Market-orientated solutions to increase thermal conductivity in latent thermal energy storage systems

Giulia Righetti*, Claudio Zilio, Kamel Hooman, Simone Mancin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Downloads (Pure)


Among experts, it is well-known that the thermal conductivity of PCMs (phase change materials) is low hence a major limitation for their commercial application. This work proposes alternative, inexpensive, but nevertheless effective solutions to increase the average thermal conductivity of a PCM system (a commercial paraffin wax, having a phase change temperature of about 40 °C) used for thermal energy storage. 600 g of PCM fills an annulus wrapping an inner tube used to either charge or discharge heat to the PCM. The effect of the flow rate and temperature of the water used as heat transfer fluid was experimentally analysed. The flow rate was set to vary between 2 and 8 l min-1 and the temperature between 45 and 55 °C. We tested three different aluminum-based thermal enhancers: a commercially available metal foam sample, a wire mesh, and irregular flakes (chips) obtained as waste product of machining operations. The PCM-only sample exhibited the longest charging and discharging times, while the PCM + foam sample shortened them the most. The two cost-effective solutions (chip and wire mesh) resulted in intermediate phase change times. A performance indicator, in terms of cost per phase change rate, is proposed to compare different enhancers. It demonstrated that these two cost-effective thermal conductivity enhancing solutions can become a key enabling method to widely deploy latent thermal energy technology widely in many different applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122583
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2024


The financial support of the Italian Ministry of University through the PRIN 2017 FlexHeat 2017KAAECT project and of the European Commission through the LIFE22-CCM-IT-LIFE ITS4ZEB project (GA n° 101113714) is appreciated.


  • Economic solution
  • Latent thermal energy storage
  • Metallic chip
  • Metallic foam
  • PCM
  • Thermal conductivity


Dive into the research topics of 'Market-orientated solutions to increase thermal conductivity in latent thermal energy storage systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this