Carbon foam is recognized as having the greatest potential to replacement for metal fins in thermal management systems such as heat exchangers, space radiators, and thermal protection systems [1–5]. Carbon foam refers to a broad class of materials that include reticulated glassy, carbon and graphitic foams that are generally open-cell or mostly open-cell. They can be tailored to have low or high thermal conductivity with a low coefficient of thermal expansion and density. These foams have high modulus but low compression and tensile strength. Among the carbon foams, the graphitic foam offers superior thermal management properties such as high thermal conductivity. Graphitic foams are made of a network of spheroidal shell segments. Each cell has thin, stretched ligaments in the walls that are joined at the nodes or junctions. The parallel arrangement of graphene planes in the ligaments confers highly anisotropic properties to the walls of the graphitic foams. The graphene planes tend to be oriented with the plane of the ligaments but become disrupted at the junctions (nodes) of the walls. Since conduction is highest along parallel graphene planes, the thermal conductivity is highest in the plane of the ligaments or struts, and much lower in the direction transverse to the plane of these ligaments. In a previous study  extensive mechanical and thermal property characterization of carbon foams from Kopper Inc. (L1) and POCO Graphite, Inc. (P1) were reported. These foams were graphitic ones that are expected to have high thermal conductivity. Figure 1 shows sections of light microscopy images of the three foams of four foams. The most important thing to notice is that the images were not at the same magnification. The large cells in the GrafTech foam have an average diameter of only ∼100 μm but have a bimodal distribution cells with many small closed-cells few micrometers in diameter. Changes in density in the GrafTech foam was accompanied by a change in the large cells’ diameter — larger diameter giving greater porosity and lower density without changing the smaller cells’ sizes that filled the solid phase between the larger bubbles. The POCO foam has a fairly uniform size cell distribution of a few hundred micrometers. The Koppers’ foams show larger cells yet with the left (“L” precursor) having a uniform size while the right-hand (“D” precursor) is a less uniform and lower porosity.
Mechanical Properties of Microscale Graphitic Carbon Foam Ligaments and Nodes
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Ganguli, S, Roy, AK, & Wheeler, R. "Mechanical Properties of Microscale Graphitic Carbon Foam Ligaments and Nodes." Proceedings of the ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Volume 11: Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Fluids. Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. November 13–19, 2009. pp. 235-241. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2009-12582
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