An analysis of effective thermal conductivity of heterogeneous materials

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Effective thermal conductivity (ETC) is a very important index for evaluating the thermal property of heterogeneous materials, which include more than two different kinds of materials. Several analytical models were proposed for predicting the ETC of heterogeneous materials, but in some cases, these models cannot provide very accurate predictions. In this work, several analytical models and numerical simulations were studied in order to investigate the differences among them. In addition, some factors which would influence the ETC of heterogeneous materials were investigated by numerical simulation. The results demonstrated that the numerical simulation can provide very accurate prediction, indicated that different analytical models should be selected to predict specific problems based on their assumptions, and suggested that more variables need to be considered in order to improve these analytical models, such as inclusion shape, inclusion size, distribution of inclusions and contact area. Besides, numerical method could be an effective and reliable way to obtain the ETC of heterogeneous materials with any kind of complicated structures.

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