Thermodynamic Nonequilibrium Phase Change Behavior and Thermal Properties of Biological Solutions for Cryobiology Applications

Bumsoo Han, John C. Bischof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Understanding the phase change behavior of biomaterials during freezing/thawing including their thermal properties at low temperatures is essential to design and improve cryobiology applications such as cryopreservation and cryosurgery. However, knowledge of phase change behavior and thermal properties of various biomaterials is still incomplete, especially at cryogenic temperatures (≤ -40°C). Moreover, in these applications, chemicals are often added to improve their outcome, which can result in significant variation in the phase change behavior and thermal properties from those of the original biomaterials. These chemical additives include cryoprotective agents (CPAs), antifreeze protein (AFP), or cryosurgical adjuvants like sodium chloride (NaCl). In the present study, phase change behavior and thermal properties of saline solutions-either water-NaCl or phosphate buffered saline (PBS)-with various chemical additives were investigated. The chemical additives studied are glycerol and raffinose as CPAs, an AFP (Type III, molecular weight =6500), and NaCl as a cryosurgical adjuvant. The phase change behavior was investigated using a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) and a cryomicroscope. The specific and latent heat of these solutions were also measured with the DSC. The saline solutions have two distinct phase changes-water/ice and eutectic phase changes. During freezing, eutectic solidification of both water-NaCl and PBS are significantly supercooled below their thermodynamic equilibrium eutectic temperatures. However, their melting temperatures are close to thermodynamic equilibrium during thawing. These eutectic phase changes disappear when even a small amount (0.1 M glycerol) of CPA was added, but they are still observed after the addition of an AFP. The specific heats of these solutions are close to that of ice at very low temperatures (≤ -100°C) regardless of the additives, but they increase between -100°C and -30°C with the addition of CPAs. The amount of latent heat, which is evaluated with sample weight, generally decreases with the addition of the additives, but can be normalized to approximately 300 J/g based on the weight of water which participates in the phase change. This illustrates that thermal properties, especially latent heat, of a biomaterial should be evaluated based on the understanding of its phase change behavior The results of the present study are discussed in the context of the implications for cryobiology applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-203
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004


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