Thermal conductivity of carbon fiber/liquid crystal polymer composites

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Thermally conductive resins are needed for bipolar plates in fuel cells. Currently, the materials used for these bipolar plates often contain a single type of graphite in a thermosetting resin. In this study, varying amounts of two different types of polyacrylonitrile based carbon fibers, Fortafil 243 and Panex 30, were added to a thermoplastic matrix (Vectra A950RX Liquid Crystal Polymer). The resulting single filler composites were tested for thermal conductivity and a simple exponential thermal conductivity model was developed for the square root of the product of the in-plane and through-plane thermal conductivity √kinkthru. The experiments showed that the through-plane thermal conductivity was similar for composites up to 40 vol % fiber. However, at higher loadings, the Panex 30 samples exhibited higher thermal conductivity. The experiments also showed that the in-plane thermal conductivity of composites containing Panex 30 was higher than those containing Fortafil 243 for all volume fractions studied. Finally, the model agreed very well with experimental data covering a large range of filler volume fraction (from 0 to 55 vol % for both single filler systems). The model can be used with existing through-plane thermal conductivity models to predict in-plane thermal conductivity. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Applied Polymer Science