Thermal performance of a multiple PCM thermal storage unit for free cooling
As demand for refrigeration and air conditioning increased during the last decade, the opportunities have expanded for using thermal energy storage (TES) systems in an economically advantageous manner in place of conventional cooling plants. Many cool storage systems use phase change materials (PCMs) and achieve peak load shifting in buildings. This work presents numerical investigations of the performance enhancement of a free cooling system using a TES unit employing multiple PCMs. The TES unit is composed of a number of rectangular channels for the flowing heat transfer fluid, separated by PCM slabs. Using the effective heat capacity method, the melting and solidification of the PCM is solved. The forced convective heat transfer inside the channels is analyzed by solving the energy equation, which is coupled with the heat conduction equation in the container wall. The effect of design parameters such as PCM slab length, thickness and fluid passage gap on the storage performance is also investigated using an energy based optimization. The results show that a system which can guarantee comfort conditions for the climate of Tabriz, Iran has an optimum COP of 7.0. This could be achieved by a combination of CaCl2·6H2O with RT25 with the optimum air channel thickness of 3.2 mm, length of 1.3 m and PCM slab thickness of 10 mm. âº Numerical analysis on the performance of a thermal storages as free cooling system. âº Employing multiple PCMs to enhance heat transfer rate in thermal storages. âº Using an effective heat capacity method, the phase change parameters are determined. âº The effect of the slabs size and air channel thickness on COP is investigated.