This article describes a novel technique for the measurement of the thermal conductivity of low-density (12-18 kg m3) fiberglass insulation and other related fibrous insulation materials using a noninvasive acoustic apparatus. The experimental method is an extension of earlier acoustic methods based upon the evaluation of the propagation constant from the acoustic pressure transfer function across the test material. To accomplish this, an analytical model is employed that describes the behavior of sound waves at the outlet of a baffled waveguide. The model accounts for the behavior of the mixed impedance interface introduced by the test material. Current results show that the technique is stable for a broad range of absorber thicknesses and densities. Experimental results obtained in the laboratory show excellent correlation between the thermal conductivity and both the real and imaginary components of the propagation constant. Correlation of calculated propagation constant magnitude versus measured thermal conductivity gave an R2 of 0.94 for the bulk density range (12-18 kg m3) typical for manufactured fiberglass batt materials. As an improvement to earlier acoustic techniques, measurement is now possible in noisy manufacturing environments with a moving test material. Given the promise of such highly correlated measurements in a robust method, the acoustic technique is well suited to continuously measure the thermal conductivity of the material during its production, replacing current expensive off-line methods. Test cycle time is reduced from hours to seconds.
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