A Novel Framework for Performance Evaluation and Design Optimization of Phase Change Material (PCM) Embedded Heat Exchangers for the Built Environment

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Lead Performer: University of Maryland – College Park, MD
Partner: Heat Transfer Technologies, LLC – Prospect Heights, MD
DOE Total Funding: $1.4 million
Cost Share: $350,000
Project Term: April 8, 2020 – April 7, 2023
Funding Type: Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) 2019 Funding Opportunity

Project Objective

The objective of the project is to develop and test a PCM embedded heat exchanger (PCM-HX) capable of load shifting heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment with the following targets:

  1. Greater than 50% reduction in demand
  2. More than 4 hours of operating time
  3. No more than 10% weight and volume increase compared to baseline
  4. Simple payback period less than 5 years

The project will also release an online PCM-HX performance simulation tool to assist the design community on common use cases such as single/multiple flow path(s) fluid-to-PCM configuration and air-to-fluid-to-PCM configuration.

Project Impact

Once the framework fulfills above requirements, it can assist DOE and the entire design community to elevate the TRL of thermal storage embedded equipment (the proposal will directly address PCM-HX as an example) from level 3 to level 7. Moreover, through the project, an easy-to-use web-based version of the design-simulation tool will be made available to the public. The design-simulation tool will help generate reduced order models and performance maps that can later be integrated in building energy simulation tools. The project team will demonstrate this analyses workflow early on. The team will leverage the abundant PCM-HX experience from HTT to fabricate and together validate optimal geometries for two common heat exchangers for validation and demonstration. The possible candidates include a tube-fin heat exchanger submerged in a container, a PCM embedded microchannel heat exchanger and a next-generation fully optimized PCM heat exchanger obtained from the PCM-HX framework. The EERE support of this development will therefore assist the seamless integration of PCM into traditional HVAC&R equipment to reduce demand loads and increase demand‐side flexibility while maintaining occupant comfort.


DOE Technology Manager: Antonio Bouza
Lead Performer: Vikrant Aute, University of Maryland