Natural Convection in Melting and Solidification

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Interest in utilizing clean energy is growing due to environmental considerations. Solar energy is one of the most promising clean energies, but due to its periodic nature, a heat storage device is needed. A thermal energy storage system using a Phase Change Material (PCM) is an attractive method because a large amount of latent heat can be stored or released during the melting or solidification process of the PCM. During the thermal energy storage process, the hot working fluid from the solar energy collector flows into the thermal energy storage device to melt the PCM and store thermal energy in the form of latent heat. During the nighttime, the PCM solidifies and the latent heat is released. Natural convection plays a significant role in both melting and solidification processes due to the temperature difference in the liquid phase. While melting is promoted by the presence of natural convection, solidification is slowed down by its presence.

In this section, natural convection during solidification around a horizontal tube (Zhang et al., 1997) and during melting in an enclosure heated from the side (Zhang, 2002) will be discussed.


Zhang, Y., 2002, “Analysis of Melting in an Enclosure under Boundary Condition of the Third Kind,” Proceedings of the 12th International Heat Transfer Conference, Vol. 3, pp. 315-320, Grenoble, France, August 18-23, 2002.

Zhang, Y., Chen, Z.Q., and Faghri, A., 1997, “Heat Transfer During Solidification around a Horizontal Tube with Internal Convective Cooling,” ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering, Vol. 119, pp. 44-47.

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