Thermal Energy Storage Through Melting of a Commercial Phase Change Material in an Annulus with Radially Divergent Longitudinal Fins

Authors: Tonny Tabassum, Mainul Hasan*, Latifa Begum

Volume 7, Issue 1, Paper No. 20070102

This study reports on the unsteady two-dimensional numerical investigations of melting of a paraffin wax (phase change material, PCM) which melts over a temperature range of 8.7oC. The PCM is placed inside a circular concentric horizontal-finned annulus for the storage of thermal energy. The inner tube is fitted with three radially diverging longitudinal fins strategically placed near the bottom part of the annulus to accelerate the melting process there. The developed CFD code used in Tabassum et al., 2018 is extended to incorporate the presence of fins. The numerical results show that the average Nusselt number over the inner tube surface, the total melt fraction, the total stored energy all increased at every time instant in the finned annulus compared to the annulus without fins. This is due to the fact that in the finned annulus, the fins at the lower part of the annulus promotes buoyancy-driven convection as opposed to the slow conduction melting that prevails at the bottom part of the plain annulus. Fins with two different heights have been considered. It is found that by extending the height of the fin to 50% of the annular gap about 33.05% more energy could be stored compared to the bare annulus at the melting time of 82.37 min for the identical operating conditions. The effects of fins with different heights on the temperature and streamfunction distributions are found to be different. The present study can provide some useful guidelines for achieving a better thermal energy storage system.
Keywords: longitudinal fins; natural convection melting; heat transfer; horizontal finned annulus; enthalpy-porosity technique; staggered grid

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