Development of Methods to Fully Saturate Carbon Foam With Paraffin Wax PCM for Energy Storage

 

In this work, the effect of infiltration method on the saturation rate of paraffin phase change material within graphite foams is experimentally investigated. Graphite foams infiltrated with paraffin have been found to be effective for solar energy storage, but it has been found that it is difficult to completely saturate the foam with paraffin. The effectiveness of the fill will have a significant effect on the performance of the system, but the data on fill ratio are difficult to separate from confounding effects such as type of graphite or phase change material (PCM) used. This is the first detailed quantitative study that directly isolates the effect of infiltration method on fill ratio of PCM in graphite foams.

Here,  the two most commonly reported methods of infiltration are studied under controlled conditions. In fact, the effect of the infiltration method on the paraffin saturation rate is found to be highly significant. It was found that the more commonly used simple submersion technique is ineffective at filling the voids within the graphite foam. Repeated tests showed that at least 25% of the reported open space within the foam was left unfilled. In contrast, it was found that the use of a vacuum oven lead to a complete fill of the foam. These high saturation rates were achieved with significantly shorter dwell times than in previously reported studies and can be of significant use to others working in this area.

SEM image of paraffin filled carbon foam on brittle fracture surface
SEM image of paraffin filled carbon foam on brittle fracture surface