skip to main content

Title: Chemical compatibility issues associated with use of SiC/SiC in advanced reactor concepts

Silicon carbide/silicon carbide (SiC/SiC) composites are of interest for components that will experience high radiation fields in the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR), the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR), the Sodium Fast Reactor (SFR), or the Fluoride-cooled High-temperature Reactor (FHR). In all of the reactor systems considered, reactions of SiC/SiC composites with the constituents of the coolant determine suitability of materials of construction. The material of interest is nuclear grade SiC/SiC composites, which consist of a SiC matrix [high-purity, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) SiC or liquid phase-sintered SiC that is crystalline beta-phase SiC containing small amounts of alumina-yttria impurity], a pyrolytic carbon interphase, and somewhat impure yet crystalline beta-phase SiC fibers. The interphase and fiber components may or may not be exposed, at least initially, to the reactor coolant. The chemical compatibility of SiC/SiC composites in the three reactor environments is highly dependent on thermodynamic stability with the pure coolant, and on reactions with impurities present in the environment including any ingress of oxygen and moisture. In general, there is a dearth of information on the performance of SiC in these environments. While there is little to no excess Si present in the new SiC/SiC composites, the reaction ofmore » Si with O2 cannot be ignored, especially for the FHR, in which environment the product, SiO2, can be readily removed by the fluoride salt. In all systems, reaction of the carbon interphase layer with oxygen is possible especially under abnormal conditions such as loss of coolant (resulting in increased temperature), and air and/ or steam ingress. A global outline of an approach to resolving SiC/SiC chemical compatibility concerns with the environments of the three reactors is presented along with ideas to quickly determine the baseline compatibility performance of SiC/SiC.« less
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
RC0105000; NERC015
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Sodium; Fluoride Salts; Helium; SiC; Silicon Carbide Composites; HTGR; VHTR; SFR; FHR