Threshold cell diameter for high thermal insulation of water-blown rigid polyurethane foams

Hyeon Choe, Yeongsu Choi, Jung Hyeun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Water-blown rigid polyurethane foams manufactured in eco-friendly manners attract great attentions for applications in various industrial products. Especially, the polyurethane foams are widely applicable as thermal insulation materials for LNG carrier, electronic appliances, pipes, and building. Heat transfer mechanisms in foamed materials have strong relationships with gaseous molecules in cells, solid parts, and cellular morphologies. In this study, thermal conductivity of the water-blown rigid polyurethane foams was investigated by controlling the cellular morphologies using different types of surfactant molecules and gelling catalysts. The cell sizes were controlled from 551 μm to 153 μm by varying surfactants and gelling catalysts. The small cell sizes showed low radiative thermal conductivity due to the high number of thick cell walls and struts to obstruct the photon transport process. More importantly, there was a clear cell threshold size (230 μm) in variations of the overall thermal conductivity value (about 24.3 mW/m K) of polyurethane foams, and the delayed slowly weaken thermal insulation property was also noted in the cell sizes less than 230 μm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-350
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry
StatePublished - 25 May 2019


  • Cell morphology
  • Insulation
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Radiation
  • Thermal conductivity


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