Enhanced Thermal Activity of Vegetable Oil Based Thermal Energy Storage Materials
Phase change materials (PCMs) are a class of materials that use phase changes (e.g., melting) to absorb or release relatively large amounts of latent heat at relatively constant temperature. Applications include such things as clothing, building air conditioning, and medical-related shipping containers. However, the one area that still plagues the widespread use of PCMs is that they have a low thermal conductivity. A PCM that has a higher thermal conductivity would revolutionize the applications that could use PCMs for thermal energy storage. This research will develop PCMs that have significantly higher thermal conductivities. We will accomplish this by making "Additives" that can be dispersed throughout the PCM. We will determine the feasibility of these "Additives" by performing parametric studies on the PCM/Additive physical properties. The introduction of an enhanced thermally conductive PCM will have broader impacts through improved utilization in consumer products. Applications not previously pursued will be open to use of these materials because of the improved thermal transport. Currently thermal energy storage containers have to have expensive and exotic methods to increase surface area to compensate for the poor thermal conductivity of the PCMs. An improved understanding of the nature of an "additive" for thermal conductivity enhancement could benefit not only the thermal energy storage market but also the entire heat transfer fluid industry.
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