What is Phase change Material ( PCM )- Application of PCM

What is Phase change Material ( PCM )

A phase change material (PCM) is a substance with a high heat of fusion which, melting and solidifying at a certain temperature, is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy. Heat is absorbed or released when the material changes from solid to liquid and vice versa; thus, PCMs are classified as latent heat storage (LHS) units.

Latent heat storage can be achieved through liquid→solid, solid→liquid, solid→gas and liquid→gas phase changes. However, only solid→liquid and liquid→solid phase changes are practical for PCMs. Although liquid–gas transitions have a higher heat of transformation than solid–liquid transitions, liquid→gas phase changes are impractical for thermal storage because large volumes or high pressures are required to store the materials in their gas phase. Solid–solid phase changes are typically very slow and have a relatively low heat of transformation.

Initially, solid–liquid PCMs behave like sensible heat storage (SHS) materials; their temperature rises as they absorb heat. Unlike conventional SHS materials, however, when PCMs reach the temperature at which they change phase (their melting temperature) they absorb large amounts of heat at an almost constant temperature. The PCM continues to absorb heat without a significant rise in temperature until all the material is transformed to the liquid phase. When the ambient temperature around a liquid material falls, the PCM solidifies, releasing its stored latent heat. A large number of PCMs are available in any required temperature range from −5 up to 190 °C. Within the human comfort range between 20–30 °C, some PCMs are very effective. They store 5 to 14 times more heat per unit volume than conventional storage materials such as water, masonry or rock.



  1. Water
  2. Sodium sulfate
  3. Aluminium
  4. Titanium
  5. NaNO3
  6. NaOH
  7. Glycerin
  8. O-Nitroaniline
  9. Hypophosphoric acid

The most commonly used PCMs are salt hydrates, fatty acids and esters, and various paraffins (such as octadecane). Recently also ionic liquids were investigated as novel PCMs.

As most of the organic solutions are water-free, they can be exposed to air, but all salt based PCM solutions must be encapsulated to prevent water evaporation or uptake. Both types offer certain advantages and disadvantages and if they are correctly applied some of the disadvantages becomes an advantage for certain applications.

PCM Applications 

  • Thermal energy storage
  • Solar cooking
  • Cold Energy Battery
  • Conditioning of buildings, such as ‘ice-storage’
  • Cooling of heat and electrical engines
  • Cooling: food, beverages, coffee, wine, milk products, green houses
  • Medical applications: transportation of blood, operating tables, hot-cold therapies, treatment of birth asphyxia
  • Human body cooling under bulky clothing or costumes.
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Off-peak power utilization: Heating hot water and Cooling
  • Heat pump systems
  • Passive storage in bioclimatic building/architecture (HDPE, paraffin)
  • Smoothing exothermic temperature peaks in chemical reactions
  • Solar power plants
  • Spacecraft thermal systems
  • Thermal comfort in vehicles
  • Thermal protection of electronic devices
  • Thermal protection of food: transport, hotel trade, ice-cream, etc.
  • Textiles used in clothing
  • Computer cooling
  • Turbine Inlet Chilling with thermal energy storage
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Experimental Investigations on Thermal Storage in a Solar Dryer
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