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Numerical study on latent thermal energy storage systems with aluminum foam in local thermal equilibrium
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The paper analyzes the behavior of a Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage system (LHTES) with a Phase Change Material (PCM), with and without aluminum foam. A numerical investigation in a two-dimensional domain is accomplished to investigate on the system thermal evolution. The enthalpy-porosity method is used to describe the PCM melting. The open-celled aluminum foam is described as a porous medium by means of the Darcy-Forchheimer law. A hollow cylinder represents the considered thermal energy storage and it consists of the enclosure between two concentric shell tubes. The external surface of the internal tube is at assigned temperature with a value greater than the melting PCM temperature, while the other surfaces are adiabatic. Local thermal equilibrium (LTE) is numerically adopted for modelling the heat transfer between the PCM and the solid matrix in aluminum foam. In the case with metal foam, simulations for different porosities are performed. A comparison in term of liquid fraction, average temperature of the system, temperature fields, stream function and a performance parameter are made between the clean case and porous assisted case for the different porosities. A scale analysis is developed for evaluating the time and the melting zone in different regimes (i.e. conduction, mixed conduction-convective and convective) during the melting processes of the PCM in porous media. Numerical simulation shows that aluminum foam increases overall heat transfer by a magnitude of two, with respect to the clean case.