Sinusoidal response measurement procedure for the thermal performance assessment of PCM by means of Dynamic Heat Flow Meter Apparatus
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Original versionEnergy and Buildings. 2019, 183 297-310. 10.1016/j.enbuild.2018.11.011
The implementation, in Building Performance Simulations (BPS) tools, of robust models capable of simulating the thermophysical behaviour of a Phase Change Material (PCM) represents a fundamental step for an appropriate thermal evaluation of buildings that adopt PCM-enhanced envelope components. Reliable and robust measuring procedures are essential, at a material and component level, to provide experimental data for the empirical validation of software tools. The traditional laboratory tests that are generally used for the validation of models present some limitations, because PCMs are usually subjected to conditions that may be very different from the real boundary conditions of the building components in which PCMs are applied. Furthermore, in many experimental full-scale mockups, the relatively small quantity of installed PCM and the combination of several thermal phenomena do not allow software tools to be tested in a reliable way. In this paper, an experimental procedure, based on a modified Heat Flow Meter Apparatus, has been developed to test the behaviour of PCM-enhanced components; the procedure, which is based on the measurement of the sinusoidal response, has been set up to provide data for the comparison and testing of numerical models and of BPS tools. Moreover, general indications and guidelines are provided to solve some issues related to building specimens that contain bulk PCM in order to obtain a more accurate measurement of their performance. The experimental results presented in this paper were obtained from two different bulk PCMs (organic and inorganic). It was found that it is important to evaluate different PCM typologies and different thermophysical boundary conditions, including partial and full phase transitions, to test simulation codes that implement PCM modelling functions. In fact, some phenomena, such as hysteresis and subcooling effects are more evident when partial phase transition takes place. The results related to the characterization of the thermal conductivity of a paraffin-based PCM have shown a significant increase (up to 42%) of the equivalent thermal conductivity from a solid to a liquid state, with an upward heat flux, thus highlighting that further investigations and improvements are needed to measure the equivalent thermal conductivity in the different PCM phases.