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Study of a urea-based phase change material for thermal energy storage

Abstract : This work presents a contribution to the latent heat thermal energy storage LHTES technology by working on both phase change materials PCMs and storage systems that are technically and economically viable for their integration in buildings. Regarding the PCM material, the urea and sodium nitrate eutectic mixture has been previously identified as a good candidate for the Domestic Heating Water (DHW) and heating applications. One of the main objectives of the PhD thesis was the characterization of these aspects to evaluate the urea and sodium nitrate eutectic mixture long term feasibility to be used as a PCM in application. The study of the material includes the development of methodologies that are more practical and representative of the operation in the final application than the traditionally used in PCM characterization. The characterization of the hygroscopicity or water uptake of the urea and sodium nitrate eutectic mixture under different conditions was performed. A sample preparation method and handling conditions are proposed for avoiding the mixture water uptake.The thermal degradation of the urea and sodium nitrate eutectic mixture was evaluated by measuring the thermo-physical behavior after exposure time at different defined temperatures. DSC measurements were carried out to determine the variation of parameters that are directly related to the thermal energy storage of the PCM and its long-term stability. In addition, the degradation products and their influence on the variation of the system properties were assessed.The eutectic mixture showed unforeseen segregation at temperatures above the melting point upon melting and solidification cycles. Several tests were done including thermal cycling, XRD of the segregates, DSC after the redissolution of the segregates in the liquid material, and microscopy (PLM and SEM) of samples cooled down under different conditions. The experiments permitted to stablish a relationship between the operation conditions, more specifically the cooling rates, with the resulting crystal structures which explains the phase segregation in the eutectic mixture, and how to reduce it and how to reverse the process.The study of the supercooling comprised the use of the urea and sodium nitrate eutectic mixture and PEG10000. The experiments were performed in different conditions: sample containers (with different geometries and volumes), cooling rates and heat transfer fluids (HTF) were implemented. Finally, the results served to evaluate the relationship of the supercooling degree with parameters associated with the sample volume, cooling media and PCM parameters. Afterwards, linear regression models were gathered for each material and one for both materials. The specific aim of the chapter is to get a step further into the supercooling understanding and prediction, in order to efficiently design LHTES systems to be used with materials that show supercooling.Finally, regarding the storage system a shell and tubes heat exchanger is studied in order to evaluate the use of devices already commercially available the use as latent heat energy storage LHTES devices. The first objective was to get a deeper understanding of the thermal behavior of the device. The characterization was performed using RT60 paraffin as PCM inside the shell, a well known commercial material, to assure the reproducibility of the results, and water as heat transfer fluid in the tubes. Several flow rates and temperature ranges were used to obtain a greater scope of the operation of the device as LHTES. The work included the determination of the thermal losses, and the study of charging and discharging cycles, initial and final temperatures and flow rates.
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Submitted on : Saturday, October 16, 2021 - 1:02:01 AM
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Laura Marcela Quant Colón. Study of a urea-based phase change material for thermal energy storage. Thermics [physics.class-ph]. Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour; Universidad del País Vasco. Facultad de ciencias, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020PAUU3010⟩. ⟨tel-03381204⟩

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