A three-dimensional computational model was developed using the finite element method (FEM) to evaluate the thermal behavior of graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs)/epoxy composites based on continuum mechanics. The model was validated with experimental data. The effects of the ratio of radius to thickness (Rrt) of GNPs, the interfacial thermal conductivity between GNPs and the matrix (Cgm), the contact thermal conductivity between GNPs (Cgg) and the agglomeration degree of GNPs on the thermal conductivity of composites (Kc) were quantified using this model. The results show that a larger Rrt is beneficial to Kc. GNPs could increase Kc only when the Cgm is greater than a critical value. A percolation phenomenon will occur when Cgg is larger than 1.0E8 W/(m2k) in randomly distributed GNPs/epoxy composites. The percolation effects become more obvious with the increase of Cgg and the volume fraction of GNPs. The agglomeration of GNPs has negative effects on the Kc. The higher the agglomeration degree of GNPs is, the lower Kc is. This is attributed to less beneficial interfacial areas, more inefficient contact areas, smaller Rrt and less effective connection/contact between GNPs.
Xiao, W., Zhai, X., Ma, P., Fan, T., & Li, X. (2018). Numerical study on the thermal behavior of graphene nanoplatelets/epoxy composites. Results in Physics, 9, 673–679. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rinp.2018.01.060