Numerical heat transfer analysis of carbon-based foams for use in thermal protection system

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Yiding Cao

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ibrahim N. Tansel

Third Advisor's Name

Yong X. Tao

Date of Defense



The applicability of carbon-based foams as an insulating or active cooling material in thermal protection systems (TPSs) of space vehicles is considered using a computer modeling.

This study focuses on numerical investigation of the performance of carbon foams for use in TPSs of space vehicles. Two kinds of carbon foams are considered in this study. For active cooling, the carbon foam that has a thermal conductivity of 100 W/m-k is used and for the insulation, the carbon foam having a thermal conductivity of 0.225 W/m-k is used. A 3D geometry is employed to simulate coolant flow and heat transfer through carbon foam model. Gambit has been used to model the 3D geometry and the numerical simulation is carried out in FLUENT.

Numerical results from this thesis suggests that the use of CFOAM and HTC carbon foams in TPS's may effectively protect the aluminum structure of the space shuttle during reentry of the space vehicle.



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