Crystallization by local cooling of supercooled sodium acetate trihydrate composites for long-term heat storage

Gerald Englmair, Yiliang Jiang, Mark Dannemand, Christoph Moser, Hermann Schranzhofer, Simon Furbo, Jianhua Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Sodium acetate trihydrate (SAT) can be used for long-term heat storage in buildings by utilizing its ability to supercool stably to ambient temperatures while preserving its heat of fusion. Additives are used to stabilize the SAT and avoid phase separation. A reliable method for initializing the solidification of supercooled SAT composites is needed to operate a heat storage unit based on supercooled SAT. The crystallization temperatures of SAT composites during cooling were therefore investigated and experiments carried out using methods applying local cooling in a small part of prototype heat storage units to initialize crystallization. To find the crystallization temperatures of SAT composites, supercooled samples were cooled down in a freezer. The influence of rusty metal parts submerged in melted SAT composite samples and various periods at rest in a supercooled state were investigated with regard to supercooling stability and crystallization temperature. Carboxymethyl cellulose, extra water, liquid polymer HD 310, metal-based graphite flakes, and silicone oil were applied as additives to form the different SAT compositions. Samples with 60 g SAT in glass jars were subject to repeated heating and cooling cycles. It was found that samples containing steel profiles crystallized in the range of − 9 to − 15 °C, while SA-water mixtures without steel profiles cooled down to − 24 °C before crystallizing. Furthermore, samples with carboxymethyl cellulose and liquid polymer HD 310 showed a greater temperature rise during crystallization, which is in accordance with previous findings on heat contents. SA-water mixtures showed a second minor temperature peak at temperatures below − 20 °C, when the sample was cooled down again after the first temperature rise. Devices were developed to initialize the crystallization of supercooled SAT composites in prototype heat storage units using rapid local cooling of the SAT composite. We successfully initialized crystallization by evaporating pressurized liquid carbon dioxide in a small chamber on one side of the PCM container and by using Peltier elements. Our experiments showed that the controlled initialization of crystallization by cooling is feasible for all the SAT composites investigated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Pages (from-to)159-171
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Sodium acetate trihydrate
  • Stable supercooling
  • Long-term heat storage
  • Crystallization
  • CO2 evaporation
  • Peltier elements

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