The polymer spray-on foam insulation used on NASA’s Space Shuttle external fuel tank is analyzed via the high-fidelity generalized method of cells micromechanical model. This model has been enhanced to include internal pore pressure, which is applied as a boundary condition on the internal faces of the foam pores. The pore pressure arises due to both ideal gas expansion during a temperature change as well as outgassing of species from the foam polymer material. Material creep and elastic stiffening are also incorporated via appropriate constitutive models. Due to the lack of reliable properties for the in situ foam polymer material, these parameters are backed out from foam thermomechanical test data. Parametric studies of the effects of key variables (both property-related and microstructural) are presented as is a comparison of model predictions for the thermal expansion behavior of the foam with experimental data.

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