Simulation of bubble growth during the foaming process and mechanics of the solid foam
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Elastomeric foams are widely used in different types of applications where different material properties are of interest in each application. All of these properties are governed by the microstructure and the properties of the material matrix. Studying the evolution of the microstructure experimentally is extremely challenging. Thus, here we use direct numerical simulations to gain an insight into the changes that happen from the creation of the gas bubbles in the liquid state, until the solidification into a cellular morphology. Furthermore, the resulting microstructure is then used directly in simulations of solid mechanical testing to determine the mechanical properties of the foam. The matrix fluid is assumed to be Newtonian and incompressible. A linear elastic isotropic material model for the solidified polymer was used to obtain the solid foam properties. The foam was described by a representative volume element (RVE), where a small number of bubbles was randomly distributed. Using this approach, the RVE can describe the bulk behavior of the foam, while remaining computationally tractable. Microstructures with volumes fraction of over 90% (2D) and 45% (3D) are accurately captured. In addition, the influence that the bubble growth rate and the initial bubble distribution of the fluid simulations have on the solid foam properties was studied.
KeywordsFoam Mechanical properties Solid Simulation Fluid Surface forces
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission under the grant agreement number 604271 (Project acronym: MoDeNa; call identifier: FP7-NMP-2013-SMALL-7).
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