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Experimental investigation on cylindrically macro-encapsulated latent heat storage for space heating applications

Xu, Tianhao, Chiu, Justin Ningwei, Palm, Björn, Sawalha, Samer
Energy conversion and management 2019 v.182 pp. 166-177
buildings, energy density, heat transfer, heating systems, latent heat, melting, melting point, solidification, temperature, thermal energy
The integration of latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) units with heating systems in buildings is regarded as a promising technology for heating load management; however, so far a limited number of experimental studies have been reported that focus on space heating applications on a representative scale. In this study, we develop and test a 0.38 m3 LHTES unit containing cylindrically macro-encapsulated phase change materials (PCMs) with a melting temperature range of 44–53 °C and with gross mass of 154 kg. The unit has been tested with two tank orientations, horizontal and vertical. In the horizontal orientation tests, parametric studies show that increasing the difference between heat transfer fluid (HTF) supply temperatures and phase-change temperatures of PCMs, as well as increasing HTF flowrates, can both reduce the complete melting/solidification and complete charging/discharging time. Non-linear charging/discharging rates in PCMs are observed. The vertical orientation enables the forming of either a stratified or mixed flow regime in the tank. For charging, the stratified flow provides higher charging rates in PCMs compared to the mixed flow. When discharging the unit with a stratified HTF flow at 35 °C, lower HTF flowrates prolong the discharging time during which the released heat sustains an outlet temperature above 45 °C. Finally, comparisons between horizontal and vertical orientation tests reveal that although the vertical orientation can shorten the charging/discharging time by up to 20% for the entire unit to reach an energy density of 30 kWh/m3, it leads to decrease in PCM thermal capacity by at most 8.2%. The speculated cause of this loss is phase segregation suggested by observed fluid motions in PCM cylinders. This study comprehensively characterizes an LHTES unit providing insights to optimizing its operating strategies considering its coupling with space heating systems.