Improvement of Phase Change Materials (PCM) Used for Solar Process Heat Applications

Molecules. 2021 Feb 26;26(5):1260. doi: 10.3390/molecules26051260.


The high intermittency of solar energy is still a challenge yet to be overcome. The use of thermal storage has proven to be a good option, with phase change materials (PCM) as very promising candidates. Nevertheless, PCM compounds have typically poor thermal conductivity, reducing their attractiveness for commercial uses. This paper demonstrates the viability of increasing the PCM effective thermal conductivity to industrial required values (around 4 W/m·K) by using metal wool infiltrated into the resin under vacuum conditions. To achieve this result, the authors used an inert resin, decoupling the specific PCM material selection from the enhancement effect of the metal wools. To ensure proper behavior of the metal wool under standard industrial environments at a broad range of temperatures, a set of analyses were performed at high temperatures and an inert atmosphere, presenting a thorough analysis of the obtained results.

Keywords: effective thermal conductivity enhancement; inert atmosphere; metal wool; phase change material; solar process heat; thermal energy storage.

MeSH terms

  • Composite Resins / chemistry
  • Electric Power Supplies*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Metals / chemistry*
  • Phase Transition*
  • Solar Energy*
  • Thermal Conductivity
  • Vacuum


  • Composite Resins
  • Metals