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Characterization of fluidized bed chemical vapor deposition ZrC coatings on PyC/YSZ kernels deposited under differing conditions

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Journal of Nuclear Materials
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Coated fuel particle architectures with ZrC coatings are candidate fuels for advanced power reactors and space nuclear propulsion (SNP) concepts. Owing to its relevance to SNP, the composition, microstructure, and mechanical properties of eight ZrC coatings prepared by fluidized bed chemical vapor deposition were evaluated. Evaluation by SEM and EBSD showed that all grains were columnar. Across the various examined samples, minor axis diameters varied between 0.3 and 1.1 μm, and major axis diameters varied between 0.4 and 2.3 μm. Major and minor diameters increased with thickness particularly at higher deposition temperatures in which the major grain axis (from an ellipse fit to the grain shape) increased by 2.5 μm over the entire coating. Coatings with higher reactive gas flows and Zr/C concentrations closer to 1 were observed to contain nanocrystalline graphite deposits. Reactive gas flow doubling led to increases in coating thickness from around 10–15 μm to around 22–27 μm.