Development of a Simulation Tool for High Capacity Metal Foam Heat Exchanger with Phase Change Material 2018-01-0783
Metal foam with their high porosity and heat storage capacity can be combined with phase change materials to be a powerful heat storage device. Numerical simulations of metal foam behavior can be challenging due to their complex geometric patterns necessitating high mesh requirements. Furthermore, simulations of the inner workings of a metal foam heat exchanger comprising of a large number of individual metal foam canisters can be impossible. The objective of the current work is to develop a computational model using a proprietary CFD tool Simerics-MP/Simerics-MP+® to simulate the workings of a metal foam heat exchanger with phase change element. A heat transfer coefficient capturing this heat transfer between wax and metal is used to formulate the “simplified” mixture model. The versatility of the proposed model is in the universality of its application to any shape or structure of metal foam. The computational model developed is tested to replicate the results of the 3D simulation. Very good agreements for the coolant temperature rise between the model and 3D simulation are obtained. Metal foam heat exchangers comprising of 89 such individual single metal foam canisters are simulated using the “simplified” model. Different arrangements of the single metal foam canisters to make up the metal foam heat exchanger are explored. Simulation results show pure steel has a better heat transfer performance, followed by metal foam canister with phase change material and finally aluminum. However, weight and other material considerations can make the metal foam canisters a practical alternative for effective heat storage.