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Improved Melting and Solidification in Thermal Energy Storage Through Topology Optimization of Highly Conductive Fins

[+] Author Affiliations
Alberto Pizzolato, Vittorio Verda

Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy

Adriano Sciacovelli

University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Paper No. HT2017-5129, pp. V001T09A018; 11 pages
  • ASME 2017 Heat Transfer Summer Conference
  • Volume 1: Aerospace Heat Transfer; Computational Heat Transfer; Education; Environmental Heat Transfer; Fire and Combustion Systems; Gas Turbine Heat Transfer; Heat Transfer in Electronic Equipment; Heat Transfer in Energy Systems
  • Bellevue, Washington, USA, July 9–12, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5788-5
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Thermal energy storage units based on phase change materials (PCMs) need a fine design of highly conductive fins to improve the average heat transfer rate. In this paper, we seek the optimal distribution of a highly conductive material embedded in a PCM through a density-based topology optimization method. The phase change problem is solved through an enthalpy-porosity model, which accounts for natural convection in the fluid. Results show fundamental differences in the optimized layout between the solidification and the melting case. Fins optimized for solidification show a quasi-periodic pattern along the angular direction. On the other hand, fins optimized for melting elongate mostly in the bottom part of the unit leaving only two short baffles at the top. In both cases, the optimized structures show non-intuitive details which could not be obtained neglecting fluid flow. These additional features reduce the solidification and melting time by 11 % and 27 % respectively compared to a structure optimized for diffusion.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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