X-ray computed tomography for characterization of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam

Redouane Meftah*, Jeroen Van Stappen, Sylvain Berger, Gary Jacqus, Jean Yves Laluet, Paul Henri Guering, Luc Van Hoorebeke, Veerle Cnudde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is widely used in building and construction applications for thermal and acoustic insulation. This material is nearly transparent for X-rays, making it difficult to characterize its pore structure in 3D with X-ray tomography. Because of this difficulty, the pore network is often not investigated and is, thus, poorly known. Since this network controls different physical properties, such as the sound absorption, it is crucial to understand its overall structure. In this manuscript, we show how to reveal the pore network of EPS foams through the combination of high resolution X-ray tomography (micro-CT) and saturation techniques. The foams were saturated with CsCl-brine, which acts as a contrasting agent in X-ray micro-CT imaging. This allowed us to separate the beads, making up the foam, from the pore network. Based on the 3D micro-CT results, we were able to assess a representative elementary volume for the polystyrene, which allows for calculating the acoustical parameters from the Johnson-Champoux-Allard (JCA) model, the pore and bead size distribution. The 3D data was also used as input to simulate sound absorption curves. The parametric study showed that an increase in the bead size influenced the sound absorption of the material. We showed that, by doubling the diameter of beads, the absorption coefficient was doubled in certain ranges of frequency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1944
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Contrasting agent
  • Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
  • Johnson-Champoux-Allard model
  • Parametric study
  • Sound absorption
  • X-ray computed tomography


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