Paraffin waxes are organic phase change materials possessing a great potential to store and release thermal energy. The reversible solid–liquid phase change phenomenon is the under-lying mechanism enabling the paraffin waxes as robust thermal reservoirs based on inherently high latent heat (i.e., ~200–250 J/g). However, the main drawback of paraffin waxes is their inability to expedite the phase change process owing to low thermal conductivity (i.e., ~0.19–0.35 Wm−1 K−1). This drawback has long been documented as a technological challenge of paraffin waxes especially for temperature-control applications where faster thermal storage/release is necessitated, encompassing thermal management of batteries, thermoelectric modules and photovoltaic panels. Besides, sustaining the solid-like form of paraffin waxes (shape-stability) is also recommended to avoid the liquid drainage threats for crucial applications, like thermal management of buildings and fabrics. These objectives can be met by developing the paraffin wax-based thermal composites (PWTCs) with help of various thermal reinforcements. However, PWTCs also encounter severe challenges, probably due to lack of design standards. This chapter attempts presenting the recent advances and major bottlenecks of PWTCs, as well as proposing the design standards for optimal PWTCs. Also, the fundamental classification of phase change phenomenon, paraffin waxes and potential thermal reinforcements is thoroughly included.
Part of the book: Paraffin