Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol.174, 248-262, 2018
The experimental phase diagram study of the binary polyols system erythritol-xylitol
A comprehensive phase diagram for the binary polyols system erythritol-xylitol has been mapped with a transparent characterization approach. Here, the phase equilibrium of the system has been studied experimentally using a combination of methods: Temperature-history (T-history), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), and Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM), and linked to Tammann plots. Existing literature has previously shown the system to be a non-isomorphous type forming a simple eutectic, by combining experimental data with theoretical modelling. The present investigation shows that the system's phase diagram is a partially isomorphous type forming a eutectic, but not a non-isomorphous type forming a simple eutectic. Here, the eutectic was found within 25-30 mol% erythritol and at 77 degrees C, which differs from the previous studies identifying the eutectic respectively at 25 or 36 mol% erythritol and at 82 degrees C. The reasons for the differences are hard to deduce since the research approach is not presented as fully transparent from the past studies. In the present study, only the temperature-composition plot of the first melting (of the two components in a physical mix, but not of a single blend) indicated the shape of a simple eutectic in a non-isomorphous system. The cycles after the first melting in contrast started from the real blend, and displayed eutectic and solid-solid phase changes in T-history. These were verified as forming solid solutions with XRD and FESEM. This eutectic melts at a temperature suitable for low-temperature solar heating, but displayed glass transition, supercooling, and thermally activated degradation, thus affecting its practical aspects as a PCM.