Phase Change Materials: Basics, Building Materials & Beyond

Phase Change Materials: Basics, Building Materials & Beyond

By Siwei Zhang

The term phase change may appear slightly peculiar and jargonish. However, both the concept and its application are not new. Imagine, for instance, you are pouring a bottle of Johnnie Walker into a fine Glen cairn whiskey glass with an ice ball. A full-fledged phase change is taking place right there and, simultaneously, your golden liquor is being chilled! As the crystal ball becomes slightly smaller, your golden liquor becomes a bit diluted, but you do not mind – thanks to the high latent heat accompanied with solid-liquid phase transition of the water, the whiskey is chilled down quickly enough to allow you enjoy it before its taste changes. This is also the reason why that ice ball always chills your drink faster than those expensive, lavishly-polished stainless steel cubes, whose chilling process does not come with a phase transition.

Phase Change Materials: Past, Present & Future

So, that is where everything begins. Apart from this centuries-old tradition of ice cooling, the first application of Phase Change Materials (PCMs) emerged around the mid-1950s, during which super-saturated sodium acetate solution was used in heating pads. Soon enough, with the gradual development of colloidal system preparations and encapsulation technologies, as well as the invention of organic PCMs such as paraffin-based materials, PCMs have been extensively used as building materials to serve as a heat sink to attenuate the indoor temperature changes during the day-night cycle. Similar applications have also been applied by adding encapsulated PCMs into heat transfer media, such as cooling water or oil used in generator systems, to increase the efficiency of heat transfer by increasing both the specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity. Such examples mark the beginning of PCMs in industrial applications.

Very recently, there is a strong resurgence in the research and development of PCMs for modern applications thanks to the advancement of material science. An extensive number of new applications, such as temporal-spatial control of drug release, optical information storage, as well as ultra-high capacity barcoding techniques, have been developed and are currently either under phase trials or have entered production stage.

Phase Change Materials Webinar

As a technology consulting firm, PreScouter Inc. keeps constant watch on the most cutting-edge and potentially disruptive fields of research. Seeing the great potential in the recent rapid development of PCMs, Dr. Marija Jović, project manager and lead scientist at PreScouter Inc., will be presenting a webinar entitled From AI to Drug Delivery: How Phase Change Materials Are Disrupting Your Industry. The webinar will cover both the general concepts as well as provide specific case studies on the recent application of PCMs.

In my opinion, the webinar provides a unique opportunity for anyone, from start-up innovators to venture capitalists, to dwell deeper into this promising field of PCM applications, a disruptive technology that IBM, Puma, and PepsiCo are already using.

Phase change materials teaser 4

To register for this free webinar, please visit the sign-up page.

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