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Open-celled microcellular foaming and the formation of cellular structure by a theoretical pattern in polystyrene

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An open-celled structure was produced using polystyrene and supercritical carbon dioxide in a novel batch process. The required processing conditions to achieve open-celled structures were predicted by a theoretical model and confirmed by the experimental data. The theoretical model predicts that at least a saturation pressure of 130 bar and a foaming time between 9 and 58 s are required for this system to produce an open-celled structure. The foaming temperature range has been selected to be higher than the polymer glass transition temperature yet not higher than a temperature limit where the gas starts leaving the system. The experimental results in the batch foaming process verified the model substantially. The SEM pictures showed the presence of pores between the cells, and the mercury porosimetry test results verified the overall open-celled structure. Experimental results also showed that by increasing the saturation pressure and the foaming temperature, there was a drop in the time required for open-celled structure formation. At saturation pressure of 130 bar, foaming temperature of 150 °C and a foaming time of 60 s, open-celled microcellular polystyrene foams were obtained using supercritical CO2 in the batch process. Based on the results, a schematic diagram, depicting the process of foam structure formation from nucleation to bubble coalescence and gas escape from polymer, was proposed. Theoretical calculations showed that by increasing foaming time, cell size was increased and cell density was reduced and the experimental results verified this prediction.

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The authors wish to thank Tarbiat Modares University due to financial and logistics supports.

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Correspondence to Mohammadsaeid Enayati or Mohammad Hossein Navid Famili.

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Enayati, M., Famili, M.H.N. & Janani, H. Open-celled microcellular foaming and the formation of cellular structure by a theoretical pattern in polystyrene. Iran Polym J 22, 417–428 (2013).

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