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Electrical tomography for phase change monitoring

Project description

Monitoring phase change via electrical impedance tomography

Phase change materials (PCMs) absorb and release (latent) heat when they change phase: for example, water releases heat as it freezes and absorbs heat as it melts. Advanced PCMs are a key enabler of low-carbon heating and cooling. Their use requires smart monitoring and control, given the temporal mismatch between energy availability and heating/cooling demand. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the ET4PCM project will develop the first-of-its-kind, smart, non-invasive impedance sensor to monitor the liquid fraction of PCMs in real time. Development of in silico smart-control tools at a predictive analytics consulting company and deployment of the electrical impedance tomography technology in a real-world system will help ensure success.


Heating/cooling demands represent more than half of energy consumption in households and drive most of energy-related GHG emissions in the residential sector. To achieve decarbonisation goals heating/cooling demands must be supplied with heat pumps driven by renewable electricity. However, the mismatch between energy availability and heating/cooling demand needs to be reconciled with low-cost, efficient and flexible energy storage. Latent thermal energy storage (LTES) with phase change materials (PCMs) is becoming a key enabling technology for low-carbon heating/cooling. However, smart control of LTES systems require monitoring of the liquid fraction, which determines the total stored energy. The present research proposal, ET4PCM, aims to develop a first-of-a-kind, smart, non-invasive, versatile impedance sensor to evaluate in real-time the liquid fraction evolution of PCMs in LTES. The ET4PCM sensor will provide detailed information regarding phase distribution evolution during freezing/melting of PCMs in macrocapsules (spherical or cylindrical shells). The project planning contemplates four key tasks, which correspond to the sub-objectives: SO1) Characterization and enhancement of electrical properties of PCMs, SO2) design of the electrical sensing system, SO3) experimental implementation and validation of the proposed sensing system, and SO4) Validation of ET4PCM technology in a real LTES. The research approach involves experimental, numerical, and theoretical research activities. I, Dr. Carolina Mira-Hernández will develop the ET4PCM project under the supervision of Pr. Simone Mancin at University of Padua (UNIPD), who is renowned expert in LTES. In addition, I will spend 3 months during a secondment at the start-up COWA, where I will deploy the ET4PCM sensor in a real-world LTES, and I will have a non-academic placement at HEXXCELL, a consulting company on predictive analytics, where I will develop “in silico” smart control tools for LTES.


Net EU contribution
€ 215 937,60
35122 Padova

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Nord-Est Veneto Padova
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Partners (2)