Microfracture and Limited Tribochemical Wear of Silicon Carbide During High-Speed Sliding in Cryogenic Environment

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In an effort to develop an understanding of the tribological properties of silicon carbide (SiC) in a cryogenic environment, this contribution reports on the results of the sliding wear properties of the self-mated SiC in liquid nitrogen (LN2). Two sets of sliding wear tests were conducted in a planned manner in LN2 under varying combinations of operating conditions, using a specially designed high-speed cryo-tribometer. In the first set, the sliding velocity is varied up to 1.1 m/s, for 600 s, at a constant load of 5 N; while the second set of experiments were conducted with loads of 5, 10, and 15 N, at a constant speed of 3.3 m/s for 900 s, thereby enabling to evaluate tribological potential over a broad spectrum of operating conditions. In our experiments, high coefficient of friction (COF) (0.28–0.40) and high wear resistance (∼10−7–10−6 mm3/N m) have been measured for self-mated SiC. The topographical observations using a scanning electron microscope reveal that limited tribochemical layer formation, as well as grain boundary microfracture-induced damage mechanisms, contribute to the wear of self-mated SiC. The experimental results are critically analyzed with reference to flash temperature and contact stress conditions, as well as compared with some baseline experiments, conducted under ambient conditions. A comparison with our earlier research results, obtained with self-mated Al2O3 or ZrO2, establishes the good tribological potential of self-mated SiC in LN2, in terms of exhibiting a better combination of COF and wear rate.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1551-2916.2010.03720.x

Affiliations: Laboratory for Advanced Ceramics, Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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