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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: Refrigerator with a phase change material as a thermal store

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 02, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170314839 (applicant Enviro-Cool Commercial Ltd., Tonbridge, Great Britain):

"A refrigerator having a thermal store comprising a phase change material is disclosed. The refrigerator has a cooling chamber for containing an object to be cooled, and a vapor compression refrigeration system including a first evaporator for cooling the cooling chamber and a second evaporator for cooling the phase change material. A valve is provided to control the flow of refrigerant to the first and second evaporators depending on the cooling load on the refrigerator. When the refrigerator is subject to a relatively low cooling load, refrigerant flows to the second evaporator to cool the phase change material and, when the refrigerator is subject to a relatively high cooling load, refrigerant flows to the first evaporator such that increased cooling is provided to the cooling chamber by the first evaporator and the phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170314839.pdf

PCM briefing: Survey finds chemists think field is short on innovation; Lufthansa Cargo partners with va-Q-tec

Ben Welter - Monday, October 30, 2017

• A recent survey by Reaxys found that many chemists don’t think the field is innovative enough. Eighty percent said there is too much emphasis on research with industrial applications, which is stifling innovation. Reaxys is a chemistry research tool developed by Elsevier

Min Zhu, assistant professor of textile development and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will speak about the future of phase change materials at a textiles conference in New York City Nov. 8. 

Lufthansa Cargo has partnered with va-Q-tec AG to offer the temperature-controlled specialist's va-Q-tainer thermal containers across the German carrier’s global network.

• Scientists investigating how scavenging animals are adapting to the monoculture palm oil plantations in Borneo were surprised by what turned up in their traps. "In the jungles and border regions, the team found animals such as civets, otters, mongooses and pigs," Oils & Fats International magazine reports. "But the closer they got to the plantations where the land had been disturbed and human activity was frequent, the fewer species they found until only one stood out – the Southeast Asian water monitor." The big lizards are thriving, thanks to a plentiful supply of food and less competition from mammalian scavengers and predators. 

• Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a thermally conductive and strong textile from fibers of aligned boron nitride nanosheets embedded in a polymer matrix that can cool a person down by up to 2° C.  

Patent application: Method and apparatus for absorbing thermal energy

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170268829 (applicant Rini Technologies Inc., Oviedo, Fla.):

"The subject invention pertains to a method and apparatus for storing thermal energy. The subject thermal energy storage apparatus can function as a heat absorber in a cooling system. A cooling system can incorporate a cooling cycle that utilizes thermal energy storage and has two coolant loops. The primary cooling loop acquires the waste heat from a heat source, such as an electronic device, by heat transfer to the primary coolant via, for example, a sensible heat process (where sensible heat is heat absorbed or transmitted by a substance during a change in temperature which is not accompanied by a change of state) or by evaporating the primary coolant through a latent heat phase change process. The waste heat absorbed by the primary coolant is transferred to the host material of the heat absorber. The subject invention uses a high thermal conductivity host material to house a lower thermal conductivity phase change material, in order to achieve a thermal energy absorber that has a high effective thermal conductivity."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170268829.pdf

Patent application: Economized cycle with thermal energy storage

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170307266 (applicant Carrier Corp., Farmington, Conn.):

"In one aspect, an air conditioning system is provided. The air conditioning system includes a refrigeration circuit having a refrigerant and an economizer circuit, and a subcooling circuit thermally coupled to the refrigeration circuit, the subcooling circuit including a thermal energy storage (TES) unit and a phase change material (PCM) for thermal exchange with the refrigerant."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170307266.pdf

Patent application: Heat retaining dish assembly

Ben Welter - Friday, October 27, 2017

Patent application 20170303710 (applicant Tempra Technology Inc., Bradenton, Fla.):

"A dish assembly for serving food includes a dish housing that defines a surface, upon which the food can be placed, and an inner compartment, a phase-change material within the inner compartment, and an electrically-conductive element inside the inner compartment and thermally coupled to the phase-change material. In a typical implementation, the phase-change material is adapted to melt in response to the electrically-conductive element being heated by an electromagnetic induction heater. The thus heated dish assembly can facilitate getting hot food to a table while it is still hot, and once at the table, keeping that hot food at least warm for quite some time, while it is consumed."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170303710.pdf

Patent application: Support tool for composite parts

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170291404 (applicant Boeing Co., Chicago, Ill.):

"Systems and methods are provided for forming composite parts. One embodiment is an apparatus that includes a forming tool. The forming tool includes a body, which includes an exterior that defines a shape for forming a laminate that will be cured into a composite part. The body also includes elements of phase change material that provide rigidity to the body below a threshold temperature, and that exhibit a phase change above the threshold temperature causing the body to become pliable. Further, the body includes flexible material that encloses the elements of phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170291404.pdf

Patent application: Portable device for cold chain storage

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170290741 (applicant Tokitae LLC, Bellevue, Wash): 

Portable cold chain device patent drawing"Disclosed embodiments include portable devices for cold chain storage and methods of fabricating portable devices for cold chain storage. In an illustrative embodiment, a portable device for cold chain storage includes a container defining therein a storage region. The container includes an inner cylinder, and the storage region is defined coaxially inwardly of the inner cylinder. The inner cylinder includes phase change material disposed therein, and the phase change material is in thermal communication with the storage region. The inner cylinder also includes evaporative coils disposed therein. The evaporative coils are embedded in the phase change material. The container also includes a thermally insulated outer cylinder. An outer wall of the outer cylinder is disposed radially outwardly of an outer wall of the inner cylinder."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170290741.pdf

Patent application: Refrigerated container

Ben Welter - Monday, October 23, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170292759 (applicant XALT Energy, Midland, Mich.):

"A transport vehicle having a refrigerated container and system of refrigeration is provided. ... The reefer, system, and method according to the present invention is also related to a reefer, system, and method having a plurality of energy supply units each having a battery, an electric compressor along with a condenser and evaporator and/or a heat pump, a system of tubes carrying a refrigerant, a refrigerant, sensors and a controller, and potentially having an engine exhaust system generator and or a panel having a phase change material."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170292759.pdf

Patent application: Immersion cooling systems and methods

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170290205 (applicant Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., Charlotte, N.C.)

"An electronics cooling arrangement includes a housing, an electronic device disposed within the housing, and a solid-liquid phase change material disposed within the housing and is in thermal communication with the electronic device to absorb heat generated by the electronic device. A method of cooling an electronic device and a vehicular electronics cooling system are also described."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170290205.pdf

Patent application: Controlled release microcapsules

Ben Welter - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

U.S. patent application 20170281985 (applicant Encapsys LLC, Appleton, Wis.):

"A method of forming 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 concurrent polymerization of monomers, oligomer and/or prepolymers on the inside of the capsule wall and different monomers, oligomers and/or prepolymers on the exterior of the capsule wall as it forms. ... Microcapsules containing phase change materials according to the present invention are prepared using a process with a two-part water phase and a single core phase."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20170281985.pdf