Ultra high temperature ceramic (UHTC) materials have attracted attention for hypersonic applications. Currently there is significant interest in possible gas turbine engine applications of UHTC composites as well. However, many of these materials, such as hafnium carbide, zirconium carbide, and zirconium diboride, have significant oxidation resistance and toughness limitations. In addition, these materials are very difficult to manufacture because of their high melting points. In many cases, SiC powder is incorporated into UHTCs to aid in processing and to enhance fracture toughness. This can also improve the materials’ oxidation resistance at moderately high temperatures due to a crack-healing borosilicate phase. ZrB2-SiC composites show very good oxidation resistance up to 1700 °C, due to the formation of SiO2 and ZrO2 scales in numerous prior studies. While this may limit its application to hypersonic applications (due to reduced thermal conductivity and oxidation resistance at higher temperatures), these UHTC-SiC composites may find applications in turbomachinery, as either stand-alone parts or as a component in a multi-layer system.
The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), and the University of California – San Diego (UCSD) are developing tough UHTC composites with high durability and oxidation resistance. For this paper, UHTC-SiC composites and high-entropy fluorite oxides were developed using planetary and high-energy ball milling and consolidated using spark plasma sintering. These materials were evaluated for their oxidation-resistance, ablation-resistance, and thermal cycling behavior under a DoD/OSD-funded Laboratory University Collaborative Initiative (LUCI) Fellowship and DoD Vannevar Bush Fellowship Program. In the present paper experimental results and post-test material characterization of SPS sintered ZrB2, ZrB2+SiC, ZrB2+SiC+HfC, HfC+SiC, and HfC+ZrB2 pellets subjected to ablation test are presented.