Thermal Storage Resources

Resources for Phase Change Material Thermal Solutions

Phase Change Materials (PCMs) are a passive, two-phase, thermal storage technology that utilize the latent heat of fusion to absorb thermal energy.  Since energy stored by the latent heat from melting or freezing is at least 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than that by the specific heat, a PCM heat sink is a highly effective thermal management device.

While common PCMs such as paraffin waxes have a high thermal capacity due to the latent heat, they also tend to have a low thermal conductivity, often < 1 W/m-K.  This causes a need for additional features, such as extended surfaces and fins to effectively melt the entire PCM with minimal thermal resistance.  PCM heat sink and heat exchanger designs are therefore critical in ensuring the optimal SWaP minded solution for the higher-level assembly.

Two Main Reasons to Choose a PCM based Thermal Solution

Typical Applications that benefit from leveraging PCM thermal Solutions include:

Advanced Thermal Management using PCM

ACT engineers have experience in designing PCM-based thermal management systems, ranging from milli-watts to kilo-watts.

Phase Change Material benefits for spacecraft thermal control

PCM Assemblies for heat storage use a variety of PCMs and wall materials to meet application-specific requirements. Our modeling and manufacturing experience includes paraffin waxes, hydrated salts, and metal-based PCM assemblies for powers ranging from 1 to 100 KW. Due to the dynamic, time-dependent thermal properties of a PCM heat exchanger, advanced modeling capabilities and experience in thermal design are essential to a well-designed system.

ACT Modeling Capabilities & Software packages for PCM Assemblies: Types of complex PCM packaging in which ACT is experienced:
  • VAB (Vacuum Aluminum Brazed)
  • Corrugated surfaces
  • Fins (Folded, Integral, Bonded, etc.)
  • Heat pipe embedded enclosures
  • Heat Exchangers
  • Additive Manufactured

For an evaluation of design requirements and recommendations, contact an ACT thermal expert today.

PCM Resource Links

Product: PCM Heat Sink

ACT’s PCM heat sink products are designed to absorb heat with minimal temperature rise, as the phase change material melts

PCM Heat Sink FAQ

A quick introduction to Phase Change Material Heat Sinks

PCM Calculator

The PCM heatsink calculator can be used to determine the approximate size and mass of a PCM heat sink required for thermal storage applications.

PCM Selection

A discussion on the basic types of PCM: paraffin waxes, non-paraffin organics, hydrated salts, and metallic

Heat Sink Design

PCM heat sinks must be designed around the very low thermal conductivity of typical PCMs



R&D Advancements

On-Chip PCM for Pulsed Power Placing PCM

within several µm of the gates on high power pulsed GaN chips can reduce temperatures and/or increase maximum power without overheating

PCM Heat Exchangers for Pulsed Power

Adding PCM to a heat exchanger for pulsed Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) systems can greatly reduce Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) for the overall cooling system

Electronics Heat Sinks

One Time Use, Loss of Coolant, Dampening: used for electronics cooling for both pulsed power operations, and when the existing heat sink is inadequate

Power Plant Cooling

Increase in Cooling Capacity: Dry Cooling Power Plants reject megawatts of heat to condense low temperature, low pressure steam, without consuming fresh water. However, the power producing capacity of dry cooling systems must be reduced when the ambient air temperature is high, since less steam can be condensed. ACT is developing a Cool Storage System that uses Phase Change Material (PCM) and Thermosyphons to increase the cooling capacity during the daytime, by melting the PCM

Thermal Storage with Venting

Most thermal storage systems are designed to store heat by melting a Phase Change Material (PCM), and can operate over a very large number of cycles. When only a few cycles must be handled, Thermal Storage with Venting should be considered, since it can result in lighter and/or more compact systems

Single Use Vapor Venting Systems for Thermal Storage

When heated, liquid held in a porous structure boils, vaporizes, and then the vapor is vented

Hydride Thermal Storage

Similar to vapor venting thermal storage, hydride thermal storage offers the potential for lower mass and volume systems, when compared with conventional PCM thermal storage systems.

Single Use Hydride Venting Systems for Thermal Storage

offer a potential volume reduction of 90 percent or more, when compared with PCM systems

Have a Question or Project to Discuss?