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EFFECT of AIR FLOWRATE AND METAL

ADDITION ON HEAT TRANSFER IN PCM


BASED COOLING SYSTEM: A CASE
STUDY
1 Abstract
Buildings utilize 40% of the total annual global energy consumption and become the cause of
33% of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions around the world. A signicant portion of this energy
is used for heating, cooling, and air conditioning purposes in buildings. Due to harm full impact
of GHG on environment new and environmentally friendly technologies for heating and cooling
of buildings are being developed. In countries like Pakistan domestic sector is a major consumer
of electricity due to its continuously increasing cooling demand. PCM can be used as a cold
storage in buildings that can be used for night ventilating of the building in these countries. This
paper present the design of a PCM based cooling system. Butyl stearate is selected as a PCM due
to its appropriate properties to be used as a cold storage. This case study address effect of air
velocity on butyl stearate discharging and discharging, effect of different metal matrix on heat
transfer and effect of threshold temperature on useful cold available during experimental work.

2 Introduction
Buildings utilize 40% of the total annual global primary energy consumption and 10- 20 % of
this is consumed by HVAC system[1]. No waste alternative energy systems are required by dint
of increased energy demands, cost and its availability. Energy storage systems that are used to
provide surplus energy at the time of need have disadvantage as a consequence of large volume.
Phase change materials (PCM) bring off the same ambition with distinctly reduced volume. They
can be employed for both heating and cooling purpose.
PCM material is good towards storing heat storage compared to cold storage. Solar energy and
waste heat are in abundant and can be stored in PCM. However various problems have been
faced during cold storage due to low thermal conductivity and latent heat of PCM at low
temperature. Its solution includes active and passive cooling systems using PCM, integration of
PCM into building structures [2, 3]. Climate conditions and site are important considerations for
free cooling. It is applicable to interior and desert areas. Sea and land breezes in coastal areas
execute the temperature moderation which affects the efficiency of free cooling adversely. Free
cooling enhances heat transfer on air and PCM side. Charging time is reduced by having larger
surface area per storage volume[4]. Discharging can be proceeded further according to the load

requirement. Air velocity must be larger in the initial stages of charging followed by its reduction
in later stage in order to pursue energy efficient charging. To control volume flow and pressure
drop which decides the capacity of fan and power consumption, air velocity must be
optimized[5]. Applications of PCM are large due to the fact that it is based on the latent heat.
Latent heat thermal storage in the melting and solidification of a Phase Change Material (PCM)
has been proved an effective method, due to the high storage density[6]. However it is difficult to
utilize the capacity effectively for the reason of having low thermal conductivity. This has been
observed in organic PCMs to large extent. Research has been done to cater its low thermal
conductivity[7]. Some techniques incorporate use of fins, metal, graphite compound matrices,
dispersed high-conductivity particles inside the PCM and micro-encapsulation. Later on in the
presence of cooling fins heat transfer and phase change details became the major area of
research[4]. Extensive list of references on PCM based heat sinks have been provided by
Krishnan et al[8]. By neglecting one or more necessary features of the process, like volumetric
expansion due to the phase change, convection in the liquid phase and motion of the solid in the
melt due to density gradients various approaches were adopted to overcome difficulties in
analysis [9].
In applications where cooling can be generated more efficiently or for less cost outside of the
period of cooling demand[10], cold storage is a practical energy storage method. Likewise using
smaller cooling equipment has been made possible by thermal storage. This technology is good
in operations where refrigeration laod is needed for a short period. Again role is played by cold
storage when the electricity is more costly during the peak as compared to the non-peak hours. It
can serve as a backup in the scenario where refrigeration plant breakdown[11]. It is being
adopted by many countries to shift the peak load to off-peak hours for air conditioning
demands[12]. Sensible energy storage material is being used by most of the thermal energy
storage systems whereas the use of PCMs offers a momentous potential to increase the energy
storage density[13].
In a study by A.H. Mosaffa et al. showed numerical investigation of a thermal energy storage
(TES) unit. For climate conditions of Tabriz, Iran system that can guarantee comfort conditions
must have a coefficient of performance (COP) 7.0. Numerical investigation showed that this
cooling can be achieved by a combination of CaCl2.6H2O and RT25 with an optimized air
channel setup[14]. A.A. Rabienataj Darzi et al. in their work showed that PCM cooling can be
enhanced by increasing mass flow rate and also PCM encapsulation thickness effects linearly
melting of PCM during discharging[15]. C. Arkar et al. in their work showed that for continental
climate conditions PCM with melting temperature 22 C is most suitable[ 16]. N.H.S Tay et al. in
their work showed that tube in tank systems can store 18 times more useful energy than sensible
storage system per unit volume[17]. Experimental Study carried out by Albert Castel et al.
discuss the effect of external fins on heat transfer. Study shows that PCM module without fins
required charging time was 17 min, which was reduced to 13 min (reduction of 23.52%) by 20
mm fins and to 7 min (reduction of 58.82%) by 40mm fins[18]. Numerical study carried out by
N.H.S Tay et al shows the effect tube in tank heat exchanger. Study shows that If PCM flow rate
is five times the flow rate then dynamic melting reduces the phase change time by 36-39 % [ 19].
Ana Lazaro et al. in their work shows that that increasing thermal conductivity increase PCM
cost whereas economical method is to enhance heat exchanger design[20]. T. Karlessi et al. in his
study show the effects of building tile coated in cool PCM and its effect on reducing cooling load
in building. His study shows that due to cooling coating on PCM, tiles absorb the excess heat and

reduce the building temperature[21]. Alvero de Gracia study shows that night cooling is the best
solution for reducing cooling load. The system incorporates a faade which is being used as cold
storage. Skin of the faade must be made of material having low thermal conductivity to enhance
system efficiency [22]. F. Frusteri in his study showed the effect of carbon fibers on thermal
conductivity of PCM and experimentally studied the effect of size of the fibers on the PCM
thermal conductivity[23].
This case study present the experimental investigation of butyl stearate as a PCM for cooling
purpose. Experimental setup was setup in Heat and Mass Transfer Lab in NUST School of
Mechanical Engineering and different experiments were carried out with results described in
following sections.

3 Experimental setup
Experimental setup consisted of wooden air duct and contain PCM encapsulated in aluminum
tubes. DC powered Air blowers are used at both inlet and outlet to force the air flow through the
air duct. Instrumentation and data acquisition of the setup is also done. Complete experimental
setup is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Experimental Setup

Detail parameters of heat exchanger are shown in table 1.


Table 1: Design parameters of heat exchanger

Parameter
Heat exchanger width
Heat exchanger length
Length of Aluminum tubes for PCM
Diameter of aluminum tubes
Air inlet & outlet Diameter
Slabs Length to place PCM filled tubes

Value (mm)
152.4
152.4
101.6
12.7
12.7
101.6

Slab width
Slab thickness

76.2
25.4

Figure 2: Temperature measurement points and Air path

Figure 2 shows path of air flow shown by blue arrows through the wooden box and transfer or
absorbed heat from PCM. T1 to T5 shows the position of temperature sensors attached for
temperature readings, LM35temperature IC is used and is connected to a PC. Readings are taken
after every 100 seconds. Encapsulated PCM tubes are shown in figure 3 below.

Figure 3: PCM encapsulation tubes

Important properties of PCM are shown in table 3 and specifications of encapsulation tube are
shown in table 4. O rings are used at both ends of encapsulation tubes to avoid any leakage of
PCM through the container. System was operated for 5 hours daily; and for 3 hours system was

in charging process and for 2 hours system was in discharging phase. These terms are explained
in the next section.
Table 2: Properties of PCM

Properties
Commercial Name

Value
Butyl Stearate

Type

Organic

Melting Temperature
Latent Heat
Appearance
Relative Density
Boiling Point

19-22 C
140 KJ/Kg
Liquid (light yellow)
0.861gm/mL at 20 C
343 C at 1.013 hPa (hectopascal)

Table 3: Encapsulation specification

Parameters
Pipe length
Pipe thickness
Pipe diameter

Values (mm)
101.6
2
12.7

4 Experimental Procedure
During the experimentation work during charging process cold air was supplied to the heat
exchanger, and PCM was solidified as it absorbed the coldness of the air. This cold air was
supplied through ice box with the help of air blower.
Similarly during discharging process ambient air was supplied to PCM and PCM cooled the air
by providing stored coldness to the passing air.
PCM temperature in the results shown in following section shows the average temperature of all
the three PCM slabs. During experimentation for this case study following things were observed
and explained in the result and discussion section.

Charging and discharging of Butyl stearate

Effect of changing flow rate on butyl stearate charging and discharging capability

Effect of different metal matrix addition on butyl stearate

Effect of changing threshold temperature on useful coldness

Term Ideal PCM used in next sections means pure PCM during experiment without addition of
any metal matrix and threshold temperature refers to the temperature of air within the comfort
level which in this case is set to 26 C.

Figure 4: PCM used during experiment (a) Ideal PCM (b) PCM with Al powder (c) PCM with Cu powder (d) PCM with Cu wire
Pieces

Figure 4 shows different PCM used during experimental work. 50 gm of PCM was used during
ideal PCM experiment as shown in top left corner of figure. 10 gm of metal was added in PCM
during experiment to test their effect on PCM charging as shown in the figure.

5 Thermal Analysis of PCM


In this section governing equations for thermal analysis of PCM unit are discussed and also
initial condition of PCM like PCM initial temperature, initial energy of PCM are also discussed.
Initially PCM was at 29 C and initial energy of PCM consist of sensible and latent heat can be
calculated by equation 1.

qinitial ( J ) mPCM [(Tinitial Tm )cp _ PCM ]


10\* MERGEFORMAT
()

Where mPCM is mass of PCM used


is the latent heat of PCM.
of PCM and Tm shows melting temperature of PCM.

Tinitial

shows initial temperature

Similarly equation 2 and 3 are used to calculate amount of cold absorbed and released by PCM
during charging and discharging process respectively.
t

qcold _abs ( J ) m air1 * cp _ air (Tair out Tair in)dt


0

22\*
MERGEFORMAT ()
t

qcold _ext ( J ) m air 1 * cp _ air (Tair in Tair out )dt


0

33\*
MERGEFORMAT ()
mair1

Where
specifies the flow rate of air, cp_air shows specific heat of air. Tair-in & Tair-out shows
the air inlet and outlet temperature respectively.
Cold extraction can be calculated as the ratio of amount of cold extracted at threshold
temperature and total cold extracted during discharging.

6 Results and Discussion:


Results obtained from above experimental work are described in this section. During charging
process PCM was charged by supplying cold air from ice box at a temperature range between 18
to 16 C. During this charging PCM released its heat to the air and started to change phase from
liquid to solid. Similarly during discharging ambient air was supplied and PCM absorbed the
heat from air and started to change its phase from solid to liquid again [24].

6.1 Ideal PCM Charging


Ideal PCM was tested in this experiment with air flow rate of 0.0180 Kg/sec. Figure 5 shows that
inlet air was supplied between 17 C and 16 C for 110 minutes after that inlet air temperature
started to rise as the ice started to melt in ice box. During this time PCM temperature as shown in
figure decrease from 27 C to 20 C. Similarly figure 6 shows the air temperature at inlet and
outlet when heat has been absorbed from it by the PCM. Small peaks shown in the graph is due
to systematic error of the temperature measuring sensor.

Figure 5: PCM charging

Figure 6: Air temperature profile during PCM charging

6.2 Ideal PCM discharging

Figure 7: Air temperature profile at ideal PCM discharging

Figure 8: Discharging of ideal PCM

Figure 8 shows that by charging of almost of 120 minutes it was able to provide cold air with in
threshold temperature of 26 C for up to 45 minutes. Black line indicates the rise of air inlet
temperature as supply is changed from ice box to ambient during discharging process. Similarly
figure 9 shows discharging process of PCM and how its temperature rises as cold absorbed by
the PCM during charging is being extracted by warm air.

6.3 Effect of air flow rate on PCM charging

Figure 9: PCM charging at different flow rates

Figure 9 shows effect of changing air flow rate on PCM charging. As shown in the figure a linear
trend is observed by changing flow rate during charging process. At flow rate of 0.0180 Kg/sec
PCM took around 25 minutes for temperature drop of 2 C. Flow rate was then decrease by 41 %
to 0.0107 Kg/sec and time increased for this 2 C drop increase up to 50 minutes and similarly
75 minutes were taken by the system for decrease of 72 % in flow rate at 0.005 Kg/sec. So from
figure 9 it is clear that for charging process high flow rate is preferred as heat transferred is quick
and temperature drop is high.

6.4 Effect of air flow rate on discharging

Figure 10: effect of air flow rate on discharging

During discharging process as shown in figure 10 it is observed that decreasing flow rate
increases discharge time of PCM. As shown in the figure 10 at lower flowrate of 0.005 Kg/sec as
heat transfer is less thus temperature increase is just by 5 C in 110 minutes, this value increase to
9 C for flow rate at 0.018 Kg/sec. Trend of effect of flow rate is almost linear at high flow rates
but as flow rate decreases graph gets closer to a constant line.

6.5 Effect of metal addition on charging


During this experiments effect of different metal matrix on butyl stearate charging time is
studied. Aluminum and copper were used during this experiment and these effects are compared
with PCM ideal case charging and comparison is shown below in figure 11. Figure shows that
major effect on PCM charging is shown by Aluminum Powder. As clear from figure PCM
temperature drop down rapidly in case of Al addition. It took only 100 minutes by PCM to drop
its temperature from 28 to 20 C whereas almost 150 minutes were taken during ideal PCM case
results. Similarly Copper addition was studied in two cases first copper was added in powder
form and second copper wire pieces were added. Experiment with copper powder showed the
effect on heat transfer and as shown in figure 11 time was decreased for charging whereas copper
wire pieces addition did not show any significant effect on heat transfer. Reason for this is that
powder became suspended in the mixture and shown effect on PCM whereas copper wire pieces
settled down at one place thus showed negligible effect. Major thing that effect the heat transfer
was the size of the particles of metal matrix added. Finer the size of the particles fast charging
effects were achieved.

Figure 11: effect of metal addition on PCM charging

6.6 Cold extraction at threshold temperature


During experimental work threshold temperature was setup 26 C and also effect of increasing
and decreasing threshold temperature is studied and shown in figure 12.

Figure 12: cold extraction

Figure 12 shows that for threshold temperature at 26, 28 and 24 C useful percentage of cold
extracted is approximately 65 %, 82% and 40% respectively. From figure 5 we can see that
almost for an hour system provides cold air with in our threshold temperature range.

6.7 Cold extraction at high discharging temperature


During conduction of this experiment system was discharge at higher temperature of 35 C. For
this experiment PCM was charge completely at 4 C by placing it in freezer and then discharge at
35 C. Reason for this experiment was to check PCM for real weather conditions of summer in
Pakistan. Results obtain are discussed in figure 13

Figure 13: PCM discharging at high temperature

Figure 13 shows that for threshold temperature of 26 C system provided cold air for almost 70
minutes and 82 % cold is in useful region and is extracted and if threshold temperature is
increase to 28 C this time increase upto 80 minutes and % extraction increase upto 86 % and
decrease to 50 minutes for threshold temperature of 24 C with % cold extraction decrease to 65
% for this case.

7 Conclusion
Experimental work shows that by charging PCM for almost 2 hours it can provide cold air for
almost 50 minutes and this time can be increased by increasing threshold temperature. Also by
increasing flow rate time for PCM charging decreases.
Similarly adding Al metal matrix in PCM enhances heat transfer during charging more compared
to Cu metal matrix addition. Also for this enhancement particle size of metal matrix is very
important. Finer the particle size more it enhance thermal conductivity of PCM.

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