Design and Performance Evaluation of a Dual-Circuit Thermal Energy Storage Module for Air Conditioners

Anurag Goyal, Eric Kozubal, Jason Woods, Malek Nofal, Said Al-Hallaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus Citations


We present experimental results and a validated numerical model of a dual-circuit phase-change thermal energy storage module for air conditioners. The module incorporates a phase-change material encapsulated in compressed expanded natural graphite foam. We used n-tetradecane as the PCM with a transition temperature (~4.5 °C) suitable for air-conditioning applications. Heat exchange to and from the module is accomplished through two fluid loops operating as a heat source and sink embedded inside multiple slabs of the composite material. This dual-circuit design enables easier integration with air-conditioning equipment and provides enhanced flexibility in system operation as compared to the state-of-the-art thermal storage systems. When integrated with an air-conditioner, this design will enable peak-load shaving and enhances operational efficiency. The thermal storage device was designed for a nominal storage capacity of ~ 3.5 kWh. We evaluated the heat transfer and energy storage performance of this device using standalone heat transfer experiments to estimate key thermal resistances and identify design improvements before integration with an air conditioner. The numerical model of the heat exchanger uses a combination of discretized and lumped parameter approaches to maintain a balance between accuracy and computational expense. Our analyses show that the geometric features and integration of fluid tubes are key contributors to the thermal contact resistance between the fluid and the thermal storage material, and consequently, to the overall performance of the thermal storage module. Our standalone experiments also identified important operating scenarios in which this thermal storage module can be used for air-conditioning in buildings.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number116843
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-75641


  • Composite phase-change material
  • Compressed expanded natural graphite
  • Heat exchanger
  • Simulation
  • Thermal energy storage


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