Graphite foam from pitch and expandable graphite

Walter W. Focke, Heinrich Badenhorst, Shatish Ramjee, Hermanus Joachim Kruger, Riaan Van Schalkwyk, Brian Rand

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Graphite foams were prepared from a coal tar pitch that was partially converted into mesophase. Expandable graphite was used instead of an inert gas to "foam" the pitch. The resulting foam was subjected to a series of heat treatments with the objective of first crosslinking the pitch, and thereafter carbonizing and graphitizing the resulting foam. XRD confirmed that the graphitization at 2600 °C resulted in a highly graphitic material. The porosity of this foam derives from the loose packing of the vermicular exfoliated graphite particles together with their internal porosity. During the foaming process the pitch tends to coat the outside surface of the expanding graphite flakes. It also bonds them together. The graphite foam prepared with 5 wt.% expandable graphite had a bulk density of 0.249 g cm-3, a compressive strength of 0.46 MPa and a thermal conductivity of 21 W m -1 K-1. The specific thermal conductivity (thermal conductivity divided by the bulk density) of this low-density carbon foam was 0.084 W m2 kg-1 K-1 which is considerably higher than that of copper metal (0.045 W m2 kg-1 K -1) traditionally used in thermal management applications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-50
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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