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Six Month Progress Report. J R Gates. General Summary. Attendance at the ISES one day event in Brighton and the WREC conference in Brighton Paper published in the WREC conference proceedings and presentation given Paper accepted for the CIB conference in Maastricht

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General summary
General Summary

  • Attendance at the ISES one day event in Brighton and the WREC conference in Brighton

  • Paper published in the WREC conference proceedings and presentation given

  • Paper accepted for the CIB conference in Maastricht

  • Contact has been made with, University of Dayton, University of Salford, South Bank University, University of South Australia, Netherlands Energy Research Foundation and Rubitherm

  • PCM web page

  • Foreign exchange students

Research topics
Research Topics

  • PCMs

  • Solar collectors and system configurations

  • Proposed PCM system

  • Plastic selection


  • Inorganic

  • Organic

Desired properties
Desired Properties

  • Low cost, non-flammable, non-toxic, chemically stable, high latent heat of fusion, high thermal conductivity, low changes in volume due during phase change, low vapour pressure, low containment cost

Inorganic pcms
Inorganic PCMs

  • Advantages - high heat of fusion, good thermal conductivity, cheap and non- flammable

  • Disadvantages - Corrosive to most metals, supercooling, phase decomposition and suffer from loss of hydrate

Organic pcms
Organic PCMs

  • Advantages - chemically stable, suffer little or no supercooling, non-corrosive, non-toxic, high heat of fusion and low vapour pressure

  • Disadvantages - low thermal conductivity, high changes in volume on phase change, flammability


  • Macroencapsulation - large storage cylinders or pouches

  • Microencapsulation - powders or capsules

Containerisation basic requirements
Containerisation - Basic Requirements

  • Strength, flexibility, temperature resistance, UV stability, good thermal conductivity, compatibility and stability with PCM

Containerisation problems
Containerisation - Problems

  • Large containers make it difficult to extract heat as PCM becomes a self insulating material

  • Compressive strength reduced when combined with concrete

  • Flexible containers are damaged during thermal cycling due to changes in volume

  • Organic PCMs react with most plastics

  • Inorganic PCMs need airtight containers to reduce hydrate loss

Previous research weaknesses
Previous Research - Weaknesses

  • Lack of long term testing for both proposed systems and PCMs

  • Lack of experimental data on melting points and heat of fusion

Mathematical modelling
Mathematical Modelling

  • Difficult to analyse the heat transfer of PCM as it is a moving boundary problem

  • A PCM may consist of several layers a solid region a liquid region and a mushy region. Some models ignore the mushy region

Solar collectors
Solar Collectors

  • Flat plate - able to utilise both direct and diffuse radiation, easily maintained, easy to construct, but temperatures limited to approximately 100°C

  • Evacuated tube - able to perform even during overcast weather, self cleaning and radiation is the only heat loss mechanism at work, but high in cost and can reflect more sunlight than flat plate collector

Solar system selection
Solar System Selection

  • Thermo-Siphon

  • Indirect system

  • Open loop draindown system

  • Open loop drainback system

System criteria
System Criteria

  • Design life of 25 years

  • All the components used should either be recycled or easily recyclable

  • Able to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions on an all year round basis

  • Able to meet a given percentage of space heating load in the winter and a given percentage of hot water demand in the summer

  • The PCM must be easy to remove from the building once it is decommissioned, whereupon it can either be recycled or disposed of without adversely affecting the environment

System criteria contd
System Criteria Contd

  • The PCM must not pose a threat to the environment or the inhabitants

  • The system should require low maintenance with a high proportion of this being able to be completed by the homeowner to reduce costs in use

  • The system must be suitable for installation in both new build and retrofit applications

  • Back up heating must be provided by an alternative energy source other than grid produced electricity

  • Should be so far as practicable be modular to reduce construction costs

Proposed system
Proposed System

  • Combi-system

    • PCM filled panels

    • drainback system with a PV driven water pump

    • solar collectors

    • storage tank

    • back up heating provided by gas fired condensing boiler or wood stove


  • Panels can be recycled when the building is decommissioned

  • Panels will be marked with a resin identification code making recycling easier

  • System can be installed in both suspended timber and concrete floors

  • Long thin panels with a large surface area will facilitate heat storage and removal

Advantages contd
Advantages Contd

  • The use of a PV powered pump will cease parasitic pump losses, pump speed and flow rate will be automatically modulated resulting in higher collection efficiencies and reduction in energy use and better protection against overheating of collectors in power cuts

  • High collector efficiencies should be produced due to low flow temperatures needed

  • Similar advantages to those offered by underfloor heating

Advantages contd1
Advantages Contd

  • Drainback system does not require electronic freeze protection valves, there is no anti-freeze levels to check reducing maintenance, no double walled heat exchanger is needed increasing efficiency, water returns back to storage tank when pumping stops, heat loss reduced by supplying heated water straight to the top of the storage tank which also aids thermal stratification

  • Capable of reducing C02 emissions and energy use all year round

  • Not reliant on back up heating from off peak electricity

Potential disadvantages
Potential Disadvantages

  • Fire load

  • Plastic manufacture reliant on petroleum and to a lesser extent coal production

  • Additional dead load imposed by the system

  • Long pipe runs may result in low flow temperatures

  • If a wood stove is used there can be problem of storage and particulate pollution

Plastic panels design criteria
Plastic Panels - Design Criteria

  • Good thermal conductivity

  • Thin wall section to aid heat extraction

  • Should be long and thin in shape to aid charge and discharge of PCM

  • Transparency (for lab model only)

  • Melting point above the highest potential flow rate temperature

  • Constructed from recycled material or material easily recycled

Plastic panels contd
Plastic Panels Contd

  • Unaffected by PCM

  • Fire resistant or self extinguishing

  • Ability to accommodate volume change during phase transition of PCM

  • Joints must be able to accommodate the thermal movement of the plastic itself and changes in volume in the PCM at phase transition

Potential problems
Potential Problems

  • High thermal movement

  • Low stiffness

  • Flammability

Potential solutions
Potential Solutions

  • Thermal movement - careful material selection and detailing

  • Flammability - PVCu burns with great difficulty and is self extinguishing. Polyphenylene sulphide is self extinguishing, but will burn if a flame is present, charring without dripping or fire spread. Can also use fire retardants or anti oxidants although some lead to increased smoke emissions.

Future work
Future Work

  • Please see handout