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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: System for providing a single serving of a frozen confection

Ben Welter - Saturday, March 02, 2019

Sigma patent drawingU.S. patent application 20190053514 (applicant Sigma Phase Corp., Concord, Mass.):

"A system for providing a single serving of a frozen confection, wherein the system comprises a pod [910, right] comprising at least one ingredient for providing a single serving of a frozen confection; the system cools the pod; the system introduces water into the pod; the system simultaneously stirs the contents of the pod while scraping at least one wall of the pod to prevent a build-up of the frozen confection on the at least one wall of the pod; and the system ejects the frozen confection out of the pod. ... In one preferred form of the invention, at least one container holding a eutectic solution [915] is disposed adjacent to the pod seat of nest. This eutectic solution is used to store “cold” at the nest. More particularly, coolant unit is used to cool the eutectic solution to the point of freezing, and then the eutectic solution absorbs heat from pod 910, whereby to produce the frozen confection."

Patent application: Thermal storage system and temperature controlled container

Ben Welter - Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. patent application 20190003781 (applicants University of Ghent, Belgium; Colruyt Group, Halle, Belgium):

"Passive thermal storage systems and methods comprising at least one thermal storage module for storing thermal energy in a predetermined temperature range, are disclosed. The thermal storage module comprises an FT unit and a Heat Storage (HS) unit at least partially filled with a first Phase Change Material (PCM). The HS unit comprises a container. The thermal storage module may be in the form of a stacked structure comprising the FT unit having a first wall with a first heat exchange surface and the HS unit having a second wall with a second heat exchange surface, the first and second heat exchange surfaces being in thermal contact with each other. The thermal storage system may be used to maintain the temperature of the payload of a temperature controlled container at a predetermined value or within a predetermined range."

Patent application: In-flight service cart

Ben Welter - Thursday, December 06, 2018

DHL in-flight cart patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180346122 (applicants Tower Cold Chain Solutions Ltd. and DHL Supply Chain Ltd., Great Britain):

"An in-flight service cart for use on an aircraft for maintaining a payload such as foodstuffs and the like within a selected temperature range, said in-flight service cart including: a housing (3) having a storage volume; and at least one thermally insulated container (5) removably mounted within the housing, said container having an outer casing, a thermally conductive inner casing, thermal insulation located between the outer casing and the inner casing, said thermal insulation including at least one vacuum insulation panel, a payload volume for storing foodstuffs, an opening providing access to the payload volume, a closure member for closing the opening, at least one thermal energy storage unit located within the inner casing, said thermal energy storage unit(s) including a phase change material that is arranged to change phase at a temperature greater than or equal to -10° C.; wherein the inner casing and closure member  define the payload volume for storing the foodstuffs, and the thermal energy storage unit(s) is positioned in thermal contact with the inner casing, the arrangement being such that the inner casing provides a thermally conductive pathway for conducting heat entering the container to the thermal energy storage unit."

Patent application: Ceramic phase change container

Ben Welter - Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. patent application 20180339833 (applicant Blueleaf Lab Oy, Espoo, Finland):

Blueleaf patent drawing"An article for holding foodstuff. The article comprises a receptacle (4) having a wall with an inner surface for holding the foodstuff and an opposite outer surface. The wall is formed of a first material, such as a ceramic material, having a first thermal conductivity. The articles also has a shell (1; 5) spaced apart from the outer surface of the receptacle such as to define an interstitial chamber (2, 3) between the shell and the outer surface of the receptacle. The shell is at least partially formed of a ceramic material with a second thermal conductivity. Within the interstitial chamber, there is disposed a phase change material which abuts with at least the outer surface of the wall of the receptacle. The first thermal conductivity being greater than the second thermal conductivity, so as to allow for heat transfer through the wall to the phase change material, which will accumulate the heat."

PCM briefing: Traction battery for electric vehicles; Ember mug available in Apple stores

Ben Welter - Friday, October 19, 2018

• The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt, Germany, has developed a traction battery that can use thermal energy as a heat source in electric vehicles. A new type of fiber-reinforced composite sandwich housing protects the battery from temperature fluctuations. The phase change material composite system is designed to precondition the battery at low outside temperatures and reduce heat generation during rapid charging. The system was developed as part of the European Union's Optimized Energy Management and Use project. "We've developed material, structural and process technologies that can guarantee drivers a more reliable and uniform range for their battery-powered vehicles," said Felix Weidmann, project manager at Fraunhofer LBF.

Airec AB of Sweden has joined the EU Horizon 2020 project SWS-Heating. The project's goal is to develop seasonal thermal storage of solar energy. The energy will be stored in phase change materials. Airec will develop heat exchangers for the project. 

A process for extracting a biodegradable polymer from crustaceans is among the winners of this year's Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The awards were formerly known as the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute has collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to manage the awards since their inception in 1995. The EPA dropped out this year, citing long-term certainty about the program’s financial situation.  

Ember temperature-control tumblerEmber Technologies' temperature-control mugs are now available in Apple stores and on The travel version right, uses phase change material to bring hot beverages down to a drinkable temperature. Earlier this year, Nordstrom began selling the mugs online and in Nordstrom popup stores.

Capstone Turbine Corp. and Argonne National Laboratory have received funding from U.S. Department of Energy to refine Argonne’s high-efficiency, fast-charging and fast-discharging thermal energy storage system for use in combined heat and power systems. The system, originally developed for use in concentrated solar power applications, will use phase change material to capture waste heat from industrial manufacturing processes. The goal is to integrate Argonne's technology into a Capstone C200 CHP system.

• New from Persistence Market Research"Global Market Study on Salt Hydrate: Pharmaceutical Industry to Remain Dominant Consumer Through 2026"

• New from QY Research: "Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Size, Status And Forecast 2025"

• New from Maia Research: "Inorganic PCMs Market Analysis, Market Size, Application, Analysis, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies And Forecasts, 2018 -2025"

• At the World Energy Engineering Congress in Charlotte, N.C., this week, Mark Richards of Phase Change Energy Solutions reports that the company demonstrated "a mini PhaseStor tank in action with 1/2 ton chiller and small heater (system hand made by Scott Queen) to charge and discharge the tank and includes on board DAQ system to show tank thermal performance." Richards presented at a panel discussion Friday, "Justifying HVAC Energy Savings in Buildings Using Phase Change Materials - A Debate with a Skeptical Engineer." Also presenting were Guy Frankenfield, energy division manager at DN Tanks Inc. ("Thermal Energy Storage - Uncovering the Value of Ice and Chilled Water TES Systems") and Ice Energy CEO Mike Hopkins ("Thermal Energy Storage in Package Units? Yes, it is Here").

Creators of PCM-equipped warming trivet abandon project

Ben Welter - Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The team behind TheM, a PCM-powered warming trivet touted on Indiegogo a few years back, has finally scrapped the idea.

The team fell far short of its goal of raising $30,000 on the crowdfunding in 2015. Technical challenges, combined with unspecified "medical problems," proved to be too much.

TheM warming trivetIn the team's first Indiegogo update since April 2016, team member Bobby Bedi recently wrote:  

"Have been trying to validate the Thermal Dining Place Mat using PCM as heat sponge. Application concept for the PCM (Phase Change Material)  was to initially store excess heat from the oven hot dish, and then to transfer heat when dish starts cooling to maintain food at a enjoyable temperature of 35 C for 30 minutes+.

"Unfortunately despite trying different Phase Change Materials the concept failed. Heat transfer from very hot dish to PCM was negative. The only other way was to add a heater which would have defeated the original concept. Project was also negatively funded and after investing another $10K from my end need to close this and find another solution to this want of keeping food hot without external heating wires."

Bedi said he would try to issue refunds to any of the project's 48 backers who would like their money back.

Patent application: Temperature-regulating apparatus for liquids

Ben Welter - Monday, July 16, 2018

Pronto patent drawingU.S. patent application 20180195795 (applicant Pronto Concepts Inc., San Francisco, Calif.):

"A temperature-regulating apparatus which can rapidly chill a beverage by exposing it to a large surface area of the device interior which has a cooling gel embedded within its walls. The user pours their liquid into the device and monitors the projected temperature dropping until they reach an optimal temperature. Once optimal temperature is reached, the users will pour the liquid out of the device to end the cooling processes. Thus a superior liquid cooling solution is provided that can rapidly chill a beverage to an optimal temperature. ... The temperature-regulating material may be a cooling gel that consists of one or more of water, phase change material (PCMs), sodium chloride, propylene glycol, or the like."

Research roundup: Heat transfer enhancement of PCMs; CuO/palmitic acid composite; cooking applications; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

From Materials Today: Proceedings:

Investigation of thermal performance by applying a solar chimney with PCM towards the natural ventilation of model house under Climate of Thailand
Study of Solar– PCM Walls for domestic hot water production under the tropical climate of Thailand
Improved Performance of Composite Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage
Experimental investigation on freezing/melting characteristics of two different phase change materials
Review on Heat Transfer Enhancement of Phase Change Materials (PCMs)
Experimental Investigation of Improved Thermal Characteristics of Al2O3/Barium Hydroxide Octa Hydrate as Phase Change Materials (PCMs)
Improved Thermal Energy Storage Behavior of CuO/Palmitic acid Composite as Phase Change Material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

An Experimental Investigation of the Melting Process of a Bio-based Nano-PCM filled Vertical Cylindrical Thermal Energy Storage System

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Experimental investigation of the effects of mass fraction and temperature on the viscosity of microencapsulated PCM slurry

From Journal of the Brazilian Society of Mechanical Sciences and Engineering:

Rapid thermal cycling of three phase change materials (PCMs) for cooking applications

From 3rd Thermal and Fluids Engineering Conference:

Use of Wood/Phase Change Material Composite in the Building Envelope for Building Thermal Control and Energy Savings

Research roundup: Thermoelectric generator system; solar chimney; novel thermal management system for lithium-ion battery pack; more

Ben Welter - Friday, May 18, 2018

From Energy:

Protection and Thermal Management of Thermoelectric Generator System Using Phase Change Materials: An Experimental Investigation
Performance analysis of a novel thermal management system with composite phase change material for a lithium-ion battery pack

From Solar Energy:

Efficient energy storage technologies for photovoltaic systems
The experimental appraisement of the effect of energy storage on the performance of solar chimney using phase change material

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Improving thermal management of electronic apparatus with paraffin (PA)/expanded graphite (EG)/graphene (GN) composite material
Experimental exploration of incorporating form-stable hydrate salt phase change materials into cement mortar for thermal energy storage

From Thermal Science and Engineering Progress:

Role of Metallic Foam in Heat Storage in the Presence of Nanofluid and MicroEncapsulated Phase Change Material

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Numerical investigation of thermal and optical performance of window units filled with nanoparticle enhanced PCM

From Applied Energy:

Cost estimation and sensitivity analysis of a latent thermal energy storage system for supplementary cooling of air cooled condensers
Influence of design on performance of a latent heat storage system at high temperatures

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Preparation and investigation of distinct and shape stable paraffin/SiO2 composite PCM nanospheres

From Energy and Buildings:

Parametric Analysis of Using PCM Walls for Heating Loads Reduction

PCM briefing: BASF to spend $2.2 billion on R&D; Sunamp heat batteries qualify for Scottish loan program

Ben Welter - Monday, May 14, 2018

Chemical & Engineering News reports that the top 50 U.S. chemical producers generated $285.4 billion in chemical revenues in 2017, a 9.4 percent increase over 2016. 

• Under its new CEO, Martin Brüdermüller, BASF is planning to pour $2.2 billion into research and development, making BASF the second-highest investor in innovation in the chemicals sector after DuPont

Grace HsiaWarmilu LLC founder Grace Hsia, right, is on Crain's 20 in Their 20s list honoring Michigan's rising young leaders. Warmilu makes a PCM-equipped infant warming blanket.   

Axiom Exergy of Richmond, Calif., has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding, for a total of $12.5 million raised to date. The round was co-led by GXP Investments and Shell Ventures. Axiom's PCM-based "refrigeration battery" is designed to reduce energy supermarket energy costs. 

Sunamp Ltd. is applauding the Scottish government's decision to include heat batteries to its Home Energy Scotland Loan program. Homeowners and private landlords are now eligible to apply for an interest-free loan of up to 6,000 pounds to install Sunamp's PCM-based heat battery systems.

• Albuquerque-based SAVSU Technologies is launching two new high-performance shipping containers branded as Evo Extreme. The containers are designed for the 2-8C and -80C temperature ranges.

Emirates District Cooling has won a contract to supply a district cooling system to the Expo Dubai 2020 event. The system will have a capacity of 60,000 tons of refrigeration. 

• Georg Rodriguez, managing director at MUTZ Engineering mbH, will present a free lecture, presumably in German, on "phase change materials for temperature management and energy storage in buildings" on Tuesday, May 15, at the KEBAB lecture room in Berlin.