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Phase Change Materials: Interesting Method for Thermal Energy Storage

By Mohammad Rezvanpour


Phase change materials (PCMs) are using for thermal energy storage (TES) in a wide range of applications such as Smart Textiles, Portable Electronics, Building Materials, Solar Energy applications and so on. These applications cover a broad temperature range. Based on their application, it can be from -40 °C to 500 °C.

PCMs fundamental is based on solid-liquid phase transformation, more commonly known as the melting-solidification cycle at a temperature within the operating range. PCMs absorb heat when they change their phase from solid to liquid and release it when they transform from liquid to solid. When a substance absorbs heat, it can store the thermal energy until fully melting and becoming liquid. Note that during the melting process, melting temperature is constant. It is right for the solidification process too. Scientists use these fascinating and simple characteristics of substances to store thermal energy and use it again whenever they want. 

 These days, you hear about Renewable Energy (RE) that our future will depend on. One of these is Solar Energy. We can absorb the heat from the sun and turn it into electricity by various processes. One kind of these absorbers is Photovoltaic (PV). Despite their great function to absorb the heat, when they get hot by long-term sun radiation, their efficiency decreases severely. Engineers have suggested a solution called “PV-PCM” systems. In these systems, PCM can cool down the PV temperature and enhance the efficiency by 30% in some cases. This is just one example of how Renewable Energy can integrate with PCM.

Do you know any REs that can be integrated with PCM?