Thermal storage, a technology that enables us to control thermal energy, makes it possible to reuse a huge amount of waste heat, and materials with the ability to treat larger thermal energy are in high demand for energy-saving societies. Sugar alcohols are now one promising candidate for phase change materials (PCMs) because of their large thermal storage density. In this study, we computationally design experimentally unknown non-natural sugar alcohols and predict their thermal storage density as a basic step toward the development of new high performance PCMs. The non-natural sugar alcohol molecules are constructed in silico in accordance with the previously suggested molecular design guidelines: linear elongation of a carbon backbone, separated distribution of OH groups, and even numbers of carbon atoms. Their crystal structures are then predicted using the random search method and first-principles calculations. Our molecular simulation results clearly demonstrate that the non-natural sugar alcohols have potential ability to have thermal storage density up to ∼450-500 kJ/kg, which is significantly larger than the maximum thermal storage density of the present known organic PCMs (∼350 kJ/kg). This computational study suggests that, even in the case of H-bonded molecular crystals where the electrostatic energy contributes mainly to thermal storage density, the molecular distortion and van der Waals energies are also important factors to increase thermal storage density. In addition, the comparison between the three eight-carbon non-natural sugar alcohol isomers indicates that the selection of preferable isomers is also essential for large thermal storage density.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry