International Journal of Thermophysics

, Volume 36, Issue 10–11, pp 2897–2915 | Cite as

Large-Scale Experimental Study of a Phase Change Material: Shape Identification for the Solid–Liquid Interface

  • Soumaya Kadri
  • Belgacem Dhifaoui
  • Yvan Dutil
  • Sadok Ben Jabrallah
  • Daniel R. Rousse


This study describes the development of an experimental setup that tracks the evolution of the melting and freezing fronts of a Phase Change Material (PCM), in this case paraffin. The results obtained enable the examination of the shape and movement of the melting front of the PCM. Two modes of heat transfer were identified during the melting process: conduction when melting began and natural convection, which becomes dominant in the remainder of the cycle. Monitoring of the melt over time shows that the melt fraction, expressed as the ratio of the molten volume and solid volume, is proportional to the difference between the imposed temperature and the melting temperature. Experimental results confirm the linearity proposed by other researchers.


Phase change material Experimental work Solid–liquid interface Melting process 

List of Symbols



Aspect ratios (\(\mathrm{{A}} = {\mathrm{{H}} {\cdot } \mathrm{{L}}}^{-1}\))


Specific heat at constant pressure (\(\mathrm{{J}}{\cdot }\mathrm{kg}^{-1}{\cdot }\mathrm{{K}}^{-1})\)


Latent heat of melting/solidification of PCM \((\mathrm{{J}}{\cdot } \mathrm{{kg}}^{-1})\)


Fourier number \((\mathrm{{Fo}} = {\upalpha }{\cdot }\mathrm{{t{\cdot }L}}^{-2})\)


Height of the rectangular enclosure (m)


Thermal conductivity \((\mathrm{{W{\cdot }m}}^{-1}{\cdot }\mathrm{{K}}^{-1})\)


Length of the rectangular enclosure (m)


Rayleigh number \((\hbox {Ra} = \mathrm{{g}}{\cdot }{\upbeta }\,(\mathrm{{T}}_{\mathrm{h}}-\mathrm{{T}}_{\mathrm{m}}){\cdot }\mathrm{{L}}^{3}{\cdot }({\upalpha }{\cdot }{{\upnu }})^{-1})\)


Stefan number \((\hbox {Ste} = \mathrm{{C}}{\cdot }(\mathrm{{T}}_{\mathrm{h}}-\mathrm{{T}}_{\mathrm{m}}){\cdot }\mathrm{{h}}_{\mathrm{sl}}^{-1})\)


Time (s)


Temperature \((^{\circ }\hbox {C})\)


Volume of the PCM liquid \((\hbox {m}^{3})\)


Total volume of the PCM \((\hbox {m}^{3})\)


Cartesian coordinates of the enclosure (m)

Greek Symbols

\(\alpha \)

Thermal diffusivity \((\mathrm{{m}}^{2}{\cdot }\mathrm{{s}}^{-1})\)

\(\beta \)

Thermal expansion coefficient \((\hbox {K}^{-1})\)

\(\nu \)

Kinematic viscosity \((\mathrm{{m}}^{2}{\cdot }\mathrm{{s}}^{-1})\)

\(\rho \)

Density \((\mathrm{{kg}}{\cdot }\mathrm{{m}}^{-3})\)







Insulating material




Melting point





The authors gratefully acknowledge the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for financial support. The authors also thank the partners of the t3e research group, who support the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soumaya Kadri
    • 1
  • Belgacem Dhifaoui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yvan Dutil
    • 3
    • 4
  • Sadok Ben Jabrallah
    • 1
    • 5
  • Daniel R. Rousse
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratory of Energy, Heat and mass TransferCampus UniversityTunisTunisia
  2. 2.Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology of MateurUnivesity of CarthageTunisTunisia
  3. 3.UER Science et TechnologieTélé-UniversitéQuebecCanada
  4. 4.t3e Industrial Research ChairEcole de technologie superieureMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Faculty of Sciences of BizerteUniversity of CarthageBizerteTunisia

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