Low thermal conductivity and adequate mechanical strength are desired for extruded polystyrene foams when they are applied as insulation materials. In this study, we improved the thermal insulation behavior and mechanical properties of extruded polystyrene foams through morphology control with the foam nucleating agent 1,3,5-benzene-trisamide. Furthermore, the structure–property relationships of extruded polystyrene foams were established. Extruded polystyrene foams with selected concentrations of benzene-trisamide were used to evaluate the influence of cell size and foam density on the thermal conductivity. It was shown that the addition of benzene-trisamide reduces the thermal conductivity by up to 17%. An increase in foam density led to a higher compression modulus of the foams. With 0.2 wt % benzene-trisamide, the compression modulus increased by a factor of 4 from 11.7 ± 2.7 MPa for the neat polystyrene (PS) to 46.3 ± 4.3 MPa with 0.2 wt % benzene-trisamide. The increase in modulus was found to follow a power law relationship with respect to the foam density. Furthermore, the compression moduli were normalized by the foam density in order to evaluate the effect of benzene-trisamide alone. A 0.2 wt % benzene-trisamide increased the normalized compression modulus by about 23%, which could be attributed to the additional stress contribution of nanofibers, and might also retard the face stretching and edge bending of the foams.
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