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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19285

Title: Mechanisms of Cell Nucleation, Growth, and Coarsening in Plastic Foaming: Theory, Simulation, and Experiment
Authors: Leung, Siu Ning Sunny
Advisor: Park, Chul B.
Department: Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Keywords: Plastic Foaming
Cell Nucleation
Cell Growth
Cell Coarsening
Computer Simulation
Foaming Mechanisms
Cellular Structure
Issue Date: 3-Mar-2010
Abstract: This thesis highlights a comprehensive research for the cell nucleation, growth and coarsening mechanisms during plastic foaming processes. Enforced environmental regulations have forced the plastic foam industry to adopt alternative blowing agents (e.g., carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon and helium). Nevertheless, the low solubilities and high diffusivities of these viable alternatives have made the production of foamed plastics to be non-trivial. Since the controls of the cell nucleation, growth and coarsening phenomena, and ultimately the cellular morphology, involve delicate thermodynamic, kinetic, and rheological mechanisms, the production of plastics foams with customized cell morphology have been challenging. In light of this, the aforementioned phenomena were investigated through a series of theoretical studies, computer simulations, and experimental investigations. Firstly, the effects of processing conditions on the cell nucleation phenomena were studied through the in-situ visualization of various batch foaming experiments. Most importantly, these investigations have led to the identification of a new heterogeneous nucleation mechanism to explain the inorganic fillers-enhanced nucleation dynamics. Secondly, a simulation scheme to precisely simulate the bubble growth behaviors, a modified heterogeneous nucleation theory to estimate the cell nucleation rate, and an integrated model to simultaneously simulate cell nucleation and growth processes were developed. Consequently, through the simulations of the cell nucleation, growth, and coarsening dynamics, this research has advanced the understanding of the underlying sciences that govern these different physical phenomena during plastic foaming. Furthermore, the impacts of various commonly adopted approximations or assumptions were studied. The end results have provided useful guidelines to conduct computer simulation on plastic foaming processes. Finally, an experimental research on foaming with blowing agent blends served as a case example to demonstrate how the elucidation of the mechanisms of various foaming phenomena would aid in the development of novel processing strategies to enhance the control of cellular structures in plastic foams.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19285
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering - Doctoral theses

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