Thermal conductivity of porous materials

David S. Smith, Arnaud Alzina, Julie Bourret, Benoît Nait-Ali, Fabienne Pennec, Nicolas Tessier-Doyen, Kodai Otsu, Hideaki Matsubara, Pierre Elser, Urs T. Gonzenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)


Incorporation of porosity into a monolithic material decreases the effective thermal conductivity. Porous ceramics were prepared by different methods to achieve pore volume fractions from 4 to 95%. A toolbox of analytical relations is proposed to describe the effective thermal conductivity as a function of solid phase thermal conductivity, pore thermal conductivity, and pore volume fraction (νp). For νp < 0.65, the Maxwell-Eucken relation for closed porosity and Landauer relation for open porosity give good agreement to experimental data on tin oxide, alumina, and zirconia ceramics. For νp > 0.65, the thermal conductivity of kaolin-based foams and calcium aluminate foams was well described by the Hashin Shtrikman upper bound and Russell's relation. Finally, numerical simulation on artificially generated microstructures yields accurate predictions of thermal conductivity when fine detail of the spatial distribution of the phases needs to be accounted for, as demonstrated with a bio-aggregate material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2260-2272
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Materials Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept 14


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