An improved predictive model for effective thermal conductivity of polymer composites with non-dilute filler concentrations

Kabeer Raza, Syed Sohail Akhtar*, Abul Fazal M. Arif, Abbas Saeed Hakeem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Most of the predictive models for thermal conductivity of composites are derived based on the assumption that the filler concentration in the matrix is dilute. This assumption leads to inaccurate predictions when filler concentration is essentially non-dilute and hence there is a need to propose a model that could handle a non-dilute filler concentration. In this work an improved and realistic model for effective thermal conductivity of polymer matrix composites with non-dilute filler’s concentrations is derived and validated by experiments. The proposed model can handle fillers with variable size and shapes. The derivation is based on the Bruggeman’s differential effective medium theory where the high volume fractions can be obtained by incrementally adding ‘small volume fractions’ into the ‘existing composite’ at each stage. The proposed model is validated by experimentally produced different series of ceramic particles-polymer composites. Differently sized and shaped alumina (Al2O3) & aluminum nitride (AlN) particulate fillers, and high density polyethylene (HDPE) & polypropylene (PP) matrices were used as the variable ingredients. Using different combinations of filler, matrix and particle size six different series of composites were produced with variable filler concentrations up to 50% by volume. The microstructure of the produced samples was studied by field emission scanning electron microscope to relate the morphology with the predictions. The predictions of proposed model are found in close agreement with the measured thermal conductivities. To understand the detailed effects of different parameters, parametric studies are presented and discussed. It is found that aspect ratio of particulate fillers is the most sensitive parameter to enhance effective thermal conductivity. Overall, the proposed model is proven to be useful in composite material design for heat transfer applications. It is expected that the proposed model will open new doors for the researchers and polymer composite industry to develop new composite designs for achieving ultrahigh thermal conductivities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvanced Materials
Subtitle of host publicationDesign, Processing, Characterization, and Applications
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791859490
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings (IMECE)

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 ASME.


  • High volume fractions
  • Parametric studies
  • Percolating fillers
  • Polymer matrix composites
  • Thermal conductivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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