Experimental Study on Two PCM Macro-Encapsulation Designs in a Thermal Energy Storage Tank
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The use of latent heat thermal energy storage is an effective way to increase the efficiency of energy systems due to its high energy density compared with sensible heat storage systems. The design of the storage material encapsulation is one of the key parameters that critically affect the heat transfer in charging/discharging of the storage system. To fill the gap found in the literature, this paper experimentally investigates the effect of the macro-encapsulation design on the performance of a lab-scale thermal energy storage tank. Two rectangular slabs with the same length and width but different thickness (35 mm and 17 mm) filled with commercial phase change material were used. The results show that using thinner slabs achieved a higher power, leading to a reduction in the charging and discharging time of 14% and 30%, respectively, compared with the thicker slabs. Moreover, the variation of the heat transfer fluid flow rate has a deeper impact on the temperature distribution and the energy charged/released when thicker slabs were used. The macro-encapsulation design did not have a significant impact on the discharging efficiency of the tank, which was around 85% for the operating thresholds considered in this study.