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Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403

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Experimental investigations on using phase change material for

performance improvement of storage-enhanced heat recovery room
Jie Jia, W.L. Lee*
Department of Building Services Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The use of SEHRAC (storage-enhanced heat recovery room air-conditioner) for space cooling and free
Received 11 June 2015 water heating has been conrmed effective but its overall performance will unavoidably be affected by
Received in revised form the associated increase in water temperature in the heat recovery water tank. Measures to enhance the
19 September 2015
heat storage capacity of the water tank will thus be benecial to the overall performance of SEHRAC. But
Accepted 15 October 2015
virtually none has been done to date. For achieving this objective, the use of PCM (phase change ma-
Available online xxx
terial) in the water tank was proposed in this study. A prototype SEHRAC integrated with an expanded
graphite/parafn composite PCM was designed and setup in a test facility for laboratory experiments.
Phase change material
Two identical sets of experiments with and without the use of PCM (wPCM and woPCM scenarios) under
Heat recovery a range of outdoor temperature conditions were conducted. It was found that the wPCM scenario, as
Air-conditioner compared to the woPCM scenario, the overall coefcient of performance was 6.9%e9.8% higher and the
Space cooling heat retention time of the tank water was 21.1% longer. The results conrmed that the performance of
Water heating SEHRAC could be improved by the use of PCM.
Energy performance 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction typical residential area in Hong Kong [3]. A similar study was also
carried out by Shimoda et al. [4] in Japan. Techarungpaisan et al. [5],
Air-conditioners function to remove heat from indoor spaces based on fundamental principles of heat transfer, thermodynamics
and subsequently discharge this heat to the outside. The discharged and uid mechanics, developed a detailed mathematical model for
heat, if recovered for water heating, can reduce energy use and SEHRAC. The model was coded into a simulation program and was
greenhouse gas emissions. Along this line, HRAC (heat recovery used for system optimization. Yokoyama et al. [6] developed
room air-conditioner) was invented in the eighties for providing another mathematical model to relate the energy performance of
simultaneous space cooling and water heating [1]. Its energy saving SEHRAC with the outdoor air and tank water temperatures. Apart
potential and payback period were found attractive [2]. However, from mathematical models, recent research focuses on incorpo-
due to the possible heat supply and demand mismatch, recent rating SEHRAC with other control devices to enable its efcient
research advocates the use of a water tank as an energy reservoir operation [7,8].
for heat recovery, leading to the evolvement of SEHRAC (storage- On experimental investigations, Ying et al. [9] examined the
enhanced heat recovery room air-conditioner). When employed in overall performance of SEHRAC and found that it was more efcient
residential buildings, SEHRAC is often used to recover and store the than electric water heating with an energy efciency ratio of 1.2.
nighttime discharged heat for satisfying the daily water heating Jiang et al. [10] found that SEHRAC could operate satisfactorily and
demand of a household. the associated savings in water heating energy use were evident.
Many simulation and experimental investigations have been Similar conclusions were also drawn by Monerasinghe et al. [11].
done on SEHRAC. On simulation investigations, a study by the au- The energy performance, as compared to conventional air-
thors conrmed the effective use of SEHRAC for households in a conditioners, was examined by the authors [12]. It was reported
that, for a typical household in Hong Kong, the use of SEHRAC could
reduce the annual water heating energy use by 49%. In another
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 852 27665852. study by the authors [13], the use of capillary tube and TEV
E-mail address: (W.L. Lee).
0360-5442/ 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403 1395

Nomenclature 4 relative humidity

cp specic heat capacity (kJ/kg K) Subscript

C regression coefcient a air
COP coefcient of performance b atmosphere
h specic mass enthalpy (kJ/kg) cd compressor discharge
H heat storage capacity of the water tank (MJ) cl space cooling
m mass ow rate (kg/s) cs compressor suction
M mass (kg) ei evaporator inlet
P pressure (Pa or MPa) er evaporator return
Q space cooling/water heating capacity (kW) es evaporator supply

t temperature ( C) hi heat exchanger inlet
T absolute temperature (K) ho heat exchanger outlet
w moisture content (kg/kg dry air) oa overall
W power consumption (kW) p PCM
x refrigerant vapor content (kg/kg) pa parafn
r refrigerant
Greek symbol sl saturated liquid refrigerant
a time spent for the entire experiment sw saturated water vapor
l latent heat of fusion (kJ/kg) w water
s latent heat of vaporization (kJ/kg) wh water heating
t operating time

(thermostatic expansion valve) as expansion devices in SEHRAC of metallic particles, using parafn containers augmented with ns,
were side-by-side compared. It was identied that TEV was a more microencapsulation of parafn, and impregnating parafn into a
suitable option for its better refrigerant ow control during the heat high thermal conductivity material with porous structure.
recovery process. Despite the potential benets, there is virtually no study to date
The above studies have conrmed the effective use of SEHRAC that integrates the use of SEHRAC and PCM. To conrm and quantify
for space cooling and free water heating, but it has been the performance improvement for their integration, a prototype
acknowledged that the associated increase in tank water temper- SEHRAC was designed and setup in a test facility for laboratory
ature will unavoidably affect the cooling and heating performances experiments. Two identical sets of experiments with and without
of SEHRAC [11e13]. Therefore, measures to enhance the heat stor- the use of PCM (abbreviated as wPCM and woPCM scenarios) under
age capacity of the water tank will be benecial to the overall a range of outdoor temperature conditions were conducted. In the
performance of SEHRAC. experiments, the operating parameters on the refrigerant, air and
For achieving this objective, the use of PCM (phase change water sides of the system were closely monitored. Based on the
material) in the water tank is proposed in this study. PCM is capable experimental results, the heat storage capacity of the water tank,
of storing and releasing large amounts of energy when charging the refrigerant side operation characteristics as well as the space
and discharging. During charging, the material changes from solid cooling, water heating and overall energy performances were
to liquid and vice versa for discharging. As reported, PCMs can examined and compared for the two scenarios.
typically store 5e14 times more energy per unit volume than water Given the small equipment capacity due to residential use and
[14]. The phase change characteristics also allow heat storage or the highly volatile refrigerant properties, monitoring of the refrig-
release at an almost constant temperature. PCMs thus have been erant side performance is difcult. Thus the results presented in
widely investigated for applications in various heat recovery sys- this study and the experimental protocol established will be useful
tems [15,16] and systems adopting natural cooling sources [17]. for further development of SEHRAC.
For SEHRAC, the benet of using PCM with a high energy storage
density is twofold. First, its overall performance can be improved 2. Experimental study
with the heat storage capacity of the water tank enhanced by PCM
charging. And when it is not operating, PCM discharging can 2.1. Test facility
partially offset the heat loss from the water tank to better maintain
the hot water at desired temperature. The experiments were carried out in a test facility located at the
The temperature of hot water for direct residential use often Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It comprised two environmental
ranges between 35  C and 50  C [18]. There are a number of PCMs chambers resembling indoor and outdoor conditions. Each cham-
with phase change temperatures within this range; namely salt ber measured 3.9 m in length, 3.8 m in width and 2.2 m in height,
hydrates, fatty acids and parafn waxes [19]. Among them, parafn which was constructed in conformity with ASHRAE Standard 16
waxes are considered the most suitable option for domestic hot [22] for rating of room air-conditioners. Given the same test facility
water applications owing to their non-toxicity, wide availability, was used in earlier studies by the authors on performance evalu-
low cost and non-corrosive property [20]. But as parafn waxes are ation of SEHRAC [12,13], to avoid duplication, only brief de-
of extremely low thermal conductivity, recent studies are investi- scriptions are given below.
gating the use of different heat transfer enhancement techniques to The two chambers were completely insulated and separated.
shorten the charging and discharging processes [21]. The tech- The outdoor chamber was conditioned by a BIACS (built-in air-
niques include insertion of a metal matrix into parafn, dispersion conditioning system) and was provided with a set of sensible and
1396 J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403

Table 1 EG is highly porous and has a good compatibility with organic

Specications of the test facility. materials. In an EG/parafn composite PCM, EG serves as a solid
BIACS matrix to enable the impregnation of parafn into its pores by
Cooling output 9.9 kW capillary and surface tension forces [24]. A conductive network is
Supply air ow rate 1700 m3/h then formed by EG to enhance the overall thermal conductivity. For
Supply air pressure head 1100 Pa
achieving a balance between thermal conductivity and energy
Maximum sensible load generation rate 12 kW storage density, too high or too low an EG content is not desirable.
Maximum latent load generation rate 4.8 kW Previous literatures recommended 7%e15% by volume and 10% was
most commonly adopted [23,25,26]. Therefore, the composite PCM
(hereinafter referred to as the PCM) with an EG content of 10% by
LGUs (latent load generation units). The indoor chamber was pro- volume was used in this study. Its thermal conductivity measured
vided with another set of LGUs. The specications of the BIACS and by using transient hot-wire method was 1.2 W/m K, while the total
the LGUs are summarized in Table 1. A computer supervisory pro- mass that could be encapsulated in the PCM container was about
gram was adopted to regulate the outputs of the LGUs to maintain 12.6 kg.
the pre-set temperatures and humidities in the two chambers.
2.3. Experimental measurements

2.2. Prototype design The measuring instruments used in this study and their corre-
sponding accuracies are summarized in Table 4. The refrigerant
To accomplish the objectives of this study, a prototype SEHRAC temperatures were measured by calibrated thermocouples (K
was designed and setup for laboratory experiments. A schematic type). The refrigerant high and low side pressures were measured
representation and a photograph of the prototype are shown in by pressure transmitters of appropriate ranges for minimizing the
Fig. 1(a) and (b), respectively. It mainly comprised a split-type air- measurement error [27]. The refrigerant ow rate was measured by
cooled air-conditioner and a heat recovery water tank. Inside the a variable area ow meter installed between the air-cooled
water tank, there were a refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger and a condenser and the TEV. The pressure drop across the ow meter
PCM container. Table 2 summarizes the specications of these key was measured (2.1 kPa). It was much lower than the ASHRAE's
components. The operating cycle of the prototype is shown in Fig. 2. recommended limit of 82.7 kPa to conrm fullling the accuracy
The split-type air-cooled air-conditioner had a nominal cooling requirement [28]. The evaporator return and supply air conditions
capacity of 2.5 kW. The indoor unit was basically a direct expansion were measured by hygrometers. The supply air ow rate was
evaporator with copper tubes and aluminum ns. The outdoor unit measured by thermal anemometers. The hygrometers and the
consisted of an air-cooled condenser and a rotary type compressor. thermal anemometers were positioned according to the distribu-
There was no capacity control provided for the compressor. A TEV tion method recommended by British Standard 5141 [29]. The
(Danfoss TX2) was used to replace the factory-provided capillary water temperatures at various radial and axial positions in the
tube for better refrigerant ow control, as recommended in an water tank were measured by Pt100 RTDs. They were also used for
earlier study [13]. The sensing bulb of the TEV was mounted on the measuring the PCM temperatures along two longitudinal axes of
horizontal suction line near the evaporator outlet. Non-hydroscopic the container. Along each axis, temperature measurements were
insulation material was used to insulate the connecting pipings. taken at four equally spaced positions (T1-T4 and T5-T8 in Fig. 3).
The amount of refrigerant charged into the system was determined The power consumption of the prototype was measured by a power
according to the actual piping length and the manufacturer's quality tester.
recommendations. Based on the measurements, the space cooling and water
The heat recovery water tank was cylindrical in shape and heating capacities as well as the overall coefcient of performance
contained 130 L of water (same as earlier studies [12,13]). It was of the prototype (detailed in Sections 3.3 and 3.4) could be ob-
insulated with rock wool wrapped with a layer of aluminum foil tained. The associated uncertainties were estimated by using Kline
with a total thickness of 50 mm. and McClintock's method [30,31]. The procedures were described
The refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger was a helical coil made in detail in an earlier study by the authors [13], indicating that the
of copper. It was installed between the compressor and the air- uncertainties were well within the ISO's recommendation of 10%
cooled condenser and was immersed vertically in the water tank [32].
with top inlet to cater for the density change of vaporeliquid All the instruments used were connected to two data loggers
refrigerant. (Agilent 34970A), which allowed all measured data to be real-time
A PCM container of cylindrical shape was placed inside the he- monitored, recorded and processed. In this experimental study, the
lical heat exchanger and was located centrally in the water tank measurements were taken at a short time interval of 5-s to better
(Fig. 1(b)). It was made of aluminum with longitudinal ns added to capture the dynamic variations in operating parameters of the
the external surface to enlarge the total heat transfer area for prototype.
minimizing the thermal resistance between the container and the
water. A cross-sectional view of the PCM container (with detailed 2.4. Experimental procedures
dimensions) is shown in Fig. 3. The dimensions were determined by
reference to a study by Castell et al. [23], which was also on do- The experiments carried out in this study were classied as heat
mestic hot water heating but was solar-powered. charging and discharging tests. Heat charging referred to water
Parafn wax RT44HC supplied by Rubitherm Technologies heating in the water tank, while heat discharging referred to heat
GmbH was chosen as the latent heat storage material in this study. loss from the water tank to the atmosphere. For each test, two
Given the poor heat conduction performance of the parafn, EG identical sets of experiments with and without the use of PCM
(expanded graphite) with a high thermal conductivity was mixed (wPCM and woPCM scenarios) were conducted.
into it in a typical compounding process to form an EG/parafn A preliminary comparison was made on the dynamic operating
composite PCM. The properties of the parafn and the EG used are parameters of the prototype monitored in this and an earlier
summarized in Table 3. studies [13]. It was revealed that they were comparable under
J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403 1397

Fig. 1. Schematic and photograph of the prototype SEHRAC. (T: Thermocouple; P: Pressure transmitter; H: Hygrometer; HX: Refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger; PCM: PCM
container; SG: Sight glass).
1398 J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403

Table 2 adjusted to exactly offset the instantaneous cooling output of the

Specications of the prototype SEHRAC. prototype. For the wPCM scenario, the experiment was stopped on
Split-type air-cooled air-conditioner complete melting of the parafn in the PCM. The complete melting
Model Mitsubishi SRK09CMP was conrmed by checking if the PCM temperatures measured at
Nominal cooling capacity 2.5 kW positions T1 to T4 (Fig. 3) had exceeded the melting temperature
Nominal power consumption 0.925 kW
Compressor Hermetic and rotary type
range and reached a thermal equilibrium with the surrounding
Evaporator and condenser Copper tubes and aluminum ns water. The four measurement positions were chosen because they
Expansion device TEV (Danfoss TX2 with an orice number of 01) were furthest from the heat transfer boundary. The time spent for
Working uid R22 the entire experiment was recorded. An identical experiment, with
Refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger
the same time spent, was then carried out for the woPCM scenario
Material Copper
Tube diameter 10 mm to enable their direct comparisons. The above-described experi-
Total length 15.6 m ments, both for the wPCM and woPCM scenarios, were repeated for
Heat recovery water tank the three outdoor temperature conditions.
Material High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
Dimensions 400 mm (ID)  1300 mm (Height)
Insulation layer Rock wool and aluminum foil 2.4.2. Heat discharging experiments
PCM container The tank water and the PCM (in the case of the wPCM scenario)
Material Aluminum
were heated to an initial temperature of 50  C (maximum hot water
Dimensions 140 mm (ID)  1100 mm (Height)
Fin size 3 mm (Width)  60 mm (Length)  temperature for direct residential use [18]). The water was then left
1100 mm (Height) to cool down naturally to the minimum use temperature of 35  C
A TEV was used to replace the factory-provided capillary tube.
[18], during which the prototype was left idle and the outdoor
chamber (where the water tank was located) was maintained at
23  C. The temperature was chosen because it is Hong Kong's
similar experimental conditions to conrm the repeatability of the annual average outdoor temperature in the typical meteorological
experimental results and the reliability of the experimental pro- year [33]. The time elapsed for the entire experiment was recorded.
cedures detailed below. The procedures were repeated for the woPCM scenario to enable
their direct comparisons.

2.4.1. Heat charging experiments

3. Results and discussion
The indoor temperature was maintained at 22  C, while the
outdoor temperature was varied from 25  C to 35  C with an in-
This section discusses the performance of the prototype oper-
terval of 5  C to become three different experimental conditions
ated in the wPCM scenario as compared to that in the woPCM
(same as earlier studies [12,13]). The desired conditions in the
scenario. For heat charging, the performance is evaluated based on
chambers were achieved by the use of PID (proportional-integral-
the heat storage capacity of the water tank, the refrigerant side
derivative) controllers to provide real-time adjustments of the
performance, the space cooling and water heating capacities as well
LGUs outputs and were maintained unchanged throughout each
as the overall energy performance. For heat discharging, the per-
formance is evaluated based on the heat retention time of the tank
The outdoor chamber was rst conditioned to the pre-set con-
water. Due to the large amount of experimental data collected,
dition. The tank water and the PCM (in the case of the wPCM sce-
performance evaluations for heat charging are presented for an
nario) were heated to an initial temperature of 26  C, which is Hong
outdoor temperature of 30  C. The results obtained for other
Kong's annual average tap water temperature [18]. Upon achieving
the desired conditions, the prototype, the LGUs in the indoor
chamber and all the measuring instruments were powered on to
maintain the indoor chamber at 22  C and 55% RH (relative hu-
midity). Under this condition, the indoor cooling load was actively

Fig. 3. Cross-sectional view of the PCM container. (T1eT4 and T5eT8: Temperature
Fig. 2. Operating cycle on pressure-enthalpy diagram. measurements numbered from top to bottom of the container).
J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403 1399

Table 3
Properties of the parafn and the EG.

Melting temperature rangea 39.1  Ce42.5  C
Solidication temperature rangea 43.6  Ce42.3  C
Latent heat of fusiona 256.9 kJ/kg
Specic heat capacity 2 kJ/kg K (solid and liquid)
Thermal conductivity 0.2 W/m K (solid and liquid)
Average particle size 180 mm
Bulk density 10 kg/m3
Carbon content 95%
Moisture content 5%
Thermal conductivity 23 W/m K
Determined from differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) analysis.

experimental conditions will also be analyzed and given where


Fig. 4. Water and PCM temperatures during heat charging.

3.1. Heat storage capacity of the water tank

During heat charging, whether the use of PCM can enhance the is in the form of sensible heat, which raises its temperature linearly
heat storage capacity of the water tank and can eventually lower from 26  C to 39.1  C. But the temperature increase, as compared to
the tank water temperature are important to the performance that in the water, is at a relatively low rate. Upon reaching the
improvement of the prototype. temperature of 39.1  C, the parafn in the PCM starts to change
Fig. 4 compares the time varying average tank water tempera- phase and turn from solid to liquid, whereby the PCM temperature
tures (tw) for the wPCM and woPCM scenarios. In the gure, tw is remains nearly constant. As the temperature increases to exceed
taken as the arithmetic mean of the water temperatures measured 42.5  C, the parafn in the pores of EG is melted. Energy is then
at 12 different positions in the water tank. It can be seen that upon absorbed in the form of sensible heat. As the heat transfer in liquid
the prototype is switched on, owing to the condensation of the hot parafn can be enhanced by convection [34], the PCM temperature
vapor refrigerant from the compressor discharge, tw for both sce- therefore jumps immediately to reach a thermal equilibrium with
narios increase gradually to exceed 50  C. But the rate of the tem- the water.
perature increase drops with operating time to indicate a reduced Besides phase change, the PCM also exhibits a vertical temper-
amount of heat rejection in the water tank. It is further noted that ature difference. A review of the proles for tp1 to tp4 shows that the
tw for the wPCM scenario is constantly lower during heat charging, PCM in the upper part of the container spends much less time to
with a maximum temperature difference of 2  C. This is attributed reach a common temperature with the water. This can be explained
to the use of PCM in the water tank. As a result, part of the energy by the top inlet design of the heat exchanger as described previ-
stored in the water is absorbed by the PCM to lower the rate of ously. With this conguration, the hot vapor refrigerant discharged
increase in tw. from the compressor ows from top to bottom of the water tank,
To demonstrate a proper heat charging, Fig. 4 shows also the resulting in higher water temperature in the upper part and thus
time varying PCM temperatures for the wPCM scenario measured higher heat transfer potential between the water and the PCM.
at the four positions along the centered axis of the PCM container As for the heat storage capacity of the water tank (H), it can be
(tp1 to tp4 for T1 to T4 in Fig. 3). By analyzing the parafn with DSC estimated by using Eq. (1) for the woPCM scenario. While for the
(differential scanning calorimetry) technique, its melting temper- wPCM scenario, H can be quantied by using Eq. (2) when the
ature range (39.1  Ce42.5  C) can be identied and is shown as two sensible heat stored in the EG is ignored.
horizontal lines in Fig. 4.
Based on the identied melting temperature range, the changes
in the PCM temperatures can be explained. It can be seen that the H cp;w Mw Dtw (1)
proles for tp1 to tp4 are divided into three phases. They are solid
sensible heating, phase change and liquid sensible heating phases.
In the solid sensible heating phase, the energy absorbed by the PCM H cp;w Mw Dtw cp;pa Mpa Dtpa lMpa (2)

where cp,w and cp,pa are the specic heat capacities of water and
Table 4 parafn (kJ/kg K), respectively; Mw and Mpa are the total masses of
Summary of the measuring instruments. water and parafn (kg), respectively; Dtw and Dtpa are the tem-
Instrument Model Measurement range Accuracy perature increments of water (31.9  C for woPCM; 29.9  C for

Hygrometer ROTRONIC HygroFlex 40  Ce85  C 0.1  C

wPCM) and parafn (29.9  C) for the entire experiment ( C),
0e100% RH 1% RH respectively; l is the latent heat of fusion of parafn (kJ/kg).
Thermal anemometer E E 70-VT62B5 0e5 m/s 2% F.S. In Eq. (2), the three product terms on the right-hand side
Pt100 RTD Omega 1/10 DIN 100  Ce400  C 0.05  C represent, respectively, the sensible heat stored in the water, the
Thermocouple Omega TT-K-24 0  Ce1250  C 0.1  C
sensible heat stored in the PCM and the latent heat stored in the
Pressure transmitter Danfoss AKS 32 and 33 0.1 MPae1.2 MPa 0.3% F.S.
0.1 MPae3.4 MPa PCM. According to Eq. (2), H for the wPCM scenario is estimated to
Variable area KROHNE H250/RR/M9 0 to 3.2 L/min 1.6% F.S. be 20.1 MJ, which is 15.7% higher than that for the woPCM scenario
ow meter (17.4 MJ). It can therefore be seen that, despite the lower tw, the
Power quality ISO-TECH IPM-3005 0.01 kWe9.999 kW 20 W wPCM scenario still has a higher H due to the higher energy storage
density of the PCM.
1400 J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403

Fig. 5. Comparisons of compressor suction and discharge pressures.

Fig. 6. Refrigerant ow rate comparisons.

Based on the above, it is evident that the PCM can function as an

internal heat sink to lower the rate of water temperature increase lower xei,r [37]. xei,r can be estimated by using the following
during heat charging and to enhance the heat storage capacity of equation:
the water tank.
hei;r  hsl
xei;r (3)
3.2. Refrigerant side performance s

The refrigerant side performance of the prototype can be where hei,r is the enthalpy of refrigerant at the evaporator inlet (kJ/
revealed from the compressor suction and discharge pressures, the kg); hsl is the enthalpy of saturated liquid refrigerant (kJ/kg); s is the
refrigerant ow rate and the refrigerant vapor content at the latent heat of vaporization of refrigerant (kJ/kg).
evaporator inlet. The enthalpies in Eq. (3) can be evaluated by using a set of
To illustrate the refrigerant pressure uctuations during heat curve-tted equations [38]. By assuming an isenthalpic expansion
charging, Fig. 5 compares the time varying compressor suction process, hei,r is equal to the refrigerant enthalpy before the TEV,
(Pcs,r) and discharge (Pcd,r) pressures for the two scenarios. It can be which can subsequently be determined based on the correspond-
seen that Pcd,r for both scenarios display a continuous increase with ing pressure and temperature.
operating time. This is because as tw increases, the heat rejection Fig. 7 compares the time varying xei,r for the two scenarios,
performance of the prototype drops to increase the condensing illustrating that they both increase with operating time. This is
pressure and thus Pcd,r. Between the two scenarios, the wPCM because as tw increases, the amount of heat rejection of the pro-
scenario has a slightly lower Pcd,r due to the lower tw as revealed in totype drops. Therefore, more ash gas has to be generated to cool
Fig. 4. While for Pcs,r, as explained in an earlier study [35], it is less down the remaining liquid refrigerant to the required evaporating
inuenced by the heat recovery process and thus a very small temperature. Between the two scenarios, it can be seen that xei,r for
change is observed for both scenarios. the wPCM scenario is constantly lower, especially after the early
Fig. 6 compares the time varying refrigerant ow rates (mr) for stage. This can be explained by the lower tw (Fig. 4) and thus a
the two scenarios, illustrating that mr for both scenarios are fairly better heat rejection performance of the prototype for the wPCM
stable despite the pressure uctuations. This is due to the active scenario.
control characteristics provided by the TEV. The refrigerant ow in In the above, the refrigerant pressure uctuations, ow rates
a TEV system depends on the pressure difference across the TEV as and vapor contents for the two scenarios are explained and
well as its opening extent [36]. At a particular opening position, the compared to conrm a better refrigerant side performance for the
rise in Pcd,r tends to increase mr, but that subsequently lowers the wPCM scenario.
degree of superheat at the evaporator outlet. To restore the pre-set
degree of superheat, the TEV will reduce its opening extent to
throttle the refrigerant ow. Therefore, mr does not vary much 3.3. Space cooling and water heating capacities
during heat charging. For the same reason, it is noted that mr for the
two scenarios are almost identical despite the difference in Pcd,r The differences in refrigerant side operation characteristics
(Fig. 5). explained above will result in different space cooling and water
The amount of vapor refrigerant at the evaporator inlet is a key heating capacities between the two scenarios as discussed below.
indicator of system performance because the presence of vapor can In this study, the space cooling capacity (Qcl) of the prototype is
reduce the amount of liquid refrigerant available for effective determined based on the enthalpy drop of air across the evaporator
cooling [36]. The vapor is called ash gas and is formed in the (Eq. (4)), while the air enthalpy (ha) is quantied by using Eqs.
expansion process due to a drop in saturated temperature with (5)e(7).
reduced refrigerant pressure. The amount of ash gas at the
evaporator inlet is often represented by its fraction in two-phase  
Qcl ma her;a  hes;a (4)
ow (vapor content, xei,r). xei,r is affected by the heat rejection
performance. A better heat rejection performance will result in a
J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403 1401

Fig. 7. Refrigerant vapor content comparisons.

Fig. 8. Space cooling capacity comparisons.

ha 1:006ta w2501 1:86ta (5) increase and tends to be stable, Qcl drops correspondingly and ap-
proaches a steady state.
4Psw Fig. 9 compares the time varying Qwh for the two scenarios at 20-
w 0:622 (6) min intervals. It is reasonable to see that Qwh for the wPCM scenario
Pb  4Psw
is constantly larger. The average difference is 16.1%. This is attrib-
uted to the use of PCM, as identied previously, to lower the rate of
ln Psw C1 =Ta C2 C3 Ta C4 Ta2 C5 Ta3 C6 ln Ta (7) increase in tw during heat charging, which can enhance the heat
transfer performance of the heat exchanger.
where ma is the evaporator supply air ow rate (kg/s); her,a and hes,a Regarding the heating capacity proles, it is noted that Qwh
are the evaporator return and supply air enthalpies (kJ/kg), drops signicantly with operating time for both scenarios. This can

respectively; ta is the air dry-bulb temperature ( C); w is the be explained by the increase in tw to decrease the temperature
moisture content (kg/kg dry air); 4 is the relative humidity; Psw is difference between the refrigerant and the water. The heat transfer
the saturation vapor pressure over liquid water (Pa); Pb is the at- performance of the heat exchanger is thus adversely affected [39],
mosphere pressure (Pa); C1 to C6 are the regression coefcients leading to reduced amount of vapor refrigerant condensed in the
indicated in Table 5 [37]; Ta is the absolute air temperature (K). heat exchanger. For the same reason, it can be seen that Qwh for
Similarly, the water heating capacity (Qwh) of the prototype is both scenarios are rather stable in the late stage due to the corre-
deduced from the enthalpy drop of refrigerant in the heat sponding slower increase in tw (Fig. 4).
exchanger: It is evident from the above that both the space cooling and
water heating capacities of the prototype can benet from the
Qwh mr hhi;r  hho;r (8) enhanced heat storage capacity of the water tank.

where hhi,r and hho,r are the refrigerant enthalpies at the heat
exchanger inlet and outlet (kJ/kg), respectively.
Fig. 8 compares the time varying Qcl for the two scenarios at 20-
min intervals. It can be seen that owing to the slightly lower tw
(Fig. 4) and xei,r (Fig. 7) for the wPCM scenario, the associated Qcl is
larger than that for the woPCM scenario by 5.4% on average.
Regarding the cooling capacity proles, it is noted that despite
the rather stable mr for both scenarios (Fig. 6), Qcl drops substan-
tially in the early stage and becomes stable afterwards. The drop is
attributed to the increase in xei,r (Fig. 7), resulting in less amount of
liquid refrigerant available for vaporization. While xei,r continues to

Table 5
Summary of the regression coefcients in Eq. (7).

Coefcient Constant

C1 5.800E03
C2 1.391E00
C3 4.864E-02
C4 4.176E-05
C5 1.445E-08
C6 6.546E00
Fig. 9. Water heating capacity comparisons.
1402 J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403

Fig. 11. Energy performance comparisons for different outdoor temperature

Fig. 10. Overall energy performance comparisons.

3.4. Overall energy performance revealed from the heat discharging test described previously in
Section 2.4.2.
In this study, the overall energy performance is quantied by the Fig. 12 shows the time varying average water (tw) and PCM (tp)
use of overall coefcient of performance (COPoa), which takes into temperatures for the two scenarios. In the gure, tp is taken as the
account the space cooling and water heating capacities as well as arithmetic mean of the temperatures measured at positions T1 to
the power consumption of the prototype. COPoa is mathematically T8 in the PCM container (Fig. 3). It can be seen that the proles for
presented as: tw are similar in the early stage. But they start to deviate from each
other when tp drops below 43.6  C. This is because the PCM has
Qcl Qwh reached the solidication temperature range (43.6  Ce42.3  C)
COPoa (9) when the parafn in it starts to turn from liquid to solid. The latent
heat released therefore heats up the water to result in a lower rate
where W is the power consumption of the prototype (kW). of drop in tw.
Fig. 10 compares the time varying COPoa for the two scenarios. It In the experiments, it was found that the time elapsed for the
is noted that COPoa drops gradually with operating time. According water to cool down from 50  C to 35  C is 68.4 h for the wPCM
to the previous discussions, this is attributed to the corresponding scenario, and is 56.5 h for the woPCM scenario. The results indicate
decrease in Qcl and Qwh. Moreover, it is unveiled from Fig. 10 that that the use of PCM as an internal heat source to partially offset the
COPoa for the wPCM scenario is on average 8.9% higher than that for water tank heat loss can extend the heat retention time by 21.1%.
the woPCM scenario.
To review if the above ndings are also valid for other experi-
mental conditions, the time-weighted averages (Y) of Qcl, Qwh, W 4. Conclusions
and COPoa for both scenarios are determined for different outdoor
temperature conditions by using the following equation: Whether the use of PCM in the heat recovery water tank of
Z SEHRAC could improve the system performance was investigated in
Y (10)

where X is the parameter being averaged; t is the operating time; a

is the time spent for the entire experiment.
Results are shown in Fig. 11. It is noted that a rise in outdoor
temperature decreases Qcl and simultaneously increases Qwh to
result in a cancellation effect in system output (sum of Qcl and Qwh).
Therefore, the system output displays only a slight decrease with an
increase in outdoor temperature from 25  C to 35  C. The decrease,
combined with a marginal increase in W, results in a drop in COPoa
with outdoor temperature for both scenarios. It is further noted in
Fig. 11 that COPoa for the wPCM scenario is constantly higher, with a
difference ranging from 6.9% to 9.8% for different experimental
conditions, primarily owing to the larger system output.

3.5. Heat retention time

The heat retention time, dened as the time elapsed for the tank
water to drop below the desired temperature (35  C), can be Fig. 12. Water and PCM temperatures during heat discharging.
J. Jia, W.L. Lee / Energy 93 (2015) 1394e1403 1403

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