A numerical investigation of heat transfer in phase change materials (PCMs) embedded in porous metals
The effects of metal foams on heat transfer enhancement in Phase Change Materials (PCMs) are investigated. The numerical investigation is based on the two-equation non-equilibrium heat transfer model, in which the coupled heat conduction and natural convection are considered at phase transition and liquid zones. The numerical results are validated by experimental data. The main findings of the investigation are that heat conduction rate is increased significantly by using metal foams, due to their high thermal conductivities, and that natural convection is suppressed owing to the large flow resistance in metal foams. In spite of this suppression caused by metal foams, the overall heat transfer performance is improved when metal foams are embedded into PCM; this implies that the enhancement of heat conduction offsets or exceeds the natural convection loss. The results indicate that for different metal foam samples, heat transfer rate can be further increased by using metal foams with smaller porosities and bigger pore densities.