Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Hooman Vahedi Tafreshi


Heat insulation is the process of blocking the transfer of thermal energy between objects at different temperatures. Heat transfer occurs due to conduction, convection, or radiation, as well as any combination of these three mechanisms. Fibrous insulations can completely suppress the convective mode of heat transfer for most applications, and also help to reduce the conductive and radiative modes to some extent. In this study, an attempt has been made to computationally predict the effects of microstructural parameters (e.g., fiber diameter, fiber orientation and porosity) on the insulation performance of fibrous materials. The flexible simulation method developed in this work can potentially be used to custom-design optimal multi-component fibrous insulation media for different applications. With regards to modeling conductive heat transfer, a computationally-feasible simulation method is developed that allows one to predict the effects of each microstructural parameter on the transfer of heat across a fibrous insulation. This was achieved by combining analytical calculations for conduction through interstitial fluid (e.g., air) with numerical simulations for conduction through fibrous structures. With regards to modeling radiative heat transfer, both Monte Carlo Ray Tracing and Electromagnetic Wave Theory were implemented for our simulations. The modeling methods developed in this work are flexible to allow simulating the performance of media made up of different combinations of fibers with different materials or dimensions at different operating temperatures. For example, our simulations demonstrate that fiber diameter plays an important role in blocking radiation heat transfer. In particular, it was shown that there exists an optimum fiber diameter for which maximum insulation against radiative transfer is achieved. The optimum fiber diameter is different for fibers made of different materials and also depends on the mean temperature of the media. The contributions of conduction and radiation heat transfer predicted using the above techniques are combined to define a total thermal resistance value for media with different microstructures. Such a capability can be of great interest for design and optimization of the overall performance of fibrous media for different applications.


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Date of Submission

October 2013

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Engineering Commons