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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
Volume 2013, Article ID 127676, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/127676
Research Article

Modeling Forced Flow Chemical Vapor Infiltration Fabrication of SiC-SiC Composites for Advanced Nuclear Reactors

General Atomics, P.O. Box 85608, San Diego, CA 92186-5608, USA

Received 21 November 2012; Accepted 5 February 2013

Academic Editor: Hangbok Choi

Copyright © 2013 Christian P. Deck 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.

Abstract

Silicon carbide fiber/silicon carbide matrix (SiC-SiC) composites exhibit remarkable material properties, including high temperature strength and stability under irradiation. These qualities have made SiC-SiC composites extremely desirable for use in advanced nuclear reactor concepts, where higher operating temperatures and longer lives require performance improvements over conventional metal alloys. However, fabrication efficiency advances need to be achieved. SiC composites are typically produced using chemical vapor infiltration (CVI), where gas phase precursors flow into the fiber preform and react to form a solid SiC matrix. Forced flow CVI utilizes a pressure gradient to more effectively transport reactants into the composite, reducing fabrication time. The fabrication parameters must be well understood to ensure that the resulting composite has a high density and good performance. To help optimize this process, a computer model was developed. This model simulates the transport of the SiC precursors, the deposition of SiC matrix on the fiber surfaces, and the effects of byproducts on the process. Critical process parameters, such as the temperature and reactant concentration, were simulated to identify infiltration conditions which maximize composite density while minimizing the fabrication time.