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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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PCM briefing: Cold chain veteran joins Phase Change Energy Solutions; Outlast showcases new nylon filament yarn

Ben Welter - Friday, May 10, 2019

Bruce TruesdaleBruce Truesdale has joined Phase Change Energy Solutions of Asheboro, N.C., as director of business development - cold chain. He was formerly senior supply chain consultant at Verta Life Sciences and director of health care at Protek Pharma Worldwide. He declined an interview request, but his new job title suggests that PCES, whose product line now focuses on HVAC, building and thermal energy storage, has an interest in the temperature-controlled packaging market. Earlier this year, PCES announced an investment by Pegasus Capital Advisors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Third Prime, an early-stage venture fund and prior investor. The company said it would use the proceeds to fund the continued development of its thermal storage products and expand its operations globally.

Chalmers University of Technology of Sweden has an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in thermal energy storage for building applications. The research group Building Physics is working "to find out how novel TES with phase change materials (PCM) could complement the existing district heating and cooling networks and co-operate with other peak shaving techniques (water accumulator tanks, ground heat storage pumps, etc.) through smart thermal grids." The application deadline is June 9.

Outlast will showcase its new nylon filament yarn at the Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt, Germany, next week. "The PCMs optimized for this specific application," Outlast says, "are included directly inside the polyamide fibers." Potential applications include next-to-skin products such as undergarments, shapewear, sportswear and hosiery. The company says it now sources the majority of PCMs used in its products from renewable instead of synthetic raw materials.

PCM coolerA PCM coating designed to absorb heat from rockets is among the dozens of NASA spinoffs listed in the latest issue of Spinoff, an annual publication that has been documenting space agency spinoffs since 1976. In the early 2000s, Raj Kaul, a materials scientist at Marshall Space Flight Center, began researching a way to use PCM to keep the outside of spacecraft at a safe temperature. An entrepreneur eventually snapped up the patent for the coating Kaul developed and is working on a number of products based on the technology, including aircraft paint, pipe heat traps and an iceless cooler, shown at right. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced $89 million in funding for "innovative, advanced manufacturing research and development projects." "Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials," one of three areas to receive funding, includes phase change storage materials for heating and cooling applications. The department anticipates making up to 55 awards for up to three years. Concept papers are due on June 20.

Patent application: Enclosure cooling for thermal management of unmanned aerial vehicles

Ben Welter - Friday, January 11, 2019

Qualcomm drone patent drawing

U.S. patent application 20190009878 (applicant Qualcomm Inc., San Diego, Calif.):

"Arrangements described herein relate to apparatuses, systems, and methods for a housing of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the housing includes but is not limited to a metallic porous material having a shape of an enclosure of the UAV, and a phase change material (PCM) provided in at least a portion of the metallic porous material. The metallic porous material and the PCM are configured to passively cool the UAV."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20190009878.pdf

PCM briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Aerospace manufacturer seeks PCM for use in heat exchanger

Ben Welter - Monday, August 20, 2018

An aerospace/defense contractor in Bengaluru, India, is looking for a noncorrosive phase change material with high thermal conductivity and a heat storage capacity of 280 joules per gram. Rangsons Defence Solutions Pvt. Ltd. says the PCM will be used in a heat exchanger the company is developing for an aerospace application.

This document describes the heat exchanger and lists the properties of the required PCM:

Specifications for PCM heat exchanger

Contact Sivaram Subramanian, an associate mechanical engineer at Rangsons Defence Solutions, for additional information on the heat exchanger. His e-mail address is sivarams@rangsons-ds.com.

Patent application: Use of PCMs to delay icing or to cause de-icing in wind-driven generators

Ben Welter - Sunday, August 19, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180230972 (applicant Gamesa Innovation & Technology, S.L., Sarriguren, Spain):

"The invention relates to the use of phase change materials (PCMs) to delay icing or to cause de-icing in different wind-driven power generator elements. The invention also relates to the method for delaying icing or causing de-icing in different wind-driven power generator elements based on the use of phase change materials (PCMs), said method comprising: a) obtaining the PCMs, and b) incorporating the PCMs obtained into different wind-driven power generator elements."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180230972.pdf

Patent application: Method and system for phase change material component cooling

Ben Welter - Monday, August 06, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180216894 (applicant General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.)

"A transient cooling system includes a first phase change material (PCM) element and a second PCM element. The first PCM element includes a first PCM, a first surface, and a second surface, the first surface complementary to a surface to be cooled. The second PCM element includes a second PCM and a third surface in thermal contact with the second surface. The first PCM and the second PCM may have different thermal characteristics."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180216894.pdf

Patent application: Thermal management device using phase change material

Ben Welter - Monday, June 04, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180149437 (applicant Boeing Co., Chicago, Ill.):

"A device manages thermal energy applied to a composite patch on a structure having a heat sink. The device includes an enclosure configured to be placed on the structure overlying the composite patch, and a phase change material within the enclosure for absorbing the thermal energy."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180149437.pdf

Patent application: Passive thermal system comprising heat pipe and PCM for use in space

Ben Welter - Thursday, May 24, 2018

WorldVu Satellites patent drawing
U.S. patent application 20180134416, (applicant WorldVu Satellites Ltd., Arlington, Va.):

"A passive thermal system for use in a satellite and other aerospace applications includes a container having a heat-pipe working fluid disposed in a first chamber and a Phase Change Material (PCM) disposed in a second chamber that substantially surrounds the first chamber. The first chamber contains a wick for transporting the heat-pipe working fluid. The exterior of the first chamber has fins, etc., that extend into the PCM for heat spreading and increased interface area."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180134416.pdf

Patent application: Electronic device with protective shield containing PCM

Ben Welter - Monday, May 07, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180124945 (applicants French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and Airbus Operations SAS, France):

"An electronic device includes an electronic component and a protective shield including a phase change material having a phase change temperature of between 20 degrees C. and 90 degrees C., an antivibration gel having hyperelastic and/or viscoelastic behavior at 20 degrees C., and a separation barrier positioned so as to separate the phase change material and the antivibration gel. The antivibration gel is positioned, at least partly, in contact with the electronic component, and has a thermal conductivity of greater than 1 W/mK at 20 degrees C."

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20180124945.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