This work demonstrates a green method for the encapsulation of a natural phase change material (PCM), lauric acid (LA), in polystyrene (PS) hollow fibers through a solvent-assisted diffusion process inside fiber nanochannels. The obtained LAPS composite fibers had a melting enthalpy of up to 147.8 J/g, which was 82.0% the heat storage capacity of pristine LA (180.2 J/g). This capacity was higher than the values (generally less than 60%) reported in the literature. The LA content in the composite fibers could be controlled by the solution concentration and the solvent. On the contrary, encapsulation time had little effect on the final LA loading beyond 1 h due to the rapid diffusion of the LA solution. The optimal LA loading (82.2%) was achieved in 0.4 g/mL LA ethanol solution for 1 h, which was more than 4 times the weight of PS fibers. Simultaneous TGA−DSC, ATR, Raman, and SEM measurements confirmed the homogeneous distribution of LA inside the fibers across the whole membranes. Further, the LAPS composite fibers showed a long-lasting stability during cycling without storage capacity deterioration, as well as an exceptional structural stability without LA leaking and fiber rupture during 100 heating−cooling cycles. The energy-dense and form-stable LAPS composite fibers have a great potential for various thermal energy storage applications like “temperature-smart” buildings and textiles.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Materials Chemistry