Solar-to-thermal energy conversion is one of the most efficient ways to harvest solar energy. In this study, a novel phase change composite with porous carbon monolith derived from natural wood is fabricated to harvest solar irradiation and store it as thermal energy. Organic phase change material n-octadecane is physically adsorbed inside the porous structure of the carbonized wood, and a thin graphite coating encapsulates the exterior of the wood structure to further prevent n-octadecane leakage. The carbonized wood scaffold and the graphite coating not only stabilize the form of the n-octadecane during phase change, but also enhance its thermal conductivity by 143% while retaining 87% of its latent heat. Under 1-sun irradiation, the composite achieves an apparent 97% solar-to-thermal conversion efficiency.
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