Table of Contents
ISRN Thermodynamics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 108781, 8 pages
Research Article

Thermodynamics and Oxidation Behaviour of Crystalline Silicon Carbide (3C) with Atomic Oxygen and Ozone

Raman Centre for Applied and Interdisciplinary Sciences, 16A Jheel Road, Calcutta 700 075, India

Received 23 September 2012; Accepted 16 October 2012

Academic Editors: Y. Fang, T. M. Inerbaev, and G. Polidori

Copyright © 2012 Chandrika Varadachari et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Thermodynamics of oxidation of crystalline silicon carbide (cubic form) by atomic oxygen (O) and ozone (O3) was derived to understand the thermodynamic stability of SiC in the upper atmosphere. Equilibrium constants and equilibrium partial pressures were computed for each of eight possible reactions of SiC with O and O3. Equilibrium activity diagrams were derived, showing the most stable oxidation products of SiC, represented in temperature-oxygen pressure 2D diagrams. Programs were developed in Mathematica. The diagrams provide an understanding of the oxidation routes of SiC under changing levels of O/O3 and temperature, as encountered during reentry of space vehicles. At high levels of the volatiles, CO2, CO, and SiO and temperatures between 1000 and 1500 K, oxidation by atomic oxygen or ozone first produced SiO2 + C followed by SiO2 + CO and finally SiO2 + CO2. When volatiles were at very low pressures, the sequence of oxidation was SiO + CO followed by either SiO2 + CO or SiO + CO2 and finally SiO2 + CO2. Stability of SiC in ozone was much lower than in atomic oxygen. With both oxidants, the oxidation of the Si in SiC occurred prior to the oxidation of C. Implications for mechanisms of thermal protection are discussed.