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The Emergent Behaviour of Thermal Networks and Its Impact on the Thermal Conductivity of Heterogeneous Materials and Systems

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
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CAE Analysis Room for Engineering Applications, School of Mechatronic Engineering, Xi’an Technological University, Xi’an 710021, China
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The State Key Laboratory of Refractories and Metallurgy, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430081, China
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Compos. Sci. 2020, 4(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcs4010032
Received: 7 March 2020 / Revised: 19 March 2020 / Accepted: 20 March 2020 / Published: 23 March 2020
The properties of thermal networks are examined to understand the effective thermal conductivity of heterogeneous two-phase composite materials and systems. At conditions of high contrast in thermal conductivity of the individual phases (k1 and k2), where k1 << k2 or k1 >> k2, the effective thermal conductivity of individual networks of the same composition was seen to be highly sensitive to the distribution of the phases and the presence of percolation paths across the network. However, when the contrast in thermal conductivities of the two phases was modest (k1/k2 ~ 10−2 to 102), the thermal networks were observed to exhibit an emergent response with a low variability in the effective thermal conductivity of mixtures of the same composition. A logarithmic mixing rule is presented to predict the network response in the low variability region. Excellent agreement between the model, mixing rule and experimental data is observed for a range two-phase porous and granular media. The modelling approach provides new insights into the design of multi-phase composites for thermal management applications and the interpretation or prediction of their heat transfer properties. View Full-Text
Keywords: conductivity; composites; thermal; networks; modelling; emergent conductivity; composites; thermal; networks; modelling; emergent
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bowen, C.R.; Robinson, K.; Tian, J.; Zhang, M.; Coveney, V.A.; Xia, Q.; Lock, G. The Emergent Behaviour of Thermal Networks and Its Impact on the Thermal Conductivity of Heterogeneous Materials and Systems. J. Compos. Sci. 2020, 4, 32.

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