Nanoencapsulation of phase change materials for advanced thermal energy storage systems
Phase change materials (PCMs) allow the storage of large amounts of latent heat during phase transition. They have the potential to both increase the efficiency of renewable energies such as solar power through storage of excess energy, which can be used at times of peak demand; and to reduce overall energy demand through passive thermal regulation. 198.3 million tons of oil equivalent were used in the EU in 2013 for heating. However, bulk PCMs are not suitable for use without prior encapsulation. Encapsulation in a shell material provides benefits such as protection of the PCM from the external environment and increased specific surface area to improve heat transfer. This review highlights techniques for the encapsulation of both organic and inorganic PCMs, paying particular attention to nanoencapsulation (capsules with sizes <1 μm). We also provide insight on future research, which should focus on (i) the development of multifunctional shell materials to improve lifespan and thermal properties and (ii) advanced mass manufacturing techniques for the economically viable production of PCM capsules, making it possible to utilize waste heat in intelligent passive thermal regulation systems, employing controlled, “on demand” energy release/uptake.