Performance optimization for shell-and-tube PCM thermal energy storage

Haobin Liang, Jianlei Niu, Yixiang Gan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Phase change material (PCM) based latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) systems have been a technology of increasing interests. Extensive experimental and numerical studies on the heat transfer enhancement of PCM have been reported. However, a thorough analysis of the effects of PCM heat transfer enhancement in combination with geometric optimization on the overall storage performance of an LHTES system is still lacking. In this work, a performance index, the effective energy storage ratio Est, based on the effectiveness-NTU theory, which set up a standard to compare TES systems, was adopted to evaluate the effective energy storage density of an LHTES system. Using the conjugate heat transfer analysis, we investigated the impact of the key parameters and flow conditions, including the geometric parameters (tube length-diameter ratio L/di, PCM volume ratio λ), turbulent versus laminar flow conditions of HTF, and the effective PCM thermal conductivity keff, on the performance indicator Est. It was found that the effective energy storage ratio increases with tube length-diameter ratio, and an optimal PCM volume ratio exists. Increasing the effective PCM thermal conductivity is only effective in enhancing the effective energy storage ratio when PCM volume ratio is above certain value. Over 500 sets of parametric studies were performed to optimize the PCM volume by maximizing the effective energy storage ratio. The results show that for both laminar and turbulent flow, optimal PCM volume ratio and maximal effective energy storage ratio increases with tube length-diameter ratio and effective PCM thermal conductivity. The enhancement of effective PCM thermal conductivity only noticeably increases maximal effective energy storage ratio when tube length-diameter ratio is above a certain threshold, i.e., around 800 for laminar flow and around 600 for fully turbulent flow. The fully turbulent flow greatly enhances the charging rate by 50 times and increases the capacity effectiveness at optimal PCM volume ratio to 0.6-0.9 from 0.2-0.8 at laminar flow conditions, but the maximal effective energy storage ratio of fully turbulent flows are generally lower than those of laminar flows. This work is the first systematic numerical analysis of the complete ensemble design factors of a shell-and-tube LHTES system, and it is recommended that the method could be a standard one for the engineering design of an LHTES system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101421
JournalJournal of Energy Storage
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Design optimization
  • Effective energy storage ratio
  • Latent heat thermal energy storage
  • Phase change material
  • Shell-and-tube

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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