Phase change materials (PCMs) have been widely used for thermal energy storage systems due to their capability of storing and releasing large amounts of energy with a small volume and a moderate temperature variation. Most PCMs suffer the common problem of low thermal conductivity, being around 0.2 and 0.5 for paraffin and inorganic salts, respectively, which prolongs the charging and discharging period. In an attempt to improve the thermal conductivity of phase change materials, the graphite or metallic matrix is often embedded within PCMs to enhance the heat transfer. This paper presents an experimental study on heat transfer characteristics of PCMs embedded with open-celled metal foams. In this study both paraffin wax and calcium chloride hexahydrate are employed as the heat storage media. The transient heat transfer behavior is measured. Compared to the results of pure PCMs samples, the investigation shows that the additions of metal foams can double the overall heat transfer rate during the melting process. The results of calcium chloride hexahydrate are also compared with those of paraffin wax.

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