Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Degree Level



Mechanical Engineering


Huitink, David

Committee Member/Reader

Hu, Han


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 material type exhibits excellent latent heat at the sacrifice of conductivity. The present paper examines the melt front behavior of a common solid to liquid PCM, paraffin, experimentally and numerically. The experimental scenario was a block of PCM with a constant temperature heat flux introduced on one end and a constant temperature cold boundary condition on the other. The PCM was fully enclosed in a visible and infrared transparent chamber and imaged via a FLIR camera. A large NaCl optical crystal was used as the chamber’s transparent side panel. The 16 cm3 chamber can be re-oriented to allow viewing from any desired angle. 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. The script identifies the melt front then outputs the position and velocity over time for each test case.


PCM, Phase Change Material, Melt Front, FLIR, ParaPower, Paraffin

Available for download on Sunday, April 21, 2024