A variety of materials require functionally graded cellular microstructures whose porosity is engineered to meet specific applications (e.g. mimic bone structure for orthopaedic applications; fulfil mechanical, thermal or acoustic constraints in structural foamed components, etc.). Although a huge variety of foams can be manufactured with homogenous porosity, there are no generic processes for controlling the distribution of porosity within the resulting matrix. Motivated by the desire to create a flexible process for engineering heterogeneous foams, the authors have investigated how ultrasound, applied during the formation of a polyurethane foam, affects its cellular structure. The experimental results demonstrated how the parameters of ultrasound exposure (i.e. frequency and applied power) influenced the volume and distribution of pores within the final polyurethane matrix: the data demonstrates that porosity (i.e. volume fraction) varies in direct proportion to both the acoustic pressure and frequency of the ultrasound signal. The effects of ultrasound on porosity demonstrated by this work offer the prospect of a manufacturing process that can adjust the cellular geometry of foam and hence ensure that the resulting characteristics match the functional requirements.
- sonochemical reactors
- polymeric foam