Latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) systems based on phase change materials (PCMs) are a promising option to be employed as effective energy storage devices. PCM allows one to achieve high energy storage density and almost constant temperature energy retrieval, however LHTES systems performance is limited by poor thermal conductivity of the PCMs which leads to unacceptably low melting and solidification rates. Thus, heat transfer enhancement techniques are required in order to obtain acceptable melting and solidification rates.
The preliminary design of a shell-and-tube LHTES unit is investigated by means of computational fluid-dynamics (CFD). Three different fin designs are considered: a conventional radial fin, a constructal Y-shaped fin design and a non-constructal Y-shaped configuration previously investigated by the authors. The performances of each fin configuration are evaluated by means of a Second-law analysis. Moreover, local and global entropy generation rates are analyzed in order to show the main source of thermodynamic irreversibilities occurring in the system.
The analysis indicates that solidification rate is significantly enhanced when Y-shaped fins are adopted in the LHTES unit, however the constructal Y-shaped geometry is not optimal since further improvements can be achieved by means of a Y-shaped fins with elongated secondary branches.