Preparation and thermal performances of microencapsulated phase change materials with a nano-Al2O3-doped shell


High-performance phase change materials (PCMs) are regarded as a promising strategy in thermal energy storage applications. However, pure PCMs exhibit some inherent disadvantages such as leakage, low thermal conductivity and poor thermal cycling stability. Herein, this work presents novel microencapsulated PCMs with nano-Al2O3-enhanced shell materials due to the high thermal conductivity and mechanical properties of nano-Al2O3. And nano-Al2O3 was contributed uniformly to the shell materials through self-assembly of functional materials, forming a connected thermal conductive network for the microencapsulated PCMs and resulting in an enhancement on the thermal conductivity of the microencapsulated PCMs. Results show that thermal conductivity of the obtained microencapsulated PCMs with 8 mass% nano-Al2O3 is improved up to 0.5977 W m−1 k−1 which is about 287.4% compared with that of the pure PCMs. Moreover, the obtained microcapsules enhanced by nano-Al2O3 possess good phase change behavior and excellent thermal cycling stability, whose melting enthalpy can achieve 170.5 J g−1 and almost has no change after 12 times of thermal cycles.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. 1.

    Khalil HB, Zaidi SJH. Energy crisis and potential of solar energy in Pakistan. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2014;31:194–201.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Awan AB, Khan ZA. Recent progress in renewable energy–Remedy of energy crisis in Pakistan. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2014;33:236–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Qureshi MI, Rasli AM, Zaman K. Energy crisis, greenhouse gas emissions and sectoral growth reforms: repairing the fabricated mosaic. J Clean Prod. 2016;112:3657–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Wang SJ, Fang CL, Guan XL, Pang B, Ma HT. Urbanisation, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions in China: a panel data analysis of China’s provinces. Appl Energy. 2014;136:738–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Jiao Y, Zheng Y, Jaroniec M, Qiao SZ. Design of electrocatalysts for oxygen-and hydrogen-involving energy conversion reactions. Chem Soc Rev. 2015;44(8):2060–86.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Chu S, Majumdar A. Opportunities and challenges for a sustainable energy future. Nature. 2012;488(7411):294–303.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    López-Sabirón AM, Royo P, Ferreira VJ, Aranda-Usón A, Ferreira G. Carbon footprint of a thermal energy storage system using phase change materials for industrial energy recovery to reduce the fossil fuel consumption. Appl Energy. 2014;135:616–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Yuan Y, Zhang N, Tao WQ, Cao XL, He YL. Fatty acids as phase change materials: a review. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2014;29:482–98.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Pardo P, Deydier A, Anxionnaz-Minvielle Z, Rougé S, Cabassud M, Cognet P. A review on high temperature thermochemical heat energy storage. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2014;32:591–610.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Lorwanishpaisarn N, Kasemsiri P, Posi P, Chindaprasirt P. Characterization of paraffin/ultrasonic-treated diatomite for use as phase change material in thermal energy storage of buildings. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2016;128(3):1–11.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Pielichowska K, Pielichowski K. Phase change materials for thermal energy storage. Prog Mater Sci. 2014;65:67–123.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Lv P, Liu C, Rao Z. Review on clay mineral-based form-stable phase change materials: preparation, characterization and applications. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2017;68:707–26.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Han PJ, Lu LX, Qiu XL, Tang YL, Wang J. Preparation and characterization of macrocapsules containing microencapsulated PCMs (phase change materials)for thermal energy storage. Energy. 2015;91:531–9.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Xu B, Zhang CX, Chen CH, Zhou J, Lu CD, Ni ZJ. One-step synthesis of CuS-decorated MWCNTs/paraffin composite phase change materials and their light–heat conversion performance. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2018;133(3):1417–28.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Jin X, Shi DJ, Medina MA, Shi X, Zhou X, Zhang XS. Optimal location of PCM layer in building walls under Nanjing (China) weather conditions. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;129(3):1767–78.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Singh S, Gaikwad KK, Lee M, Lee YS. Microwave-assisted micro-encapsulation of phase change material using zein for smart food packaging applications. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2018;131(3):2187–95.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Giro-Paloma J, Martínez M, Cabeza LF, Fernández AI. Types, methods, techniques, and applications for microencapsulated phase change materials (MPCM): a review. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2016;53:1059–75.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Akeiber H, Nejat P, Majid MZA, Wahid MA, Jomehzadeh F, Famileh IZ, Calautit JK, Hughes BR, Zaki SA. A review on phase change material (PCM) for sustainable passive cooling in building envelopes. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2016;60:1470–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Abuelnuor AAA, Omara AAM, Saqr KM, Elhag IHI. Improving indoor thermal comfort by using phase change materials: a review. Int J Energy Res. 2018;42(6):2084–103.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Liu M, Steven Tay NH, Bell S, Belusko M, Jacob R, Will G, Saman W, Bruno F. Review on concentrating solar power plants and new developments in high temperature thermal energy storage technologies. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2016;53:1411–32.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Ling ZY, Zhang ZG, Shi GQ, Fang XM, Wang L, Gao XN, Fang YT, Xu T, Wang SF, Liu XH. Review on thermal management systems using phase change materials for electronic components, Li-ion batteries and photovoltaic modules. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2014;31:427–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Kalnæs SE, Jelle BP. Phase change materials and products for building applications: a state-of-the-art review and future research opportunities. Energy Build. 2015;94:150–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Su W, Darkwa J, Kokogiannakis G. Review of solid-liquid phase change materials and their encapsulation technologies. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2015;48:373–91.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Cao L, Tang F, Fang GY. Preparation and characteristics of microencapsulated palmitic acid with TiO2 shell as shape-stabilized thermal energy storage materials. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells. 2014;123:183–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Genc M, Genc ZK. Microencapsulated myristic acid–fly ash with TiO2, shell as a novel phase change material for building application. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;131(3):2373–80.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Huang XB, Chen X, Li A, Atinafu D, Gao HY, Dong WJ, Wang G. Shape-stabilized phase change materials based on porous supports for thermal energy storage applications. Chem Eng J. 2019;356:641–61.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Aftab W, Huang XY, Wu WH, Liang ZB, Mahmood A, Zou RQ. Nanoconfined phase change materials for thermal energy applications. Energy Environ Sci. 2018;11(6):1392–424.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Han LP, Ma GX, Xie SL, Sun JH, Jia YZ, Jing Y. Preparation and characterization of the shape-stabilized phase change material based on sebacic acid and mesoporous MCM-41. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;130(2):935–41.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Wang Z, Zhang XY, Jia SK, Zhu Y, Chen LG, Fu L. Influences of dynamic impregnating on morphologies and thermal properties of polyethylene glycol-based composite as shape-stabilized PCMs. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;128(2):1039–48.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Zhai M, Zhang SQ, Sui J, Tian F, Lan XZ. Solid–solid phase transition of tris (hydroxymethyl) aminomethane in nanopores of silica gel and porous glass for thermal energy storage. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;129(2):957–64.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Liu L, Alva G, Huang X, Fang GY. Preparation, heat transfer and flow properties of microencapsulated phase change materials for thermal energy storage. Renew Sustain Energy Rev. 2016;66:399–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Sami S, Etesami N. Thermal characterization of obtained microencapsulated paraffin under optimal conditions for thermal energy storage. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;130(3):1961–71.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Wu WL, Zuo HT. Preparation and characterization of n-octadecane/poly(styrene–methyl methacrylate) phase-change microcapsule. J Therm Anal Calorim. 2017;130(2):861–7.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Şahan N, Paksoy H. Determining influences of SiO2 encapsulation on thermal energy storage properties of different phase change materials. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells. 2017;159:1–7.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Su WG, Darkwa J, Kokogiannakis G. Development of microencapsulated phase change material for solar thermal energy storage. Appl Therm Eng. 2017;112:1205–12.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Khakzad F, Alinejad Z, Shirin-Abadi AR, Ghasemi M, Mahdavian AR. Optimization of parameters in preparation of PCM microcapsules based on melamine formaldehyde through dispersion polymerization. Colloid Polym Sci. 2013;292(2):355–68.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Sari A, Alkan C, Bicer A. Thermal energy storage characteristics of micro-nanoencapsulated heneicosane and octacosane with poly(methylmethacrylate) shell. J Microencapsulation. 2016;33(3):221–8.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Mochane MJ, Luyt AS. Preparation and properties of polystyrene encapsulated paraffin wax as possible phase change material in a polypropylene matrix. Thermochim Acta. 2012;544:63–70.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Giro-Paloma J, Oncins G, Barreneche C, Martínez M, Fernández AI, Cabeza LF. Physico-chemical and mechanical properties of microencapsulated phase change material. Appl Energy. 2013;109:441–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Jurkowska M, Szczygieł I. Review on properties of microencapsulated phase change materials slurries (mPCMS). Appl Therm Eng. 2016;98:365–73.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Zhang HZ, Wang XD, Wu DZ. Silica encapsulation of n-octadecane via sol–gel process: a novel microencapsulated phase-change material with enhanced thermal conductivity and performance. J Colloid Interface Sci. 2010;343(1):246–55.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Yu SY, Wang XD, Wu DZ. Microencapsulation of n-octadecane phase change material with calcium carbonate shell for enhancement of thermal conductivity and serving durability: synthesis, microstructure, and performance evaluation. Appl Energy. 2014;114:632–43.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Zhang Y, Wang XD, Wu DZ. Design and fabrication of dual-functional microcapsules containing phase change material core and zirconium oxide shell with fluorescent characteristics. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells. 2015;133:56–68.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Yuan KJ, Wang HC, Liu J, Fang XM, Zhang ZG. Novel slurry containing graphene oxide-grafted microencapsulated phase change material with enhanced thermo-physical properties and photo-thermal performance. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells. 2015;143:29–37.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Zhang HZ, Zou YJ, Sun YJ, Sun LX, Xu F, Zhang J, Zhou HY. A novel thermal-insulating film incorporating microencapsulated phase-change materials for temperature regulation and nano-TiO2 for UV-blocking. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells. 2015;137:210–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Pedrazzoli D, Pegoretti A, Kalaitzidou K. Synergistic effect of exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets and short glass fiber on the mechanical and interfacial properties of epoxy composites. Compos Sci Technol. 2014;98:15–21.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Domun N, Hadavinia H, Zhang T, Sainsbury T, Liaghat GH, Vahid S. Improving the fracture toughness and the strength of epoxy using nanomaterials-a review of the current status. Nanoscale. 2015;7(23):10294–329.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Jiang X, Luo RL, Peng FF, Fang YT, Akiyama T, Wang SF. Synthesis, characterization and thermal properties of paraffin microcapsules modified with nano-Al2O3. Appl Energy. 2015;137:731–7.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Roy K, Jatejarungwong C, Potiyaraj P. Development of highly reinforced maleated natural rubber nanocomposites based on sol–gel-derived nano alumina. J Appl Polym Sci. 2018;135(18):46248.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Chaichan MT, Kazem HA. Single slope solar distillator productivity improvement using phase change material and Al2O3 nanoparticle. Sol Energy. 2018;164:370–81.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Wang ZD, Cheng YH, Wang HK, Yang MM, Shao YY, Chen X, Tanaka T. Sandwiched epoxy-alumina composites with synergistically enhanced thermal conductivity and breakdown strength. J Mater Sci. 2017;52(8):4299–308.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Xing WQ, Yu XY, Li H, Ma L, Zuo W, Dong P, Wang WX, Ding M. Effect of nano Al2O3 additions on the interfacial behavior and mechanical properties of eutectic Sn–9Zn solder on low temperature wetting and soldering of 6061 aluminum alloys. J Alloys Compd. 2017;695:574–82.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Jiang Q, Liang B, Tang S, Chen X. Preparation and performance of porous polymer electrolytes doped with nano-Al2O3. J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2018;18(3):1870–5.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Lashgari S, Mahdavian AR, Arabi H, Ambrogi V, Marturano V. Preparation of acrylic PCM microcapsules with dual responsivity to temperature and magnetic field changes. Eur Polym J. 2018;101:18–28.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Lashgari S, Mahdavian AR, Arabi H, Mandavian AR, Ambrogi V. Thermal and morphological studies on novel PCM microcapsules containing n-hexadecane as the core in a flexible shell. Appl Energy. 2017;190:612–22.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFB1501200, MOST), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51102230, 51462006, 51371060, 51361005, 51563003, 5187011196, U1501242, 51671062), the Guangxi Natural Science Foundation (Nos. 2014GXNSFAA118401, 2013GXNSFBA019244, 2014GXNSFDA118005, 2015GXNSFAA139255), the Guangxi Collaborative Innovation Centre of Structure and Property for New Energy and Material (2012GXNSFGA06002), the Scientific Research and Technology Development Program of Guangxi (AD201723029, AD17195073, AA17202030), Innovation Project of GUET Graduate Education (2016YJCX21, 2018YJCX88), Guangxi Talents Small Highlands for Advanced Functional Materials Basis and Application and Program for Postgraduate Joint Training Base of GUET-CJYRE (No. 20160513-14-Z).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lixian Sun.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wei, S., Duan, Z., Xia, Y. et al. Preparation and thermal performances of microencapsulated phase change materials with a nano-Al2O3-doped shell. J Therm Anal Calorim 138, 233–241 (2019).

Download citation


  • Nano-Al2O3
  • Microcapsules
  • n-hexadecane
  • Thermal energy storage property