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Role of porous metal foam on the heat transfer enhancement for a thermal energy storage tube

Yang, Xiaohu, Yu, Jiabang, Guo, Zengxu, Jin, Liwen, He, Ya-Ling
Applied energy 2019 v.239 pp. 142-156
convection, energy conservation, foams, heat tolerance, melting, porosity, porous media, simulation models, storage technology, temperature, thermal conductivity, thermal energy
Thermal energy storage technology has attracted extensive attentions due to its remarkable energy-saving benefits. However, the low thermal conductivity of phase change materials seriously limits the energy storage efficiency, which put forward more stringent requirements for heat transfer enhancement. In this study, a two-dimensional axisymmetric simulation model with natural convection was established for the shell-and-tube thermal energy storage unit. Open-cell metal foam with a porosity of 0.94 and pore density of 15 pore per inch was employed to be arranged in either heat transfer fluid or phase change materials domains. The effects of the metal foam location and the metal foam porosity on the heat storage performance were studied. The numerical method was verified by experimental measurement, achieving good agreement. Results demonstrated that metal foam can significantly enhance heat transfer due mainly to the reduction of thermal resistance in heat transfer fluid. The case that both domains for heat transfer fluid and phase change materials were embedded in porous media can provide the best heat transfer enhancement. Compared with smooth tube without metal foam, the full melting time for this case was reduced by 88.548%; meanwhile, temperature response rate, heat flux and j-factor was increased by 834.27%, 774.90%, 5186.91% respectively. Besides, embedding metal foam into phase change materials can improve the temperature uniformity of phase change materials.