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Form-Stable Solar Thermal Heat Packs Prepared by Impregnating Phase-Changing Materials within Carbon-Coated Copper Foams

Ye, Qinxian, Tao, Peng, Chang, Chao, Zhou, Linye, Zeng, Xiaoliang, Song, Chengyi, Shang, Wen, Wu, Jianbo, Deng, Tao
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2018 v.11 no.3 pp. 3417-3427
carbon, coatings, copper, foams, heat, hydrophobicity, liquids, skin (animal), solar radiation, temperature, thermal conductivity, thermal energy, thermotherapy
The heat packs that are based on solid–liquid transition of phase-changing materials (PCMs) have been pursued as a promising way to provide heating for human body comfort and thermotherapy owning to their large heat storage capacity and near-constant heat-release temperature. Current heat packs, however, suffer from leakage, slow charging, and poor heat-release performance due to the flow of liquid PCMs and their low thermal conductivity. Here, we report a strategy for preparing high-performance PCM-based solar thermal heat packs through impregnating organic PCMs within carbon-coated copper foams (CCFs). The porous structure and hydrophobic surface of CCF help to effectively confine the melted liquid PCM within the composite heat pack without leakage. The carbon coating layer efficiently converts the incident solar light into heat, which is rapidly transferred along the three-dimensional thermal conductive network of CCF and stored within the PCM. In the discharging process, the CCF network facilitates the extraction of the heat stored within the PCM. In contrast to neat PCM pack within which only a small portion of PCM that is in contact with human skin contributes to thermal comfort, all PCMs within the CCF-based composite heat pack concertedly release the stored heat. Such release significantly increases the extractable thermal energy and prolongs the usable healing duration for thermotherapy.