Phase Change Materials for Solar Thermal Energy Storage
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Phase change materials (PCMs) are a viable option for compact thermal energy storage. Effective designs using PCMs require accurate knowledge of the thermal and physical properties, but for many PCMs these are not well known, and when known the knowledge is sometimes contradictory. Therefore, physical characteristics of several promising PCMs (K3PO4·7H2O, FeCl3·6H2O, Mn(NO3)2·4H2O) were determined. In addition, a life cycle assessment (LCA) of dodecanoic acid in a solar thermal energy storage system was carried out to determine the environmental impact for energy storage. This LCA showed that dodecanoic acid in a solar energy system would save energy and facilitate CO2 reductions. However, the economic cost is high and is unlikely to be implemented without incentives. Finally an experimental testbed for a solar thermal system utilizing dodecanoic acid was built. Preliminary measurements demonstrated the utility of this system.