Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Jeffery Marchetta

Committee Member

John Hochstein

Committee Member

Firouzeh Sabri


The thermal performance of typical insulating materials is a limiting factor in the cost effectiveness of transporting temperature sensitive, biological materials, also known as cold chain bio-logistics. Biologicals that need to be maintained at near freezing or cryogenic temperatures rely on active refrigeration systems or passive solutions, such as dewars, gel packs, dry ice, urethane foam and/or extruded polystyrene. To ensure the packages arrive at its destination and at the desired temperature, costly overnight or expedited shipping is required. Hence, an aerogel based packaging solution is proposed as a possible solution for maintaining an acceptable internal temperature range with the goal of increasing the transit time. An increased shipping time will reduce the cost by allowing shippers to utilize lower cost modes of transportation such as ground shipping. For this study, prototype packaging solutions are constructed by encapsulating polyimide aerogel in a room temperature vulcanizing rubber, Sylgard-184. Two prototypes were designed for testing and evaluation: a syringe container and vial container. Preliminary tabletop experiments were performed utilizing both prototypes to assess the feasiblitiy of using these materials as a packaging solution. For the syring container, a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model is setup to simulate the experiments and to validate the simulation. Mesh convergence and far-field boundary sensitivity studies are performed to verify that solutions are mesh independent and that the far-field boundary condition specified is appropriate. Based on the results obtained for the syringe prototype, an optimization study is conducted using the simulation to assess the thermal performance of the proposed aerogel packaging solution for various aerogel volume ratios. Additional simulation predictions are presented to illustrate the insulation capabilitites of the polymer/aerogel material as compared to other commonly used cold-chain packaging materials.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.