The present study explores numerically the transient performance of a heat sink based on a phase change material (PCM), during the process of melting. Heat is transferred to the sink through its horizontal base, to which vertical fins made of aluminum are attached. The phase change material is stored between the fins. Its properties, including the melting temperature, latent and sensible specific heat, thermal conductivity and density in solid and liquid states, are based on a commercially available paraffin wax. A parametric investigation is performed for melting in a relatively small system, 10mm high, where the fin thickness is 1.2mm, and the distance between the fins varies from 2mm to 8mm. The temperature of the base varies from 12°C to 24°C above the mean melting temperature of the PCM. Transient numerical simulations are performed, yielding temperature evolution in the fins and the PCM. The computational results show how the transient phase-change process, expressed in terms of the volume melt fraction of the PCM, depends on the thermal and geometrical parameters of the system, which relate to the temperature difference between the base and the mean melting temperature, and to the thickness of the PCM layer.   This paper was also originally published as part of the Proceedings of the ASME 2005 Heat Transfer Summer Conference.

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