This work concerns performance enhancement of phase change material (PCM) based thermal energy storage (TES) devices for air-conditioning applications. Such devices have numerous potential applications in the building environment. The TES device often uses air as the heat transfer fluid and, as a result, its performance is often limited by heat transfer in either or both of the PCM and the air sides. This paper aims to overcome the heat transfer limitations through intensifying heat transfer using two methods of extending heat transfer surfaces (fins) in both the PCM and air sides and adding heat transfer enhancement materials in the PCM. First, a TES device with different configurations (no fins; offset strip fins on the air side only; straight fins on the PCM side only; offset strip fins on air side and straight fins on PCM side) and PCM with different thermal conductivities were modelled and compared. The comparison leads to an advantageous utilization of fins instead of adding thermal conductive particles. The results also indicated a significant extent of performance enhancement of the TES device due to the use of fins with the charging and discharging times reduced respectively by ~85% and ~74%. The airside fins were found to be more effective than the PCM side fins. The results also showed that the heat transfer enhancement due to the PCM side fins could be achieved by increasing PCM thermal conductivity. The modelling results were then validated by experimental data. Finally, a PCM-based TES device was designed and manufactured based on the above results. The device was integrated into an air-conditioning system and experimentally tested. The results showed that, for both charge and discharge processes, the stabilization of the outlet temperature of the air conditioning system was significantly improved, leading to an increased extent of thermal comfort and decreased outlet temperature fluctuations. The obtained results can be used as the design guideline of the compact TES device for air conditioning.
- air conditioning
- phase change material
- thermal energy storage device