyst is active."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150283504.pdf

Patent drawing with application 20150283504

Patent application: Combined cycle plant with thermal energy storage and PCM

Ben Welter - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150267566 (applicant Vassilios Vamvas, Bedford, Mass.): 

"A combined cycle power plant for frequent stops and startups comprises at least one gas turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, at least one steam turbine and a thermal energy storage and retrieval system utilizing latent heat of fusion. Phase change materials receive thermal charge from two sources: (a) renewable energy generation plants, when their production exceeds demand and (b) gas turbine exhaust heat. The thermal energy storage and retrieval system, discharges efficiently thermal energy for steam production, which keeps the at least one steam turbine preheated and ready for fast startups, thus increasing the plant's flexibility and efficiency."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150267566.pdf

Patent application: Method for preconditioning latent heat storage elements

Ben Welter - Sunday, October 18, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150292787 (applicant va-Q-tec AG, Wurzburg, Germany):

"A method is for preconditioning at least one latent heat storage element, which is arranged in a thermally insulated, closed container having a space for accommodating goods to be transported. The latent heat storage element has a target temperature preferably slightly in excess of 0 DEG C. In such an arrangement, it is particularly practical for the accommodation space in the container to be filled with a certain amount of a coolant, particularly ice, and for the container to be closed, and therefore the latent heat storage element located in the container is cooled to the target temperature."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150292787.pdf

Patent application: Refrigeration system with phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, October 16, 2015

Drawing from Carrier patent applicationU.S. patent application 20150292775 (applicant Carrier Corp., Farmington, Conn.):

"A refrigerant system includes a vapor/compression refrigerant circulation loop comprising a compressor, a refrigerant side of a heat exchanger condenser, an expansion device, and a refrigerant side of a heat exchanger evaporator, connected by conduit in a closed circulation loop having refrigerant disposed therein. The refrigerant system also includes a flow path for a conditioned fluid across a conditioned fluid side of the heat exchanger evaporator and/or a conditioned fluid side of the heat exchanger condenser. During operation, this flow path can provide thermal communication between the refrigerant and the conditioned fluid. The refrigerant system also includes a phase change material (220 in illustration), a thermal flow path between the fluid and the PCM, which provides thermal communication between the fluid and the PCM, and a thermal flow path between the refrigerant and the PCM, which provides thermal communication between the refrigerant and the PCM.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150292775.pdf

Patent application: Encapsulation of thermal energy storage media

Ben Welter - Friday, October 09, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150284616 (applicant University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.):

Patent PCM capsule drawing"In one embodiment, a phase change material is encapsulated by forming a phase change material pellet, coating the pellet with flexible material, heating the coated pellet to melt the phase change material, wherein the phase change materials expands and air within the pellet diffuses out through the flexible material, and cooling the coated pellet to solidify the phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150284616.pdf

Patent application: Core of a capsule comprising phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, October 09, 2015

Patent application 20150285565 detailU.S. patent application 2015028556 (applicant Flamco BV, Netherlands):

"The present invention relates to a core of a capsule, capsules having the cores comprising phase changing material (PCM) to be processed to be form retaining in particular during subsequent steps of applying a skin to form the capsule, as well as an assembly of a plurality of such capsules, use thereof in a buffer, and a production method for manufacturing such capsules or assemblies, for instance in strings. ...

"The invention is based on the insight that the buffers in heating systems or heat exchange systems, like central heating systems, are usually filled with heat exchange fluids, like water. However, water and other usual heat exchange fluids have a limited heat capacity. According to the inventors of the present invention, it has been reported that phase change materials could be employed to enhance the heat capacity of a buffer, but to date no viable embodiment has been encountered."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150285565.pdf

Patent application: System for reversibly storing electrical energy as thermal energy

Ben Welter - Monday, October 05, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150276326 (assignee Alstom Technology Ltd., Switzerland):

"The system can include a reversible subcritical vapour-liquid cycle energy storage system with a single hot storage fluid tank and cold storage fluid tank that are inter connected by an inter storage tank flow path. The inter storage tank flow path includes an inter storage heat exchanger in the vapour-liquid cycle that enables sensible heat transfer between the working fluid and storage fluid as the storage fluid passes between the hot storage fluid tank and the cold storage fluid tank. This supplements latent heat transfer between the working fluid and the hot storage fluid tank and the cold storage fluid tank."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20150276326.pdf