Microwave heating has great potential to accelerate the synthesis of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) by a process called Chemical Vapor Infiltration (CVI). In CVI, reactive gases ingress a porous preform and undergo chemical transformation to deposit solid ceramic phase within the pores at high temperature thus, densifying the preform. However, the competing effects of chemical kinetics and gas transport are known to result in non-uniform densification as the outer surfaces of the preform experience faster depositions compared to the core. Achieving spatial temperature control plays a key role improving the densification quality. Microwave heating can potentially create temperature inversion such that the core of the preform is hotter than the outer surface and subsequently, lead to improved densification while keeping the manufacturing times and costs low.
In the present work, a computational modeling strategy has been developed that accounts for the key physical phenomena responsible for densification of porous preforms using microwave heating. Specifically, a chemical kinetics model has been formulated for Silicon Carbide (SiC) deposition from MTS/H2 precursor. The model is implemented in a pore-resolved reactive transport solver, Quilt. The CVI simulations are performed for several conditions. Initially, parameterized temperature control is imposed to identify optimum conditions for good densification quality at a fraction of processing time. Further, simulations of microwave heating of porous SiC preforms are performed using OpenFOAM. A strategy to achieve and enhance temperature inversion is identified. The resulting temperature profiles are used in the pore-resolved densification simulations to analyze the densification behavior. It is observed that the temperature inversion achieved by microwave heating leads to significant improvements in densification quality and at the same time, keeps the manufacturing time low.