Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2021, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (1): 30-42.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.20032

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Direct incorporation of paraffin wax as phase change material into mass concrete for temperature control: mechanical and thermal properties

Tao Luo1,2,JuanJuan Ma1,Fang Liu1(),MingYi Zhang2,ChaoWei Sun1,YanJun Ji1,XiaoSa Yuan1   

  1. 1.Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Safety and Durability of Concrete Structures, Xijing University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710123, China
    2.State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • Received:2020-06-16 Accepted:2020-10-06 Online:2021-02-28 Published:2021-02-07
  • Contact: Fang Liu
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51909223);the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars(41825015);the Natural Science Basic Research Program of Shaanxi(2019JQ-921);the Special research project of the Education Department of Shaanxi Provincial Government(19JK0913);the Special Fund for the Launch of Scientific Research in Xijing University(XJ18T02)


Taking advantage of heat absorbing and releasing capability of phase change material (PCM), Paraffin wax-based concrete was prepared to assess its automatic temperature control performance. The mechanical properties of PCM concrete with eight different Paraffin wax contents were tested by the cube compression test and four-point bending test. The more Paraffin wax incorporated, the greater loss of the compressive strength and bending strength. Based on the mechanical results, four contents of Paraffin wax were chosen for studying PCM concrete's thermal properties, including thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, specific heat capacity, thermal expansion coefficient and adiabatic temperature rise. When the Paraffin wax content increases from 10% to 20%, the thermal conductivity and the thermal diffusivity decrease from 7.31 kJ/(m·h·°C) to 7.10 kJ/(m·h·°C) and from 3.03×10-3 m2/h to 2.44×10-3 m2/h, respectively. Meanwhile the specific heat capacity and thermal expansion coefficient rise from 5.38×10-1 kJ/(kg·°C) to 5.76×10-1 kJ/(kg·°C) and from 9.63×10-6/°C to 14.02×10-6/°C, respectively. The adiabatic temperature rise is found to decrease with an increasing Paraffin wax content. Considering both the mechanical and thermal properties, 15% of Paraffin wax was elected for the mass concrete model test, and the model test results confirm the effect of Paraffin wax in automatic mass concrete temperature control.

Key words: phase change material, Paraffin wax, temperature control, mechanical properties, thermal properties, mass concrete

Table 1

The physical properties of Portland cement"

Density (g/cm3)FinenessSpecific surface area (m2/g)StabilitySetting time (min)
Initial settingFinal setting

Table 2

The chemical compositions of Portland cement"

CaOSiO2Al2O3Fe2O3MgOSO3AlkaliIgnition loss

Table 3

The physical properties of fly ash"

Fineness (45 μm sieve)Water demand ratioIgnition lossWater contentSO3

Table 4

The physical properties of Paraffin wax"

No.AppearanceMelting pointOil contentPin-inDensity
54Particles with diameters of 6-8 mm54-56 °C0.5%190.9 g/cm3

Table 5

The reference concrete mix proportion"

Cement (kg/m3)Fly ash (kg/m3)Gravel (kg/m3)Sand (kg/m3)Superplasticizer (kg/m3)Water (kg/m3)

Figure 1

A MTS universal testing machine"

Figure 2

The compressive strength test"

Figure 3

The four-point bending strength test"

Figure 4

An integrated thermal physical analyzer"

Figure 5

Testing setups for various thermal properties"

Figure 6

The molds for model test"

Figure 7

Location of thermometers within the mold"

Table 6

The mix proportion of concrete with various PCM contents"

PCM content



Fly ash


Gravel (kg/m3)



Superplasticizer (kg/m3)



Paraffin wax



Figure 8

The compressive strength and strength loss ratio versus Paraffin wax content"

Figure 9

The four-point bending strength and strength loss ratio versus Paraffin wax content"

Table 7

The mix proportions of PCM concrete for thermal tests"

PCM content



Fly ash


Gravel (kg/m3)



Superplasticizer (kg/m3)



Paraffin wax



Figure 10

The thermal conductivity versus Paraffin wax content"

Figure 11

The thermal diffusivity versus Paraffin wax content"

Figure 12

The specific heat capacity versus Paraffin wax content"

Figure 13

The thermal expansion coefficient versus Paraffin wax content"

Figure 14

The adiabatic temperature rise"

Figure 15

The temperature control model tests of mass PCM concrete and the reference concrete"

Figure 16

The thermometer labels in two models"

Figure 17

Variation of temperature with time at selected locations"

Figure 18

The temperature distribution in section 1"

Figure 19

The temperature distribution in section 2"

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