Fibrous porous materials are involved in a wide range of applications including composite fabrication, filtration, compact heat exchangers, fuel cell technology, and tissue engineering to name a few. Fibrous structures, such as metalfoams, have unique characteristics such as low weight, high porosity, high mechanical strength, and high surface to volume ratio. More importantly, in many applications the fibrous microstructures can be tailored to meet a range of requirements. Therefore, fibrous materials have the potential to be used in emerging sustainable energy conversion applications. The first step for analyzing transport phenomena in porous materials is to determine the micro/macroscopic flow-field inside the medium. In applications where the porous media is confined in a channel, the system performance is tightly related to the flow properties of the porous medium and its interaction with the channel walls, i.e., macroscopic velocity distribution. Therefore, the focus of the study has been on: developing new mechanistic model(s) for determining permeability and inertial coefficient of fibrous porous materials; investigating the effects of microstructural and mechanical parameters such as porosity, fiber orientation, mechanical compression, and fiber distribution on the flow properties and pressure drop of fibrous structures; determining the macroscopic flow-field in confined porous media where the porous structure fills the channel cross-section totally or partially. A systematic approach has been followed to study different aspects of the flow through fibrous materials. The complex microstructure of real materials has been modelled using unit cells that have been assumed to be repeated throughout the media. Implementing various exact and approximate analytical techniques such as integral technique, point matching, blending rules, and scale analysis the flow properties of such media have been modelled; the targeted properties include permeability and inertial coefficient. In addition, fluid flow through microchannels, fully and partially filled with porous media, has been modelled using a volume-averaged equation, which is a novel approach in Microfluidics. To verify the developed models, several testbeds have been designed and experimental studies have been conducted with various fluids and porous materials. The proposed models have been verified with the measured data and the experimental results reported by others.
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Thesis advisor: Bahrami, Majid
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