Experimental investigation of the effect of inclination angle on convection-driven melting of phase change material in a rectangular enclosure

Babak Kamkari, Hossein Shokouhmand, Frank Bruno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

298 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the dynamic thermal behavior of phase change material (PCM) melting in a rectangular enclosure at various inclination angles. Lauric acid as a PCM with high Prandtl number (Pr ≈ 100) is used. The enclosure is heated isothermally from one side while the other walls are thermally insulated. Experiments were performed with hot wall temperatures of 55, 60 and 70 C (3.6×108≤Ra≤8.3×108) for different inclination angles of 0, 45 and 90. Image processing of melt photographs along with recorded temperatures were used to calculate the melt fractions, Nusselt numbers and the local interfacial heat transfer rates at the solid-liquid interface. Qualitative time-dependent natural convection flow structures were deduced indirectly from the instantaneous shape of the solid-liquid interface which were confirmed by quantitative data from temperature measurements. The results reveal that the enclosure inclination has a significant effect on the formation of natural convection currents and consequently on the heat transfer rate and melting time of the PCM. As the inclination angle is decreased from 90 to 0, the convection currents in the enclosure increases and chaotic flow structures appear. When melting commences in the horizontally inclined enclosure, the solid-liquid interface line becomes wavy which implies the formation of Benard convection cells in the liquid PCM. For the same hot wall temperatures, a decrease in inclination angle leads to a considerable enhancement in energy transport from the hot wall of the enclosure to the PCM. It is found that the heat transfer enhancement ratio for the horizontal enclosure is more than two times higher than that of the vertical enclosure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-200
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - May 2014


  • Heat transfer enhancement
  • Inclination angle
  • Melting
  • Natural convection
  • Phase change material
  • Thermal storage


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