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Advanced Materials Research Vols.

455-456 (2012) pp 374-381


Online available since 2012/Jan/24 at www.scientific.net
(2012) Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland
doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.455-456.374

Numerical Calculation and Simulation on Melting and Solidification Time


Periods of a Phase Change Material
Sun Xiaoqin1,a, Zhang Quan2,b, Liu Yingjun2,b, Yang Hongxing2,b,
Zhang Linfeng3,c, Liao Shuguang3,c
1
College of Civil Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha, China, 410082
2
Department of Building Services Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HongKong,
China
3
Changsha Maxxom Hi-tech Co. Ltd, Changsha, China, 410007
a
hnsunxiaoqin@163.com, bbehxyang@polyu.edu.hk, c
lsg@maxxom.com.cn

Keywords: PCM;energy storage; MATLAB; energy storage moduleCFD simulation;

Abstract. Energy storage technology is becoming more important nowadays due to use of renewable
energy resources. The heat transfer performance of a PCM (phase change material) which is the
carrier of energy is the main factor that affects its utilization. This paper presents the thermal
characteristics of the PCM-20. An energy storage module is designed based on the numerical
calculation results from the MATLAB. Numerical simulation about this module is carried out by CFD
software. The simulation results have been compared with the results of numerical calculation and the
error between them has been analyzed and discussed.

Introduction
In recent year, environmental concerns are increasing. The use of renewable energy resources such as
solar, wind, geothermal energy and industrial waste heat is becoming one of the key researches. As
solar, wind, geothermal and industrial waste energies are instable[1-2], the technology of energy storage
and its utilization appear quite important.
The PCM (phase change material) which is the carrier of energy has many different types. There
are solid-liquid, solid-solid, solid-gas, liquid-gas phase-changing materials according to their
phase-changing forms[3]. Among them, the technology of solid-liquid PCM is relatively mature
which is the main utilization nowadays.
Renewable energy resources have been exploited and utilized since 1970s. To solve the
unmatched problem of energy supply and demand in amount and time for using the renewable
energy resources, PCMs have been used to store energy[4-5]in renewable enegy systems Numerical
calculation is mainly used for solving the heat transfer problems of the PCMs[6-7]. However, the
effect of liquid fluidity is neglected in heat transfer calculations. The calculation method is
presented in the literature[8] considering liquid fluidity. Meanwhile simulation is also the common
method to solve this problem[9].
The PCM technology is also studied in China. Professor Cheng[10] has done many researches
about the contact melting problems of PCMs in horizontal rectangular, round and elliptic tubes. The
thermal conductivity of the PCMs is always the research point[11-12], for solving heat transfer
problems. Liang Yi[13] proposed that a state space method could be used in solving this problem.
Zhongliang Liu[14]presented the influence of latent heat variation with temperature on solid-liquid
phase change process. There are also many other scholars who have done many researches about
the heat transfer with specific boundary conditions and special phase change module[15-16].
However, the researches in China and aboard have always focused on the numerical calculation
or simulation only, but they have not been combined. In this paper the energy conservation equation
was established separately in the solid-phase, liquid-phase area and phase interface with
temperature and phase interface position as variables. The time used for melting/solidification,
position of phase interface and heat transfer were calculated by the MATLAB software. The energy

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Advanced Materials Research Vols. 455-456 375

storage module was established based on the results. A simulation was carried out about this module
by using the CFD software and the results from simulation were compared and analyzed with the
results from numerical calculation.

Numerical Calculation and Module


This paper presents the melting/solidification time, position of phase interface and heat transfer of the
PCM-20 by the MATLAB. The related parameters of the PCM-20 are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. The performance parameters of PCM-20
K Cp
Materi Tm hm
/W/m
kJ/kg /kg/m3
al
/ /kJ
solid liquid solid liquid solid liquid
/kg
PCM-
20 218 0.72 0.50 2.32 2.11 942 895
20

Figure 1. The temperature change while melting/solidification of PCM


As shown in Figure 1, liquid (solid) PCM-20 is in homogeneous temperature Ti (Ti=Tm). When
t0, the boundary temperature suddenly decreases (or increases) and keep a temperature Tw which
is lower (or higher) than the phase-changing temperature Tm. Liquid (or solid) appears
solidification (or melting) and the phase interface begins to move facing the x axis. The density
difference before and after the phase-changing is neglected. The energy conservation equations are
as follows:
solid
Ts 2Ts
= as (xs(t)) (1)
t x 2
liquid
Tl 2Tl
= al (xs(t)) (2)
t x 2
boundary and initial conditions
Ts (x,0)=Tl(x,0)=Ti t0 (3)
Ts (0,t)=Tw x=0,t0 (4)
Tl(x,t)Ti when x (5)
phase interface
Ts(st) = Tl(st) =Tm x=s(t) (6)
Ts Tl ds
ks kl = hm
x x=s x x=s dt (7)
376 Future Material Research and Industry Application

where Ti, Tm, Twinitial, phase-changing and boundary temperature,


ttime, s
athermal diffusivity, m2/s
xcoordinate, m
kthermal conductivity, W/m.
density, kg/m3
sposition of phase interface, m
hmphase-changing enthalpy, kJ/kg
The subscript s means solid and l means liquid.
Neglecting the effects of the liquidity and sensible heat while melting and solidification, the
initial temperature is 20. The boundary temperature of solidification and melting is 10 and
30, separately. The MATLAB is used to solve the equations above with the method in literature
[3] and the results are obtained as:
melting
s (t ) = 0.256 t mm (8)
solidification
s (t ) = 0.285 t mm (9)
The constant coefficients in above equations are associated with thermal conductivity, capacity,
enthalpy, density of the PCM and boundary conditions, which increase with its thermal conductivity
and the difference between the boundary and phase-changing temperatures increases. The thermal
conductivity of the solid is greater than the liquid of the same material, so that cooling charging is
faster than cooling discharging with the same boundary conditions, as shown is Figure 2.
We can also get the heat transfer relationship as following
[ ]
Q = 4 hhm (s (t ) + 4.76 ) 4.76 2 10 6 kJ
2
(10)
where is density and s (t) can be found from Equation (8), but for solidification, is solid
density and s (t) can be found from Equation (9); h is the height of energy storage module.
We can see that the heat transfer rate is almost constant with time shown in Figure 3. At the first
10 minutes, because the thermal conductivity difference between solid and liquid is very small and
the difference between the boundary and phase-changing temperatures is the main factor for
determing the heat transfer in the system, the heat transfer in the solidification and melting
processes have good agreement. The thermal conductivity is becoming the main factor that affects
the heat transfer with time, which is bigger in solidification than that in melting. Basically, the heat
transfer process is stable.

Figure 2. The position of phase interface while melting/solidification


Advanced Materials Research Vols. 455-456 377

Figure 3. The heat transfer in melting/solidification process

A copper pipe with diameter 9.52mm is used as heat source and the heat transfer along the pipe
is ignored so that the heat transfer area for each pipe is a cylinder. We can see that three hours later
the distance between the phase interface and heat source boundary is 26mm in melting process and
29mm in solidification. The heat transferring area of the pipe is a cylinder with diameter of
30.76mm. We use two U-tupe pipes with space of 87mm to guarantee the uniformity of heat
transfer. The energy storage module is an adiabatic cylinder with diameter of 148mm and height of
200mm, as shown in Figures 4 and 5 The total time of heat transfer is three hours, effective volume
is 3.388L and total stored energy is 661kJ.

Figure4. Top view of heat of transfer module

Figure 5. Elevation view of heat of transfer module

Simulation and Discussion


The simulation has been done on this module and the results can be seen in Figures 6-11. The
boundary temperature in melting and solidification is 30 and 10, separately. The parameters of
the PCM can be seen in Ttable 1. The results of the melting process after one, two and three hours are
showed in Ffigures 6, 7 and 8, separately, where . In these figures, 0 in y-coordinate meanssays
liquid, 1 meanssays solid and the intermediate value meanssays liquid-solid mixture. Similarly,
the results of solidification after one, two and three hours are showed in Ffigures 9, 10 and 11,
378 Future Material Research and Industry Application

separately. The Y-coordinate is the same inas Figures 6-8. The phase interfaces in melting and
solidification processes are both a circle which areis gradually moving toward the centre of the heat
source. The thermal conductivity of the solid is greater than that of liquid, so the solidification process
is faster than the melting process, i.e. charing is faster than discharing.

Figure 6. The result of melting one hour later

Figure7. The module after two hours melthing

Figure 8. The module after three hours melting

Figure 9. The result of solidification one hour later


Advanced Materials Research Vols. 455-456 379

Figure 10. The result of solidification two hours later

Figure11. The result of solidification three hours later

Comparisons of the results between the numerical calculation and CFD simulation are shown in
Figure12.

Figure 12. The results comparison between numerical calculation and CFD simulation

As shown in Figure 12, in the first 10 minutes the phase interface changes quickly when the
position of the phase interface is mainly decided by the difference between the boundary and
phase-changing temperatures. The temperature differences in melting and solidification processes
are both 10, so that the phase interfaces in melting and solidification are in good agreements.
With the phase interfaces moving, the thermal conductivity is becoming the main factor. Because
of the greater thermal conductivity of solid, the heat transferring rate in solidification is bigger than
that in melting and solidification is faster than melting. As time goes on, thermal conductivity has
been the main factor that restricted the position of the phase interface and the position difference
between solidification and melting is bigger and bigger. Three hours later, we can see that the heat
transferring rate is very small and it needs a much longer time for phase interface moving outside
further.
380 Future Material Research and Industry Application

The heat transferring is slower in the simulation than calculation because the effects of radiation
and convection are neglected. The error between simulation and calculation is 19% in melting and
18% in solidification. During the same time the heat transfer in solidification is more than that in
melting. Some solid is not melted, which can minimize the supercooling in cold storage.

Conclusion and Prospect


1) The MATLAB is used for the calculation of the PCM-20 thermal processes. The position of
the phase interface is an exponential function of time. At first, the difference between the boundary
and phase-changing temperatures is the main factor that affects the position of the phase interface.
With the heat transferring going on, the thermal conductivity is becoming the key factor;
2) The heat transfer is basically a stable process when the affects of density variation and
sensible heat are not considered;
3) The results of simulation by CFD and numerical calculation have some error which is 19% in
solidification and 18% in melting;
4) The thermal conductivity of solid is bigger than that of liquid, so that during the same time the
energy stored is more than that released. There is some solid not melted which can minimize the
super cooling in cold storage.

Acknowledgements
The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Changsha Technology Plan (K1003315-31)

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Numerical Calculation and Simulation on Melting and Solidification Time Periods of a Phase Change
Material
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