DOI: 10.3390/ma16175955 ISSN:

A Novel Molecular PCM Wall with Inorganic Composite: Dynamic Thermal Analysis and Optimization in Charge–Discharge Cycles

Qianru Yang, Jianwu Xiong, Gang Mao, Yin Zhang
  • General Materials Science

The combination of electric heating and thermal energy storage (TES) with phase change material (PCM) can achieve load shifting for air conditioning energy saving in building sectors. Their non-flammability, relatively good mechanical properties, and low cost make inorganic PCMs attractive in construction engineering. However, PCMs often show poor thermal conductivity, low heat transfer efficiency, leakage risk, etc., in applications. Moreover, the practical thermal performance of PCM–TES sometimes fails to meet demand variations during charge and discharge cycles. Therefore, in this study, a novel integrated electric PCM wall panel module is proposed with quick dynamic thermal response in space heating suitable for both retrofitting of existing buildings and new construction. Sodium–urea PCM composites are chosen as PCM wall components for energy storage. Based on the enthalpy–porosity method, a mathematical heat transfer model is established, and numerical simulation studies on the charge–discharge characteristics of the module are conducted using ANSYS software. Preliminary results show that the melting temperature decreases from 50 °C to approximately 30 °C with a 30% urea mixing ratio, approaching the desired indoor thermal comfort zone for space heating. With declining PCM layer thickness, the melting time drops, and released heat capacity rises during the charge process. For a 20 mm thick PCM layer, 150 W/m2 can maintain the average surface temperature within a comfort range for 12.1 h, about half the time of a 24 h charge–discharge cycling periodicity. Furthermore, placing the heating film in the unit center is preferable for improving overall heat efficiency and shortening the time to reach the thermal comfort temperature range. This work can provide guidance for practical thermal design optimization of building envelopes integrated with PCM for thermal insulation and energy storage.

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