Development of a novel energy efficient phase change emulsion for air conditioning systems

  • Jingjing SHAO

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


Buildings represent more than 40% of final global energy consumption, among which 50%-60% of energy consumption is attributed to Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. The application of phase change material emulsions (PCMEs) in air conditioning systems is considered to be a potential way of saving energy because with their relatively higher energy storage capacity, they are able to reduce flow rate whilst delivering the same amount of cooling energy. PCMEs can also simultaneously act as cold energy storage to shift peak-load to off-peak time and improve coefficient of performance of systems. However, one of the main barriers affecting the application of PCME is the difficulty in maintaining stability in the emulsions without experiencing any temperature stratification during phase change process. To this end, an innovative energy efficient phase change emulsion has been developed and evaluated. The emulsion (PCE-10) which consists of an organic PCM (RT10) and water has a phase change temperature range of 4-12°C with heat capacity of twice as much as that of water thus making it a good candidate for cooling applications. Particular attention was also paid to the selection of the surfactant blends of Tween60 and Brij52 since they are capable of minimizing the effect of sub-cooling as well as ensuring stability of the emulsion. For the purpose of testing the performance of developed PCE-10 in fin-and-tube heat exchangers, series of theoretical and experimental studies have been carried out to understand the rheological behaviour and heat transfer characteristics of the developed PCE-10 in a fin-and-tube heat exchanger. Both experimental and theoretical results were fairly close and showed that the PCE-10 did enhance the overall heat transfer rate of the heat exchanger. In order to evaluate the potential of the integrated system, whole building energy simulation was carried out with a building simulation code TRNSYS. It was found out that the required volumetric flow rate of PCE-10 was 50% less than that of water which is equivalent to 7% reduction in total energy consumption when providing the same amount of cooling power. Despite its potential in cooling systems, the viscosity of the developed sample was found to be much higher than water which could contribute to high pressure drop in a pumping system. Its thermal conductivity was also found to be about 30% lower than the value for water which could influence heat transfer process. There is therefore the need to enhance these thermophysical properties in any future investigations.
Date of Award8 Nov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Univerisity of Nottingham
SupervisorJo Darkwa (Supervisor) & Georgios Kokogiannakis (Supervisor)


  • Air conditioning -- Efficiency
  • Phase change emulsion
  • Air conditioning system

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