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High power and energy density dynamic phase change materials using pressure-enhanced close contact melting

Abstract

Phase change materials show promise to address challenges in thermal energy storage and thermal management. Yet, their energy density and power density decrease as the transient melt front moves away from the heat source. Here, we propose an approach that achieves the spatial control of the melt-front location of pure phase change materials using pressure-enhanced close contact melting. Using paraffin wax, we demonstrate effective energy density and power density of 230 J cm3 and 0.8 W cm3, respectively. Using gallium, we achieve effective energy density of 480 J cm3 and power density of 1.6 W cm3. Through experimentally validated physics-based analytical and finite element models, we show that our system enables the stabilization of surface temperatures at heat fluxes approaching 3 kW cm2. This approach uses pure and cost-effective materials, overcoming complexities and cost of composite phase change materials. We report design guidelines for integrating our approach in thermal management and thermal energy storage applications.

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Fig. 1: Comparison of conventional and dynPCM.
Fig. 2: Thermal experiments.
Fig. 3: Simulation and analytical model of dynPCM performance.
Fig. 4: Melting and solidification cycling of a dynPCM.
Fig. 5: Performance of different dynPCMs.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the published article and its Supplementary Information.

Code availability

All Python, COMSOL and ANSYS files generated for this work have been uploaded to a public repository at https://zenodo.org/record/5861060#.YeUVCv7MKUl.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge fruitful discussions with R. Crawford as well as A. Mahvi and J. Woods at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. We gratefully acknowledge the help from N. Liu of Naperville North High School for helping with the PCM charging experiments. We gratefully acknowledge funding support from the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Center. X.Y. and N.M. gratefully acknowledge funding support from the National Science Foundation under award no. 1554249. Y.G., W.P.K. and N.M. gratefully acknowledge funding support from the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems with cooperative agreements EEC-1449548. N.M. gratefully acknowledges funding support from the International Institute for Carbon Neutral Energy Research (WPI-I2CNER), sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

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Contributions

N.M. conceived the idea for this work. W.F., Y.G. and X.Y. fabricated all samples. W.F., Y.G. and X.Y developed the experimental test set-up. W.F. and X.Y performed the experiments. Y.G., W.F. and V.S.G. performed the numerical and analytical simulations. W.F., N.M. and W.P.K performed the experimental and numerical data analysis. W.F., N.M. and W.P.K. wrote the paper. N.M. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Nenad Miljkovic.

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Nature Energy thanks Philip Eames, Kyle Gluesenkamp and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Notes 1–11, Figs. 1–19, Tables 1–9 and References.

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Fu, W., Yan, X., Gurumukhi, Y. et al. High power and energy density dynamic phase change materials using pressure-enhanced close contact melting. Nat Energy 7, 270–280 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-022-00986-y

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