Virtual modeling of a manufacturing process to construct complex composite materials of tailored properties
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Fibrous porous media are widely used in various industries such as biomedical engineering, textiles, paper, and alternative energy. Often these porous materials are formed into composite materials, using subsequent manufacturing steps, to improve their properties. There is a strong correlation between system performance and the transport and mechanical properties of the porous media, in raw or composite form. However, these properties depend on the final pore structure of the material. Thus, the ability to manufacture fibrous porous media, in raw or composite forms, with an engineered structure with predictable properties is highly desirable for the optimization of the overall performance of a relevant system. To date, the characterization of the porous media has been primarily based on reverse design methods i.e., extracting the data from existing materials with image processing techniques. The objective of this research is to develop a methodology to enable the virtual generation of complex composite porous media with tailored properties, from the implementation of a fibrous medium in the design space to the simulated coating of this media representative of the manufacturing space. To meet this objective a modified periodic surface model is proposed, which is utilized to parametrically generate a fibrous domain. The suggested modeling approach allows for a high-degree of control over the fiber profile, matrix properties, and fiber-binder composition. Using the domain generated with the suggested geometrical modeling approach, numerical simulations are executed to simulate transport properties such as permeability, diffusivity and tortuosity, as well as, to directly coat the microstructure, thereby forming a complex composite material. To understand the interplay between the xxiii fiber matrix and the transport properties, the morphology of the virtual microstructure is characterized based on the pore size, chord length and shortest path length distributions inside the porous domain. In order to ensure the desired properties of the microstructure, the fluid penetration, at the micro scale, is analyzed during the direct coating process. This work presents a framework for feasible and effective generation of complex porous media in the virtual space, which can be directly manufactured.