Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Muhammad Rahman

Co-Major Professor

Dharendra Goswami


grashof number, latent heat, natural convection, phase change material, sodium nitrate, vertical cylinder


The present work investigates, numerically, the process of melting and solidification in hollow vertical cylinders, filled with air and phase change material (PCM). The PCM used is sodium nitrate, which expands upon melting. Therefore, a void must be present within the cylinder, which is filled with air. The influence of cylinder shape on melting time is determined. The numerical model takes both conductive and convective heat transfer into account during the melting process. The Volume-of-Fluid (VOF) model is used to track the interface between the PCM and air as the PCM melts. Three dimensionless numbers represent the characteristics of the problem, which are the Grashof, Stefan, and Prandtl numbers. The Stefan and Prandtl numbers are held constant, while the Grashof number varies. Inner Aspect Ratio (AR) is used to characterize the shape of the cylinder, which is defined as the ratio of the height to the diameter of the vertical cylinder. In this study, a range of AR values from 0.23 to 10 is investigated. Cylinders with small AR, corresponding to high Grashof numbers, lead to lower melting times compared with cylinders with high AR. The molten PCM velocity was also influenced greatly by this difference between solid PCM shape between high and low AR cases. Cylinders with small AR, corresponding to high Grashof numbers, lead to higher solidification times compared with cylinders with high AR. It was found that the velocity decreased during the solidification process, but the shape of the cylinder had an effect on the decrease. Natural convection velocity was found to decrease during the solidification process and, therefore, its effects diminish as solidification proceeds.