Melting performance enhancement of phase change material by a limited amount of metal foam: Configurational optimization and economic assessment
Abstract In the paper, melting performance of a latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) unit with phase change materials (PCMs) locally enhanced by porous media was numerically investigated. The filling ratio of the porous inserts was fixed to a low degree to reduce the material cost. The optimal configuration of the porous inserts was obtained after the discussion about the effects of porous geometry and porosity on the velocity and temperature distribution of melting process. To reveal the superiority of the optimized result, different cases were compared with the help of a new comprehensive criterion about the input-output performance. Then a generalization expression was fitted out with some dimensionless parameters for the rapid calculation of melting fraction of the optimized result in practical application. The results indicated that in the horizontal LHTES unit, the limited porous inserts should be concentrated in the bottom part without interval between the neighboring porous inserts, providing an effective enhancement in the lower part and a low degree of thermal stratification. If the mass of porous inserts is fixed, high porosity is preferred to make the thermal-conduction-dominated area sufficiently covered by the porous inserts. Compared with the non-enhancement case, the selected result in this study can remarkably save more than 80% of the melting time and enhance the melting rate by 5.1 times. More significantly, the selected result has the highest melting rate per cost of the material when the price ratio of the addition to the PCM is larger than 5 based on the results of economic assessment. Therefore, it offers an economical solution to the thermal enhancement problem of the LHTES unit in the practical application. The normalized equation of melting fraction is obtained for the parameter range of 0.187 Ste 6 Ra 6 : f = 0.596 X + 0.0438 X 2 - 0.0825 X 3 + 0.0130 X 4 , where X = SteFoRa 1/8 Highlights Melting performance of PCMs locally enhanced by porous media is studied. An economic criterion is proposed to comprehensively assess melting performance. A novel structure of porous inserts is built and optimized. A limited amount of porous inserts can offer significant melting enhancement.
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