Abstract

The evaluation of effective material properties in heterogeneous materials (e.g., composites or multicomponent structures) is critically relevant to a wide spectrum of applications, including nuclear power, electronic packaging, flame retardants, hypersonics, and gas turbine power. The work described in this paper is centered around the numerical assessment of the thermal behavior of porous materials obtained from finite element thermal modeling and simulation. Two-dimensional, steady-state analyses were performed on unit cells with centered, circular pores using a second-order accurate Galerkin finite element method (FEM). The effective thermal conductivities of the porous systems were examined, encompassing a range of porosities from 4.9% to 60.1%. The geometries of the models were generated based on ordered circular pores for each modeled porosity level. The system response quantity (SRQ) under investigation was the dimensionless effective thermal conductivity across the unit cell. The dimensionless effective thermal conductivity was compared across all simulated cases, producing a trend between porosity and effective thermal conductivity. In the presented investigation, the method of manufactured solutions (MMS) was used to perform code verification, and the grid convergence index (GCI) was employed to estimate discretization uncertainty as solution verification. Code verification concluded an approximately second order accurate Galerkin FEM solver. It was found that the introduction of porosity to the unit cell material structure reduces effective thermal conductivity, as anticipated. Numerical results obtained in this study are compared to an analytical solution and to a sample of empirical data. This approach can be readily generalized to study a wide variety of porous solids from ranging from structures at the nanoscale—such as nanocarbon tubes—to structures at macrolevel scales—such as geological features.

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