Effects of carbon fillers on the thermal conductivity of highly filled liquid-crystal polymer based resins

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The thermal conductivity of insulating polymers can be increased by the addition of conductive fillers. One potential market for these thermally conductive resins is for fuel cell bipolar plates. In this study, various amounts of three different carbon fillers (carbon black, synthetic graphite particles, and carbon fiber) were added to Vectra A950RX liquid crystal polymer. Because the resulting composites were anisotropic, they were tested for both through-plane and in-plane thermal conductivities. The effects of single fillers and combinations of the different fillers were studied via a factorial design. Each single filler caused a statistically significant increase in composite through-plane and in-plane thermal conductivities at the 95% confidence level, with synthetic graphite causing the largest increase. All of the composites containingcombinations of the different fillers caused statistically significant increases in the composite through-plane and in-plane thermal conductivities. It is possible that thermally conductive pathways were formed that linked these carbon fillers, which resulted in increased composite thermal conductivity. Composites containing 70, 75, and 80 wt % synthetic graphite and the composite containing all three fillers (2.5 wt % carbon black, 65 wt % synthetic graphite, and 5 wt % carbon fiber) had in-plane thermal conductivities of 20 W m -1 K-1 or higher, which is desirable for bipolar plates. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Applied Polymer Science