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Title: Phase change thermal energy storage for the thermal control of large thermally lightweight indoor spaces
Authors: Gowreesunker, Baboo Lesh Singh
Advisors: Tassou, S
Kolokotroni, M
Keywords: Phase change materials;Computational fluid dynamics;TRNSYS;Phase change models;Airport terminal space
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Brunel University School of Engineering and Design PhD Theses
Abstract: Energy storage using Phase Change Materials (PCMs) offers the advantage of higher heat capacity at specific temperature ranges, compared to single phase storage. Incorporating PCMs in lightweight buildings can therefore improve the thermal mass, and reduce indoor temperature fluctuations and energy demand. Large atrium buildings, such as Airport terminal spaces, are typically thermally lightweight structures, with large open indoor spaces, large glazed envelopes, high ceilings and non-uniform internal heat gains. The Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems constitute a major portion of the overall energy demand of such buildings. This study presented a case study of the energy saving potential of three different PCM systems (PCM floor tiles, PCM glazed envelope and a retrofitted PCM-HX system) in an airport terminal space. A quasi-dynamic coupled TRNSYS®-FLUENT® simulation approach was used to evaluate the energy performance of each PCM system in the space. FLUENT® simulated the indoor air-flow and PCM, whilst TRNSYS® simulated the HVAC system. Two novel PCM models were developed in FLUENT® as part of this study. The first model improved the phase change conduction model by accounting for hysteresis and non-linear enthalpy-temperature relationships, and was developed using data from Differential Scanning Calorimetry tests. This model was validated with data obtained in a custom-built test cell with different ambient and internal conditions. The second model analysed the impact of radiation on the phase change behaviour. It was developed using data from spectrophotometry tests, and was validated with data from a custom-built PCM-glazed unit. These developed phase change models were found to improve the prediction errors with respect to conventional models, and together with the enthalpy-porosity model, they were used to simulate the performance of the PCM systems in the airport terminal for different operating conditions. This study generally portrayed the benefits and flexibility of using the coupled simulation approach in evaluating the building performance with PCMs, and showed that employing PCMs in large, open and thermally lightweight spaces can be beneficial, depending on the configuration and mode of operation of the PCM system. The simulation results showed that the relative energy performance of the PCM systems relies mainly on the type and control of the system, the night recharge strategy, the latent heat capacity of the system, and the internal heat gain schedules. Semi-active systems provide more control flexibility and better energy performance than passive systems, and for the case of the airport terminal, the annual energy demands can be reduced when night ventilation of the PCM systems is not employed. The semi-active PCM-HX-8mm configuration without night ventilation, produced the highest annual energy and CO2 emissions savings of 38% and 23%, respectively, relative to a displacement conditioning (DC) system without PCM systems.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Dept of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering Theses

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