Their light weight, open porosity, high surface area per unit volume and thermal characteristics make metal foams a promising material for many industrial applications involving fluid flow and heat transfer.
Pressure drop and heat transfer of porous media have inspired a number of experimental and numerical studies. Many models have been proposed in the literature that correlate the pressure gradient and the heat transfer coefficient with the mean cell size and porosity. However, large differences exist among results predicted by different models. Most studies are based on idealized periodic cell structures.
In this study, the true 3-D micro-structure of the metal foam is obtained by employing x-ray computed microtomography (XCT). For comparison, ideal Kelvin foam structures are developed in the free-to-use software “Surface Evolver” surface energy minimization program. Pressure drop and heat transfer are then investigated using the CFD Module of COMSOL® Multiphysics code. A comparison between the numerical predictions from the real and ideal geometries is carried out.