Bother two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) simulations on two example melting problems, i.e., melting in a differentially-heated rectangular cavity and constrained melting in a horizontal cylindrical capsule, were carried out to investigate the rationality of 2D simplification. The effects of thermophysical properties of the phase change material, size of the container along the direction perpendicular to the 2D cross-section, as well as wall superheat were taken into consideration for a systematic and detailed comparison. It was shown that a small length of the container perpendicular to 2D plane will result in a confine space to limit the development of velocity distribution (i.e., parabolic velocity profile) due to the end effects, leading to to an almost identical melting rate to that obtained by the 2D simplified case. A larger size indicates stronger thermal convection (bulk uniform velocity profile) and faster melting rate. When fixing a large size of the container perpendicular to the 2D plane, decreasing the heating temperature and increasing the viscosity of liquid PCM (e.g., by adding nanoparticles) reduce the discrepancy between 2D and 3D simulation results.

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