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

Abstract

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.

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Abbreviations

A :

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

c :

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

\(h_{sl}\) :

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

Fo :

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

H :

Height of the rectangular enclosure (m)

k :

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

L :

Length of the rectangular enclosure (m)

Ra :

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

Ste :

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

t :

Time (s)

T :

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

V :

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

\(V_{0}\) :

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

xy :

Cartesian coordinates of the enclosure (m)

\(\alpha \) :

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

c:

Cold

h:

Hot

i:

Insulating material

l:

Liquid

m:

Melting point

s:

Solid

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Belgacem Dhifaoui.

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Kadri, S., Dhifaoui, B., Dutil, Y. et al. Large-Scale Experimental Study of a Phase Change Material: Shape Identification for the Solid–Liquid Interface. Int J Thermophys 36, 2897–2915 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10765-015-1935-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10765-015-1935-y

Keywords

  • Phase change material
  • Experimental work
  • Solid–liquid interface
  • Melting process