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Material Characterization of Rigid Foam Insulation at Low Temperature

Title: Material Characterization of Rigid Foam Insulation at Low Temperature.
Name(s): Barrios, Matthew, 1982-, author
Van Sciver, Steven, professor directing dissertation
Alamo, Rufina, university representative
Shih, Chiang, committee member
Oates, William, committee member
Department of Mechanical Engineering, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
Physical Form: online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: There is a continuing need for improved rigid foam insulation, particularly for cryogenic storage aboard aerospace vehicles. The present work is a material characterization of spray-on foam insulation used on the Space Shuttle External Tank. The characterization includes imaging and measurements of thermal conductivity, ultimate tensile strength, and moisture absorption. Thermal conductivity measurements are the main focus of the present work, as it is the most relevant property to insulation performance. A novel apparatus was developed to measure the thermal conductivity of rigid foam at temperatures ranging from 20 K to 300 K with a ∆T of 10 K between the sides of the foam sample. The effective thermal conductivity of three samples of NCFI 24-124 foam insulation was measured over the full temperature range. Additionally, the effects of different residual gases and moisture absorption on the thermal conductivity of the foam were studied. The data were compared to data from the literature and to mathematical models developed to predict the thermal conductivity. The data show that gas condensation can play a significant role in the thermal conductivity of the foam at low temperature. Moisture absorption can occur in the foam in application when cryogenic fuel is filled into a tank which sits in a warm, humid environment. An apparatus was developed to subject foam samples to these conditions. The moisture content in the samples was then measured. The samples were then imaged using the 900 MHz NMR magnet at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory to determine the location of the water within the foam. Samples conditioned for 9 hours exhibited a 50% weight increase, and samples conditioned for 69 hours exhibited a 284% weight increase. The NMR images showed that the moisture collects first near the warm side of the foam, and permeates through the foam over time. However, the moisture appears to not collect near the knit lines (areas between sprayed layers of foam, containing cells about 10 times smaller than those that make up the bulk of the foam). The 100 kN mechanical testing system at the NHMFL was used to measure the ultimate tensile strength of the foam. The number of samples available limited the amount of measurements, but the data show that the orientation of the foam (parallel or perpendicular to the knit lines) has a greater effect on the tensile strength than does the moisture absorption or exposure to cryogenic temperature.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-4710 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2011.
Date of Defense: October 21, 2011.
Keywords: Cryogenics, Foam, Insulation, Moisture absorption, Thermal conductivity
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Steven Van Sciver, Professor Directing Dissertation; Rufina Alamo, University Representative; Chiang Shih, Committee Member; William Oates, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Mechanical engineering
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Owner Institution: FSU