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Simulation-based optimization of PCM melting temperature to improve the energy performance in buildings

Saffari, Mohammad, de Gracia, Alvaro, Fernández, Cèsar, Cabeza, Luisa F.
Applied energy 2017 v.202 pp. 420-434
buildings, carbon dioxide, climatic zones, cooling, energy conservation, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, heat, melting, melting point, researchers, technology
Globally, a considerable amount of energy is consumed by the building sector. The building envelope can highly influence the energy consumption in buildings. In this regard, innovative technologies such as thermal energy storage (TES) can help to boost the energy efficiency and to reduce the CO2 emissions in this sector. The use of phase change materials (PCM), due to its high heat capacity, has been the centre of attention of many researchers. A considerable number of papers have been published on the application of PCM as passive system in building envelopes. Researches have shown that choosing the PCM melting temperature in different climate conditions is a key factor to improve the energy performance in buildings. In the present paper, a simulation-based optimization methodology will be presented by coupling EnergyPlus and GenOpt with an innovative enthalpy-temperature (h-T) function to define the optimum PCM peak melting temperature to enhance the cooling, heating, and the annual total heating and cooling energy performance of a residential building in various climate conditions based on Köppen-Geiger classification. Results show that in a cooling dominant climate the best PCM melting temperature to reduce the annual energy consumption is close to the maximum of 26°C (melting range of 24–28°C), whereas in heating dominant climates PCM with lower melting temperature of 20°C (melting range of 18–22°C) yields higher annual energy benefits. Moreover, it was found that the proper selection of PCM melting temperature in each climate zone can lead to notable energy savings for cooling energy consumption, heating energy consumption, and total annual energy consumption.