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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: Convection-based temperature-assured packaging system

Ben Welter - Monday, August 24, 2015

Drawing from convection shipper patent applicationU.S. patent application 20150232266 (applicant Sonoco Development Inc., Hartsville, S.C.):

"A packaging system for a temperature sensitive payload is provided. The system comprises insulative panels, including side panels and end panels, forming a product compartment. Cooling layers within the product compartment are located below and above the products. Channel members affixed to the side panels and/or the end panels create spaces and channels for convective air movement. ... Each frozen component may comprise a phase change material and a protective outer container."

Patent application: Refrigeration devices including temperature-controlled container systems

Ben Welter - Monday, August 24, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150233617 (assignee Tokitae LLC, Bellevue, Wash. Among the inventors listed: Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Nathan P. Myhrvold, founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures):

Refrigeration patent drawing

"In some embodiments, a refrigeration device includes: walls substantially forming a liquid-impermeable container configured to hold phase change material internal to a refrigeration device; at least one active refrigeration unit including a set of evaporator coils positioned within an interior of the liquid-impermeable container; walls substantially forming a storage region; and a heat transfer system including a first group of vapor-impermeable structures with a hollow interior connected to form a condenser in thermal contact with the walls substantially forming a liquid-impermeable container, a second group of vapor-impermeable structures with a hollow interior connected to form an evaporator in thermal contact with the walls substantially forming a storage region, and a connector with a hollow interior affixed to both the condenser and the evaporator, the connector forming a liquid and vapor flow path between the hollow interior of the condenser and the hollow interior of the evaporator."

Patent application: Thermal barrier with selectable phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, August 21, 2015

Caution: The abstract for U.S. patent application 20150233115 (assignee Kuwait University) might make your head explode: 

"A thermal barrier panel with selectable phase change materials includes a thermal panel and a plurality of containers movably positioned within the thermal panel to correspond to a heat load at a corresponding ambient temperature. Each of the plurality of containers includes a plurality of receptacles that include a plurality of different phase change materials. Each of the plurality of different phase change materials absorbs thermal energy produced by heat from the heat load at a corresponding ambient temperature."

Patent application: Thermal management systems for energy storage cells

Ben Welter - Friday, August 21, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150236386 (applicant IntraMicron Inc., Auburn, Ala.):

"Thermal management systems for high energy density batteries, particularly arrays of such batteries, and methods of making and using thereof are described herein. The system includes one or more thermal conductive microfibrous media with one or more phase change materials dispersed within the microfibrous media and one or more active cooling structures. Energy storage packs or arrays which contain a plurality of energy storage cells and the thermal management system are also described."

Patent application: Cogeneration power plant and method for operation

Ben Welter - Friday, August 14, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150226500 (assignee Siemens AG, Munich):

"A cogeneration power plant and a method for operating a cogeneration power plant are provided, with a working medium being additionally cooled by a suitable heat pump between an outlet of a thermal heating device and an inlet of a power generator of the cogeneration process. The thermal power obtained in this manner is again available for heating purposes within the heat cycle. ... Advantageously, the thermal storage unit is a thermal storage unit with a phase-change medium. Such a thermal storage unit with a phase-change medium allows relatively large quantities of thermal energy to be stored in a relatively small volume."

Patent application: Heating and/or cooling assembly

Ben Welter - Friday, August 07, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150216721 (Darran Ainsley Thacker, Great Britain):

"The present invention relates to a heating and/or cooling assembly such as a heat pad. The assembly includes a plurality of modules articulated together by connection means so that the assembly can be manipulated by a user to adopt a desired profile. At least one of the modules contains a thermal store in the form of a solid, liquid or gel responsive to heating or cooling externally applied to the assembly so that the solid, liquid or gel is heated or cooled, respectively, and remains in a heated or cooled state for a prolonged period of time after the externally applied heating or cooling is removed."

Patent application: Fabric for an air bag

Ben Welter - Friday, July 31, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150203996 (Autoliv Development AB, Sweden): 

"A fabric for an air-bag comprising interwoven sets of warp and weft yarns, wherein the yarns of one of the least 1.5, and the yarns of the other set of yarns are not tape-like and have a width-depth ratio less than 1.5. ... 

"In further embodiments of the invention, a phase change material may be introduced to absorb heat. It will be understood that a phase change material has a high heat of fusion, and is capable of absorbing large amounts of energy when changing phase, for instance from the solid to the liquid phase."

Patent application: Thermal energy storage systems

Ben Welter - Thursday, July 30, 2015

PCES thermal energy storage patent applicationU.S. patent application 20150204618 (applicant Phase Change Energy Solutions Inc., Asheboro, N.C.):

"In one aspect, thermal energy storage systems are described herein. In some embodiments, a thermal energy storage system comprises a thermal energy storage system comprising a container and a heat exchange apparatus disposed within the container. The heat exchange apparatus comprises a tank, a manifold at least partially disposed within the tank, and a phase change material disposed within the tank and in thermal contact with the manifold."

Patent application: Insulated chamber with phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, July 24, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150204601 (applicant Caron Products and Services Inc., Ohio):

Patent application: Chamber with PCM"An insulated chamber having an interior chamber for storing items therein includes a phase change material to facilitate controlling the temperature of the interior chamber and the items. A heating device or cooling device may be used to melt or freeze the phase change material, which may be in various locations such as the walls of the chamber or packets which may serve as shelves and may be removable from the interior chamber with the items thereon. The packets may have recesses for receiving the items. The phase change material may be within capsules which may be within a liquid or a solid matrix. Controls may be provided to control humidity and carbon dioxide within the interior chamber."

Patent application: Preparation method of polymeric phase change material

Ben Welter - Friday, July 24, 2015

U.S. patent application 20150203733 (applicant Tianjin Polytechnic University, China):

"The invention relates to a preparation method of a polymeric phase-change material, comprising: using 1, 2 or 3 of (meth)acrylate poly(ethylene glycol) n-alkyl ether ester as a raw material, wherein the (meth)acrylate poly(ethylene glycol) Patent application 20150203733n-alkyl ether ester has a structural general formula of CH2═C(CH3)—COO(CH2O)mCnH2+1 or CH2═CH—COO(CH2CH2O)mCnH2+1, m=1 to 100, and n=10 to 50; washing the raw material with a solution of sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate having a mass percentage of 1% to 10% to remove a polymerization inhibitor, and subjecting reduced-pressure distillation, and then to a polymerization reaction by adopting one of the following process; 1. polymerization reaction initiated by irradiation; 2. polymerization reaction initiated by an initiator; 3. polymerization reaction in a solvent; after the polymerization reaction is completed, adding a precipitating agent to precipitate the polymeric phase-change material from the solution, and then washing with deionized water and dried, to obtain a polymeric phase-change material as a powder to block."