Hierarchically porous composites fabricated by hydrogel templating and viscous trapping techniques

Benjamin R. Thompson, Tommy S. Horozov, Simeon D. Stoyanov, Vesselin N. Paunov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Two methods for the preparation of hierarchically porous composites have been developed and explored. The first involved templating mixed slurries of hydrogel beads with two different average bead size distributions with gypsum slurry which allows for precise control over the porosity, pore size distributions and hierarchical microstructure of the hardened composite after the evaporation of the water from the hydrogel beads. The other technique utilised the viscosity of methylcellulose solution to suspend gypsum particles as they form an interlocked network. By varying the volume percentage of methylcellulose solution used, it is possible to control the porosity of the dried sample. The mechanical and thermal insulation properties of the composites as a function of both their porosity and pore size were investigated. Both methods demonstrate an inexpensive approach for introducing porosity in gypsum composites which reduces their thermal conductivity, improves their insulation properties and allows economic use of the matrix material whilst controlling their mechanical properties. Such composites allow for tuneable porosity without significantly compromising their strength which could find applications in the building industry as well as structuring of other composites for a variety of consumer products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-393
JournalMaterials and Design
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2018


  • Agar
  • Compressional strength
  • Hierarchical porosity
  • Hydrogel templating
  • Hydrogels
  • Methylcellulose
  • Porous materials
  • Thermal conductivity
  • Viscous trapping

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