Scientists Make Temperature-Regulating Coffee Mug

August 25, 2009 by Lisa Zyga, weblog

coffee mug
The PCM absorbs the warmth of the mug's content, stores it and brings it down to the optimal temperature. Then the PCM helps maintain the content's temperature at this optimal level by slowly releasing the stored heat back into the mug's contents. Image credit: Fraunhofer IBP.
( -- A well-insulated mug may keep your coffee somewhat warm, but now scientists have designed a high-tech mug that can keep drinks hot or cold at the perfect temperature for up to half an hour.

Researchers Klaus Sedlbauer and Herbert Sinnesbichler from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics have created the temperature-regulating mug using phase change material (PCM). PCM is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of heat by changing its phase, such as changing from a solid to a liquid.

To design the new mug, the researchers first created a hollow porcelain shell filled with ribbons of highly conductive aluminum. The formed a honeycomb structure, which the researchers filled with solid PCM. When the mug is filled with a hot beverage, the PCM absorbs the heat and melts like wax into a liquid. This process cools the beverage down to the optimal temperature. As the beverage cools over time, the PCM slowly releases the stored heat back into the drink, maintaining the optimal temperature for up to 30 minutes.

As the scientists note, different drinks have different optimal temperatures. Warm drinks such as and are best enjoyed at 58° C (136.4° F), beer tastes best at 7° C (44.6° F), and ice-cold drinks are best at -12° C (10.4° F). Since different types of PCM have different chemical properties and melting temperatures, the scientists can make different mugs for different . The downside for the consumer is that there is not a single mug for hot and cold drinks.

The researchers hope that, if they can find a business partner, the PCM mugs could be on sale by the end of the year. However, despite the fact that PCM is relatively inexpensive, the mugs will still probably cost significantly more than most mugs.

Besides mugs, PCM could have other interesting applications. For instance, researchers are investigating the possibility of using it to keep perishable foods from spoiling, and even putting it on museum walls to protect paintings in the case of a fire, since PCM is non-flammable. PCM already has commercial uses in construction materials, where it is embedded in walls and ceilings to maintain a comfortable room temperature. Some winter jackets also contain PCM for providing greater warmth. In addition, due to their long-term memory capabilities, PCM could be used for storing computer data without the need for an electric current.

via: Spiegel

© 2009

Explore further: Intel, STMicroelectronics Deliver Industry's First Phase Change Memory Prototypes

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not rated yet Aug 25, 2009
I want one! They are cool looking.
2 / 5 (4) Aug 25, 2009
As a PCM can serve oversaturated solution of sodium acetate or sodium thiosulfate, which crystallizes into solid hydrate under release of heat, but their thermal capacity is still rather low.

not rated yet Aug 25, 2009
i heat water directly in the cup in the microwave for tea. I'm kinda thinking this wouldnt be a good idea for one of these?
2 / 5 (8) Aug 25, 2009
Until aluminium stripes are involved in it, definitely not (btw it's "aluminium", not "aluminum").

But I don't see any reason for aluminium here, except it makes construction a bit more stiff (the cup is basically Dewar flask without vacuum).
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 25, 2009
Alexa, the proper name is aluminum.

Humphry Davy first identified the existance of a metal base of alum which he briefly called alumium before settling on aluminum.

Oersted, the first person who isolated pure aluminum also used the -um ending.

Some anonymous british twat decided that it should be called aluminium, with the -ium ending, to harmonize with the majority of elements(though far from all, e.g. platin-um and tantal-um where known at the time).

Aluminum is not an american dumbing down of the british word aluminium; aluminium is a british ponce-ificiation of the proper spelling of the word which aluminum.
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 25, 2009
the proper name is aluminum

I see, I checked this on Wikipedia.
Google search gives 45.900.000 results for Aluminium
65.200.000 for Aluminum.
2 / 5 (4) Aug 25, 2009
Until aluminium stripes are involved in it, definitely not (btw it's "aluminium", not "aluminum").

Wrong. It BOTH. Depending on whether you use American English or British English.

And on top of that the British version is NOT the original version. So the American version is the more correct of the two.



Nomenclature history

The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary for any word used as a name for this element is alumium, which British chemist and inventor Humphry Davy employed in 1808 for the metal he was trying to isolate electrolytically from the mineral alumina. The citation is from his journal Philosophical Transactions: "Had I been so fortunate have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium."[42]

By 1812, Davy had settled on aluminum. He wrote in the journal Chemical Philosophy: "As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state."[43] But the same year, an anonymous contributor to the Quarterly Review, a British political-literary journal, objected to aluminum and proposed the name aluminium, "for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound."[44]

Bloody damned Latinists yet again botching English so it sounds like Latin. Its English and often it is the American version that has the original spelling as opposed to some Latinized version. Leave Latin to the Italians and the French.


Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.

Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.
not rated yet Aug 25, 2009
Pedants of the World Unite
Throw on these Chains of Oppression
No Cross of Simplicity
No Crown of Reason

Freely stolen from William Jennings Bryan famous pro silver speech. Yes the same Bryan that was the sole defense witness in the Scopes Evolution Trial.


Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.

Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.
4 / 5 (4) Aug 25, 2009
The fact is that aluminium is not the name coined by its discovers Humphry and Oerstedt, but by some unknown british twat at a later date.
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 25, 2009
Nope, it's gluonium. Glucium is an old synonym for beryllium, because of sweet taste of its neutral salts. Gluons are sticky, gluey particles.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2009
Actually Humphrey Davy settled on aluminium in 1812 - after briefly using alumium and then aluminum.
Both words were used equally in the US until around 1900, when inexplicably aluminum won out.
Read more here: http://www.worldw...nium.htm
2.5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2009
Put me on the next flight before I, too, succumb to being a self-proclaimed expert on everything trivial like all the "Mr. Pronunciation" suckers.

So how about that PCM and how it could help build more efficient HVAC systems. I like the idea utilized by some libraries that cool water to ice form at night with off-peak energy, later converting it to water to cool the building during the day. Is there room for PCM incorporation into most thermodynamic systems?
Aug 26, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Aug 31, 2009
**Chuckling over whether it's aluminum or aluminium?

My two cents: the US can't even go metric. You think we're going to be bothered by a dropped vowel or common misspelling?


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