Selection of phase change material for solar thermal storage application: a comparative study


The study of five paraffin waxes and wood resin was carried out to investigate their thermo-physical properties. The investigation aimed at selection of a phase change material (PCM), for its potential use as a thermal energy reservoir (TER) in a fabricated solar dryer. Differential scanning calorimeter was used to determine the melting point, solidification point, latent heat of fusion and solidification of these PCM. The T-history analysis was carried out to determine the effective thermal conductivity and specific heat in liquid and solid states. Bulk density of these PCMs was determined using standard pycnometer method. A comparative analysis was done for the selection, and PW1 was selected among the paraffin waxes, while wood resin was rejected. The selected PCM was used in the flat plate collector of solar dryer to identify the thermal zones and to validate its capability as a TER. Maximum temperature achieved at outlet of flat plate collector was 50 °C. The temperature profile built in different zones was determined with and without using PCM. It was found that after 18:00 IST evening, the average flat plate collector chamber temperature with PCM PW1 was found to be 23.5% higher than that without using PCM.

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A :

Area across which heat is being transferred (m2)

A 1, A 2, A 3 :

Areas under cooling curve of PCM (m2)

A 1′, A 2′, A 3′ :

Areas under standard cooling curve of distilled water (m2)

C P :

Specific heat (J/kg K)

C pl :

Specific heat of PCM in liquid state (J/kg K)

C ps :

Specific heat of PCM in solid state (J/kg K)

C pt :

Specific heat of glass tube (J/kg K)

C pw :

Specific heat of distilled water (J/kg K)

h W :

Coefficient of convective heat transfer from glass tube to water during cooling of PCM

K S :

Effective thermal conductivity (W/m2 K)

K t :

Effective thermal conductivity of glass

L :

Length of glass tube

m :

Mass of sinker (kg)

M P :

Mass of PCM sample (kg)

m T :

Mass of apparent mass of water (kg)

M t :

Mass of glass tube (kg)

M W :

Mass of distilled water (kg)

N2 :

Liquid nitrogen

R :

Internal radius of glass tube

T 1 to T 8 :

Places of sensors installation

t f :

Time required for cooling of PCM


Thermal history

T M :

Melting point/temperature of sample (°C)

T OM :

Onset of melting temperature (°C)

T OS :

Onset of solidification temperature (°C)

T PM :

Peak of melting temperature (°C)

T PS :

Peak of solidification temperature (°C)

T S :

Solidification point/temperature of sample (°C)

T W :

Reference temperature of cooling water

V T :

Volume of sinker (m3)

λ M :

Latent heat of fusion (kJ/kg)

λ S :

Latent heat of solidification (kJ/kg)

ρ l :

Bulk density of PCM in liquid state (kg/m3)

ρ s :

Bulk density of PCM in solid state (kg/m3)

ρ t :

Bulk density of glass (kg/m3)


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Correspondence to Vinkel K. Arora.

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Babar, O.A., Arora, V.K. & Nema, P.K. Selection of phase change material for solar thermal storage application: a comparative study. J Braz. Soc. Mech. Sci. Eng. 41, 355 (2019).

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  • Paraffin
  • Differential scanning calorimetry
  • T-history
  • Thermal energy reservoir
  • Energy storage