Thermal properties such as specific heat, thermal diffusivity, and thermal conductivity of carbon and graphite foams are very important in the engineering design process and analysis of aerospace vehicles as well as space systems. These properties are also important in power generation, transportation, and energy storage devices including fuel cells. Thermal conductivity is the property that determines the working temperature levels of the material; it plays a critical role in the performance of materials in high temperature applications and it is an important parameter in problems involving heat transfer and thermal structures.
The objective of this paper is to develop a thermal properties data base for carbon and graphite foams. Carbon foams are commercially produced from urethane, petroleum pitch-based and coal-based processes, and they typically have large pores (> 350 μm) and low density (< 1.0 g/cm3). Petroleum pitch-base and coal-base carbon/graphite foams can be tailored to be thermally conductive or thermally insulating.
The thermophysical properties of carbon and graphite foams have been investigated using experimental methods. The flash method was used to measure the thermal diffusivity of the foams; this method is based on America Society for Testing and Materials standard (ASTM E1461). In addition, the Differential Scanning Calorimeter was used in accordance with the ASTM E1269 standard to measure the specific heat. The measured thermal diffusivity, specific heat, and density data were used to compute the thermal conductivity of the foams.