Porous structure of fibre networks formed by a foaming process: a comparative study of different characterization techniques

Ahmad M. Al-Qararah, Axel Ekman, Tuomo Hjelt, Harri Kiiskinen, Jussi Timonen, Jukka A. Ketoja

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent developments in making fibre materials using the foam-forming technology have raised a need to characterize the porous structure at low material density. In order to find an effective choice among all structure-characterization methods, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques were used to explore the porous structure of foam-formed samples made with two different types of cellulose fibre. These techniques included X-ray microtomography, scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy, direct surface imaging using a CCD camera and mercury intrusion porosimetry. The mean pore radius for a varying type of fibre and for varying foam properties was described similarly by all imaging methods. X-ray microtomography provided the most extensive information about the sheet structure, and showed more pronounced effects of varying foam properties than the two-dimensional imaging techniques. The two-dimensional methods slightly underestimated the mean pore size of samples containing stiff CTMP fibres with void radii exceeding 100 µm, and overestimated the pore size for the samples containing flexible kraft fibres with all void radii below 100 µm. The direct rapid surface imaging with a CCD camera showed surprisingly strong agreement with the other imaging techniques. Mercury intrusion porosimetry was able to characterize pore sizes also in the submicron region and led to an increased relative volume of the pores in the range of the mean bubble size of the foam. This may be related to the penetration channels created by the foam-fibre interaction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)88-101
    JournalJournal of Microscopy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • fibre network
    • foam
    • image analysis
    • microscopy
    • pore size
    • X-ray microtomography


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