Thermal management systems are often over-designed for average use in order to handle spikes in heat generation, which increases the spatial and financial requirements. One way to mitigate this is via the use of phase change materials (PCMs) as thermal buffers and storage media. This paper examines the melt front behavior of a common solid to liquid PCM, paraffin, experimentally and numerically. A 16 cm3 fully enclosed melting chamber was designed and constructed to observe the melt behavior via IR imaging. The chamber applies a constant temperature heat flux to one end of the sample and a constant temperature cold boundary on the other. ARL ParaPower was used for the numerical simulation. This tool models the convection in liquid PCM as an effective thermal conductivity parameter. The MATLAB-based program offers faster computation times than high fidelity commercial FEA tools. The experimental and numerical data are then compared via a custom MATLAB script which identifies the melt front and outputs the position and velocity over time for each test case. It was concluded that ParaPower adequately depicts the melt front behavior under this set of experimental conditions. This work enables future studies using the IR-transparent melt chamber designed herein.

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