Solid state processing of ceramic-reinforced metal-matrix composites

Non-metallic inclusions, such as oxide, sulphides and nitrides, are commonly found in steels as a direct result of the steel-making process. Despite representing a small percentage of the steel’s composition, inclusions can have a significant influence on the mechanical properties of steel. The structure and composition of non-metallic inclusions in steels are a direct consequence of the deoxidation practice, which involves the addition of elements like Al, Si, or Mn. The resulting oxide inclusions, having a ceramic nature, could be viewed as natural reinforcement of the more compliant iron-based matrix. To this end, it is important to control the distribution and volume fraction of the different oxide phases.

In this semester project, the student will explore the production of iron containing high-volume fraction of oxide, and explore the feasibility of producing silica and alumina reinforced iron-based composites through reaction of Al, Si, Fe2O3 and Fe powder-compacted samples. Previous works in this line within the LMM have set a baseline for compositions and temperatures, which now need to be optimized. Thus, new deoxidant ratios will be explored and resulting samples will be subjected to heat treatments, aiming for time and temperature combinations that can produce microstructures that promote reactions and uniform phase distribution. The microstructural analysis of the samples will be done using standard metallographic techniques, optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS).

Project supervisors: David Hernández, Sandor Lipcsei
Contact: [email protected]