Investigating PCMs in display cabinets

The test results showed that up to 5% energy savings and lower cabinet temperatures could be achieved. (Paper presented during the 3rd IIR International Conference on Sustainability and the Cold Chain in London, UK, in June 2014)
A team from the Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains (CSEF) situated in Middlesex, UK, has been investigating the effect of a water-gel based phase-change material (PCM) on refrigerated open-type multi-deck display cabinets.
The PCM was charged into two single-panel “radiators” in the main back flow channel of the cabinets so that air could pass alongside both radiators.

The test results showed that by installing the PCM radiators, up to 5% energy savings and lower cabinet temperatures could be achieved. Further benefits could also be obtained such as enhanced stabilization of the product temperatures during defrost periods. In fact the defrost length was found to be the most affected parameter as it was 5 minutes longer, i.e. 70% of the original defrost time.

According to the team, it is worth noting that savings are a function of the ambient temperature, relative humidity, operational settings of the cabinet and PCM freezing point and need to be considered for future tests. A computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation model is to be elaborated thanks to the experimental results achieved in this study. It will then be used to predict and optimize the cabinet performance by changing certain parameters in further tests.

The novel use of phase change materials in a refrigerated display cabinet: an experimental investigation, F. Alzuwaid, T.T. Ge, S.A. Tassou, A. Reisi, B. Gowreesunker.

This paper can be downloaded in Fridoc database (free for IIR members within their free download quta):
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