Using Low Thermal Conductivity Materials for Aerospace Insulation
The materials used to build spacecraft and other aerospace structures must have a high degree of thermal conductivity to effectively manage heat. While there are many factors that contribute to a material’s ability to conduct or absorb heat, the primary factor is its lattice structure. Custom Materials, Inc manufacturing capabilities allow us to produce materials with very low thermal conductivity, making them ideal for insulation applications.
Thermal conductivity is a property of solids, liquids, and gases that determines the rate at which heat is transferred through them by conduction. It is also a function of temperature, as the molecules in a material are more likely to move more quickly at higher temperatures.
Understanding Thermal Conductivity Materials like copper and silver, have high thermal conductivities. In addition to their structural properties, metals have a large number of free electrons, which allow for more rapid movement of the atoms and molecules within them. The low thermal conductivity of gases, on the other hand, is due to their looser packing and lower molecular velocity. The thermal conductivity of non metallic solids is between those of gases and metallics, with a wide range of variation within this group. This variation is partially attributable to the size of the particles in a given material, as well as their shape. Materials with a greater number of air pockets tend to be better insulators than those with tighter packing or more regular shapes.
In order to calculate a material’s thermal conductivity, there are four basic factors that need to be taken into account: k displaystyle k, A displaystyle A, DT displaystyle DT, and d displaystyle d. k represents the thermal conductivity of the material, A represents the area of the cross section of the material that is conducting heat, DT represents the temperature difference between two points in the material, and d represents the thickness of the material.
Aerogels are revolutionizing the way that aerospace insulation is designed and manufactured. Typically, aerospace insulation is made from fibrous materials that include an air gap between layers of fiberglass. This gap allows for air to pass through the insulation, but reduces the thermal conductivity of the material.
A major advantage of aerogel insulation is its low thermal conductivity, as well as its light weight and flexibility. This makes it a good choice for use in applications such as heat shields, spacecraft skins, and thermal management in electronic devices.
When considering the design of a new product, the thermal conductivity of the material is an important consideration to make. A high thermal conductivity will help transfer heat more quickly, while a low thermal conductivity will slow the transfer of energy. For more information about the thermal conductivity of a specific material, contact a Custom Materials, Inc representative. We can provide detailed information about our capabilities and offer value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Request a quote today.