Abstract: Here we document the effect of heat transfer fluid (HTF) tube position and shell shape on the melting time and sensible energy requirement for melting a phase change material (PCM) in a multitube latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) application. Tube location and shell shape are essential as the shape of the melted region, i.e. similar to the boundary layer, affects convective heat transfer performance. HTF tube total area is fixed in all cases to have the same amount of PCM. In order to eliminate the effect of heat transfer surface area variation, results of two- and four-tube configurations were compared within themselves. Liquid fraction, sensible enthalpy content, and latent/sensible enthalpy ratio relative to time were documented for two and four HTF configurations in various shell shape and tube locations. Results show that eccentric two tubes with rectangular shell decreases melting time and sensible energy requirement from 67 min to 32 min and from 161.8 kJ/kg to 136.3 kJ/kg for 72.3% liquid fraction, respectively, in comparison to the concentric tubes with the circular shell. When the number of HTF tubes increases to four, then the required melting time and sensible energy decrease 80% and 3.8%, respectively, for PCM to melt completely as the concentric tubes and circular shell is replaced with eccentric tubes and rectangular shell. Results of liquid fraction variation relative to time show that S-curve of melting becomes steeper if PCM distribution is such that the intersection of melted regions is delayed. Therefore, melted PCM regions could be packed into a shell that minimizes melting time and required sensible energy. Even rectangular shell shape increases the heat transfer surface (increased heat loss rate) because melting time has decreased greatly, total energy lost to the ambient from the surfaces of shell decreases. Eccentricity slows down the solidification process but due to increased heat loss rate from the surface, rectangular shell enables faster solidification than circular shell shape. There is a trade off in between solidification time and heat loss energy for rectangular channels which can be optimized by selecting proper insulation thickness. Overall, the results show that without any thermal conductivity enhancement (TCE) method, melting performance and latent heat storage capability can be significantly enhanced as decreasing the sensible heat storage by fitting the melted PCM regions into a fixed space for the applications where charging speed is lot faster than discharging.
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