PCM, melting, solidification, CFD, heat exchanger
Latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) systems have shown great potential to enable reliable use of renewable energy and load shifting. LHTES offer high storage density and release energy at near constant temperature because of its use of phase change materials (PCMs). The cylindrical PCM heat exchangers (PCMHX) are one of the most used technologies due to their simplicity. Numerical models for such PCMHX enable engineers to estimate their performance for different design parameters and operating conditions without having to test them all. However, modeling the phase change phenomena can be challenging. To better understand the difficulties involving accurate modeling of PCMHX, a cylindrical latent storage unit filled with PCM and water as in-tube heat transfer fluid (HTF) is numerically investigated. This paper presents a study based on a 2D-axisymmetric model of a straight tube embedded in PCM in a cylindrical container. CFD is used to study the charging (melting) and discharging (solidification) phenomena. The models are validated against experimental and numerical data from the literature. The predicted local PCM temperature profile over time agrees within 2K compared to the experimental values. The paper also presents a simple method to estimate the melting and solidification phase change temperature range from limited data provided by PCM manufacturers.