Optimal experimental designs for the estimation of thermal properties of composite materials

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Virginia Tech


Reliable estimation of thermal properties is extremely important in the utilization of new advanced materials, such as composite materials. The accuracy of these estimates can be increased if the experiments are designed carefully. The objectives of this study are to design optimal experiments to be used in the prediction of these thermal properties and to then utilize these designs in the development of an estimation procedure to determine the effective thermal properties (thermal conductivity and volumetric heat capacity).

The experiments were optimized by choosing experimental parameters that maximize the temperature derivatives with respect to all of the unknown thermal properties. This procedure has the effect of minimizing the confidence intervals of the resulting thermal property estimates. Both one-dimensional and two-dimensional experimental designs were optimized. A heat flux boundary condition is required in both analyses for the simultaneous estimation of the thermal properties. For the one-dimensional experiment, the parameters optimized were the heating time of the applied heat flux, the temperature sensor location, and the experimental time. In addition to these parameters, the optimal location of the heat flux was also determined for the two- dimensional experiments.

Utilizing the optimal one-dimensional experiment, the effective thermal conductivity perpendicular to the fibers and the effective volumetric heat capacity were then estimated for an IM7-Bismaleimide composite material. The estimation procedure used is based on the minimization of a least squares function which incorporates both calculated and measured temperatures and allows for the parameters to be estimated simultaneously.