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 cm−3 and 0.8 W cm−3, respectively. Using gallium, we achieve effective energy density of 480 J cm−3 and power density of 1.6 W cm−3. 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 cm−2. 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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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.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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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