A Review of Solar-Coupled Phase Change Materials in BuildingsShahid Aziz, Tariq Talha, Abdur Rehman Mazhar, Junaid Ali, Dong-Won Jung
- General Materials Science
Buildings use a significant percentage of the total energy consumed worldwide. Striving for energy conservation within buildings is of prime concern for researchers. Hence, scientists are aggressively exploring new energy storage and supply methods to reduce exorbitantly fluctuating energy demands and increase the share of renewable energy in building energy consumption. Solar systems that incorporate phase change materials (PCMs) for thermal storage have significant potential to serve in this context. These systems are not yet able to endure the significant energy demands, but they are being continually improved. The aim of this paper is to explore the existing solar PCM systems that are being studied or that are installed for use in indoor heating/cooling. As per the outcome of this systematic review, it has been observed that when coupled with solar thermal energy, the configuration of PCMs can either use passive or active techniques. Passive techniques are usually less efficient and more costly to implement in a building structure, resulting in active heat exchangers being widely implemented with better technical and economic results. At the same time, it has been observed that for most domestic buildings, organic PCMs with phase change temperatures of up to 42 °C and thermal conductivities of up to 0.56 W/m.K are most suitable for integration in solar thermal energy production. Hybrid systems are also commonly used for larger commercial buildings, in which the solar PCM system (SPCMS) provides a fraction of the total load. Additionally, the Stefan number is the most common technical parameter that is used to assess this performance, along with the effective thermal conductivity of the PCM after using enhancement techniques. The key economic indicator is annual savings per year, with most SPCMSs having a payback period of between 6 to 30 years. This review provides designers and researchers with key insights in terms of formulating a basis in the domain of coupling PCMs with solar thermal energy, especially within non-industrial buildings.