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Phase Change Materials (PCMs) for Thermal Energy Storage

Graduate Student Projects

Investigators:  Ravi Gorthala, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
                          Student Team 1: Shu Kai Chang, Ali Alnemer, Tuki Alqahtani
                          Student Team 2: Tushar Patel, Dekheel Al harti, Yongbong Kim 

Sponsors   RGEES, LLC provided PCMs and storage tank

Project DescriptionThe goal of one project was to devise a pizza delivery container to maintain pizza temperature even during cold weather using phase change material (PCM).  Solid PCMs melt (change phase) and store thermal energy when heated and release heat and solidify (phase change) when cooled. Typically, a pizza comes out of the oven at 75oC/167oF.  It appears that people enjoy their pizza quite warm (50oC/122oF).  Students built an insulated wooden box and incorporated four bottles filled with a 53oC/127oF PCM into the box.  Student simulations and experiments showed that the pizza at an initial temperature of 75oC/167oF was still at 46°C/115°F after two hours. To see TV footage of this project click here.

The goal of another student project was to study the performance of latent heat storage using Phase Change Material (PCM) in solar energy storage water tank. The study included conducting actual experiments, analytical solution, and numerical solution utilizing ANSYS 14 for simulation.  Results showed that despite the fact that the volume of the PCM used in the study was low (only 2% of the total volume of water), water with PCM took 1.4 hours longer to reach 45oC from 69oC.

pizza

A 3D model of pizza container with PCM bottles.

hot water

A photo of the experimental set-up of the hot water tank with PCMs.