Porous materials are processed in various areas of material science and manufacturing. Furthermore, the varieties of porous materials ensure great advantages to designers. This paper proposes a decision aid mechanism based on fuzzy axiomatic design (FAD) to select adequate form of porous materials in marine systems design. It enables elimination and choice of suitable material alternatives in respect to two sets of attributes: generic material selection attributes (GMSA) and specific material selection attributes (SMSA). Furthermore, the paper specifically addressed use of porous materials in plate type heat exchanger design to demonstrate the proposed model. It is expected that the paper ensures a novel procedure for marine engineers and naval architectures in conceptual design process of marine systems. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.