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Phase Change Materials (Eg: Wax ) store a large amount of heat at almost constant temperature near their melting points because of latent heat. This is very useful for applications which require cooling (electronic devices, green buildings) or heat storage (concentrated solar power as shown below ^{1}).
In Concentrated Solar Power Plant (CSP), solar energy is concentrated via large array of mirrors that focus sunlight on to a Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF). At night, CSP are forced to undergo repeated startup and shut-down operations.
To avoid using fossil fuels, excess power generated during daytime can be stored using PCMs and utilized at off-peak times.
Thermal energy is stored when the PCMs in the storage tank shown above melt. Ideally, higher HTF temperatures are beneficial since more thermal energy can be stored. Typically, HTF used in CSP have melting points of \approx\,390\,°\mathrm{C}.
Developed and validated 2D CFD models of phase change in MATLAB and ANSYS FLUENT with analytical and numerical solutions
Expanded model capability by including temperature variation of material properties (specific heat, thermal conductivity, viscosity) using User Defined Functions, programmed in C
Developed 2D heat transfer and fluid flow CFD solver in MATLAB from first principles using finite volume method (FVM)
Increased solver speed by vectorizing MATLAB code
Summer Undergraduate Research Report : Viability of using Sodium and Potassium based salts as heat storage medium
Numerical Methods in Heat and Mass Transfer Project Report: Modeling of phase change heat transfer using Enthalpy Porosity Technique
Comparing various CFD solution approaches
Model validation and mesh refinement
Developing 2D CFD solver in MATLAB
Enhancing heat transfer model capability in ANSYS FLUENT using UDF
Figure from Mathur, A., et al. “Using encapsulated phase change salts for concentrated solar power plant.” Energy Procedia 49 (2014): 908-915. ↩