A key challenge in the deployment of practical latent heat energy storage systems employing phase change materials is the inherent low thermal conductivity of these materials. The present research is motivated by the need to intensify the buoyancy-driven convection flow in the phase change material to enhance the thermal performance of the system. In this paper, for the first time, the effect of applying perforated fins on the thermal performance enhancement of a vertical shell and tube latent heat energy storage heat exchanger is experimentally investigated and the results are compared with those of the unfinned and solid finned heat exchangers as the base cases. Lauric acid as the phase change material is placed in the shell side and the water is passed through the inner tube. The shells of the heat exchangers were made of transparent Plexiglas tubes to enable the visual comparison of the melting processes. The fins and tubes were made of copper. The melting process of phase change material is studied under different inlet water flow rates (0.5 and 1 l/min) and temperatures (55 and 65 °C). The experimental results showed that the time-averaged Nusselt number of the perforated finned heat exchanger is about 30% higher than that of the solid finned heat exchanger due to the minor hindering effect of the perforated fins on the development of the convection flows. Moreover, the total melting time of the perforated finned heat exchanger is about 7% lower than that of the solid finned heat exchanger.
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- Latent heat energy storage (LHES)
- Natural convection
- Perforated fin
- Phase change material (PCM)