New High-Strength Ceramic Material Can Withstand Extremely High Temperatures

Researchers at the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) and the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) have developed a brand-new, high-strength ceramic material that can endure prolonged exposure to supersonic airflow at temperatures greater than 2600 °C.

This is Toronto Pearson International Airport, Mississauga, Canada. (Image credit: John McArthur)

These characteristics enable the material to be employed in the aviation industry for the nose cones and the wings construction of the newest aircraft.

The brand-new material was obtained from a compound of hafnium diboride (HfB2) combined with nanocrystalline silicon carbide (nc-SiC) using Spark Plasma Sintering and Sol-Gel technologies. A high-frequency induction plasmatron was used to test the strength of the ceramic composite under the influence of supersonic airflow. The ceramic sample was not destroyed and its mass loss was 0.04% even after the 40-minute exposure to the supersonic airflow. Under these conditions, the thickness of the oxidized layer was 10–20 μm. Additionally, formation of the fields of low SiC content was absent. The high durability characteristics of the composite were proved by this experiment.

High-tech ceramics is very promising for industrial applications. The material developed can be used for the structural basis of nose cones and sharp edges of aircraft wings, which undergo the significant temperature fluctuations during super-speed heating (up to 2600 °C),” stated Evgeniy Papynov researcher at the Laboratory for Nuclear Technologies of the FEFU School of Natural Sciences, a senior researcher at the Institute of Chemistry, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, PhD.

Since 2013, FEFU researchers have been developing and testing new ultra-strong ceramic materials. The workflow is continuing in collaboration with the institutes of the RAS situated in Moscow and in the Far East. Kurnakov Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry and RAS has been creating the raw materials for ceramics. The Institute of Chemistry, Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Vladivostok applies an innovative method for ceramics production—spark plasma sintering—to develop technologies for mixing components. In the FEFU laboratories, physicochemical properties of samples are being investigated in detail and an all-inclusive determination of its mechanical characteristics is conducted.

FEFU holds the “Materials” priority research project in which able chemists, physicists, materials scientists, and biologists cooperate. After many years, the project is valid, and researchers have taken an important step forward in the development of materials that can endure very high temperatures while maintaining durability. Recently, FEFU scientists have produced a unique refractory material from a mixture of hafnium nitride and carbide powders. It has a high melting point of over 4200 K.

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